World en Tue Sep 14 10:51:31 IST 2021 pandora-papers-bring-renewed-calls-for-tax-haven-scrutiny <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Calls grew on Monday for an end to the financial secrecy that has allowed many of the world's richest and most powerful people to hide their wealth from tax collectors. The outcry came after a report revealed the way that world leaders, billionaires and others have used shell companies and offshore accounts to keep trillions of dollars out of government treasuries over the past quarter-century, limiting the resources for helping the poor or combating climate change. The investigation, dubbed the Pandora Papers, was published on Sunday and involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. Hundreds of politicians, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have used shell companies or other tactics to hide their wealth and investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms located around the world.<br> </p> <p><br> The Pandora Papers is all about individuals using secrecy jurisdictions, which we would call tax havens, when the goal is to evade taxes,'' said Steve Wamhoff, director of federal tax policy at the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington. Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, applauded the Pandora Papers for exposing brazen examples of greed that deprived countries of tax revenue that could be used to finance programs and projects for the greater good. The latest bombshell is even more expansive, relying on data leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions. The document trove reveals how powerful people are able to deploy anonymous shell companies, trusts and other artifices to conceal the true owners of corrupt or illicit assets.<br> <br> Legally sanctioned trusts, for example, can be subject to abuse by tax evaders and fraudsters who crave the privacy and autonomy they offer compared with traditional business entities. Shell companies, a favoured tax evasion vehicle, are often layered in complex networks that conceal the identity of the beneficial owners of assets those who ultimately control an offshore company or other asset, or benefit from it financially, while other people's names are listed on registration documents. While a beneficial owner may be required to pay taxes in the home country, it's often difficult for authorities to discover that an offshore account exists, especially if offshore governments don't cooperate. A Treasury Department agency working on new regulations for a US beneficial ownership directory has been debating whether partnerships, trusts and other business entities should be included.<br> <br> Transparency advocates say they must or else criminals will devise new types of paper companies for slipping through the cracks. Pointing to the secrecy behind many of the tax dodges, some critics are calling for a global wealth registry that would make sham investments in shell companies public, embarrassing politicians or celebrities worried about their reputations.<br> <br> <br> </p> <p><b>UK urged to tackle ''dirty money'' after leaked Pandora papers</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Britain's conservative government is facing calls to tighten the country's defenses against dirty money after a massive leak of offshore data showed how London, in particular, is the destination of choice for some of the world's richest and most powerful people to conceal their cash. "The cache of almost 12 million files, which has been dubbed the Pandora Papers," was published Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners, including Britain's Guardian newspaper and the BBC. Though the purchases are legal under British law, the latest revelations highlight the complicated and often anonymous financial practices wealthy individuals use to avoid tax, far removed from the everyday experience of most of the British population. London in particular is a go-to for the rich and powerful because it's home to a sophisticated ecosystem of businesses that can help in the process, including creative wealth management firms, high-end lawyers and long-established accounting firms.<br> <br> The London property market has for years struggled to shake off a reputation for playing a central role in how rich people around the world seek to hide and accentuate their wealth, with many prime properties in the heart of the city owned by non-nationals. Russian oligarchs have been high-profile purchasers of London properties in recent years, for example. London, one of the world's biggest financial hubs, was also prominent in previous leaks of financial data, including 2016's Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers the following year. Critics say that has been a magnet for tax avoidance, which can be legal, as well as more criminal activities, including money laundering.<br> <br> Duncan Hames, policy director at the campaign group Transparency International UK, said the disclosures should act as a wake up call for the government to deliver on long-overdue measures to strengthen Britain's defenses against tax avoidance and money laundering. Once again Britain's role as an enabler of global corruption and money laundering have been exposed with the same loopholes exploited to funnel suspect wealth into the country, he added. is urging the government to close a loophole that allows companies in the U. He pointed to measures taken over the past decade by the Conservative government to improve transparency who owns what and exchange data between tax authorities. "As you've seen from the papers, it is a global problem, there's a global dimension to it and we need other countries to co-operate with us to tackle this, but we are determined to do that," he added.<br> <br> Sunak also said there is always more we can do when he was asked about reports that half of all Russian money laundering is estimated to occur in the UK. The tentacles of dark money exposed by the #PandoraPapers reach into the heart of UK.