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Julian Assange supports Twitter users blocked by Donald Trump, calls action ‘unconstitutional’

San Francisco:  WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has supported a lawsuit filed against US President Donald Trump by a group of Twitter users whom he blocked.

Julian Assange. Reuters

“I support this suit against Trump. It a constitutional violation for a state official to block political comments,” Assange wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

He added that the “only exception” would be “if the user makes the same comment endlessly which would have the effect of denying others space to speak”.

The group argued that Trump’s Twitter account amounts to a public forum as he as a government official cannot bar people from.

The blocked users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, filed the suit against Trump, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Dan Scavino — the White House Director of Social Media on Tuesday.

The group claimed that the President’s blocking of users on the social network is “unconstitutional”.

The suit asked Trump to unblock the users.

“Twitter enables ordinary citizens to speak directly to public officials and to listen to and debate others about public issues in the same way they could if they were gathered on a sidewalk or at a city council meeting,” the lawsuit said.

By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Trump was violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the lawsuit stated.

Published Date: Jul 16, 2017 03:27 pm | Updated Date: Jul 16, 2017 03:35 pm

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AAP MLAs seeking appointment with LG 'ousted' by police: Somnath Bharti

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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AAP MLAs forced out of L-G's house

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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Delhi

Peek raises $23M and inks partnership with Google in push to digitize travel activities

Peek, a U.S. startup aiming to digitize the travel activities industry, has pulled a $23 million Series B round of financing and uncorked a partnership with Google that will help increase its visibility.

Founded in 2012 by Ruzwana Bashir (CEO) and Oskar Bruening (CTO), the startup describes itself as “OpenTable for the activities market” in that it aims to make booking activities as seamless and straightforward as a restaurant or even a flight.

Peek raised $10 million two years ago, and this new round is led by Cathay Innovation with participation from existing backers that include ex-Yelp COO Geoff Donaker, Kayak founder Paul English, 2BF and Manta Ray. Peek has plenty of well-known angel backers, including Pete Flint — founder of Trulia and NFX — former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. This new round takes it to $40 million from investors to date.

In addition to the money, the startup has announced a tie-up with Google that will see its inventory added to Google Search, Google Maps and Google Trips. That’s sure to help visibility and spike bookings, and it adds to other partnerships that Peek has struck with platforms that include Yelp.

Peek is taking aim at the global activities market which Bashir estimates is worth some $150 billion, with the U.S. being the most lucrative market on the planet.

“It hasn’t gone through the analog-to-digital transition like other industries,” she told TechCrunch in an interview. “So we’re building the infrastructure and software that emerged in other industries ten years ago.”

Peek’s business model is similar to two well-backed Asian companies, Klook — which has raised over $90 million from the likes of Sequoia China and Goldman Sachs — and KKDay, which was recently backed by Japanese travel giant H.I.S.. Despite that, Bashir said that the problem of digitizing the space isn’t just limited to Asia or emerging markets.

“When you look at businesses in the U.S., over 70% don’t have real-time online booking, you still have to call the business or email them,” she explained.

That’s an important point, and it underlines the approach that Peek has taken. Unlike its Asia-based rivals, the company has a dual approach which starts by offering booking software that allows travel companies to actually take bookings and sales online. It also allows them to run their businesses from mobile, which is increasingly important.

That’s the hook that gets them into Peek, and from there the company offers more services under its ‘Pro’ offering and also the consumer-facing platform that travelers (or, rather, action-seekers) can use to book activities. That distinction about ‘travelers’ is important since Bashir said that around one-third of Peek bookings come from people doing things in their own town, so not everyone is traveling.

Peek founders Oskar Bruening and Ruzwana Bashir.

Peek claims to offer 10,000 experiences in the U.S. and Mexico, while it has 500,000 reviews and ratings which are verified since users can only leave them if they have booked, paid-for and done their activity.

Bashir said, in addition, that the company’s software has scaled to handle “hundreds of millions of dollars” in booking volume. She declined to give specific financial details, including revenue and profit/loss, but did say that the company’s unit economics are “highly profitable” but it is seeking growth right now.

“Part of this round is allowing ourselves to go out and reach more businesses,” she added.

For now, Peek is keeping its focus on the U.S. but it has also expanded into Mexico since that is a well-trodden destination for U.S.-based travelers. That focus will continue following this round, with Bashir adamant that with an estimated two percent of activity spend taking place online, there’s plenty of potential growth to be had at home before tackling international markets.

She did, however, say that the decision to work with Cathay Innovation — which raised its inaugural $320 million fund last year — was partly borne out of an awareness that when it is time to overseas, the firm has experience and networks that will be helpful.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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