Thursday, 22 March 2018

Facebook official who oversees the news feed says his team loses sleep over the site's alleged role in Myanmar 'ethnic cleansing'

Adam Mosseri

  • Workers at Facebook reportedly "lose sleep" over the use of their platform to spread hate speech.
  • The Facebook executive who oversees the newsfeed algorithm said addressing such content was one of his team's biggest challenges.
  • Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has expressed reservations about cracking down on speech.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook's vice president of product management, said that Facebook's contribution to ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar caused his team distress and was something they struggled to address.

Mosseri said the situation in Myanmar, from where more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims fled since August, was "deeply concerning in a lot of different ways" during a recent interview on Slate's technology podcast, If Then.

Mosseri manages the team that oversees the algorithm that controls what people see in their Facebook news feeds. He said real-world violence could be one of the "most concerning and severe negative consequences of any platform."

"Connecting the world isn't always going to be a good thing," he said on the podcast. "We're trying to take the issue seriously, but we lose some sleep over this."

Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel as members of the Myanmar security forces stand guard in Inn Din village September 2, 2017. Handout via REUTERS

"It's important for us to remember that technology isn't naturally a good or a bad thing. It's sort of agnostic and it's how technology's used that can be either good or bad," Mosseri said.

Facebook typically works with third-party fact-checkers, but that approach doesn't work in Myanmar because, as far as the company is aware, there are no groups to fill that role in the country, Mosseri said. The company has instead focused on identifying "bad actors" and enforcing its community standards and terms of service to "address the proliferation of some problematic content."

"Real-world harm and what’s happening on the ground in that part of the world is actually one of the most concerning things for us and something that we talk about on a regular basis," Mosseri said.

Mosseri's comments came in response to a question about UN investigators saying Facebook played a role in spreading hate speech in Myanmar.

Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said social media has "substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public. Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that. As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media."

Rohingya Refugees Myanmar

Medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres estimated at the end of last year that at least 9,000 Rohingya Muslims had been killed in the Myanmar military's "clearance operations."

Many of those who fled Myanmar have reported rapes and executions carried out by Myanmar security forces.

The Myanmar government has denied all charges, though in January the military admitted involvement in the killing of 10 Rohingya.

"Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar," said UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee, adding that while Facebook had helped the impoverished country, it had also been used to spread hate speech.

"We know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities," she said.

The information Facebook gathers on its users and how the company uses that information has garnered increased attention in recent days, in the wake of revelations that British data company Cambridge Analytica illicitly obtained information from as many as 50 million Facebook profiles by abusing Facebook's data-sharing features.

On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Recode he felt "fundamentally uncomfortable sitting here in California at an office, making content policy decisions for people around the world."

"A lot of the most sensitive issues that we faced today are conflicts between our real values, right? Freedom of speech and hate speech and offensive content," Zuckerberg said. "Where is the line, right? And the reality is that different people are drawn to different places, we serve people in a lot of countries around the world, a lot of different opinions on that."

SEE ALSO: Trump's pick for secretary of state reportedly set up 'kill teams' of commandos at the CIA

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: YouTube and Facebook have a serious problem with 'promoted' conspiracies about the Parkland shooting

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Hundreds of schools have shut down in a Mexican tourist haven after bandits broke in and forcibly cut students' hair

Acapulco Mexico beach soldiers homicides violence

  • Attacks on schools in Acapulco have prompted hundreds of them to close their doors.
  • The attacks, early on Tuesday, involved robberies of students and teachers, some of whom had their hair forcibly cut by the assailants.
  • Schools in Acapulco, one of Mexico's most violent cities, have long been a target for extortion and other crime.

Hundreds of schools near one of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations were closed on Wednesday, after groups of armed men broke into at least three schools and robbed and assaulted the occupants.

On Tuesday morning, four men interrupted classes at a school in one neighborhood, where they stole cellphones and "cut with scissors" the hair of nine students, according to Reforma.

That was followed by a group of at least eight armed men forcing their way into a secondary school in another neighborhood where they cut the hair of 16 women. The school in this instance has seen violent incidents several times, and in this case, the assailants used machetes and garden shears to cut hair, according to Televisa.

Another report indicated that armed men entered a secondary school in another neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Acapulco, where they stole cellphones and money and cut the hair of 20 students and two teachers. That attack took place near Ciudad Renacimiento, one of the most violent areas the city.

