World leaders, tech CEOs meet ahead of summit against online extremism

Robie de Guzman   •   May 16, 2019   •   1720

Courtesy : Reuters

World leaders and executives of large tech companies gathered in Paris on Wednesday (May 15) for discussions aimed at curbing online violence in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand.

On Tuesday (May 14), Facebook announced steps to temporarily block users who break its rules from broadcasting live video. The tweaks to Facebook’s rules came as the White House snubbed other world leaders, who met with tech companies in Paris to back a call by New Zealand’s prime minister for stronger measures against social media hate speech.

Silicon Valley tech giants expressed their support for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s so-called “Christchurch Call,” named for the city where the gunman attacked two mosques on March 15 and broadcast his killings live.

But Washington declined to send a delegation to the meeting hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The White House said it would not endorse Ardern’s initiative, although it supported the broader aims.

Macron hosted Ardern, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and other leaders on Wednesday to support Ardern’s initiative.

Signatories would “encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online, to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content,” although the initiative is non-binding, light on details leaves countries and companies to decide how to apply guidelines.

Countries including Australia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, India and Sweden said they backed it, as did U.S. tech giants Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google and its video platform YouTube and Amazon.

But the White House said in a statement the United States was “not currently in a position to join the endorsement,” although it added: “we continue to support the overall goals reflected in the call”. (REUTERS)

Lost hikers found alive after 18 days in New Zealand forest

UNTV News   •   May 27, 2020

Scenery at Kahurangi National Park

Two New Zealand hikers survived for more than 18 days in a densely-forested national park before being found alive on Wednesday (May 27), rescue officials said.

Jessica O’Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23, hiked into Kahurangi National Park in the northwest of New Zealand’s South Island on May 9, and were expected to return in five days. They were reported missing by a friend on May 18.

A search helicopter located the pair on Wednesday afternoon, and they were taken to be medically assessed at a hospital, police said.

Police said initial indications were that the pair became lost in fog during the first few days of their hike. They decided to stay put and had run out of food by the time they were found.

At 452,002 hectares (1116921.27 acres), Kahurangi National Park is New Zealand’s second largest national park. It was also one of the locations for the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Reuters)

(Production: James Redmayne)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

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