Michigan school shooter posted a threat on social media the day before the shooting

OXFORD, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 01: People embrace as they visit a makeshift memorial outside of Oxford High School on December 01, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan. On Tuesday, three students were killed and eight injured when a gunman opened fire at the school. A fourth student died on Wednesday. The suspect, identified as 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, has been charged as an adult with terrorism and first-degree murder. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley posted a Tweet saying “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford,” on November 29. The next day, he shot and killed 4 people at Oxford High School, injuring 7 others.

The parents of shooting survivor Riley Franz are suing the Oxford, Michigan school district and officials for $100 million, after ignoring several warning signs leading up to the shooting, NPR reported.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Geoffrey Fieger, accuses school officials of failing to acknowledge direct threats from Crumbley within the weeks leading up to the tragedy, as well as ignoring the concerns from students and parents. The lawsuit states that the school had been notified of Crumbley’s social media threats since mid-November.

The lawsuit tells the account of the school’s response after a parent notified Oxford Principal Steven Wolf of their child’s fears on November 16, Wolf wrote back saying “I know I’m being redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS…large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors.”

According to the lawsuit, the district superintendent made an announcement over the loudspeaker to the student body, telling them to stop spreading information on social media and relying on it, and that there were no actual threats posed towards the school.

The suit detailed the days leading up to the shooting, stating that Crumbley was posting countdowns on his social media accounts, which were all public.

Crumbley’s parents also provided warning signs on their social media. According to the Washington Post, Ethan’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, posted that she and Ethan were at the gun range just three days before the shooting, “testing out his new Christmas present.”

The school also failed to remove Crumbley from school the day of the shooting, despite a teacher finding a drawing he made that was so violent it prompted a call home to his parents, who refused to come to the school for a meeting. The Washington Post reported that his “rampage” started only three hours after this.

This is likely only the first of many lawsuits, as Fieger already plans on taking it to the state level.


Alec Baldwin claims he never pulled the trigger on the set of “Rust”

Alec Baldwin sat down ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos on Dec 2, his first interview since the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. He claims he never actually pulled the trigger.

Photographed: Halyna Hutchins
Source: Sky News

42-year-old cinematographer Hutchins was shot and killed on Oct 21 after Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of the western movie called “Rust.” According to Time, Baldwin fired the prop gun at the camera that Hutchins was holding while rehearsing a scene. The gun was given to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls, who shouted “cold-gun,” signifying that the gun was not loaded with live rounds. Halls’ lawyer Lisa Toracco told ABC News that Halls believes that Baldwin did not put his finger on the trigger.

Baldwin claims that he cocked the gun and released the hammer, never actually firing the gun. Halls backs this claim, according to ABC News.

CNN interviewed Steve Wolf, a theatrical firearms safety expert about Baldwin’s story, saying that it is “not plausible,” even demonstrating how the firearm Baldwin was using works during the interview.

“When you pull the hammer back, which is an intentional act — click, click, click, click — now the hammer is set,” said Wolf, demonstrating the use of a single-action revolver. “When you pull the hammer back and let go…the hammer doesn’t go anywhere. When you press the trigger…it takes very little to press the trigger there.”

Many wonder about the validity of Baldwin and Halls’ claim that the trigger was never pulled. According to the LA Times, there were already two misfires on set a week prior. The same morning of the shooting, 6 crew members walked off of the set due to the unsafe working conditions. Time reported that “long hours,” “withheld pay,” and gun safety issues were some of the conditions the crew members were protesting.

After Baldwin’s interview with his account of events, many wonder about the sincerity of his apology and the validity of his statement, as evidence points to the scenario being highly implausible.

Better.com CEO lays off 900 employees weeks before Christmas

Imagine you are invited to a work Zoom meeting a few weeks before Christmas. You take a pause from gift shopping for your children and spouse to log onto the meeting. Within three minutes of the meeting’s beginning, you are told that you are being laid off, effective immediately.

This was reality for 900 Better.com employees (9% of the company’s staff) on Wednesday, December 1. A recording of the shocking meeting went viral on TikTok, starting with Better.com CEO Vishal Garg saying “I come to you with not great news.”

Better.com is a digital mortgage start-up valued at $7 billion. Garg founded the company in 2014 with the hope to ease and lower the cost of homebuying. The layoffs came within days of a $750 million cash infusion. According to CNN, among the fired were Better.com’s diversity, equity, and inclusion team.

