Twice burned Winklevii overshadowed by Zuckerberg yet again

SAN FRANCISCO — Can a Libra and two Geminis get along? How about Facebook and the Winklevoss twins?Back in the day, Mark Zuckerberg’s hunky Harvard classmates claimed the Facebook CEO stole their idea for the social network when he was just a nerdy undergrad. Now, Facebook’s grand plan for a new digital currency called Libra could bring the three men together again — though it remains to be seen whether there’ll be enough drama to warrant a sequel to “The Social Network,” the 2010 film based on the story of Facebook’s founding.Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have busied themselves since their Harvard days — they’re 37 now, while Zuckerberg is 35 — investing heavily in Bitcoin, currently the best-known “cryptocurrency.” With Libra, though, Facebook is hoping to change that, and so once again Zuckerberg seems to be one-upping the “Winklevii” in their own backyard.Perfect for a dramatic retelling, right? But how about a rom-com, or at least a bromance? The Winklevoss twins, it turns out, have also founded Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange based in New York City. The idea behind the exchange, started in 2014, was to create a secure ecosystem that is “free of hacking, fraud and security breaches,” to move cryptocurrency out of Wild West days and into something that’s regulated, secure and used by regular people.Facebook’s Libra, meanwhile, hopes to be the first Bitcoin-like currency with mass appeal, thanks to its backing by familiar corporations like Uber, Visa and Mastercard. Is there room for some co-operation? Or will the twins get burned again?In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Cameron Winklevoss said he was not worried about Libra’s launch. “There’s so much pie to grow, I mean, at this point, we need to be frenemies,” he said.Representatives for Facebook and Gemini did not immediately return messages for comment on Tuesday.Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press read more

Challenges facing Lebanon highlight urgent need to fill presidential vacuum – UN

“It is important, given the threats, the challenges that Lebanon faces, that the institutions of Government are all working,” Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, told reporters following a closed-door briefing to the Security Council.There has been a presidential vacuum in Lebanon after the term of Michel Sleiman came to an end on 25 May. UN officials and the Security Council have repeatedly urged the Lebanese Parliament to elect a new leader without delay. Mr. Plumbly emphasized that it is important that all of the institutions of government “function effectively” in Lebanon – the Presidency, the Government and the Parliament – if the country is to continue to address the various challenges it faces.These include what he described as “very real” security threats, including the renewed threat of terrorist activities, as well as the growing number of refugees from Syria that have sought help in Lebanon.As a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria, which is now in its fourth year, Lebanon has become the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. There are over 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and they are growing every day, putting more pressure on a host community that is already stretched to the breaking point.Mr. Plumbly highlighted the need to ensure that Lebanon receives the support it needs from the international community to be able to continue to assist this growing population of vulnerable people.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his latest report on Lebanon, also highlighted the importance of this issue for the country.“Hosting the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, Lebanon exhibits remarkable generosity under challenging circumstances. Additional funds are needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, including women and girl refugees at risk, and to mitigate the severe stresses on host communities and public services,” he wrote in the report, which Mr. Plumbly presented to the Council today.Meanwhile, with regard to the situation across the Lebanese-Israeli border, the envoy noted that the past four months have witnessed a continued calm along the so-called Blue Line. read more