<br> <br> </p> Tue Oct 05 15:06:12 IST 2021 singapore-court-jails-indian-origin-woman-for-breaking-covid-19-laws <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An Indian-origin woman in Singapore was jailed for 13 days on Tuesday for flouting COVID-19 laws by ignoring to stay at home after she was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection and given a medical certificate (MC).<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Under the law, those diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection and given an MC cannot leave their home until they test negative for COVID-19.</p> <p>Instead of taking her scheduled COVID-19 swab test two days later, 24-year-old Janani Kalaychelvam left home in Yishun housing estate to visit Northpoint City (shopping) mall and her boyfriend's home, the TODAY newspaper reported.</p> <p>Kalaychelvam ultimately did not test positive, the report said. She pleaded guilty last month to one charge of contravening COVID-19 laws, with another two similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Tuesday, the prosecution sought at least two weeks' jail for Kalaychelvam, saying there is a need to deter the public against any action that endangers public health, especially in the midst of a pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kalaychelvam's defence lawyer Tan Jun Yin argued that a short detention order of the same length would achieve a similar purpose, without marring the Indian-origin woman's prospects of becoming a Tamil language teacher.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A short-detention order means offenders will serve time behind bars for up to two weeks, but will have no criminal record when released.</p> <p>In an apology letter addressed to the court, Kalaychelvam said she has since signed up as a volunteer at the Singapore Indian Development Association, a self-help group to uplift the socio-economic status of the Indian community in Singapore.</p> <p>At the time of the incident, I did not understand the seriousness of my actions and offences. Now I understand how many people I put at risk because of my negligence. I regret it, she said.</p> <p>Though it is an offence that can't be undone, I'd like to ensure I've taken the first few steps to make amends and grow to be a better person, she wrote.</p> <p>Those convicted of breaching COVID-19 laws can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to Singapore dollars 10,000, or both.&nbsp;</p> Tue Oct 05 13:59:29 IST 2021 56-chinese-warplanes-invaded-taiwan-defense-zone-taipei <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Declaring that America's commitment to Taiwan was "rock-solid", the US has told China that it will continue to watch very closely the "provocative" and "destabilising" Chinese military activities near the self-ruled island.<br> </p> <p>Taiwan's Defence Ministry said 56 Chinese warplanes made incursions into its air defence identification zone on Monday, the highest number since the island began publicly reporting such activities last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China views Taiwan as a breakaway province. However, democratic Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state. Beijing has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve unification with Taiwan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Responding to questions on the issue of Chinese warplanes frequently entering Taiwan's air defence zone, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference on Monday that, We remain concerned by the People's Republic of China's provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilising risk miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan, and we have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That's why we will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defence capability. We maintain our commitments, as outlined in the three communiques, Taiwan Relations Act, and the Six Assurances, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>America's commitment to Taiwan is "rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region," Psaki said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We have been clear, privately and publicly, about our concern about the PRC's pressure and coercion toward Taiwan, and we will continue to watch the situation very closely, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that the US is very concerned by China's provocative military activity near Taiwan.</p> <p>This activity is destabilising. It risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability. We strongly urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan, he said.</p> <p>Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid. It contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region, and we'll continue to stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values. We will do that as we continue to deepen our ties with Taiwan, Price said.</p> <p>Some analysts say the increased military flights could be seen as a warning to Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen ahead of the island's National Day on October 10.</p> <p>China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the US statement by criticising what it described as "irresponsible remarks."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The relevant remarks from the United States have seriously undermined the One-China Principle," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was quoted as saying in a press release on Monday night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In recent times, the United States has continued its negative actions in selling weapons to Taiwan and boosting its official military ties between the United States and Taiwan," she said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"These provocative actions have damaged Sino-US relations and damaged regional peace and stability. China firmly opposes this and takes necessary countermeasures."