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Friday, July 28, 2017

Facebook taking steps to solve fake news problem: Mark Zuckerberg

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San Francisco: Facebook Inc. is taking steps to address its role in spreading fake news, such as enlisting the help of third-party fact checkers and posting warnings on dubious stories.

Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg on Friday responded to criticism that Facebook’s news feed rewarded false stories in the run-up to the US presidential election, including a post that said Donald Trump was endorsed by the Pope.

“Normally we wouldn’t share specifics about our work in progress, but given the importance of these issues and the amount of interest in this topic, I want to outline some of the projects we already have underway,” Zuckerberg said on Facebook. “We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or mistakenly restricting accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”

Facebook is exploring labelling stories that have been reported as false by third parties or the community so people are warned before they read or share them, Zuckerberg said. The company also is working to make it easier for people to report fake news, and improve technical systems to better detect such articles.

Facebook is also turning outside its own organization for help. It will meet with journalists to understand how they verify information, and is exploring partnerships with third-party fact-checking organizations.

Big business

Zuckerberg also noted that fake news was becoming a big business, and said Facebook is looking for ways to disrupt the economics of it.

His remarks come just a few days after he said it was “crazy” to think that fake news on Facebook influenced the outcome of the election. He’s also said that more than 99 percent of the stories on Facebook are accurate. But the criticism of his handling of the issue mounted, and by the end of the week, even President Barack Obama was speaking about the negative effect of fake stories on social media.

“Some of these ideas will work well, and some will not,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But I want you to know that we have always taken this seriously, we understand how important the issue is for our community and we are committed to getting this right

Dara Singh’s Biography will be release in December

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Mumbai,The late legendary wrestler cum actor Dara Singh (Rustom E Hind) has brought the name of India to the forefront  in the arena of sports as well as the world of films, politics as well as social services. Dara Singh’s name is reverently mentioned with a lot of respect in every field. The book Meri Atma Katha written by him is now being taught in some schools in Haryana.Now Dara Singh’s Biography is ready to release next month and the film will release next year. On Dara Singh’s Birthday i.e. 19th November Vindu Dara Singh says, “Dad’s biography has now also been written in English and will be released in December 2016. The book will reveal various hidden facets of my dad Daraji. As films like Sultan and Dangal which have been made in our country with the backdrop of wrestling and the book on Daraji is being read by many children, I am confident that people will be inspired tremendously by Daraji and I hope we get champions like Daraji in our country who will succeed in raising the bar of sports in the country and bring pride to the entire nation.”

Delhi under cloud of smog, considers traffic measures to ease pollution

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NEW DELHI A million school children were forced to stay at home, thousands of employees reported sick and long queues formed outside shops selling face masks on Monday as New Delhi struggled with its worst pollution for nearly 20 years.The Indian capital’s government was considering whether to bring back a scheme to reduce traffic, a minister said on Monday, as air pollution remained many times above what are considered to be safe levels for a second week.New Delhi’s streets were shrouded in a heavy gray haze of smoke, ash and other pollutants, and residents complained of breathlessness, watering of eyes, aggravated coughs and wheezing.”We are now calling this a pollution epidemic. Our advisory to people is to stay at home, if possible work from home,” said K.K. Aggarwal, president of the Indian Medical Association.Levels of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that reaches deep into the lungs, were above 700 in the city’s worst affected areas on Monday.That is nearly 30 times a mean guideline of 25 micrograms per cubic meter on average over a 24-hour period set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which says outdoor air pollution killed 3.7 million people globally in 2012.”It’s been a nightmare. My toddler and I woke up from a nap coughing as if pepper had been sprinkled on our throats,” said Tara Chowdhry, a Delhi resident.”I climbed trees in this city. I played near India Gate. Now we are trapped in our living rooms next to air purifiers.”As evening fell, the air quality improved as the wind picked up, but it was still at levels considered unhealthy.Children have been among the hardest hit. Many crammed into Shishu Sadan children’s hospital in west Delhi for respiratory spasms and aggravated asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.”A few months ago it was dengue and chikungunya in Delhi and now we have this,” said pediatrician Lavraj Gupta, referring to disease outbreaks in the city of 17 million, many of whom live without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