There were about 100 students, men and women, at the school, according to El Sur de Acapulco, but the assailants only cut the hair of women. The father of a girl at one school said the assailants didn't take money or cellphones, "they only cut their hair," going room by room to do so.

It was not immediately clear why the men were targeting women's hair.

'It is not fair that the government of Mexico ... has schools in these conditions'

Acapulco, Mexico

A spokesman for the Guerrero state government, Roberto Alvarez Heredia, said the state attorney general was investigating the incidents. He said "witnesses said that these people snatched four cellphones and violently cut the hair of 20 students, in a reprehensible and undignified act."

Alvarez Heredia said security forces were reinforcing the current security operations in the area to protect schools.

A state police report said it could have been "retaliation for some case of bullying." Alvarez Heredia said the incidents could've been "a case of collective bullying." Guerrero's governor, Hector Astudillo, confirmed that the state attorney general was investigating and said he was confident there would be results in a short time.

Astudillo asked that teachers wait for the results. But teachers and locals took the government to task for the security situation in the area.

On Wednesday, teachers from the local union announced the suspension of classes at 200 schools in Acapulco because of insecurity. The leader of the union's local branch also criticized the government for removing troops stationed at some state schools a few months ago without explanation.

Acapulco Guerrero Mexico drug cartel criminal violence murder

"It is not fair that the government of Mexico, a world-class country, has schools in these conditions," said the father.

One mother said the incidents had caused fear among parents, who did not want to send their children back to school. She complained that soldiers who had a permanent presence in the area had departed two months ago.

Parents and teachers also demanded state authorities increase security in marginalized areas of the city, where the reported attacks took place.

They said their children would return to school on April 9 — Mexico's holy week, or semana santa, runs from March 25 to March 31 — and said that two months ago the army stopped patrolling their area of Acapulco, despite an agreement to safeguard the schools in the area, where crime is common. They criticized officials for focusing security efforts on the upscale areas of the port city.

Guerrero is one of Mexico's violent states

Guerrero, a drug-cultivation hub that contains valuable trafficking corridors as well as access to Pacific shipping routes, has long been one of Mexico's violent states, contested by several criminal groups of varying sizes. The US State Department currently has a "do not travel" warning in place for the state.

Acapulco, a once idyllic tourist resort home to about 800,000 people, has been called "Guerrero's Iraq." It had the country's highest homicide rate five times between 2011 and 2016.

Homicides in Acapulco Guerrero Mexico

A Mexican civil-society group determined Acapulco was the second-most violent city in the world in 2016, with a homicide rate of 113.24 homicides per 100,000 people.

That group moved the city to third place last year, with a homicide rate of 106.63 per 100,000 people. (First place in 2017 was Los Cabos, one of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations.)

Drugs and drug trafficking are not the only drivers of crime, as social conflicts and economic distortions have long been present in Acapulco and the state around it.

The city's schools have been affected by the resulting insecurity in the past.

In 2011, the schools started being targeted for extortion by criminal groups, which first put quotas on teachers as soon as they had received their bonuses. At some schools, extortionists also targeted parents.

The state government responded by dispatching private security guards as well as police and soldiers to provide security, but the problem continued.

In a two-month period at the end of 2014, 21 teachers in the city were killed and nearly 200 schools suspended classes during the final weeks of the year. The local government stationed soldiers at schools, where students saw troops "something to admire," a teacher said in late 2015. "But in reality, in terms of security, nothing has changed."

Violence against schools has continued. Teachers at one school told El Sur de Acapulco they had left their school because they received threats demanding money and their requests for help from security forces had gone unanswered.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's surging narco violence is intensifying at the edges of one of its biggest tourist hotspots

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The wives of El Chapo's henchmen reveal how they hid and spent $2 billion

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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Pennsylvania Turnpike Accident Causes Hours-Long Detour

Posted on March 21, 2018

Pennsylvania Turnpike accidentWith snow falling all over Pennsylvania today, there is no surprise that there will be minor to major accidents in certain parts of the state. Luckily, many parts of PA are being cleared by PennDOT as they actively work to ensure that people can return to work.

Today, a Pennsylvania Turnpike accident blocked all lanes and led to an hours-long detour as it trapped drivers from passing by on the westbound lanes. The crash happened early around 6:30 a.m. near the Reading exit and involved several vehicles. It took hours to clear the road because there was a lot of debris on the road from the accident.

As a result, there was a 45 MPH speed limit implemented so that they could reduce the likelihood of more accidents.

