Welcome to Tuesday, where Japan's Prime Minister survives a vote of no confidence one month before the Olympic Games, the UK delays its reopening for fears of the Delta variant spreading and a devilishly high roller coaster opens in New Jersey. New Delhi-based news website The Wire also looks at the need for comprehensive development planning for post-pandemic India, both in cities and the countryside.
• China snaps back at NATO: In a communique signed by NATO leaders at the behest of U.S. President Joe Biden, the security alliance recognized the "systemic challenges' China poses to the "rules-based international order." In response, Beijing has called the statement slanderous, urging NATO to stop "hyping up in any form the so-called ‘China threat.""
• Japan PM survives no-confidence vote: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his majority party survived a vote of no confidence. Opposition parties have criticized the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the full-steam-ahead approach to the Olympic Games.
• Russian mercenaries accused of atrocities in Central African Republic: A CNN investigation has uncovered evidence that Russian mercenaries indiscriminately fired upon civilians while hunting the rebel group, Seleka, in Bambari, Central African Republic in February, which may amount to war crimes.
• Duterte refuses to cooperate with ICC probe: The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it is seeking authorization to investigate the Philippines' violent war on drugs, citing possible crimes against humanity. President Rodrigo Duterte has stated he will not cooperate with the investigation, noting that he had revoked the country's ICC membership in 2018,.
• Delta variant delays UK reopening: The United Kingdom has delayed its full reopening by four weeks over concerns regarding the spreading Delta variant, after being slated to lift the majority of remaining restrictions on June 21. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Bolsanro has asked Pfizer to speed up its vaccine delivery.
• IKEA France found guilty of spying on staff: After being found guilty of illegally collecting private information on staff from 2009-2012, IKEA France has been ordered to pay a fine of €1 million In addition to this penalty, the former IKEA France CEO was sentenced to two years in jail and a €50,000 individual fine.
• Police arrest fast food workers for not giving them free burgers: All 19 staff members at the fast food chain Johnny & Jugnu in Lahore, Pakistan were arrested and held overnight after refusing to give free burgers to a group of police officers. The officers involved have been suspended.
"There is no problem that cannot be solved," titles Turkish daily Milliyet, quoting president Recep Tayyip Recep Erdogan who held a first bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden after the NATO summit. Both leaders said the talks were "productive" and "sincere."
COVID-19 reveals the ugly truth of India's urban-rural divide
India's second wave of the pandemic has hit the poorer sections of society hard and forced many to return to their homes in villages. To ensure that the same mistakes of crowded development in urban areas are not repeated in the rural areas, comprehensive planning is needed in both areas, writes architect and urban designer Ranjit Sabikhi in Indian news website The Wire.
First and foremost is the issue relating to the provision of space on an equitable basis for all sections of society. To minimize the spread of infection, minimum distance has to be maintained between individuals in all areas whether at work or home and also in public areas and streets. This is an issue that is related to equitable access to land, both in the urban and rural areas. It is necessary to ensure that future development — even with small sized residences in urban and rural areas — has substantial open space both within and around it.
For proper planning, the GIS survey of every village in the country, along with a record of all existing structures, access roads, trees, forests as well as all individual farm holdings is essential. It should be the responsibility of each state to get such accurately updated records. All new developments can then be properly considered and planned on a comprehensive basis. The process of regional planning also calls for the active participation of professionals like economists, sociologists, demographers, engineers, architects, etc. to produce long-term plans to bring about meaningful change.
And yet, as of March 2021, surveys have been completed in only 31,000 villages, and property cards have been distributed to around 230,000 property holders in 2,626 villages. As in many of the current government schemes, shortcomings including their slow progress have not been corrected, and the process of implementation is long drawn out. Similarly issues of property ownership such as multiple owners, and the recognition of an individual or joint women's ownership rights, and their correct record on property cards, have not been resolved.
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The "Jersey Devil," hailed as "the world's tallest, fastest and longest single rail coaster" has opened at the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey. Its first drop is 130-ft (40m) high, 87 degrees steep, and takes riders on a 60 mph plunge.
A 69-year-old Belgian forced to prove to Google that he's not underage
Guy, a 69-year-old Belgian, was simply trying to enjoy a YouTube video when Google threatened to lock him out of all of his affiliated accounts … because according to their software, he was under 15 years old.
Everything seemed fine as the senior, hailing from the Spa area in eastern Belgium, leisurely fell down a YouTube rabbit hole, watching video after video. As he went to click the next one, he received a strange notification from YouTube: "You are too young to have an unsupervised Google account." Google's software had become convinced that the 69-year-old was a tween, and therefore not permitted to watch the following video. The notification also warned the graybeard that if he did not prove he was at least 16 years old, he would be locked out of all of his accounts.
"Google threatened to paralyze my access under the pretext that I was underage," Guy told radio channel and news outlet RTL. "But I am a grandfather."
Guy originally thought that perhaps the notification was a scam, as the alert asked for a valid ID or credit card to prove his identity. He even contacted the Computer Crime Unit to be sure, only to be redirected back to Google. But the Belgian senior is not the only adult that Google's software has mistaken for a child — several blog sites and Reddit pages are filled with other older people complaining about being locked out of their accounts after being assumed to be underage.
Like television series and movies, YouTube videos are also rated for age-appropriateness, with some videos being fully restricted to underage audiences. In order to ensure that minors are not watching inappropriate videos, the algorithm uses machine learning to establish that the viewer is above 18 years old. The website even plans to introduce a new filter for teens and tweens that have outgrown "YouTube Kids'" but are still too young to explore the rest of the website unsupervised.
Google has only begun monitoring users' ages in the last few years, notably after several scandals forced the tech-giant to revisit how its algorithm verifies age and suggests videos. The company came under fire in 2017 for "Elsagate," where it was forced to delete numerous inappropriate videos that had slipped past their "YouTube Kids' filters. The tech giant's "recommendation" algorithm has also been implicated in allegations of "brainwashing" and "radicalizing," particularly after it was shown that several far-right YouTube channels had inspired the Christchurch Shooter.
But despite YouTube's renewed attempts to get age right, 69-year-old Guy was still left having to send Google his credit card information to prove that he was not actually under 15 years old. Now, the young-at-heart Belgian grandfather is finally old enough to surf YouTube.
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This is a provocation of our people and an aggression against our Jerusalem and our holy sites.
— Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned of a planned march Tuesday evening by Israeli nationalists through contested areas of Jerusalem. Authorities fear a new breakout of violence a month after the latest brief but deadly war erupted in Gaza following clashes in the holy city.
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