</p> <p>Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Senator Marco Rubio said 145 Chinese warplanes have flown into or near Taiwan's air defence identification zone since Friday.</p> <p>These military incursions occurred just days before Taiwan's National Day and began on the People's Republic of China's National Day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Chinese Communist Party's aggressive behaviour is intended to intimidate Taiwan and send a message to the rest of the free world, Rubio, a Republican, said.</p> <p>If Beijing's recklessness is not met with international condemnation, (Chinese President) Xi Jinping will think he has a green light for further aggression. President Joe Biden must work with our allies to ensure the People's Republic of China respects the status quo and the sovereign territory of Taiwan and its neighbours, he said.<br> </p> Tue Oct 05 13:20:32 IST 2021 japan-kishida-biden-agree-to-cooperate-on-china-n-korea <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held his first talks as Japanese leader with President Joe Biden and confirmed they will work to strengthen their alliance and cooperate in regional security in the face of growing challenges from China and North Korea.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishida, who was elected by Parliament and sworn in Monday, told reporters that Biden reassured him of the US commitment to defend the Japanese-controlled East China Sea island Senkaku, which China also claims and has escalated coast guard activity in the area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Biden provided a strong statement about US commitment for the defense of Japan, including ... Senkaku, Kishida said, adding that the two leaders also reaffirmed they would tackle together the challenges facing neighboring regions such as China and North Korea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishida supports stronger Japan-US security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in Asia, Europe and Britain, in part to counter China and nuclear-armed North Korea. Kishida has also pledged to beef up Japan's missile and naval defense capabilities.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishida on Monday acknowledged the need to continue dialogue with China, an important neighbor and trade partner, but said that we must speak up against China's attempt to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The two leaders confirmed their commitment to work together toward achieving the (asterisk) free and open Indo-Pacific vision of partnerships among the regional democracies as a counter to China's increasingly assertive activity, Kishida said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Holding his first talks as prime minister with the US president serves a first step toward lifting the Japan-US alliance to even higher levels," Kishida said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 20-minute phone talks Monday started with Biden congratulating Kishida on taking office. The leaders agreed to call each other by their first names, Joe and Fumio, and agreed to meet for their first in-person talks at an early date.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later Monday, Kishida held online talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, agreeing to strengthen their security and economic ties bilaterally and as part of the Quad alliance, which also includes the United States and India, to promote the regional peace and stability, Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishida expressed his support of a newly launched security partnership among Australia, Britain and the United States, or AUKUS. He and Morrison reaffirmed their firm objection to what's seen as economic overbearing by China and unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the regional seas, the ministry said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishida, 64, had been known as a moderate in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party but won the party's leadership last week after a hawkish turn on security and taking a more conservative stance on gender equality and other issues, apparently to win over influential conservatives in the party.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He succeeds Yoshihide Suga, who resigned after only one year in office after seeing his support plunging over his handling of the virus and insistence on holding the Olympics&nbsp; seen as high-handed and ignoring the public's concerns.&nbsp;</p> Tue Oct 05 13:05:16 IST 2021 facebook-instagram-whatsapp-messenger-back-online-after-hours-of-disruption <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are back online after the popular social media platforms suffered a massive global outage that lasted almost six hours, affecting tens of millions of users worldwide.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Facebook-owned platforms all crashed on Monday evening, blocking users from accessing their services.</p> <p>The California-based company said late on Monday that the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change, adding that it had "no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime."</p> <p>"Our services are now back online and we're actively working to fully return them to regular operations," it said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today's outage across our platforms. We've been working as hard as we can to restore access, and our systems are now back up and running.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We apologize to all those affected, and we're working to understand more about what happened today so we can continue to make our infrastructure more resilient," it said.</p> <p>All three services are owned by Facebook and could not be accessed over the web or on smartphone apps. WhatsApp users on both iPhone and Android could not make or receive phone or video calls or send text messages.