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Family of Black Man Found Hanging From Tree Dispute Suicide Finding

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City officials in Palmdale, Calif., said on Saturday that they support calls by activists and residents who have demanded an independent investigation into the death of a 24-year-old black man who was found hanging from a tree in a public square this week.

The death of the man, Robert L. Fuller, which officials initially deemed a suicide, has deeply shaken the city in northern Los Angeles County and has reverberated far beyond amid nationwide protests against racism that were set off by the death of George Floyd.

At a rally for Mr. Fuller on Saturday, his sister, Diamond Alexander, said that the initial determination by officials that her brother hanged himself did not make sense.

“Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right,” she said, according to video of the rally in Palmdale. “We’ve been hearing one thing. Then we hear another. And we just want to know the truth.”

She added: “My brother was not suicidal. He wasn’t.”

Hundreds of people marched and held signs that read, “Justice for Robert Fuller” and “Black Lives Matter.” Protesters called out: “Say his name!” and the crowd chanted, “Robert Fuller.”

A passer-by found Mr. Fuller’s body hanging from a tree in Poncitlán Square, across from Palmdale City Hall, at around 3:39 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Personnel from a nearby fire station responded and determined that Mr. Fuller was dead, the department said. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office also responded.

Credit…via GoFundMe.com

“Although the investigation is ongoing, it appears Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Friday, adding that a full autopsy was expected soon.

The city of Palmdale said in a statement on Saturday that it was “officially supporting the call for an independent investigation and an independent autopsy” of Mr. Fuller.

“The City of Palmdale is joining the family and the community’s call for justice, and we do support a full investigation into his death,” the statement said. “We will settle for nothing less than a thorough accounting of this matter.”

Deputy Sheriff Eric Ortiz, a department spokesman, said on Saturday that the agency had no immediate response to the call by city officials and activists for an independent investigation. He said the Homicide Bureau was continuing to investigate. The county coroner’s office did not immediately respond to messages on Saturday.

After officials released their account of Mr. Fuller’s death this week, it was immediately challenged by activists, residents and people on social media.

At a news conference called by officials at Palmdale City Hall on Friday, residents said they had no faith in the local authorities to properly investigate Mr. Fuller’s death and wanted complete transparency and an independent review.

“Why was it right here in public, in front of City Hall, next to a church, in front of a library?” one woman said. “Why was it like that? Who would do that? No black man would hang himself in public like that.”

Others demanded to know if there were video cameras in the area and to know who found Mr. Fuller.

The Palmdale city manager, J.J. Murphy, said that the city was working with the authorities to identify footage from cameras around the area. There are no city cameras in the park, he said.

Some said the authorities had rushed to judgment without gathering all of the facts.

“That’s a lie!” several people shouted after Capt. Ronald Shaffer of the Sheriff’s Department said it appeared that Mr. Fuller died by suicide.

“Can I also ask that we stop talking about lynchings?” Mr. Murphy said at another point during the news conference, prompting people in attendance to respond, “Hell no!”

Kim Kardashian West, the reality TV star, weighed in on Twitter on Friday, urging her more than 65 million followers to sign a petition to demand a thorough investigation.

“This was not a case of suicide but murder,” reads the petition.

The N.A.A.C.P.’s Antelope Valley branch said in a statement that law enforcement needed to provide answers.

“A grieving family deserves to know if foul play was involved,” the statement said.

Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster, a nearby city, said law enforcement officials told him on Friday that all signs pointed to a suicide, and that there were no signs indicating any other cause of death.

“There were apparently scars on his body consistent with previous attempts,” Mr. Parris said.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Ms. Alexander included a link to a local news story about the body found hanging from a tree.

“Words can’t describe how much my family is hurting right now,” she said in a separate post on Thursday. Ms. Alexander asked for the public’s help, urging anyone who had seen anything to “please come forward.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/us/robert-fuller-death-palmdale.html

Publications

Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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