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Facebook admits ‘need to do more’ as India hate speech row mounts | India News

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Facebook has admitted it has to do better to curb hate speech as it battles a storm in India over ignoring hate speech by leaders linked to the governing right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that a top Facebook India executive refused to remove the comments of a BJP legislator because it would damage the company’s business interests.

“We’ve made progress on tackling hate speech on our platform, but we need to do more,” Facebook India’s managing director Ajit Mohan said on Friday in a statement that denied any bias.

The WSJ report said T Raja Singh, lone BJP legislator in southern state of Telangana, used his Facebook page to say the Rohingya refugees in India should be shot and that Muslims were traitors.

The report also mentioned at least two other BJP leaders, whose incendiary posts were deleted from the platform after the United States-based newspaper approached them for a response.

Facebook India’s top public policy executive, Ankhi Das, told staff that hate speech rules should not be applied to BJP individuals and party allies even though the post had been flagged by staff, said the WSJ.     

“Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” said Mohan.

Deadly clashes in India’s Bengaluru over Facebook post on Prophet

The Facebook India chief defended his company’s actions and said “we have removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India when it violates our community standards”.

Mohan did not give details and his online post did not explain the case of Singh. He, however, said “decisions around content escalations are not made unilaterally by just one person”.

India’s opposition Congress party has accused the social media company of favouring the BJP.

Facebook executives have been ordered to appear before an Indian parliamentary information technology committee on September 2.

‘Anti-Muslim bigotry’

Meanwhile, Das, 49, and other top Facebook India executives are facing questions internally from employees over how political content is regulated in its biggest market, according to sources with direct knowledge and internal posts seen by Reuters news agency.

An open letter written to Facebook’s leadership by 11 employees on one internal platform, and seen by Reuters earlier this week, demands company leaders acknowledge and denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” and ensure more policy consistency.

The letter also demanded that Facebook’s “policy team in India [and elsewhere] includes diverse representation.”

“It is hard not to feel frustrated and saddened by the incidents reported … We know we’re not alone in this. Employees across the company are expressing similar sentiment,” said the letter.

“The Muslim community at Facebook would like to hear from Facebook leadership on our asks.”

Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, has been under fire in recent years for its lax approach to fake news content, state-backed disinformation campaigns and violent content spread via its platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Pakistan: Several killed in explosion at Quetta hotel | Pakistan News

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Blast in parking area of Serena Hotel also wounded nine people, with some in critical condition, police say.

At least three people have been killed and nine others wounded in a powerful explosion in the parking area of an upscale hotel in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, according to authorities.

Police said rescuers were transporting the victims of Wednesday’s blast at Serena Hotel to nearby hospitals. Footage on local news channels showed cars in flames.

Security forces rushed to the hotel and no one was allowed to approach the site of the explosion. Police said they had opened an investigation.

“Our officers are working to determine whether it was a bomb and what type of device it could be,” police official Nasir Malik told Reuters news agency.

According to senior police official Azhar Akram, some of the wounded were listed in critical condition. They were brought to Quetta’s main hospital.

No other information was immediately available.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Pay your mother: Oligarch’s son ordered to shell out $100M in UK | Russia News

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Temur Akhmedov did ‘all he could’ to stop his mother from getting a $627m divorce payout, a United Kingdom judge said.

The son at the center of the U.K.’s largest divorce lost a London court ruling over his role in hiding assets from his mother with a judge calling him “a dishonest individual who will do anything to assist his father.”

Temur Akhmedov worked with his billionaire father, Farkhad Akhmedov, to do “all he could” to stop his mother from obtaining a 450 million-pound ($627 million) court-approved divorce payout, Judge Gwynneth Knowles said in a ruling Wednesday. The judge ruled Temur should pay his mother more than $100 million.

The trial attracted scrutiny after Temur revealed he’d lost more than $50 million day trading while a college student. He’d argued that far from hiding his father’s money from his mother, he’d instead lost some of it with bad trades.

“Temur has learned well from his father’s past conduct and has done and said all he could to prevent his mother receiving a penny of the matrimonial assets,” the judge said.

Temur’s mother, Tatiana Akhmedova, wants the keys to a luxury apartment overlooking London’s Hyde Park in a bid to recover some of the cash.

Azerbaijan-born Farkhad made much of his wealth from the sale of his stake in a Russian gas producer in November 2012 for $1.4 billion. But the oligarch has refused to make any divorce payments, leaving Tatiana, backed by litigation funder Burford Capital Ltd., to pursue cases in at least six countries.

“Entirely predictably, given its original wrong and misguided judgment, the London court has ruled in favor of visiting ‘the sins’ of the father on an innocent and loyal son,” Farkhad said in a statement.

The fight has led to Tatiana’s so-far unsuccessful legal attempts to seize a 115-meter (377-foot) superyacht once owned by Roman Abramovich that is currently in Dubai, and a collection of modern art worth more than $140 million in a secure storage facility in Liechtenstein known as the “Treasure House.”

Farkhad moved to Russia after the initial divorce order in 2016. But by getting an English ruling against Temur, a U.K. resident, it’ll be easier for his mother to obtain his local assets.