At Edelstein Martin & Nelson, we want to hear from you if you have been injured in a serious accident on Pennsylvania roads. Call us today at 888-208-1810 to find out how we can help in your time of need.


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Reuters photographed 17 Russians voting multiple times in the presidential election — check out the crazy photos

Russian voting twice presidential election

Ludmila Sklyarevskaya, a Russian hospital administrator, voted on Sunday in an election that gave Vladimir Putin another term as Russia's president.

Then she went to another polling station and voted again, according to Reuters reporters who witnessed her movements.

Sklyarevskaya, who denied any wrongdoing, was among 17 people who were photographed by Reuters apparently casting ballots at more than one polling station Sunday in the town of Ust-Djeguta, southern Russia.

Many appeared to be state employees, and some showed up in groups and in mini buses bearing the names of state-provided services.

It was just one of many different kinds of alleged voter fraud incidents in Sunday's Russian presidential election.

The New York Times obtained live transmissions of Russian voters submitting multiple ballots at the same polling place. RFERL reported how some Russian voters blocked cameras as ballots were submitted, and that election officials blocked cameras with ballons as they tallied up the votes.

Reuters was able to speak to seven of 17 people photographed casting multiple votes. They either denied voting more than once or declined to comment.

Here are seven of the photos from three polling places in the town of Ust-Djeguta:

SEE ALSO: 7 crazy stories of Russia's enemies mysteriously getting poisoned — like when a Cold War dissident was hit with a poison-tipped umbrella

On election day in Ust-Djeguta, Sklyarevskaya arrived just after 5:30 p.m. local time, leading a group of eight other women and one man through the gates of polling station number 216.

About twenty minutes later, Reuters reporters observed the same group voting again a few hundred meters away at polling station no. 215.

Several of the women with her were wearing surgical scrubs, and the man wore a jacket with the word "ambulance" written on it. Ust-Djeguta, a town of 30,000 people and 1,500 km (930 miles) south of Moscow, has only one hospital, the state-run Central District Hospital.

In an interview next to her office on the hospital's fourth floor, Sklyarevskaya said she had voted only once, at a third polling station, number 217. "Who directed you to do this investigation?" she asked when approached by Reuters reporters. "You do not have the right to get involved in the electoral system."

An employee at the hospital where Sklyarevskaya worked confirmed the woman captured in photos at the two polling stations was Sklyarevskaya and identified her as the hospital's deputy director of health and safety.

Voting twice is a misdemeanor under Russian law, carrying a penalty of a fine. Shown pictures of some of the people who apparently voted twice, including at Ust-Djeguta's polling station no. 217, Leila Koichuyeva, a member of the election commission there, said: "They could be twins."

Sklyarevskaya, when it was pointed out she had been seen voting at polling stations 216 and 215, said "that's not me." 

Larissa Tekeyeva, head of the election commission for polling station 216, said after looking at a picture of a woman in a pink coat who voted at polling stations 216 and 217: "We all have the same mentality. We all look alike."

Zukhra Chomaeva, the head election official at polling station number 217, said she could not answer for what happened outside her precinct when asked about multiple voting. "How do I know if they're the same person? They might look the same."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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The 'Breaking Bad'-inspired gang of students who made $1 million selling drugs on the dark web have been jailed

how to buy drugs on the silk road walkthrough

  • A gang of former student drug dealers from Manchester, England have been jailed for a combined 56 years.
  • The men, who were students at Manchester University, sold LSD, Ecstasy, and other drugs on the dark web, according to the UK's National Crime Agency.
  • They were inspired by the TV show "Breaking Bad," and made more than $1 million.

A "Breaking Bad"-inspired gang of British drug dealers who began selling drugs online to make money as students have been jailed for years.

The five men, currently aged between 25 and 28, made more than £800,000 ($1.1 million) through sales of Ecstasy, Ketamine, LSD, Valium, and other drugs on the dark web while students at Manchester University, according to the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA). They splashed their cash on lavish holidays in the Bahamas and Jamaica — but were first arrested shortly after the closure of the notorious Silk Road dark web marketplace back in 2013. 

On Wednesday, they were sentenced to a combined 56 years in jail by the Manchester Crown Court, the NCA announced.

Ringleader Basil Assaf has been given a sentence of 15 years and three months, while James Roden has been jailed for 12. Kaijishen Patel's sentence is 11 years and two months, Elliott Hyams' is 11 years and three months, and junior member Joshua Morgan's is seven years and two months.

