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Congress wants JPC to probe Facebook

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Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera on Monday demanded the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe Facebook which, he alleged, has become “Fakebook” after its policies on hate speech. In a press conference here in Delhi, Khera said, “Facebook is helping an organisation like Bajrang Dal in spreading fake content through its platform. Through the course of the 2019 general elections, the Delhi riots, Facebook knew it well that they were not equipped to filter hate speech, especially in Hindi and Bengali, as per the leaked research documents by whistle-blower Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old engineer who worked at Facebook.” Khera said, “Yet they took no decisive action on the perpetrators of such hate. Rather, their internal reports have identified fake accounts with over a million impressions, yet, ‘Fakebook’ did nothing about it.”

Khera said that India is Facebook’s largest market with 370 million users. Nonetheless, to sustain its business in India, the leaks have suggested that an internal assessment by Facebook suggested that only 0.2 per cent of reported hate speech was being taken down, which shows that Facebook has an acute awareness about content against a particular section of Indian society and has chosen not to act against it, he alleged.

Khera said, “This only goes on to prove that “Fakebook” is nothing but a tool used by the ruling regime and its proxies to propagate bigotry, hate and fear in the minds of the oppressed and marginalised in India.” Khera said, “Many internal studies and reports by Facebook that have now been leaked explicitly suggest that it is groups and entities affiliated with the RSS, Bajrang Dal and their political proxy, BJP, that have been at the forefront of extensive hate speech campaigns by spreading targeted misinformation against a particular community.”

He said, “There are questions that Facebook and the government need to answer. Despite knowing all this, why has Facebook not designated RSS and Bajrang Dal as dangerous organisations?”

He slammed the central government and said, “If the government had been pro-active against Twitter citing social media safety compliance, why are they not uttering a word now?” Khera alleged, “The internal reports and recommendations of Facebook’s security team went against the recommendations of Facebook’s safety team, insofar as they prioritized commercial interests over the safety of Indian citizens, and yet no action has been taken by the government. Doesn’t this implicate the presence of a quid pro quo?”

Khera said they demand that a JPC probe be ordered immediately. Earlier, in 2020, Facebook’s safety team had concluded that the Bajrang Dal supported violence against minorities across the country. It was speculated that Facebook was on the verge of designating them as a ‘dangerous organisation’ and banning them from the platform. But after a report by Facebook’s security team which stated, “besides risking infuriating India’s ruling nationalist politicians, banning Bajrang Dal might precipitate physical attacks against Facebook personnel and facilities, and thus, the social media giant gave in and prioritised their business over the safety of millions of Indians.

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PAK ENVOY MEETS TALIBAN’S ACTING FM, DISCUSSES BILATERAL COOPERATION

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KABUL: Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan met Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation between both countries.

“Pakistan Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan met with acting FM Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation, Khan said.

Pakistan has decided that wheat and emergency medicine provided by India can be transported from Wagah port in Pakistan on Afghan trucks to Afghanistan,” Tolo News reported.

Earlier, Pakistan’s envoy and the Taliban acting foreign minister met in the month of September where both sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation particularly facilitating humanitarian, economic and people-to-people exchange.

Pakistan, along with China were among the first countries that began engaging with Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August this year.

The meeting came amid the Taliban’s repeated appeal for wider international recognition. Pakistan is among the very few which seem to have started engaging with the outfit. Other members of the international community are taking a wait and watch approach.

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TLP expanding after release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi

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Formerly banned organisation Tehreek-E-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is on a surge after the release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi and revoking of its ban by the Imran Khan government.

According to the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), there was a rather secret deal between TLP and the Imran Khan government reached on October 31 to end the latest round of protests. The deal was not made public and on November 7, Khan’s cabinet revoked the declaration of the TLP as a banned group. The TLP benefitted mainly from the divisions between the PML-Nawaz government and the military establishment deep state’, IFFRAS said, adding that Pakistan military establishment’s effort to prop up different religious groups to deteriorate the PML-Nawaz government permitted the TLP to increase greater political space. Earlier, Rizvi was released on the eve of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s death anniversary on November 19 who was the founder of TLP.

