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Social Media Scramble to Remove New Zealand Suspect’s Video

They built their services for sharing, allowing users to reach others around the world. Now they want people to hold back.  

 

Facebook and other social media companies battled their own services on Friday as they tried to delete copies of a video apparently recorded by the gunman as he killed 49 people and wounded scores of others in the attack on two New Zealand mosques Friday.  

 

The video was livestreamed on the suspect’s Facebook account and later reposted on other services.  

 

According to news reports, Facebook took down the livestream of the attack 20 minutes after it was posted and removed the suspect’s accounts. But people were able to capture the video and repost it on other sites, including YouTube, Twitter and Reddit.  

 

YouTube has tweeted that it is “working to remove any violent footage.” A post from one user on Reddit asks others not to “post the videos. If you see the videos, bring it to the moderators’ attention.” 

 

Criticism of pace

 

Despite the companies’ quick actions, they still came under fire for not being fast enough. Critics said the platforms should have better systems in place to locate and remove content, instead of a system that helps others facilitate its spread once something is posted. 

 

One critic, Tom Watson, a member of the British Parliament and deputy leader of the Labor Party, called for YouTube to stop all new videos from being posted on the site if it could not stop the spread of the New Zealand video.  

Resistance to censorship

The companies’ race to stamp out the New Zealand video highlighted the dilemma that social media companies have faced, particularly as they have allowed livestreaming.  

 

Built on users’ content, Facebook, YouTube and others have long resisted the arduous task of censoring objectionable content.   

 

At hearings in Washington or in media interviews, executives of these firms have said that untrue information is in itself not against their terms of service.

Instead of removing information deemed fake or objectionable, social media companies have tried to frame the information with fact checking or have demoted the information on their sites, making it harder for people to find.

That is what Facebook appears to be doing with the anti-vaccination content on its site. Earlier this month, Facebook said it would curtail anti-vaccination information on its platforms, including blocking advertising that contains false information about vaccines. It did not say it would remove users expressing anti-vaccination content.

But sometimes the firms do remove accounts. Last year, Facebook, Twitter and others removed from their platforms Alex Jones, an American commentator, used for spreading conspiracy theories and stirring hatred.  

 

More monitors

 

In the past year, some social media companies have hired more people to monitor content so that issues are flagged faster, rather than having to wait for other users or the firm’s algorithms to flag objectionable content.

With the New Zealand shooting video, Facebook and other firms appeared to be in lockstep, saying they would remove the content as quickly as they found it.  

 

But there have been more calls for human and technical solutions that can quickly stop the spread of content across the internet. 

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Students Worldwide Skip School to Protest Global Warming

They’re angry at their elders, and they’re not taking it sitting down.

Students worldwide are skipping class Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments’ failure to take sufficient action against global warming.

The coordinated “school strikes,” being held from the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, driven by social media-savvy students and dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change.

Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was cheered for her blunt message to leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this year, when she told them: “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.”

Friday’s rallies are expected to be one of the biggest international actions yet. Protests were under way or planned in cities in more than 100 countries, including Hong Kong; New Delhi; Wellington, New Zealand; and Oulo, Finland.

In Berlin some 10,000 protesters, most of them young students, gathered in a downtown square, waving signs with slogans such as “There is no planet B” and “Climate Protection Report Card: F” before a march through the capital’s government quarter. The march was to end with a demonstration outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

Organizer Carla Reemtsma, a 20-year-old university student, said social media had been key in reaching people directly to coordinate the massive protests in so many different locations, noting that she was in 50 WhatsApp groups and fielding some 30,000 messages a day.

“It’s really important that people are getting together all over the world, because it’s affecting us all,” she said.

Critics, supporters

Some politicians have criticized the students, suggesting they should be spending their time in school, not on the streets.

“One can’t expect children and young people to see all of the global connections, what’s technically reasonable and economically possible,” said the head of Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner. “That’s a matter for professionals.”