The Manchester Evening News previously reported that the group was inspired by "Breaking Bad" — the critically acclaimed TV show about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who starts cooking and selling crystal meth.

The NCA said the group operated from 2011 to 2013, selling drugs through Silk Road, an online marketplace for narcotics and other illicit goods that was part of the dark web — a section of the internet only accessible via software designed to obscure the user's identity.

The group sold the equivalent of 240,000 ecstacy tablets (in liquid form), 1.4kg of ketamine, and 1.2kg of 2CB, according to the NCA, and took payment in both cash and cryptocurrencies. 

At one point, the NCA said things got ugly between some of the group, with Assaf threatening to tell Hyams' mother about his activities and firing him from the operation: "I won’t hesitate to ruin your life. Your mother will find out the truth." He subsequently did tell her.

When officers moved in on the group's flat, they found 11,000 doses of LSD, £4,500 in cash, scales, packages, and label printers, according to the agency.

In a statement, NCA senior operations manager Ian Glover said: "These five men were interested only in making money. They had no regard whatsoever for the harm these drugs could do to their users."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A father and son are growing fruit and vegetables 8 metres below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea — here's why

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The death penalty is on the decline in the US — here are the states that still have the power to execute prisoners

jeff sessions

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on Wednesday outlining how federal prosecutors could seek the death penalty for drug traffickers.
  • President Donald Trump has recently been calling for drug dealers to receive the death penalty.
  • But capital punishment has reached record lows across the US — at both the state and federal levels.
  • Though most states still technically retain the death penalty, very few actually use it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on Wednesday directing federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty on drug traffickers "when appropriate."

Sessions outlined several statutes that allow prosecutors to seek capital punishment for drug-related crime, including racketeering, use of firearms resulting in death during a drug-trafficking crime, murder in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise, and dealing in extremely large quantities of drugs.

"I strongly encourage federal prosecutors to use these statutes, when appropriate, to aid in our continuing fight against drug trafficking and the destruction it causes in our nation," Sessions' memo said.

The move comes after repeated calls from President Donald Trump in recent weeks for drug dealers to be executed as a solution to the opioid crisis.

"If we don't get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time," Trump told a New Hampshire crowd on Monday. "This is about winning a very, very tough problem, and if we don't get very tough on these dealers, it is not going to happen, folks."

But it's an unusual view to gain prominence in 2018 — use of the death penalty has steadily declined since the 1970s, and few states still execute prisoners regularly.

In fact, despite Trump's newfound advocacy on the issue, the federal government can already seek the death penalty for drug traffickers under current law — but it doesn't, and it would likely run afoul of a 2008 Supreme Court ruling if it tried.

The majority of states also retain capital punishment, but few of them have actually used it in recent years. There are even 16 states that haven't executed a single prisoner since 1976, according to The Marshall Project.

As the death penalty fades out of use across the country, many states have even put the issue on the ballot in recent years. But voters have been reluctant to abolish capital punishment completely, no matter how rarely it's used.

death penalty in the united states

Here are all the states that still retain the death penalty, but haven't executed anyone in at least five years:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Harvard researchers found in 2016 that the US's use of the death penalty is mainly fueled by just a handful of counties — they're known as "outlier" counties and they're scattered throughout states like Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

The researchers found that the counties that still actively pursue the death penalty tend to have several factors in common: overzealous prosecutors, inadequate defense attorneys, and racial bias.

SEE ALSO: Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz

DON'T MISS: Just 16 counties are fueling America’s use of the death penalty

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's why the death penalty and longer prison sentences don't really deter crime

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The Trump administration targeted H-1B visas again — here's why the program is so controversial

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump smiles after signing an executive order directing federal agencies to recommend changes to a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs during a visit to the world headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

  • The federal government announced Tuesday it's suspending premium processing for applicants for the popular H-1B visa program.
  • The suspension was meant to help federal officials reduce the overall visa processing times.
  • The Trump administration has frequently targeted the H-1B visa program in his effort to curb legal immigration.

For the second year in a row, the Trump administration has suspended a program that allows skilled foreign workers to fast-track their applications for a highly coveted US visa.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency announced Tuesday that "premium processing" for the H-1B visa will be suspended through September 10, meaning applicants and their prospective US employers are temporarily barred from paying an extra $1,225 fee to have their petitions processed within a shortened 15-day timeframe — instead of the usual months-long wait.

