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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.



Latest update : 2014-04-29

USA: online support for tornado victims

In this edition: online reports of the damage caused by tornadoes in Arkansas and Oklahoma; the owner of a US basketball team under fire over racist comments; and the flying robot rock stars.


A series of tornadoes struck Arkansas on Sunday night; here we see the city of Mayflower… houses completely destroyed, wiping entire residential neighbourhoods off the map, upturned cars, uprooted trees. Photojournalist Brian Emfinger used a drone to film this video which has been widely shared online and testifies to the scale of damage caused.

There are now many pictures of the aftermath doing the rounds on social networks. Shots that show the scenes of devastation across Arkansas, but also in the neighbouring state of Oklahoma which was also hit by tornados late Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Struck by these images, American web users have been posting messages of support for those affected, using the #PrayForArkansas or #PrayForOklahoma Twitter hashtags, and urging their fellow citizens to spare a thought for those who have lost everything.

Victims of the tornadoes are being directed towards the Red Cross website and Twitter page, for information on the nearest emergency shelter. The organization has also set up a web page where victims can post messages for loved ones, to let them know they are safe. It`s an effective way of reassuring people with friends or family living in Arkansas and Oklahoma, as communications are down in many areas meaning they cannot be reached on the telephone.


These racist remarks attributed to the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers have rocked the US basketball world over the past few days. The scandal was exposed by the TMZ site on Friday when they posted an audio recording of a conversation between Donald Sterling and his girlfriend, he was apparently angry she had posted a photo to her Instagram page showing her posing with basketball legend Magic Johnson.

And the former Los Angeles Lakers star was one of the first to react on Twitter. Indeed, Magic Johnson has said he will be boycotting Clippers` matches as long as Donald Sterling remains the owner, adding this type of discrimination has no place in the NBA.

Other basketball players have also spoken out against Sterling`s alleged racist comments, saying they could never play for his team. And one of the current players for the Clippers, DeAndre Jordan, has added his voice to the wave of indignation by posting a simple black square to his Instagram page.

So with Donald Sterling now the subject of an NBA enquiry his critics want him out and have been campaigning under the #SterlingMustGo Twitter hashtag. Social networkers are also pointing out that this is not the first time Sterling has sparked controversy and has been accused of bigotry in the past. Many are saying its time he answered for his actions, and they expect North America`s professional basketball league to take exemplary action.


Nigerian web users have been posting under the #BringBackOurGirls Twitter hashtag in an effort to exert pressure on the authorities to do more to rescue over 200 school girls who were abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants on April 15. Social networkers have been retweeting an online petition calling on the international community to intervene so the girls can be reunited with their families as soon as possible.


Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has once again sparked outrage after posting a photograph of the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo, Japan to his Instagram feed. Chinese and South Korean social networkers are upset and offended, accusing him of promoting a shrine they see as a glorification of Tokyo`s wartime aggression… Justin Bieber has since apologized for any offense caused and removed the image from the sharing site.


Doctoral candidate Aditya Khosla from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is heading up a team of researchers working on a site that will be able to predict how popular your Instagram photo will be. They have analysed date from over 2 million online photos, and the resulting algorithm takes into account everything from colour, textures and objects present. Initial conclusions show pics featuring mini-skirts, bras and guns are the most popular. At the other end of the scale – photos of golf carts or radiators are likely to flop.


This video was put together by Kmel Robotics and shows Flying robots playing all manner of musical instruments… bells, percussion, keyboard… performing a selection of well-known melodies. The clip is called “Flying Robot Rockstars” and you can check it out in its entirety on YouTube.

By Electron Libre



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