</p> <p>While the users of the three social media platforms remained clueless as they repeatedly received error messages for most part of the day, the stocks of Facebook dropped by nearly five per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologised to those affected by the outage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are coming back online now. Sorry for the disruption today -- I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about," he posted on Facebook.</p> <p>Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer of Facebook, said on Twitter: Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now. We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible."</p> <p>Facebook services are coming back online now (It) may take some time to get to 100 per cent. To every small and large business, family, and individual who depends on us, I'm sorry, Schroepfer said in another tweet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>WhatsApp and Instagram had taken to Twitter to inform their users about the outage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We're aware that some people are experiencing issues with WhatsApp at the moment. We're working to get things back to normal and will send an update here as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience! said the messaging app with more than two billion active users in a tweet.</p> <p>Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them. Bear with us, we're on it! the photo sharing app had tweeted.</p> <p>The outage of the popular social media platforms came a day before one of its whistleblowers was all set to testify before a Congressional committee.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was highly unusual to have so many apps go dark from the world's largest social media company at the same time. More than 3.5 billion people use Facebook and its apps to communicate with one another and conduct business, The New York Times wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to The Wall Street Journal, the outage also caused widespread disruptions to Facebook's internal communication tools, including some voice calls and work apps used for calendar appointments and other functions, according to people familiar with the matter.</p> <p>The company told employees on Monday morning that the cause of the outage was unknown and some staff were using Zoom to remain connected.</p> <p>Facebook, which has nearly 3 billion monthly users worldwide, is going through one of its worst reputation crises in a fortnight due to revelations by a whistleblower.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product engineer, leaked numerous internal documents in the past week, including to the Wall Street Journal.</p> <p>She further accused the company of "(choosing) profit over the safety" of its users, in an interview broadcast by CBS on Sunday.&nbsp;<br> </p> Tue Oct 05 12:08:45 IST 2021 major-report-to-expose-sex-abuse-in-frances-catholic-church <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A major French report released Tuesday found that an estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France's Catholic Church over the past 70 years, in France's first major reckoning with the devastating phenomenon.</p> <p>The president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauve, said the estimate, based on scientific research, includes abuses committed by priests and others clerics as well as by non-religious people involved in the church. He said about 80 per cent are male victims.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The consequences are very serious, Sauve said. About 60% of men and women who were sexually abused encounter major problems in their sentimental or sexual life.&quot;</p> <p>The 2,500-page document prepared by an independent commission comes as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The report says an estimated 3,000 child abusers&nbsp; two-thirds of them priests&nbsp; worked in the church during that period. Sauv said the overall figure of victims includes an estimated 216,000 people abused by priests and other clerics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Olivier Savignac, head of victims association Parler et Revivre (Speak out and Live again), who contributed to the probe, told The Associated Press that the high ratio of victims per abuser is particularly terrifying for French society, for the Catholic Church.&quot; The commission worked for 2 1/2 years, listening to victims and witnesses and studying church, court, police and press archives starting from the 1950s. A hotline launched at the beginning of the probe received 6,500 calls from alleged victims or people who said they knew a victim.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Sauv denounced the church's attitude until the beginning of the 2000s as a deep, cruel indifference toward victims. They were not believed or not heard and sometimes suspected of being in part responsible for what happened, he deplored.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Sauv said 22 alleged crimes that can still be pursued have been forwarded to prosecutors. More than 40 cases that are too old to be prosecuted but involve alleged perpetrators who are still alive have been forwarded to church officials.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The commission issued 45 recommendations about how to prevent abuse. These included training priests and other clerics, revising Canon Law&nbsp; the legal code the Vatican uses to govern the church&nbsp; and fostering policies to recognize and compensate victims, Sauv said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The report comes after a scandal surrounding now-defrocked priest Bernard Preynat rocked the French Catholic Church. Last year, Preynat was convicted of sexually abusing minors and given a five-year prison sentence. He acknowledged abusing more than 75 boys for decades.