A combination of smoke from burning farm residue in surrounding states, fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust from construction work and vehicle emissions have pushed pollution levels to their highest in 17 years.Mohammad Kamil, manager of a store that sells face masks, said he used to sell about six masks on average in a week, but now they had 150 to 200 customers a day.”We have run out of stock, but we are taking orders. We will provide it to everyone,” he said.The demand for air purifiers also jumped, both from locals and foreigners working in India.”BRAND INDIA”

Between 5 and 10 percent of the workforce in Delhi and its surrounding areas had reported sick over the past week, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a survey of 150 companies.It warned that the pollution could deal a blow to “brand India”, as the country seeks to attract investment and create hundreds of thousands of jobs for its young population.India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, is home to four of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, the WHO said in May. New Delhi ranked 11th.Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Kumar Jain said the administration was preparing to restrict the use of private vehicles through the “odd-even” scheme that was introduced temporarily last winter to combat pollution.Under the system, cars were allowed on the road only on alternate days, according to whether their number plates were odd or even.

“There is a review meeting later this week. We are considering to bring back the odd-even scheme, it is one of many measures,” he told reporters.Delegates attending a global conference on controlling tobacco consumption said they were taken by surprise by the level of pollution.”I was shocked, did not expect this. It’s kind of funny that we are at a conference that aims to have cleaner air and are at a venue that does not have that,” said Irene Ryes, a delegate from the Philippines.U.S. embassy spokesman Joseph Kruzich said the embassy had employed measures, including supplementary air filtration and construction of vestibules, to provide clean air in workspaces.British Prime Minister Theresa May was visiting India, and a reception for her at High Commissioner Dominic Asquith’s residence, located in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, will go ahead on Monday evening as planned, an official said.”Officially, we are saying nothing at all about pollution,” a British diplomat said.Delhi authorities have blamed the governments of nearby states of Haryana and Punjab for compounding the city’s problems by allowing farmers to burn paddy stubble ahead of the wheat sowing season, even though the practice is banned.Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government urged people not to use pollution for political gain.”If we engage in any blame game, the issue won’t get resolved. The problem right now is Delhi’s 20 million people are finding it difficult to breathe,” said Anil Madhav Dave, federal environment minister. (Additional reporting by Krishna Das, Douglas Busvine, Aditya Kalra and Malini Menon; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Delhi pollution: Air quality improves a shade, states pulled up

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NEW DELHI: Even though the air quality continues to remain alarming in Delhi-NCR, there was slight improvement on Friday on account of light wind from Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, the central government held a meeting with senior officials from Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi government on measures to tackle air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).

Pulling up the state governments, Environment Secretary A.N. Jha held weak enforcement mechanism for pollution control responsible for alarming air quality in NCR. He reviewed the steps being taken by these states to curb air pollution.

“States are required to strictly enforce the measures laid out by the CPCB last year. Those instructions have to be made functional. All states have taken separate steps,” Jha told media persons here.

Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave also said that he would hold a meeting with the ministers of the neighbouring states over the issue of air pollution.

The call came as Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to alarming levels and witnessed its worst smog situation in 17 years on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the levels were 9.4 times the standard norms.

Meanwhile, the air quality of Delhi and Gurgaon ‘luckily’ improved, as light wind from Rajasthan helped disperse the smog and particle pollutants in the air.

As per official data, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi improved from 432, labelled ‘severe’ on Thursday and Wednesday, to 372 labelled ‘very poor’ on Friday. The AQI of Gurgaon also improved from 454 on Thursday to 263 on Friday.

However, the AQI of Faridabad worsened further from 427 on Thursday to an alarming 453 on Friday. As per weather experts, low wind speed and local emissions could be the reasons for that.