Garg attempted to show empathy to the “unlucky” employees by stating that the last time he cried the last time he laid off an astronomical amount of employees, hoping that he would be “stronger” this time around.

“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Garg said in the video. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

Laid-off employees will receive one month’s pay and three months of benefits, NBC News reported.

The abrupt and unfortunate timing of this decision had many criticizing Garg and how he handled the situation, stating that this was cruel and unethical.

Garg’s reputation has received a hit before, as Forbes obtained an agressive email from Garg to employees. “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and…DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME,” Garg wrote.

After the video went viral, Garg sent an apology to the laid-off employees. The letter was leaked by one of the fired employees online. “I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better,” Garg wrote. “I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”

The controversy has led to several executive staff members resigning, like the VP of communications, head of marketing, and head of public relations, TechCrunch reported.

Tesla safety concerns: video games on the road?

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Tesla driver discovered one day last year that he was able to play video games on his car’s dashboard as he was driving. The driver, Vince Patton, tested the limits of what he could do while in motion, playing solitaire, browsing the web, and playing a game called Sky Force Reloaded, AP reported.

Anxious that this feature will result in distracted driving, Patton filed a report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On Wednesday, the NHTSA stated that they have started to look into this issue, stating that they are in communication with the manufacturer.

“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects posing unreasonable risks to safety,” wrote the NHTSA in an email to Bloomberg. According to AP, the agency has not opened a formal investigation yet, which would entail document requests.

According to Business Insider, the NHTSA stated that vehicle manufacturers are meant to create their in-device systems without the option to perform distracting tasks while driving. For many vehicles with touchscreen dashboards, this means a disabling of certain features when the car is in motion. The NHTSA stated that all visual-heavy secondary tasks are supposed to be tested to see they can be performed without distracting the driver. Anything too distracting must be disabled while driving.

Tesla’s video games require players to confirm that they are passengers before gameplay, but Tesla does not verify if this is true, allowing drivers to lie and play while on the road.

With the rise of car dashboards with Internet features, the NHTSA’s concerns about distracted driving have intensified. According to the agency’s car crash statistics, distracted drivers accounted for “3,142 or 8.7 percent of all fatalities in 2019.” With this in mind, the idea of drivers being able to play games while driving is even more concerning.

Though it is still early, Tesla has yet to comment on the situation.

Chris Cuomo fired by CNN

Source: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CNN

CNN primetime anchor Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN on Saturday, December 4. According to CNBC, the termination comes from new information detailing how Cuomo helped his brother Andrew Cuomo respond to sexual assault allegations.

Back in early August, then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was exposed for accounts of sexual harassment of over 11 women. After being urged to resign from the majority of the Democratic party and even President Joe Biden, Gov. Cuomo resigned on Tuesday, August 10.

Since then, Chris Cuomo’s position at CNN was in danger. The network placed Cuomo on an indefinite suspension on Tuesday, November 30, after New York Attorney General Letitia James released the evidence of Chris Cuomo’s involvement in aiding Gov. Cuomo, CNBC reported.

The suspension also came only hours after the request for CNN to fire Cuomo by a former Gov. Cuomo aide. The aide, Charlotte Bennet, was one of the 11 women that accused Gov. Cuomo of sexual harassment. After the suspension, it only took a few days for new information to come out, showing the network that Cuomo was more involved than originally assumed.

This new information alludes to Cuomo leveraging his position and resources at CNN to help Gov. Cuomo’s case and possible sexual assault allegations of his own.

Cuomo posted a statement on Twitter the afternoon after his termination, stating his disappointment and how he disagrees with how CNN handled the situation.

On social media, some showed support for CNN’s decision to fire Cuomo.

Fans of Cuomo, on the other hand, either showed support for Cuomo and/or shared their anger and frustration with CNN’s decision.

There are many observing the situation that understand both sides.

Since his termination from CNN, Cuomo has lost his book deal with HarperCollins, originally set to release in 2022. Cuomo also stepped down from his SiriusXM show after being urged to by the network.

A hefty legal battle is likely the next chapter of this saga. According to Insider, Cuomo is pondering suing CNN for $18 million, the rest of his contract value.

A kid’s version of Instagram is in the works

Source: Buzzfeed

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testified before Congress this morning, CNBC reports. Mosseri refused to cancel the plans to create a kid-friendly version of Instagram for users under the age of 13.

CNBC stated that “Mosseri told the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection that he is the ultimate decision-maker on the matter.” His plan is to create this version of Instagram to keep children under the age of 13 from downloading Instagram without their parent’s permission.