The announcement came barely two weeks before the window opens for H-1B applications to be filed for fiscal year 2019.

"This temporary suspension will help us reduce overall H-1B processing times," USCIS said in a news release, adding that the agency has been struggling with a high volume of incoming H-1B petitions and a "significant surge" in requests for premium processing.

President Donald Trump has frequently targeted the H-1B visa program in his effort to curb legal immigration, even signing an executive order last April specifically targeting the program for federal review.

Critics have assailed the H-1B visa program for years, arguing companies use it to hire cheap, foreign workers in place of Americans.

Its proponents say it provides much-needed skilled workers to sectors where companies have struggled to hire Americans.

Here's everything you need to know about the H-1B visa program:

SEE ALSO: Trump's immigration policies are opening a door to the Silicon Valley of the North

DON'T MISS: Trump visited his border wall prototypes for the first time — and the photos are great

What is the H-1B visa program?

The H-1B program allots temporary visas to foreign workers with specialized skills.

H-1B visa holders are classified as "nonimmigrants" who are not expected to permanently reside in the US. Instead, they are intended to be guest workers hired for jobs US companies have struggled to fill with Americans.

Their visas are valid for three years at a time, and can be renewed only once for another three-year period before workers are expected to leave the US for at least a year.

Demand for H-1B visas has vastly outstripped supply, and they are therefore awarded by an annual lottery system that results in a chaotic rush to mail in paperwork the very day applications open.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) doles out 85,000 such visas annually — 65,000 go to foreign workers who possess at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent, and an additional 20,000 for those who have earned a master's degree or higher in the US.

Trump took aim at the "totally random" lottery system in his remarks on Tuesday, saying the visa system must ensure that only the most skilled, highly paid workers are allotted such visas — and never at the expense of American labor.

Last year, USCIS received 199,000 H-1B applications within five days, the fifth year in a row the visa cap was exceeded in a week or less. Yet applications also dropped from 236,000 applications the previous year.

It was a significant enough drop that former USCIS director Leon Rodriguez speculated to the Wall Street Journal that Trump's vows to crack down on the program may have deterred some would-be applicants.

Who uses them?

The vast majority of H-1B visa applicants work in science, technology, engineering, and math occupations, according to USCIS data from recent years.

But H-1B visas are used for a variety of other workers outside STEM fields, including teachers, journalists, and models.

Trump's own companies have made significant use of the H-1B program. Trump Model Management and Trump Management Group LLC, combined, have sponsored nearly 250 models under the program's special H-1B3 visa category for models "of distinguished merit or ability," according to The New York Times.

Even First Lady Melania Trump worked as a model on an H-1B during the 1990s before obtaining a green card in 2001.

H-1B applicants also disproportionately hail from India, and are sponsored by Indian outsourcing firms. Companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro have been called out by the White House and media as scooping up the brunt of the available H-1B visas in recent years.

In 2014, just 13 outsourcing companies — seven of them based in India — took nearly one-third of all available H-1B visas in 2014, according to The New York Times.

Why is it controversial?

The H-1B was intended to bring skilled labor and talent thought to be unavailable within the American workforce to the US . Silicon Valley companies in particular have been vocal proponents of the program, arguing that it supplies necessary talent to growing sectors that need the innovation and creativity.

But critics say the H-1B program is being exploited by companies to hire cheap foreign labor instead of their more expensive American peers. Anecdotes of American workers being forced to train the H-1B visa holders who are replacing them for lower pay have proliferated throughout the media in recent years.

Companies are required under federal regulations to declare that the H-1B workers they employ are not displacing American workers, but a loophole exempts them from that rule if the guest workers they employ are paid at least $60,000 per year.

Since American tech workers usually earn higher salaries than $60,000, companies are able to hire foreign workers at lower salaries than American ones, and need not prove they are not undercutting American labor. White House officials have said that a full 80% of H-1B workers are paid less than the median wage for workers in their fields.

Trump has been a staunch opponent of H-1B visas since the early days of his campaign, despite his companies' previous use of the program.

"The H1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay," Trump said in March 2016.

"I will end forever the use of H1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions."

The criticisms have validity — a recent research paper found that companies' use of the H-1B program between 1994 and 2001 kept wages down by up to 5.1% and employment of US workers down by as much as 10.8%, even while it created positive effects on the US economy and corporate profits.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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