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March 2, 2023

A Windy Week

A deadly tornado has ripped through midwest America, killing at least 26 people. Homes have been destroyed and thousands have been left without power after huge storms caused devastation across several states. Three British men are being held by Taliban in Afghanistan, with the UK government ‘working’ to get them home. And finally, the world-famous AI, Chat GDP has been banned in Italy over ‘privacy concerns’.

Numerous homes have been destroyed, and thousands of people have been left without power in the aftermath of the violent storms that have affected several states. - BBC/ CNN/ GETTY/ AP

US tornadoes: Death toll grows as extreme storms ravage several states

At least 26 people have been killed after a series of tornadoes tore through towns and cities in the South and Midwest of the United States. Homes were destroyed and thousands have been left without power after huge storms caused devastation across several states.

A devastating series of tornadoes have left at least 26 people dead in towns and cities across the Southern and Midwestern regions of the United States.

Numerous homes have been destroyed, and thousands of people have been left without power in the aftermath of the violent storms that have affected several states.

As per reports by the National Weather Service, over 80 tornadoes have been reported since March 31st. States including Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, and Mississippi have all suffered fatalities due to the tornadoes.

In one incident, a storm ripped through the town of Wynne in Arkansas, located approximately 100 miles (170km) east of the state capital, Little Rock. The damage caused by these natural disasters has been catastrophic.

Ashley Macmillan and her family, along with their dogs, sought refuge in their bathroom during the tornado, where they feared for their lives and “said their goodbyes” to one another. The tornado caused significant damage to their home due to a falling tree, but they were fortunate enough to escape unscathed.

Ms Macmillan said that they had felt the house shaking, heard loud noises and dishes rattling, followed by a sudden calmness as the tornado passed overhead.

Wynne High School was one of the many buildings damaged in the tornado, with some of its structures torn to pieces.

According to one of its teachers, Lisa Worden, the decision to send pupils home early was crucial in preventing more damage and casualties.

In Arkansas, governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders called up the state's national guard and declared an emergency as a tornado damaged homes and vehicles in the Little Rock area.

A week prior to the recent tornadoes, a long-track tornado hit Mississippi and claimed the lives of 26 people. The storm travelled 59 miles (94km) and lasted over an hour, causing significant damage to around 2,000 homes.

President Biden visited the state on Friday to offer his condolences to those affected by the disaster.

British Commandos run into a Chinook in Afghanistan: The third man is understood to be Miles Routledge, 23, from Birmingham, who was evacuated from Afghanistan by British Armed Forces in August 2021. - British Army/ Sky News/ GETTY

Three British men held by Taliban in Afghanistan

Three British nationals are currently being held in custody by the Taliban in Afghanistan, a humanitarian organisation has told the BBC. The home secretary, Suella Braverman said the government was "in negotiations" over the men.

According to a humanitarian organisation that spoke with the BBC, the Taliban is currently holding three UK citizens in custody in Afghanistan.

One of the men has been identified as Kevin Cornwell, aged 53, from Middlesbrough, by Scott Richards from the Presidium Network. Mr. Richards confirmed that Mr. Cornwell and another man were arrested in January, and a third man was arrested on a different occasion.

The UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, stated that negotiations were ongoing with the government regarding the men's situation. She advised that UK citizens should exercise caution when traveling to dangerous parts of the world and follow the advice provided by the Foreign Office.

The UK government will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of its citizens abroad, and is working diligently to protect their welfare in this case.

The UK Foreign Office stated that it was making significant efforts to reach out to the detained individuals. The Presidium Network is a UK-based non-profit organisation that works to support communities in crisis by advocating for the needs of people affected by poverty or violence to international policymakers.

Mr. Richards, representing the organisation, confirmed that they were assisting Mr. Cornwell, a paramedic working for a charity, and the unnamed second man, but not the third British national.

According to Mr. Richards, although there were no official charges, the two men were detained on January 11th over a weapon found in a safe in Mr. Cornwell's room, which was stored with a license issued by the Afghan interior ministry.

He stated that the license was missing, but they had taken several witness statements confirming its existence, and the scenario was a probable misunderstanding since the license could have been separated from the weapon during the search.

It is understood that the third man in custody is Miles Routledge, aged 23, from Birmingham. He was evacuated from Afghanistan by the British Armed Forces in August 2021.

The former Loughborough University student has gained attention for his travels to perilous destinations and documenting them on social media.

He has previously expressed an affinity for "dark" and "extreme" tourism, citing it as the reason for his travels to Afghanistan.

Less than two years ago, he was rescued from the country during the evacuation of UK citizens from Kabul.

At the time, he expressed his gratitude to the British Army for their support during the rescue operation, stating that he was "exhausted but relieved" to be safe.

According to Mr. Richards, the Presidium Network believes that the two men they are representing are being treated well and are in good health, without any evidence of torture or mistreatment.

However, there has been no substantial communication between the authorities and the organisations representatives.

While OpenAI claims to comply with privacy laws, the regulator has cited concerns over the use of the internet as the database for the chatbot - Jakub Porzycki/ NurPhoto/ Getty Images

Chat GPT banned in Italy over privacy concerns

Italy has become the first Western country to block advanced chatbot ChatGPT. The Italian data-protection authority said there were privacy concerns relating to the model, which was created by US start-up OpenAI and is backed by Microsoft.

Italy has taken the unprecedented step of blocking the advanced chatbot ChatGPT, making it the first Western country to do so.

The Italian data-protection authority raised privacy concerns over the model, which was developed by US start-up OpenAI and is supported by Microsoft.

The regulator has banned the use of the chatbot and launched an investigation into OpenAI, effective immediately. While OpenAI claims to comply with privacy laws, the regulator has cited concerns over the use of the internet as the database for the chatbot, which has been used by millions of people since its launch in November 2022.

ChatGPT can respond to questions using natural language and replicate other writing styles. Microsoft recently integrated the chatbot into Bing search engine, after investing billions of dollars in its development.

The Italian data-protection authority is investigating OpenAI and has given the company 20 days to address its concerns or face a fine of €20 million ($21.7m) or up to 4% of annual revenues.

The regulator cited a data breach involving user conversations and payment information and the mass collection and storage of personal data as reasons for the ban. It also noted that the app exposes minors to inappropriate content.

The Irish data protection commission is following up with the Italian regulator to understand the basis for the ban, and the UK's independent data regulator said it will support developments in AI but is ready to challenge non-compliance with data protection laws.

A complaint filed in the US has prompted the consumer advocacy group BEUC to call on EU and national authorities, including data-protection watchdogs, to investigate ChatGPT and similar chatbots.

The EU is currently developing the first AI legislation, but BEUC is concerned that it could take years before it is implemented, potentially leaving consumers at risk from insufficiently regulated AI. Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of BEUC, warned that AI posed significant harm to society, and that greater public scrutiny and control were necessary.

ChatGPT has already been blocked in several countries, including China, Iran, North Korea and Russia. OpenAI, which created the chatbot, said it had disabled ChatGPT for users in Italy at the request of the Italian data protection regulator, and believed it complied with GDPR and other privacy laws.

The company added that it looked forward to making the chatbot available in Italy again ‘soon’, and to working closely with the Italian regulator to educate them on how its AI systems are built and used.

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