Further, the TLP capable of mobilising thousands of supporters, was born in the year 2015 out of a remonstration movement to the Barelvi movement.

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US ready to support Ukraine, help Kiev with defence

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Washington is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and is ready to support Kiev.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, Austin said that the US is “very concerned” about the alleged buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border and will try to ensure that Kiev “has what it needs” to defend its “sovereign territory.” The Pentagon chief said he was not going to speculate on different scenarios pertaining to the alleged Russian aggression on its borders.

Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and some Western countries have expressed concern about the alleged increase in what they characterise as “aggressive actions” by Russia on their border. However, Russia has refuted the accusations by saying it is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion.

US President Joe Biden plans to discuss the issue of Ukraine, as well as other topics, during the upcoming video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, December 7.

Biden told reporters earlier this week, answering a question about the issue of Ukraine, that he expected a “long discussion” with the Russian President.

Russia has repeatedly said that it stands by its right to move armed forces freely within its territory. On November 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russia does not have any aggressive plans with regard to Ukraine. The Kremlin has also expressed concerns about Kiev having aggregated almost half of all its armed forces on the contact line with the Donbas region in the east of the country.

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EXPLOSIONS HEARD INSIDE US BASE IN SYRIA

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Explosions were heard on Sunday inside a US military base in Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

The blasts were heard in the al-Tanf area in southeastern Syria, Xinhua news agency reported. Back in late October, the US base of At Tanf came under a drone attack. The White House believes that the recent attack on its military base in Syria was “deliberate and coordinated” and the United States reserves the right to respond.

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CHINA CREATES ATMOSPHERE THAT EMBOLDENS MILITARY TO SEIZE POWER IN AFRICA

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As Western powers continue to retreat from Africa, China is busy creating an atmosphere that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power in one of the largest continent in the world, said a media report.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Harvard University lecturer Christopher Rhodes said that “backsliding on the part of Western powers, the rise of autocrat-friendly China, have created an atmosphere in Africa that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power.” Rhodes further wrote that the coup, which had been widely rumoured in Sudan but still managed to blindside the United States, remains a source of outrage for Sudanese citizens. But Washington is yet to take a clear stance on the issue, Rhodes said.

According to the lecturer, the reaction from the West has diverged widely from that of Sudanese citizens, who continue to reject military hegemony. The report says that American diplomats have signaled acceptance of the new arrangement and willingness to turn a blind eye to the continued military dominance of the transition government.

This brings focus to the breakdown of the anti-coup coalition that had formed for Africa – a breakdown that has led to military interventions reemerging as a leading method by which power is transferred on the continent, Rhodes added.

Noting that the fight for democracy and against military rule in Africa has seen significant setbacks, Rhodes said while African populations remain overwhelmingly committed to democracy and opposed to military governments, the lack of reliable international pro-democracy partners makes the struggle against military rule much more difficult.

But as the sustained anti-military protests in Sudan demonstrate, local populations are willing to continue the fight for democracy, even if they must go it alone, said the lecturer.

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PROTEST IN COLOMBO AGAINST LYNCHING OF SRI LANKAN EXECUTIVE IN PAKISTAN

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A protest was held outside Pakistan High Commission in Colombo on Sunday by a large crowd, including a group of monks, against the killing of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot city of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan executive of a garment factory was lynched and his body burnt by angry supporters of a hardline Islamist party that attacked the facility in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations on Friday.

A police official alleged that Kumara tore a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in which Quranic verses were inscribed and threw it in the dustbin. A mob enraged over the alleged blasphemy incident, started gathering outside the factory from adjoining areas, most of them activists and supporters of the TLP.

They dragged the Sri Lankan executive, who was in his 40s, from the factory and severely tortured him. After he succumbed to his wounds, the mob burnt his body before police reached the crime spot. Late on Friday, Punjab police said they have arrested 100 suspects, after identifying them through video footage that went viral on social media.

Expressing grief over the lynching of his country’s citizen in Pakistan, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha said that he was “shocked to see the brutal and fatal attack” on Priyantha Diyawadana by “extremist mobs in Pakistan”.

“My heart goes out to his wife and family”, Rajapaksha said in a tweet.

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