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> One of Preynat's victims, Francois Devaux, head of the victims group La Parole Libre (&quot;The Liberated Word&quot;), told The Associated Press that with this report, the French church for the first time is going to the root of this systemic problem. The deviant institution must reform itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> He said the number of victims the report identifies is a minimum.&nbsp; &quot;Some victims did not dare to speak out or trust the commission, he said, expressing concerns that the church in France still hasn't understood and has sought to minimize its responsibilities.&nbsp;</p> <p>The church must not only acknowledge events but also compensate victims, Devaux said. It is indispensable that the church redresses the harm caused by all these crimes, and (financial) compensation is the first step.</p> <p>The Preynat case led to the resignation last year of the former archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who has been accused of failing to report the abuses to civil authorities when he learned about them in the 2010s. France's highest court ruled earlier this year that Barbarin did not cover up the case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> French archbishops, in a message to parishioners read during Sunday Mass across the country, said the publication of the report is a test of truth and a tough and serious moment.</p> <p>We will receive and study these conclusions to adapt our actions, the message said. The fight against pedophilia concerns all of us ... Our support and our prayers will keep going toward all the people who have been abused within the church.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Pope Francis issued in May 2019 a groundbreaking new church law&nbsp; requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> In June, Francis swiftly rejected an offer from Cardinal Reinhard Marx, one of Germany's most prominent clerics and a close papal adviser, to resign as archbishop of Munich and Freising over the church's mishandling of abuse cases. But he said a process of reform was necessary and every bishop must take responsibility for the catastrophe of the crisis.&nbsp;</p> Tue Oct 05 14:38:39 IST 2021 india-calls-pak-worlds-biggest-destabilising-force <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Strongly hitting out at Pakistan for again raking up the Kashmir issue at the UN, India has said a constructive contribution cannot be expected from a country that has an established practice of hosting terrorists and is the "epicentre" of global terrorism, and the biggest destabilising force in the world.<br> </p> <p>Counsellor in India's Permanent Mission to the UN, A Amarnath, said on Monday that India does not need advice from a nation with a proven track record of illicit export of nuclear material and technology.</p> <p>Pakistan's desperate attempts to peddle falsehoods and habit of abusing the sanctity of multilateral forums deserves our collective contempt, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pakistan has made a number of futile and unsubstantiated allegations against India, including in relation to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. These do not merit a response, as they pertain to matters internal to India, Amarnath said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India exercised its Right of Reply after Pakistan's envoy to the UN Munir Akram raked up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir during the meeting of the General Assembly's First Committee that deals with disarmament and international security issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amarnath reiterated that the entire union territory of Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This includes the areas that are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation, he said in the Right of Reply.</p> <p>Given its established State practice of hosting, aiding, and actively supporting terrorists, how could one expect any constructive contribution from Pakistan to the First Committee, that deals with important matters of international peace and security, Amarnath said.</p> <p>With the Pakistani envoy also referring to India's defence arsenal, New Delhi hit back saying that as a responsible State, India strictly abides by its obligations under international treaties and needs no advice from a country, which has a proven track record of illicit export of nuclear material and technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India's security concerns are not confined to a region and, therefore, India has always approached these issues in a global context, he said.</p> <p>He said that in contrast to India's constructive approach on disarmament matters, Pakistan has only been disruptive.</p> <p>Amarnath said it is 25 years now that the world is paying the price of Pakistan's obstructionist tactics in the CD (Conference on Disarmament) that have not allowed the conference to adopt a Programme of Work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pakistan has the dubious distinction of having single handedly blocked the negotiations on Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), including in 2009, when the Conference on Disarmament adopted a consensus Programme of Work, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having joined the consensus on the Programme of Work, Pakistan revealed its true character by soon taking a complete U-turn and blocking any work by the CD, Amarnath said.</p> <p>Pakistan, as the epicenter of global terrorism, is the biggest destabilising force in the world and has repeatedly indulged in cross-border terrorism, Amarnath said.</p> <p>They have no regard for UN principles. While Pakistan's Permanent Representative speaks about peace and security here, his Prime Minister glorifies global terrorists like Osama bin Ladin as martyrs'. What more could be a better proof of the utter duplicity that this country is infamous for? he asked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amarnath asserted that the General Assembly's First Committee is not the forum to address bilateral or regional issues as it has a vast agenda dealing with global issues relating to disarmament and international security.