Twitter admits to diversity problem

Twitter says it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley.

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The lack of diversity in Twitter’s workforce of roughly 3000 was detailed in data released by the San Francisco company behind the popular short messaging service on Wednesday.

The breakdown revealed 70 per cent of Twitter’s worldwide workforce is comprised of men.

In the US, nearly 90 per cent of Twitter’s workers are either white or Asian. Racial data wasn’t provided for the global workforce.

Things look even worse for computer programming positions and other technology jobs that tend to pay the highest salaries.

Just 10 per cent of those jobs are held by women worldwide. More than 90 per cent of Twitter’s technology jobs in the US are being handled by whites and Asians.

Twitter’s scarcity of women, black and Latino workers mirrors similar situations at Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn.

All of those companies have released their diversity data since late May in response to a campaign led by the civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH coalition.

Jackson has spent much of this year pressuring major Silicon Valley companies to diversify their workforces because the booming technology industry is expected to be a major source of employment for years to come.

Many of those jobs pay high salaries and give out stock options that can become worth millions of dollars.

In a statement, Jackson lambasted Twitter’s diversity numbers as “pathetic” but called the disclosure of the problem a “step in the right direction”.

Twitter vowed to change its ways.

“We are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity,” Janet Van Huysse, the company’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, wrote in a blog post.

Like some other technology companies, Twitter is supporting programs that teach women how to program computers and introducing internal training programs aiming to eliminate biases.

NSW government open to trial of medical cannabis

Clinical trials of medicinal cannabis could happen in NSW, but Premier Mike Baird is waiting on details about regulation and supply before making any commitments.

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Under a private member’s bill to be introduced next month by Nationals MP Kevin Anderson, terminally ill people and their carers will be legally able to carry up to 15 grams of cannabis.

Mr Baird indicated his support after meeting Daniel Haslam, a 24-year-old who in 2010 was told he would only live for a few more months.

Asked if he would support a clinical trial, as proposed by the Australian Medical Association, Mr Baird said “it may well be something we have to do”.

“I’m open to that,” he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

Mr Haslam began taking cannabis to relieve his symptoms and help deal with the side effects of chemotherapy.

His retired nurse mother Lucy and father Lou – former head of the drug squad in northwest NSW – are now asking politicians to legalise the controversial drug.

“I was struck with Daniel and the battle he’s in. It’s heart-wrenching,” Mr Baird said.

“I’ve got deep sympathy and empathy with their position.”

But Mr Baird is waiting to see details of the bill and whether it will address his concerns about the sale and regulation of the drug.

“I’ll be looking closely at that,” he said.

“Let’s get to the details of what comes forward.”

He wouldn’t say whether government MPs would be given a conscience vote on the proposal, which is supported by the Greens and has provisional backing from the opposition.

But if the bill satisfies Mr Baird, it seems likely Daniel and his family won’t be forced to break the law for much longer.

“If we can provide relief to them in those circumstance, well, what premier would not want to do that?” Mr Baird said.

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said he’s willing to work with the government but, like Mr Baird, wanted to see how the bill addresses things such as supply and access before fully endorsing it.

“I’m not writing a blank cheque, but I am very supportive of his notion,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“If marijuana is part of the solution to dealing with those issues as a means of relieving people’s pain, then we should be looking at that.”

‘My saddest photo yet’: Astronaut tweets Gaza conflict from space

 

The latest updates on the Gaza conflictJews and Arabs refuse to be enemies: Selfies that promote peace

German astronaut Alexander Gerst has tweeted a photo of the Gaza conflict from space, saying it was his ‘saddest photo yet.

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Gerst was onboard the International Space Station when he captured the conflict, claiming that he could see ‘rockets and explosions’ firing over the region. 

My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel pic.twitter广西桑拿,/jNGWxHilSy

— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 23, 2014

The UN Human Rights Council has launched a probe into the Gaza offensive, backing calls by the Palestinians to hold Israel to account, despite fierce opposition from the Jewish state.

The decision came after a marathon seven-hour emergency session of the top UN human rights body, where the Israelis and the Palestinians traded accusations over war crimes.

The Palestinian death toll climbing to 714 and airlines continuing to suspend flights to Israel over rocket fears.

Palestinian medics said Israeli attacks on Thursday hiked the death toll to 714 with a Gaza-based rights group saying more than 80 per cent of them were civilians.

