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Elon Musk asks judge to throw out defamation lawsuit against him

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Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, is asking a U.S. judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a British diver who helped rescue a boys soccer team trapped in a Thailand cave and said Musk defamed him by calling him a pedophile and child rapist.

In a filing Wednesday with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Musk’s lawyers said their client’s comments about Vernon Unsworth were free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, even if they lacked any factual basis.

They also said Musk’s “over-the-top” comments came amid a “schoolyard spat on social media,” including Twitter, where participants “expect to read opinions, not facts,” and that no one could have reasonably believed they were truthful.

These statements were “just imaginative attacks; even if offensive, such speculative insults are by their nature opinion and protected by the First Amendment,” the lawyers said.

Musk made a derogatory comment on Twitter about British diver Vern Unsworth, left, who played a key role in the rescue efforts of the Thai soccer team form a cave in Thailand. (Pongmanat Tasiri/EPA-EFE, Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press )

Musk on July 15 called Unsworth a “pedo guy” in a tweet to more than 22 million Twitter followers, a comment for which he later apologized. He also urged a BuzzFeed News reporter in an Aug. 30 email to investigate Unsworth and “stop defending child rapists.”

Unsworth has denied those allegations.

He said he became a target after rescue divers declined to use a mini-submarine offered by Musk’s SpaceX rocket company. Unsworth told CNN the offer was a “PR stunt” and the device would not have worked.

L. Lin Wood, a lawyer for Unsworth, rejected Musk’s defence, saying it would effectively doom all lawsuits over alleged false and defamatory attacks on reputation published online.

Lawyers for Musk claim people ‘expect to read opinions, not facts’ on Twitter. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

“Mr. Musk does not let the facts or well-established law get in the way of his novel but inaccurate contentions in his motion to dismiss,” Wood said on Thursday. “I am confident the trial court will likewise reject this fanciful position.”

A hearing is set for April 1, 2019.

Unsworth, who lives in Hertfordshire County north of London, sought at least $75,000 US in compensatory damages plus unspecified punitive damages in his Sept. 17 lawsuit.

The soccer team, including 12 boys and a coach, was freed from the cave on July 10 after an 18-day ordeal.

Musk has faced other litigation over his Twitter use. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of securities fraud for saying he had “secured” funding to take Tesla private for $420 US per share, a big premium.

On Sept. 29, Musk agreed to pay a $20 million US fine and step aside as the California-based electric car company’s chairman for three years to settle the SEC case.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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