But scientists have backed the protests, with thousands signing petitions in support of the students in Britain, Finland and Germany.

“We are the professionals and we’re saying the young generation is right,” said Volker Quaschning, a professor of engineering at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences.

“We should be incredibly grateful and appreciative of their bravery,” said Quaschning, one of more than 23,000 German-speaking scientists to sign a letter of support this week. “Because in a sense, it’s incredibly brave not to go to school for once.”

Scientists have warned for decades that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are unsustainable, so far with little effect. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to a goal of keeping the Earth’s global temperature rise by the end of the century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Yet at present, the world is on track for an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which experts say would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet.

“As a doctor, I can say it makes a big difference whether you’ve got a fever of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) or 43 C (109.4 F),” said Eckart von Hirschhausen, a German scientist who signed the call supporting striking students. “One of those is compatible with life, the other isn’t.”

Other action

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have publicly welcomed the student protests, even as their policies have been criticized as too limited by environmental activists.

In France, activist groups launched legal action this week for failing to do enough to fight climate change, citing a similar successful effort in the Netherlands.

In Germany, environmental groups and experts have attacked government plans to continue using coal and natural gas for decades to come. Activists say that countries like Germany should fully “decarbonize” by 2040, giving less-advanced nations a bit more time to wean themselves off fossil fuels while still meeting the Paris goal globally.

Other changes needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions include ramping up renewable energy production, reining in over-consumption culture now spreading beyond the industrialized West and changing diets, experts say.

“The fight against climate change is going to be uncomfortable, in parts, and we need to have a society-wide discussion about this,” said Quaschning.

That conversation is likely to get louder, with several U.S. presidential hopefuls planning to campaign on climate change.

Luisa Neubauer, one of the Berlin group organizing Fridays for Future, said politicians should take note of the young.

“For the European elections in May, we’re urging everyone to think about whether they want to give their vote to a party that doesn’t have a plan for the future and the climate,” she said.

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Students Worldwide Skip Class to Demand Action on Climate

They’re angry at their elders, and they’re not taking it sitting down.

Students worldwide are planning to skip class Friday and take to the streets to protest their governments’ failure to take sufficient action against global warming.

The coordinated ‘school strike’ was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, driven by social media-savvy students and dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change.

Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was cheered for her blunt message to leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this year, when she told them: “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.”

​Protests in 100 countries 

Friday’s rallies are expected to be one of the biggest international actions yet. A website coordinating the protests lists events in more than 100 countries, from New Zealand to the United States.

Some politicians have criticized the students, suggesting they should be spending their time in school, not on the streets.

“One can’t expect children and young people to see all of the global connections, what’s technically reasonable and economically possible,” said the head of Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner. “That’s a matter for professionals.”

But scientists have backed the protests, with thousands signing petitions in support of the students in Britain, Finland and Germany.

“We are the professionals and we’re saying the young generation is right,” said Volker Quaschning, a professor of engineering at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences.

“We should be incredibly grateful and appreciative of their bravery,” said Quaschning, one of more than 14,000 German-speaking scientists to sign a letter of support this week. “Because in a sense, it’s incredibly brave not to go to school for once.”

Decades of warning

Scientists have warned for decades that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are unsustainable, so far with little effect. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to a goal of keeping the Earth’s global temperature rise by the end of the century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Yet at present, the world is on track for an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which experts say would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet.

“As a doctor, I can say it makes a big difference whether you’ve got a fever of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) or 43 C (109.4 F),” said Eckart von Hirschhausen, a German scientist who signed the call supporting striking students. “One of those is compatible with life, the other isn’t.”

Policies don’t go far enough

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have publicly welcomed the student protests, even as their policies have been criticized as too limited by environmental activists.

In France, activist groups launched legal action this week for failing to do enough to fight climate change, citing a similar successful effort in the Netherlands . 

In Germany, environmental groups and experts have attacked government plans to continue using coal and natural gas for decades to come. Activists say that countries like Germany should fully “decarbonize” by 2040, giving less-advanced nations a bit more time to wean themselves off fossil fuels while still meeting the Paris goal globally.