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We wish to reiterate that regional security issues have no place in the First Committee's considerations, he said.</p> <p>He said the Committee should not only categorically reject Pakistan's nefarious and vicious designs but collectively condemn Pakistan for its repeated efforts to politicise its work and hijack its mandate.</p> <p>Amarnath said in the Right of Reply that India expects nothing new from Pakistan that harbours a deep sense of insecurity and orchestrated hatred for India and our secular credentials and the values that my country stands for.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, despite its hopeless efforts, the world is able to see through its deceit and double-speak. It is time to hold Pakistan to account and not let them abuse UN platforms for spreading disinformation, hate and incite violence, he said.</p> <p>Amarnath said Pakistan's baseless accusations against India are "indeed rich, coming from a nation that is encouraging sectarian violence against Muslims and suppresses the rights of minorities.</p> <p>Going by its past practice and compulsive obsession with India, Pakistan may exercise its Right of Reply and continue its malicious false propaganda against my country. But I shall refrain from responding to it, out of respect for the work of the First Committee, he said.&nbsp;</p> Tue Oct 05 11:02:23 IST 2021 facebook-chose-profit-over-public-safety-claims-whistleblower <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A data scientist who was revealed on Sunday as the Facebook whistleblower says that whenever there was a conflict between the public good and what benefited the company, the social media giant would choose its own interests.</p> <p>Frances Haugen was identified in a <i>60 Minutes</i> interview on Sunday as the woman who anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement that the company's own research shows how it magnifies hate and misinformation.</p> <p>Haugen, who worked at Google and Pinterest before joining Facebook in 2019, said she had asked to work in an area of the company that fights misinformation, since she lost a friend to online conspiracy theories.</p> <p>Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety, she said. Haugen, who will testify before Congress this week, said she hopes that by coming forward the government will put regulations in place to govern the company's activities.</p> <p>She said Facebook prematurely turned off safeguards designed to thwart misinformation and rabble rousing after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump last year, alleging that contributed to the deadly January 6 invasion of the US Capitol.</p> <p>Post-election, the company dissolved a unit on civic integrity where she had been working, which Haugen said was the moment she realized she does not trust that they are willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.</p> <p>At issue are algorithms that govern what shows up on users' news feeds, and how they favor hateful content. Haugen said a 2018 change to the content flow contributed to more divisiveness and ill will in a network ostensibly created to bring people closer together.</p> <p>Despite the enmity that the new algorithms were feeding, Facebook found that they helped keep people coming back a pattern that helped the Menlo Park, California, social media giant sell more of the digital ads that generate most of its advertising.</p> <p>Facebook's annual revenue has more than doubled from USD 56 billion in 2018 to a projected USD 119 billion this year, based on the estimates of analysts surveyed by FactSet. Meanwhile, the company's market value has soared from USD 375 billion at the end of 2018 to nearly USD 1 trillion now.</p> <p>Even before the full interview came out on Sunday, a top Facebook executive was deriding the whistleblower's allegations as misleading.</p> <p>Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out, Nick Clegg, the company's vice president of policy and public affairs wrote to Facebook employees in a memo sent Friday. “But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”</p> <p>The<i> 60 Minutes</i> interview intensifies the spotlight already glaring on Facebook as lawmakers and regulators around the world scrutinize the social networking's immense power to shape opinions and its polarizing effects on society.</p> <p>The backlash has been intensifying since <i>The Wall Street Journal</i>'s mid-September publication of an expose that revealed Facebook's internal research had concluded the social network's attention-seeking algorithms had helped foster political dissent and contributed to mental health and emotional problems among teens, especially girls.</p> <p>After copying thousands of pages of Facebook's internal research, Haugen leaked them to the Journal to provide the foundation for a succession of stories packaged as as the Facebook Files.</p> <p>Although Facebook asserted the Journal had cherry picked the most damaging information in the internal documents to cast the company in the worst possible light, the revelations prompted an indefinite delay in the rollout of a kids' version of its popular photo- and video-sharing app, Instagram. Facebook currently requires people to be at least 13 years old to open an Instagram account.</p> <p>Clegg appeared on CNN's in another pre-emptive attempt to soften the blow of Haugen's interview.</p> <p>Even with the most sophisticated technology, which I believe we deploy, even with the tens of thousands of people that we employ to try and maintain safety and integrity on our platform, Clegg told CNN, adding, “we're never going to be absolutely on top of this 100% of the time."