At the trial last year, Temur said his father made his own decisions. He said his mother’s choice to draw him into the litigation has been “tremendously upsetting and in many ways quite frightening.”

He said in a statement that while he disagreed with the ruling, “he would consider it a price worth paying for should it lead to a reasonable settlement between the parents he both loves.”

Tatiana said during the trial that her relationship with her eldest son “is now very strained.” She said she felt she had no choice but to sue him.

“I always knew that my strength would prevail through the smoke and mirrors as presented by Farkhad and his circus of illusionists,” Tatiana said in a statement after the ruling.

Temur said at the trial that he’d had some initial success trading stocks, only to hit a losing streak while studying at the London School of Economics. When he tried to make back the money, “convinced this loss was just bad luck,” he increased his risk exposure and lost everything, he explained in court.

The judge rejected Temur’s explanation that his mother knew about his trading, saying the transfer of millions of dollars from his father’s account was in fact designed to put it out of her reach. That he’d then racked up losses was beside the point, she said.

“All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Knowles said in her judgment. “With apologies to Tolstoy, the Akhmedov family is one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Hundreds arrested as Russia cracks down on Navalny supporters | Vladimir Putin News

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Thousands of supporters of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny crowded into central Moscow on Wednesday in nationwide demonstrations calling for his freedom as UN experts warned that the Kremlin critic’s life was in “serious danger”.

More than 400 people were arrested across the country in connection with the protests, according to a human rights group. Dozens were detained before the protests even began, including two top Navalny associates in Moscow.

Supporters of President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent fear he could die soon and are demanding he be given proper medical care.

Officials say he has been treated as any other convict would be, and have warned that Wednesday’s rallies are illegal.

Thousands of Navalny supporters took to the streets of the capital, Moscow [Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters]

Navalny’s team called the unsanctioned demonstrations after reports that his health is deteriorating while on hunger strike, which he began March 31.

“The situation with Alexei is indeed critical, and so we moved up the day of the mass protests,” Vladimir Ashurkov, a close Navalny ally and executive director of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, told The Associated Press news agency.

“Alexei’s health has sharply deteriorated, and he is in a rather critical condition. Doctors are saying that judging by his test (results), he should be admitted into intensive care.”

UN human rights experts on Wednesday called on Russia to allow jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to be medically evacuated abroad, saying they feared his life was in “serious danger”.

Navalny has been kept in harsh conditions in a high-security penal colony and “denied access to adequate medical care”, conditions that may amountin Saint Petersburg, Russia April 21, 2021 to torture, they said in a statement.

“We urge the Russian authorities to ensure Mr. Navalny has access to his own doctors and to allow him to be evacuated for urgent medical treatment abroad, as they did in August 2020,” said the UN experts, who include those with mandates on torture and on the right to freedom of opinion.

Navalny’s organisation called for the Moscow protesters to assemble on Manezh Square, just outside the Kremlin walls, but police blocked them off.

Instead, a large crowd gathered at the nearby Russian State Library and another lined Tverskaya Street, a main avenue that leads to the square.

In St. Petersburg, police blocked off Palace Square, the vast space outside the Hermitage museum and protesters instead crowded along nearby Nevsky Prospekt.

The OVD-Info group, which monitors protests and detentions, reported 413 arrests in 60 cities.

Police block the street during a protest in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg [Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Photo]

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh and close ally Lyubov Sobol were detained near their homes in Moscow hours before a rally in the Russian capital was set to converge on a square near the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, in Russia’s Far East, around 200-300 people came out to support Navalny in the city of Vladivostok, some of them toting banners saying “Freedom for political prisoners” and “No war, repressions and torture!”

“Everyone realises the current authorities have nothing new to propose for the country. We need a new generation of politicians. I see Navalny as one of them,” Ilya, a 19-year-old student was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Protesters there relocated to a square by the train station as an array of police vans had been brought into the central square where they had planned to gather.

 

European Council President Charles Michel said it was “deplorable” that Navalny’s closest allies had been taken into custody ahead of the protests.

Another Navalny aide, Ruslan Shaveddinov, tweeted: “Right now across the whole of Russia they are detaining potential protesters. This is repression. This cannot be accepted. We need to fight this darkness.”

The 44-year-old Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin. Russian officials have rejected the accusation.

Soon after, a court found that Navalny’s long stay in Germany violated the terms of a suspended sentence he was handed for a 2014 embezzlement conviction and ordered him to serve two and a half years in prison.

Navalny began the hunger strike to protest prison officials’ refusal to let his doctors visit when he began experiencing severe back pain and a loss of feeling in his legs. The penitentiary service has said Navalny was getting all the medical help he needs.

Navalny’s physician, Dr. Yaroslav Ashikhmin, said recently that test results he received from Navalny’s family showed sharply elevated levels of potassium, which can bring on cardiac arrest, and heightened creatinine levels that indicate impaired kidneys and he “could die at any moment”.

On Sunday, he was transferred to a hospital in another prison and given a glucose drip. Prison officials rebuffed attempts by his doctors to visit him there.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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