Other changes needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions include ramping up renewable energy production, reigning in over-consumption culture now spreading beyond the industrialized West and changing diets, experts say. 

“The fight against climate change is going to be uncomfortable, in parts, and we need to have a societywide discussion about this,” said Quaschning.

That conversation is likely to get louder, with several U.S. presidential hopefuls planning to campaign on climate change.

Luisa Neubauer, one of the Berlin group organizing Fridays for Future, said politicians should take note of the young. 

“For the European elections in May, we’re urging everyone to think about whether they want to give their vote to a party that doesn’t have a plan for the future and the climate,” she said.

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Deep in US Oil Country, Students Set to March for Climate

Oil is everywhere in Oklahoma, says local student Luke Kerr.

But that has not deterred him from planning a protest calling for its phasing out in the state’s capital city on Friday – mirroring similar events due to be staged around the world by students skipping school.

“It is very important that strikes and marches take place in fossil-fuel producing areas of the country, like Oklahoma,” the high school senior said on Thursday.

“We are showing the rest of the country that we can fight for climate.”

With strikes planned in at least 168 U.S. cities and towns, mostly progressive communities, a handful of them like that set up by Kerr stand out for taking place deep in oil country.

The students are taking their cue from Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg whose weekly “school strike for climate” has sparked a global movement.

The school strike movement – which hopes to raise awareness on climate change and force policymakers to take action – has taken the world by storm in recent months, prompting school walkouts mostly in Europe and Australia.

Kerr and his fellow student protesters will rally just feet away from monumental, mock oil derricks next to the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma ranks fourth among all 50 states for oil production, whose burning is blamed for climate change. The southern state recently left its mark on the country when its former attorney general, Scott Pruitt, angered environmentalists due to his skepticism of mainstream climate science when he headed the Environmental Protection Agency.

About 38 percent of Oklahomans do not believe in global warming, an eight percentage point difference from the national average, according to a 2018 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

In the adjacent state of Colorado, 7-year-old Forest Olson has been the driving force behind another climate rally in an area that is also among the country’s top fossil fuel producers.

The mountainous state ranks fifth nationally for its crude oil production, and tenth for coal, federal data shows.

But Olson, a first grader who lives outside the remote town of Telluride, is rallying high school and elementary school students there who have agreed to follow his lead to demonstrate on the county court house’s steps.

The young boy is witnessing the effects of climate change first hand, said his mother Josselin Lifton-Zoline, including reduced snowpacks on nearby ski slopes.

Snowpacks are expected to continue decreasing in size and affect water resources in the western United States, according to the National Climate Assessment, a U.S. government report.

So Olson recently wrote to the town newspaper and spoke to his fellow pupils about taking to the streets.

“I love Earth and I don’t want it to be a disaster,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

In Alaska’s capital city, Anchorage, German exchange student Maxim Unruh, said he had been inspired to bring the movement to this oil-rich state after a friend back home helped with Berlin’s first youth climate strike in December.

The 17-year-old high school senior said he expected some push back for exporting ideas perceived by some as foreign but had prepared a response.

“The climate crisis is a problem in the whole world, and it doesn’t matter from where – I’ll fight for climate justice,” he said.

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Arts & Entertainment
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Who’s Daltrey, Townshend Plan ‘Full Throttle’ Tour, Album

“I hope I die before I get old,” The Who sang in their 1965 hit “My Generation.”

But more than 50 years on, the veteran rock band’s two surviving original members are set for a new tour named “Moving On!” and the release of their first album of new music in 13 years.

Singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend, now in their 70s, will take the stage in May as part of The Who’s current six-member lineup and backed by an orchestra to play venues in the United States and Canada as well as London’s Wembley Stadium in July.

After tours of past hits, namely the hugely influential rock operas “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” Daltrey, who performed with an orchestra last year, said it was time to do something “that reflects where we are in our lives at the moment.”

