- Over a thousand Manchester United fans protested the soccer team’s American ownership Sunday in demonstrations that soon became violent.
- Around 200 fans reportedly forced their way past security and onto the field of the team’s home stadium, postponing a game between United and Liverpool.
- Police are investigating two notable clashes. One incident involved an officer who was slashed along his face, while the second, which was caught on video, seemingly depicts an officer beating a protester laying on the ground.
- The protests followed United’s owners initially signing the team up to compete in the controversial and now-defunct Super League.
Fans Storm Soccer Field
The European Super League may have felt like a fever dream after plans for it came and then suddenly fell apart, but some fans are determined to never experience that nightmare again.
Those efforts came to a head Sunday when around 200 angry fans stormed the field of Old Trafford, the home stadium of Manchester United, to protest the team’s owners, the billionaire Glazer family. Many even held signs reading, ”Love United. Hate Glazer” and “Glazer Out.”
While The New York Times has cited fan opinion of the Glazers as “irredeemably unpopular” and even “parasitic,” Sunday’s protests were specifically a result of the Glazers initially signing Manchester United to the Super League.
The Super League, which was announced on April 18 and suspended just two days later, sought to create a new knockout tournament for Europe’s most elite teams. Six of the twelve teams that immediately signed on were from England’s Premier League; however, fans were not happy with this new league, as many feared it would just be a cash grab and would diminish the value of Europe’s top league.
Fans at Sunday’s protests called for the Glazers, who are American, to be ousted and have ownership of the team be conferred to someone within the United Kingdom.
As the protests unfolded, they held up a scheduled game between Manchester United and Liverpool. In fact, around 200 protesters even blockaded the buses that were meant to take players from their hotel to the stadium, forcing players to be sitting ducks as they watched the demonstrations from inside their rooms.
Meanwhile, at the stadium, around 1,000 protesters reportedly gathered peacefully initially; however, that quickly devolved when fans began breaking through security and forcing themselves onto the pitch. Some reports even suggested that a few fans had breached the team’s changing room at one point.
According to Greater Manchester Police, two officers were injured, with one “sustaining a significant slash wound to his face.” Other reports also show what appears to be an officer repeatedly punching a protester while he’s on the ground.
Fallout From the Protests
As all of this was happening, the Premier League held out from canceling or postponing the game. Instead, the league said the game would simply be delayed.
After several hours of protests, the league conceded defeat and announced that the game would be postponed. Currently, it’s unclear when the match will be rescheduled.
“We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated Covid-19 breaches,” the league said in a statement. “Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.”
Manchester United also released an official statement acknowledging fans’ right to “free expression and peaceful protest.”
“However, we regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff, and the police in danger,” the club added. “We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any subsequent investigations.”
So far, police have announced they’ve launched investigations into the injured officer and the officer who appears to repeatedly punch a protester.
While the biggest and most violent demonstration yet, this isn’t the first anti-Glazer protest seen in recent weeks. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, nearly two dozen Manchester United fans broke into a training base to call for the Glazers’ oustings.
Monday morning, England’s Football Association announced that it has launched a formal inquiry into the role English Premier teams played while trying to create the Super League.
“Once we have the required information, we will consider what appropriate steps to take,” it said. “Clearly what happened was unacceptable and could have caused great harm to clubs at every level of English football.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (ESPN)
Facebook Is Reviewing More Than 2,200 Hours of Footage for Next-Gen AI
The project, which could prove to be revolutionary, is already raising some big privacy concerns.
Facebook’s Next-Gen AI
Facebook announced Thursday that it has captured more than 2,200 hours of first-person video that it will use to train next-gen AI models.
The company said it aims to make the AI, called Ego4D, capable of understanding and identifying both real and virtual objects through a first-person perspective using smart glasses or VR headsets. In effect, that could potentially help users do everything from remembering where they placed forgotten items to recording others in secret.
Facebook listed five key scenarios the project aims to tackle and gave real-world examples of how each may look for people who will eventually use the AI.
- “What happened when?” With that scenario, Facebook gave the example, “Where did I leave my keys?”
- “What am I likely to do next?” There, Facebook gave the example, “Wait, you’ve already added salt to this recipe.”
- “What am I doing?” For example, “What was the main topic during class?”
- “Who said what when?” For example, “What was the main topic during class?”
- “Who is interacting with whom?” For example, “Help me better hear the person talking to me at this noisy restaurant.”
Facebook said the amount of footage it has collected is 20 times greater than any other data set used by the company.