Eighteen people were killed early on Thursday and 66 died in bombardments on Wednesday, medics said – most in Khuzaa on the Israeli border, close to the southern city of Khan Yunis.

The Israeli army said three more soldiers were killed inside Gaza on Wednesday, raising to 32 the total number of soldiers killed since the start of a ground operation on July 17.

Female Somali singer and MP shot dead in Mogadishu

Witnesses said armed men ambushed Warsame’s car, sparying it with bullets, as it was travelling in the south of the capital, killing her and her driver.

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“Lawmaker Saado Ali Warsame was killed with her driver by unidentified gunmen,” police officer Mohamed Hassan said.

The attack is the latest in a string of shootings and bombings targeting government officials.

Community in mourning

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, has strongly condemned the killing of Warsame, describing it as “barbaric.” 

The US and the UN have also condemned the shooting.

“We offer our deepest condolences to her family. As a singer, songwriter, poet and parliamentarian Warsame exemplified all the best qualities of Somali culture and tradition,” the US State Department said in a statement.

“This is a tremendous loss to the people of Somalia and to Somalis around the world.”

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, urged authorities to act quickly to ensure the perpetrators are punished. 

“I call on the authorities to make every effort to bring the perpetrators to justice swiftly. We remain resolute in our support for the Somali people and their representatives as they work to realise their hope for a peaceful and stable future,” he said.

Warsame is the fourth Somali lawmaker to be killed since the start of the year.

Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Shebab has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier this year, the group threatened to kill the country’s MPs “one by one”.

The Shebab has vowed to intensify attacks during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“I saw the gunmen driving in a car following the MP, then they opened fire… she died instantly and the gunmen then escaped,” said Abdukadir Ali, a witness.

“The dead body of the lawmaker and her driver were left in a pool of blood.”

Warsame famed for songs on political and social justice

Warsame was famous for her songs in the 1970s, when she sang about political and social justice in opposition to the hardline rule of then dictator Siad Barre before he was toppled in 1991, an event that triggered the all-out civil war in Somalia that still drags on today.

Al-Shebab fighters fled fixed positions in Mogadishu three years ago and have since lost most large towns to a 22,000-strong UN-backed African Union force, fighting alongside government soldiers.

But they still hold sway in vast swathes of the rural hinterland from which they regularly launch guerrilla raids.

Recent al-Shebab attacks in Somalia have targeted key areas of government and security forces in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and AU troops that they are winning the war.

While the AU force launched a fresh offensive in March against al-Shebab bases, seizing a series of towns, the insurgents have largely fled in advance and suffered few casualties.

Earlier this month al-Shebab launched an assault on the presidential palace using similar tactics as an attack on the same fortified compound in February.

In May, the Islamist insurgents also launched a similar attack against the national parliament.

Peaches Geldof’s death ruled a drug overdose

Peaches Geldof, daughter of Live Aid founder Bob Geldof, was a heroin addict who died from a drug overdose, a coroner has ruled.

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Her husband told a hearing that the 25-year-old TV presenter had started taking the drug again in February this year, having given it up three months earlier. She had been taking the substitute drug methadone in the two and a half years before her death.

A police search of the rural family home found 6.9 grammes of “importation quality” heroin and drug paraphernalia hidden in a black bin bag in a cupboard over a bedroom door.

The officer in charge of the police investigation estimated that the drugs would have been worth between STG350 ($A638), and that they “far exceeded” the purity levels normally found at street level.

Geldof’s husband, Thomas Cohen, a musician, spoke of witnessing his wife flushing a stash of drugs down the toilet after a conversation about her addiction.

The 23-year-old confirmed that he had spoken to Geldof several times over the weekend before her death and that she had seemed fine, with the last call taking place at 5.40pm on Sunday, April 6.

When he was unable to make contact the following day, Cohen and his mother went to the property with the couple’s son Astala, 2, where they found Geldof’s body on her bed. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

After hearing the evidence, coroner Roger Hatch concluded that Geldof’s death was drugs-related.

“It’s said that the death of Peaches Geldof-Cohen is history repeating itself but this is not entirely so,” he said to the hearing on Wednesday.

“By November last year she had ceased to take heroin as a result of the considerable treatment and counselling that she had received.

“This was a significant achievement for her but for reasons we will never know prior to her death she returned to taking heroin.”