According to data from the Indian Meteorological Department and private weather forecaster Skymet, wind speed on Friday was 8-10 km per hour, while on Thursday and Wednesday it was nill. Due to this, besides some other factors, the smog in Delhi brought down the air quality to alarming levels.

“Winds from Rajasthan dispersed the pollutants. Wind speed would improve slightly more and by November 7 is expected to increase up to 20 km/hour,” Maheash Palwat, Skymet Director, told IANS.

As per Palwat, had the light winds come from the direction of Punjab, this would have had increased troubles for Delhi because of the paddy stubble burning in Punjab.

The Environment Secretary said, “Stubble burning has been controlled to a large extent except in Punjab where few cases of burning had surfaced.”

Contradicting that, however, experts hold that unending burning of paddy stubble in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, low winds and pollution during Diwali and other sources of pollution, along with weather-related factors led to such abnormal air quality and smog levels in Delhi.

“Satellite images have showed that paddy burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have increased after Diwali, which contributed to the severe smog in the national capital,” the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said in a statement.

Experts also suggest the ailing persons to stay indoors and cautioned people to avoid outdoor exercises for a few days.

The Central government on Friday asked the states to strictly enforce the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s 42-point order issued last year in December. The order contains short, medium and long-term measures to control pollution by curbing crop burning, open garbage burning, among others.

The Centre also asked the Delhi government to regulate flyash from the Badarpur power plant. The National Thermal Power Corporation will also be instructed for the same.

Jha said that as emergency steps, the CPCB will limit industries emitting air pollutants and close the brick kilns around Delhi, if required.

“The CPCB Chairman will keep reviewing all these developments with the states. The Centre has also called for regular monitoring and reviewing of pollution control check points for accurate certification,” Jha added.

Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal has pulled up the Delhi government on the issue of air pollution and sough explanation by November 8.

The Delhi government, on its part, has directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to explore the possibility to engage an expert agency to study reasons and recommend remedial steps to counter air pollution.

Indian social media’s call to boycott our goods hasn’t hurt us: Chinese media

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China’s media today said that social media calls in India to boycott Chinese goods haven’t worked with rising sales of Chinese smartphones in India and growing bilateral trade.

A commentary in the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said that “regardless of the passionate boycott in India and Indian media’s hysteric reports of a ‘doomsday’ for Chinese products, Chinese goods have never been condemned by Indian government and are popular across the nation.”

“The boycott has not achieved success,” wrote Zhen Bo, a scholar at the Center for South Asia-West China Cooperation and Development Studies, Institute of South Asian Studies, Sichuan University.

“Sales figures for Chinese products on the top three Indian online retailers in the first week of October hit a new record. Amazingly, the Chinese mobile phone company Xiaomi sold half a million phones in just three days on the Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal and Tata CLiQ platforms.”

“China’s investment in India,” he added, “soared to around $ 870 million in 2015, six times what it was in 2014.”

Calls to boycott Chinese goods have gone viral in recent days, triggered by anger over its move on September 30 to extend a technical hold preventing the sanctioning of Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorist Masood Azhar.

READ: After blocking India’s move to ban Masood Azhar, China now wants action against global terrorists

Several local trading bodies have issued calls to boycott goods, especially China-made firecrackers, ahead of the festive season.

“Chinese products are often the victim when regional situations get tense, and this phenomenon has been existing for quite a few years,” the commentary said.

“There have been at least two prominent Indian boycotts of Chinese goods in the past few months. The first happened in April. It was caused by dissatisfaction over China’s stand on the issue of.. Azhar who is accused of committing terrorist acts in India. The second was in July and because of China’s lack of support for India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Now Chinese goods are on the stage again due to the Kashmir issue.”

Zhen argued that “enhancing economic ties would be a preferable way to promote the comprehensive bilateral relationship”. “The more economic cooperation exists, the more opportunities there will be for Chinese products to enter the Indian market,” he said. “India is a big potential market, and people using smartphones and doing online shopping has become the irreversible trend in the new era. With enough experience and capital, some keen Chinese companies have already expanded their business into India. Hopefully, these early birds will get the worm soon.”

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