In the wake of recent controversy surrounding Facebook, it’s important to note that the footage wasn’t reaped from users. Instead, the company said it, and 13 university partners, compiled the footage from more than 700 participants around the world.
Still, that hasn’t alleviated all privacy concerns.
In an article titled, “Facebook is researching AI systems that see, hear, and remember everything you do,” The Verge writer James Vincent said that although the project’s guidelines seem practical, “the company’s interest in this area will worry many.”
Vincent pointe out that the AI announcement doesn’t mention anything in the way of privacy or removing data for people who may not want to be recorded.
A Facebook spokesperson later assured Vincent that privacy safeguards will be introduced to the public in the future.
“For example, before AR glasses can enhance someone’s voice, there could be a protocol in place that they follow to ask someone else’s glasses for permission, or they could limit the range of the device so it can only pick up sounds from the people with whom I am already having a conversation or who are in my immediate vicinity,” the spokesperson said.
Among positive reception, some believe the tech could be revolutionary for helping people around the house, as well as for teaching robots to more rapidly learn about their surroundings.
FDA Issues Its First E-Cigarette Authorization Ever
The authorization only applies to tobacco-flavored products, as the FDA simultaneously rejected several sweet and fruit-flavored e-cigarette cartridges.
FDA Approves E-Cigarette
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an e-cigarette pen sold under the brand name Vuse on Tuesday, as well as two tobacco-flavored cartridges that can be used with the pen.
This marks the first time the FDA has ever authorized the use of vaping products. In a news release, the agency said it made the decision because “the authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data.”
“The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products — either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption — by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals,” the agency added.
The company that owns Vuse, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, also submitted several sweet and fruit-flavored pods for review; however, those were all rejected. While the FDA did not specify which flavors it rejected, it did note that it has yet to make a decision on whether to allow menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, including ones sold under Vuse.
FDA Is Reviewing All Vape Products Still on the Market
In January 2020, the FDA banned pre-filled pods with sweet and fruity flavors from being sold. While other e-cigarette related products, including some forms of flavored vapes, were allowed to stay on the market for the time being, they were only able to do so if they were submitted for FDA review.
The FDA’s primary issue with fruity cartridges stems from statistics showing that those pods more easily hook new smokers, particularly underage smokers.
In fact, in its approval of the Vuse products, the FDA said it only authorized them because it “determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth, provided the applicant follows post-marketing requirements aimed at reducing youth exposure and access to the products.”
While some have cheered the FDA’s decision, not everyone was enthusiastic. Many critics cited a joint FDA-CDC study in which nearly 11% of teens who said they vape also indicated regularly using Vuse products.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Wall Street Journal) (The Washington Post)
Kaiser Permanente Health Workers Vote To Authorize Strike Over Pay, Staffing, and Safety
The vote could inspire unioned Kaiser workers in other states to eventually approve strikes of their own.
Workers Approve Strike
Over 24,000 unioned nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals voted Monday to authorize strikes against the company in California and Oregon.
The tens of thousands of workers who cast a ballot make up 86% of the Kaiser-based healthcare professionals represented by either the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) or the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. An overwhelming 96% voted to approve the strike.
According to both unions, the list of workers includes nurses, pharmacists, midwives, and physical therapists.
The vote itself does not automatically initiate a strike; rather, it gives the unions the power to call a strike amid stalled contract negotiations between Kaiser and the unions. If the unions ultimately tell their members to begin striking, they will need to give a 10-day warning.
The California and Oregon contracts expired Sep. 30, but several more Kaiser-based union contracts are rapidly approaching their expiration dates as well. That includes contracts for more than 50,000 workers in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Washington state, and D.C. Notably, the demands from those workers echo many of the demands made by California and Oregon’s union members.
At the center of this potential strike are three issues: staffing problems, safety concerns, and proposed revisions to Kaiser’s payment system. For months, nurses have been publicly complaining about long shifts spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing shortages, and an over-reliance on contract nurses.
Because of that, they’re seeking to force Kaiser to commit to hiring more staff, as well as boost retention.
But the main catalyst for any looming strikes is pay. According to UNAC/UHCP, Kaiser wants to implement a two-tier payment system, which would decrease earnings by 26% to 39% for employees hired from 2023 onward. On top of that, those new employees would see fewer health protections.
The unions and their members worry such a system could lead to an increased feeling of resentment among workers since they would be paid different rates for performing the same job. They also worry it could exacerbate retention and hiring issues already faced by the hospital system.
Additionally, the workers want to secure 4% raises for each of the next three years, but Kaiser’s currently only willing to give 1%, citing a need to reduce labor costs to remain competitive.