The day before this testimony, the company announced that it will be making new teen safety adjustments to the app, such as a “Take a Break” notifications, removing users’ ability to tag teens that do not follow them, and eventually options to allow parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage.

The Congress hearing was about online child safety and protection, as too many underaged users have created Instagram accounts due to issues with age verification. Lawmakers have been unhappy with the speed of the plaform’s implementation of safety measures, feeling as if Instagram is not committed to the safety of children.

Instagram’s commitment to safety has been a hot topic since whistleblower Frances Haugen released documents from Facebook and Instagram, exposing Meta‘s tendency to ignore negative data. According to The Washington Post, data shows that Instagram negatively affects young users’ mental health and body image, with “17% of teen girls [saying] that their eating disorders got worse after Instagram use.”

The subcomittee now lacks trust in Instagram and Facebook, seeing how they ignored and hid negative data, rather than building solutions and implementing safety measures.

The day before this testimony, the company announced that it will be making new teen safety adjustments to the app, such as a “Take a Break” notifications, removing users’ ability to tag teens that do not follow them, and eventually options to allow parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage.

With all of this new information about how Instagram plans to improve its safety measures, it leaves people wondering about the effectiveness and if something like a kid-friendly Instagram should even be created. Though it seems like a safer option at first, it could pose a new set of safety issues that could have been avoided.

Despite all of this, development of the app has been paused and there is no projected release date at this time.

How the Amazon Web Services Outage Affected Everything

Source: Amazon

Amazon experienced a cloud computing outage on Tuesday that showed the world just how much it relies on Amazon and its services.

According to CNBC, the outage started around 11 a.m. EST and lasted until 6:30 p.m. Amazon Web Services’ status page stated that it was having issues primarily in its main US-East-1 region.

While the general public may not know much about what the AWS cloud-computing system does or about its existence at all, many users still felt the effects of the outage when trying to use some of their favorite websites or apps.

AWS is a host for institutions such as universities, governments, and companies, according to the Associated Press. When the hosting system goes down, its entities follow suit.

Users had trouble streaming when using Amazon Prime, Disney+, or Netflix. Work and academic performance were affected by the outage of Slack and Canvas. Users could not even access finance-based apps like Coinbase or Robinhood.

The outage disrupted the company’s retail operations as well, as warehouse and delivery workers were unable to scan or deliver packages. Workers were instructed to just wait until services were up and running again. This was unfortunate timing with the holiday season in full-swing.

In the midst of the outage, users took to social media to express their concerns, commentary, and frustration.

Some took this opportunity to criticize the amount of companies and institutions Amazon has a monopoly over.

Seeing how many daily operations were affected by just an hours-long shortage puts into perspective how much the world, more specifically the United States, relies on Amazon. It really poses the question of what would happen if the outage lasted days or weeks instead of a few hours. Or more hypothetically, what would happen if Amazon shut down for good?

With these questions in mind, the more important notion to ponder is: what should be considered a monopoly?

Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Source: Variety

Dave Portnoy, founder of the well-known sports and pop culture blog, Barstool Sports, has been accused of sexual misconduct. In an article published by Insider on Thursday, two women, whose identities have been protected, allege that Portnoy sexually assaulted them in the summer of 2020.

One of the women, under the alias “Madison,” described her experience with Portnoy, stating that he began messaging her on Instagram when she was 20 and he was 43. Madison told Insider that when she met Portnoy in his Nantucket home, he filmed her during sexual acts without her consent.

From here, her description of Portnoy’s acts became more violent, with Madison even comparing her experience to “being raped.” She alleged that Portnoy ignored her pain and choked her until she couldn’t breathe. He also ignored her revocation of consent.

The second woman who told her story to Insider went under by name “Allison.” Due to Portnoy’s popularity, Allison wanted to be invited to Portnoy’s home for a party after graduating high school. She claims that Portnoy invited her alone to his home, which she rejected the first time as she was uncomfortable going alone. This did not deter Portnoy, as he invited her again weeks later.

After being nudged by friends, Allison went to Portnoy’s home, where they engaged in rough sexual activity that left her feeling scared and uncomfortable. Allison described that she “didn’t want to disappoint” Portnoy. Afterward, Portnoy kicked Allison out.

Just three nights later, Allison was admitted into the hospital for suicidal thoughts. Her mother contacted the police, but Allison was not comfortable pressing charges.