</p> <p>He said that is because of the instantaneous and spontaneous form of communication on Facebook, adding, “I think we do more than any reasonable person can expect to.” By choosing to reveal herself on <i>60 Minutes</i>, Haugen selected television's most popular news programme, on an evening its viewership is likely to be inflated because, in many parts of the country, it directly followed an NFL matchup between Green Bay and Pittsburgh.</p> <p>Haugen, 37, is from Iowa and has a degree in computer engineering and a Master's degree in business from Harvard University the same school that Facebook founder and leader Mark Zuckerberg attended.</p> <p>Haugen has filed at least eight complaints with US securities regulators alleging Facebook has violated the law by withholding information about the risks posed by its social network, according to <i>60 Minutes</i>. Facebook in turn could take legal action against her if it asserts she stole confidential information from the company.</p> <p>“No one at Facebook is malevolent," Haugen said during the interview. “But the incentives are misaligned, right? Like, Facebook makes more money when you consume more content. people enjoy engaging with things that elicit an emotional reaction. And the more anger that they get exposed to, the more they interact and the more they consume.”</p> Mon Oct 04 22:57:34 IST 2021 romanian-billionaire-among-8-killed-in-milan-plane-crash <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One of Romania’s richest men was killed in a plane crash on Sunday, after the single-engine Pilatus PC-12 he was flying crashed in the outskirts of Milan shortly after take-off. Dan Petrescu, his wife, son and five others were all killed in the crash.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With an estimated net worth of over $1.2 billion, Petrescu had maintained a low profile for much of his life. He fled Romania during the reign of dictator Nicolae Ceausesci, but later returned after the Romanian Revolution. He was a business partner of ex-tennis star Ion Tiriac and was active in the Romanian real estate sector, with land in Bucharest. He held dual Romanian and German citizenship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He maintained a low profile, giving no interviews and reportedly driving modest cars,&nbsp;<i>Romania Insider</i>&nbsp;reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An avid aviation enthusiast, Petrescu was reportedly piloting the plane before it crashed. Early reports said the plane crashed into an office building.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to&nbsp;<i>Romania Journal</i>, the list of victims included Petrescu,&nbsp;his second wife Regina Balzat Petrescu, his son Dan Ștefan Petrescu, Dan Stefan’s Canadian friend Julien Brossard, Filippo Nascimbene (manager at the consultancy company Start Hub in Milan), Nascimbene’s wife Claire Stephanie Caroline Alexandrescu (advertising manager at Pernod Ricard), their one-year-old baby boy, Raphael and Carolina Alexandrescu’s mother, Miruna Anca Wanda Lozinschi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the third aircraft crash this year to have resulted in the death of a billionaire. In March, French tycoon Olivier Dassault was killed in a helicopter crash. That same month, the Czech Republic’s richest man, billionaire Gregory Harms, was also killed in a helicopter crash.</p> Mon Oct 04 19:26:51 IST 2021 no-clear-target-as-us-democrats-gear-up-to-pare-back-infrastructure-social-spending <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Democrats in Congress have the task of paring back the White House's sweeping infrastructure and social agenda. But, they are yet to agree on a target size for their multi-trillion-dollar spending bill<b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">.&nbsp;</b><br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Democrats on Friday said they intended to bolster the&nbsp;social safety net and fight climate change will need to be trimmed from a $3.5 trillion goal to $2 trillion. Centrist Democrat Joe Manchin said his top cap for the package is $1.5 trillion. His fellow moderate Democrat Krysten Sinema hasn't stated a number.&nbsp;</p> <p>Biden, who travels to Michigan on Tuesday to rally support for the bill said that he will “work like hell” to get the legislative package passed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Michigan has a congressional delegation that in some ways represents the broad scope of the Democratic party, from moderate Representative Elissa Slotkin to progressive Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Reuters report reads.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>“</b>People will not get everything they want, that is the art of legislating,<b>&nbsp;</b>but the goal here is to get both bills, and we’re going to fight until we get both bills,” Cedric Richmond,<b>&nbsp;</b>director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, told NBC.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin is pushing for sole jurisdiction in the Senate over the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would provide grants to utilities that increase their share of clean energy sources. “Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Natural gas is a terrible global warming gas … and it has no place in such a program, otherwise, it becomes a bill to subsidize fossil fuel when we want to subsidize renewable energy,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After progressive Democrats urged that both bills move in unison, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cancelled the vote on Friday. Just before this, she had agreed with moderates urging to hold a House vote last week on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in an August bipartisan vote. Republicans oppose the social spending bill.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Democrats have limited time to reach an agreement on the larger bill. They face several other deadlines in the weeks ahead<b>.</b></p> Mon Oct 04 17:29:07 IST 2021