Music that feels ‘kind of grown up’

“We’re old men now … we can’t go out there and pretend it’s going to be anywhere like we were 40, 50 years ago,” he told Reuters in an interview at Wembley.

“Adding the orchestra … can elevate the music into a place where it feels kind of grown up … (but) people mustn’t think just because there’s an orchestra with The Who that it’s going to be watered down. We’ll be playing exactly full throttle like we usually do.”

Emerging in 1960s London, The Who, which included the late drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle, have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, with hits like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “I Can See For Miles.”

“We could never have imagined it (the group’s ongoing success),” Daltrey said. “I was coming to (Wembley) stadium today and taking the same journey I used to take every night in the group van. … All the memories come back.”

‘Lucky to be alive’

Townshend, the band’s principal songwriter and famed for thrashing his guitar on stage, said he felt “grateful” they could still perform.

“Roger and I are very lucky to be alive,” he said. “We’re lucky to be reasonably healthy. We’re lucky that we can still play the music that we grew up with.”

The Who this year are also planning to release their first album of new music since 2006’s “Endless Wire.”

“We went through so many different phases so now really the challenge is just writing music which is good music which suits Roger and I,” Townshend said.

“I’m a real, real hard taskmaster when it comes to what I sing and whether, whether it’s a good song or not. And I’ll tell you, he’s still got it,” Daltrey said.

The singer has said “Moving On!” is not a farewell tour, but acknowledged the duo’s advancing years.

“One of them’s gonna be (a farewell tour), we might not make the end of this one,” he joked. “Every time you hit the stage there’s a possibility of game over at our age.”

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Study: C-Sections 50 Times More Deadly in Africa

The death rate among women undergoing a C-section to deliver a baby is about 50 times higher in Africa than in most wealthy nations, researchers said Friday.

One in 200 women dies during or soon after a cesarean in a sampling of nearly 3,700 births across 22 African countries, they reported in The Lancet Global Health.

By comparison, maternal mortality is about one woman per 10,000 operations in Britain. Death rates related to C-sections are roughly the same across most developed countries.

Urgent need to improve safety

“The findings highlight the urgent need for improved safety for the procedure,” said researchers led by Bruce Biccard, a professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Preventable C-section deaths mostly stemmed from a ruptured uterus, in mothers who had pre-existing placental complications, bleeding before birth or during surgery, and problems related to anesthesia.

“Improvement of C-section surgical outcomes could substantially improve both maternal and neonatal mortality,” Biccard said.

He also called for a better assessment of the risk related to bleeding, and less restrictive use of drugs to treat post-partum hemorrhaging.

In many African nations, there is a chronically short supply of blood for transfusions.

Blood products with a greater shelf life and better use of anesthesia by non-doctors — through mobile and online training, for example — could also help boost survival rates, the researchers said.

Surgical study

The findings are part of the Africa Surgical Outcomes Study, which tracks all patients who received surgery at 183 hospitals across the 22 countries for seven days.

C-sections accounted for a third of all surgeries in the period covered, the study found.

Making C-sections more easily available could also avoid potentially lethal complications, the authors noted.

Of the cases examined, 75 percent were classified as “emergency surgery,” with mothers arriving at the operating room with high-risk conditions.

“Paradoxically, while many countries are aiming to reduce cesarean delivery rates, increasing the rate remains a priority in Africa,” Biccard said.

C-section double worldwide

Worldwide, the number of C-sections has nearly doubled over the last 20 years, reaching unprecedented proportions in some countries, recent research has highlighted.

In Brazil, Egypt and Turkey, for example, more than half of all births are done via C-section.

But in close to a quarter of nations surveyed, many in Africa, use of the procedure is significantly lower than average.

It is estimated that the operation is medically necessary 10-15 percent of the time.

In 2015, doctors performed 29.7 million C-sections worldwide, 21 percent of all births.

This was up from 16 million in 2000, or 12 percent of all births.

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