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Far-Right Groups Push Back as Protesters Rally in Europe

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LONDON — Thousands of people rallied against police brutality and racism in European cities like London and Paris on Saturday, punctuating a week of protests across the continent that included destruction of statues linked to slavery and demands for a reckoning with racial discrimination.

As European protesters have shown solidarity with demonstrators in the United States in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, they have also denounced their own countries’ problems and urged the authorities to address them.

But even as protesters gathered en masse to demand stronger measures against racism, far-right groups and protesters, most of them white, have fiercely pushed back, leading to chaotic episodes of violence on Saturday.

The situation grew especially tense in London, where crowds of white male counterprotestors clashed repeatedly with the police, who had imposed restrictions on the anti-racism marches because of concerns about the potential for violence.

The protest and counterprotest came to an explosive head in Trafalgar Square, when small numbers of Black Lives Matter supporters and their antagonists threw bottles and booming fireworks against one another, while the police tried to separate them.

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Credit…Simon Dawson/Reuters

Parliament Square, where thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters had gathered just a week ago, was filled on Saturday with hundreds of overwhelmingly white male counterdemonstrators. Many said they had assembled to prevent attacks targeting the statues in the square, especially that of Winston Churchill.

“People are defacing my history and my culture,” said Dave Allen, a 30-year-old lawyer from London who had joined the counterprotest. “That’s why these people are here, because we feel we’re getting attacked.”

Videos shared on social media showed mounted police officers standing guard in Parliament Square in front of boarded-up statues and repelling protesters who threatened and punched them.

The confrontations in London came days after protesters tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, in Bristol, and others scrawled “racist” on a Churchill statue in Parliament Square.

The statue of Churchill, a usually revered figure in Britain who steered the country through World War II, was later covered to protect it. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the episode “absurd and shameful.”

In Paris, some 15,000 people rallied to demand justice for Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old who died in 2016 after the police had arrested him. Amid the overwhelmingly young crowds, demonstrators waved signs reading “No justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter,” less than two weeks after 20,000 protesters had assembled in front of a Paris court for Mr. Traoré. The Saturday protests were organized by “The Truth For Adama,” an advocacy group led by Mr. Traoré’s sister, Assa Traoré. The rally remained largely peaceful, although police officers threw tear gas and clashed with protesters in the late afternoon.

“In France, we have a tendency to deny thorny issues like race,” said Isabelle Blanche, a 41-year-old black protester who came with her brother. She said that it had taken Mr. Floyd’s death in the United States “for people to finally wake up.”

Wearing a black T-shirt bearing the inscription “Justice for Adama,” Océane Loimon, 18, blamed the French authorities for refusing to address police brutality, but as she pointed to the crowds on the plaza, she said: “They cannot ignore it anymore.”

As in London, the atmosphere in Paris had grown tense earlier in the afternoon when far-right activists unfurled a large red banner reading “White Lives Matter” on the roof of a building of the plaza. The crowd below chanted “No justice, no peace,” in response, and later cheered residents who tore down the lower part of the banner with chisels and knives. Some threw fireworks at the far-right activists, who were later chased off the roof by a handful of protesters.

Similar protests in Lyon ended in confrontations with the police, who fired tear gas in response to protesters who threw bottles and stones at them, according to local media reports.

Some demonstrations also were held in Germany including the city of Stuttgart, but they were much smaller than those of previous weekends.

Credit…Christoph Schmidt/DPA, via Associated Press

Across Europe, governments have walked a thin line throughout the week in trying to quell public anger while doing little to acknowledge signs of systemic racism.

The leader of a German opposition party, the Greens, has called for a change of wording in the country’s Constitution to include a provision that no one should face discrimination on the grounds of “racism.” Chancellor Angela Merkel and her justice minister signaled this week that they would be open to a public debate on the change, which would require support from two-thirds of Parliament.

But the authorities have otherwise urged people to avoid protesting and to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 167,000 people in Western Europe and dragged the continent into its worst economic slump since World War II.

The police in Paris reminded the public that gatherings of more than 10 people remained forbidden, and they asked businesses and restaurants to close near the Place de la République, where thousands remained on Saturday in defiance of the police barricades leading to the plaza.

Many protesters were unfazed by the warnings. “I’m less afraid of the coronavirus than I’m afraid of being killed by the police,” said Cécilia Ranguin, a 20-year-old law student, who is black.

Saturday evening, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, reestablished the right to protest, provided that protesters respect health measures like mask-wearing and social distancing and that the gathering does not exceed 5,000 people.

Credit…Benoit Tessier/Reuters

In London, the police urged people to avoid demonstrating in the city and set a 5 p.m. deadline for all protesters to leave the defined demonstration routes.

“I absolutely understand why people want to make their voices heard,” Bas Javid, the Metropolitan Police commander, said in a statement. “But the government direction is that we remain in a health pandemic, and people are asked not to gather in large groups.”

As the 5 p.m. curfew approached, the police were taking measures to ensure that the right-wing groups were kept separate from the Black Lives Matter protesters.

The presence of far-right counterprotesters on Saturday added a new layer of complexity to an already tense situation in Britain and France, where demonstrators’ demands have been met with resistance from police forces, who argue that instances of racism by their members have been isolated episodes.

Credit…Michel Euler/Associated Press

Dialogue between protesters and the authorities in Europe has been infrequent. While demonstrators in Britain called on their country to acknowledge its racist and imperialist history, Mr. Johnson has accused those who wanted to remove statues of trying to “edit or censor our past.”

But there are also signs that politicians in Europe are heeding protesters’ calls.

Sibeth Ndiaye, a spokeswoman for France’s government, said on Saturday that the country had not brought an end to racism and that discrimination should be discussed more openly. In an opinion piece in the newspaper Le Monde, Ms. Ndiaye — who was born in Senegal and moved to France as a teenager — said the country needed to tackle “the reality of the suffering” that minorities endure.

As the protest neared a conclusion in Paris, protesters confronted police forces. “We are not afraid,” Ms. Traoré chanted, as the truck she stood on drove back to the center of the plaza, and parked in front of a cordon of armor-clad police forces.

Iliana Magra reported from London, and Elian Peltier and Constant Méheut from Paris. Melissa Eddy contributed reporting from Berlin.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/world/europe/george-floyd-protests-police.html

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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.

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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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