Portnoy wasted no time responding to these allegations, posting two Twitter videos on Thursday, denying that he is guilty of sexual misconduct. He stated that he feels the author of the Insider article, Julia Black, had a bias against him, calling the article a “hit piece.”

He claims that though he did meet Madison, everything that happened sexually was “100 percent consensual.” Though he did not deny having sex with Allison, he claims that he thought she was older than 21, due to her asking to meet at a bar. He also stated that though it was “awful” that she felt suicidal after their interaction, that she was “continually hitting [him] up to hang out.”

According to NBC, Barstool Sports posted a statement, stating that “This recent news does not involve any workplace behavior.” The company also stated that though they do not usually comment on the private lives of employees, that it will be monitoring this situation closely.

Though no police reports have been filed at this point, many have decided to side with the accusers, as Barstool Sports and Portnoy already have a negative reputation. On the other hand, some believe these allegations were made because of the negative reputation associated with Portnoy and his company. Likely, more will come to the surface regarding Portnoy now that these first allegations have been made. As new information comes in, there will be more substance for observers to decide their stance on the topic.

Meta: The New Name of Facebook and Why

Source: CNBC

Facebook announced that the company changed its name to Meta on Thursday at the Facebook Connect virtual reality conference, according to CNBC. The sudden rebrand came about in the midst of legal turmoil that the company has been combatting.

The name “Meta” refers to the “metaverse,” a virtual world where users can interact with each other no matter where they are located in the real world.

“The next platform will be even more immersive — an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build,” wrote CEO and Founder of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, in a founder’s letter.

The social media app that the company is known for will remain as Facebook, but the company no longer wants the app to be the face of the company.

It is highly spectated that the name change was created as a distraction from ex-employee whistleblower Frances Haugen, who, according to the Washington Post, “sent tens of thousands of internal company documents to Congress and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.” This garnered a negative reputation for Facebook, along with a multitude of legal issues that arose after the documents were exposed.

It was revealed that the company has been well aware of issues its platforms have been causing but decided to ignore it.

Despite all of this, the company claims this name change comes from a shift in focus of energy. Meta aims to move towards being known as a metaverse company, rather than a social media company. The company has been forming a team whose goal is to create the metaverse.

Zuckerberg gave a demonstration of what the company wants the metaverse to look like at the Facebook Connect conference. CNBC described this as a “Pixar-like animation of software the company hopes to build some day.” The demo showed how users will be able to interact with each other using cartoon-like avatars within virtual spaces.

Though the plan for the metaverse has been revealed now, with $10 billion being designated for its development in the next year, it will be over 5 years before the metaverse technology is ready for the public, Zuckerberg said.

Of course, users of Facebook (now Meta) and its other platforms have many opinions about this sudden change. Some are excited about the approaching metaverse technology, while others fear what may become of society with technology like this.

Companies have already begun preparation for this new technology. For example, Nike has created several trademarks to sell products within the metaverse.

Facebook has opened up a new chapter in social technology. Now, it is just a waiting game until the technology is ready for the public.

YouTube to End Rewind After 11 Years

YouTube announced that they will be ending their annual Rewind videos after years of criticism and backlash.

YouTube Rewind, started in 2010, is a yearly recap video of all of the site’s trends, popular, and music, featuring top creators on the site. The videos have become some of the most viewed (and disliked) videos on the platform. They are a yearly tradition and a staple within the YouTube community.

The company decided not to release a Rewind for 2020, stating that “But 2020 has been different. And it doesn’t feel right to carry on as if it weren’t.”

YouTube’s 2020 Rewind cancellation tweet.

Pandemic concerns, as valid as they are, seem to be an excuse to cancel the series, as the Rewind videos have consistently received some of the harshest criticism on the site.

2018’s Rewind became the most disliked video on the platform and holds that title today. Many felt as if the video was pandering towards advertisers rather than featuring the community of users and top creators.

Anxious to avoid the same hate from the previous year, YouTube made 2019’s Rewind as simple and non-controversial as possible by simply making a compilation of the top videos of the year, throwing out all the bells and whistles of the normal Rewind. The change still managed to bring on heavy criticism from users.

Though this is the end of the Rewind series, the site still plans to release yearly recaps in a different format. The stated on Twitter that they plan to “refocus our energies on celebrating you and the trends that make YouTube [fire emoji] with a different and updated kind of experience – stay tuned.”

There are no further details on what this new Rewind experience will be just yet, but YouTube plans to turn to creators to fill in the blanks. Whatever the company decides to do, it would be in their best interest to try and avoid controversy.