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Airbnb Is Financing a User’s Lawsuit Against New York City

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Airbnb is ramping up its fight against New York officials by providing financial support to a lawsuit against the city.

Stanley Karol, a 56-year-old Airbnb host in Brooklyn, sued the city in federal court Wednesday, accusing officials of retaliating against him for speaking out in support of home rentals. The city imposed fines on Karol that could total more than $30,000 after he appeared at a council meeting in June, according to the complaint. Airbnb agreed to pay his legal fees in the case, said Christopher Nulty, a spokesman for the company.

The suit was filed just hours before the New York City council is expected to pass a bill requiring Airbnb and other home-rental sites to disclose the names and addresses of hosts. The bill is designed to help authorities crack down on illegal short-term stays. Airbnb opposes the measure, saying it would violate the privacy of law-abiding hosts.

The Airbnb-backed lawsuit is another twist in a nearly decade-long war between the company and New York. Airbnb sued the city and state directly in 2016 over a law restricting short-term sublets. It settled both cases within a couple months. The battle raged on this year, with the city comptroller accusing Airbnb of costing New Yorkers $616 million in rent increases and Airbnb accusing city council members in June of being in the pockets of the hotel industry.

Litigation finance is a controversial new tool for Airbnb. Peter Thiel, the billionaire technology investor and President Donald Trump backer, used it to great effect when he funded Hulk Hogan’s suit against Gawker. Unlike Thiel, Airbnb isn’t trying to hide its involvement in the New York suit.

If the city passes the new law Wednesday, Airbnb would be required to share hosts’ information with the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, the same agency Karol has accused of targeting him. Karol received citations for converting his basement into an illegal hotel and failing to meet fire codes, the complaint said.

“People shouldn’t have to worry that when they go home, there’s going to be a knock on the door just because they decided to speak up against the government,” said Andrew Celli, an attorney at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, which is representing Karol in the case.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-18/airbnb-is-financing-a-user-s-lawsuit-against-new-york-city

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9-year-old genius to graduate university

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Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne

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Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Source nydailynews.com/

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