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Sri Lankans sound alarm over Facebook fake news ahead of election

Facebooks decision to allow politicians to promote content already rated false by factcheckers has been widely condemned Sri Lankan civil society groups are sounding alarms about Facebooks policies in advance of the countrys 16 November presidential election, with warnings that the companys controversial decision to allow politicians to advertise misinformation is inappropriate and incendiary to boot. Sanjana Hattotuwa, a senior researcher for the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), on 7 November published Sunday Times of Sri Lanka. Desphapriya also said he was not satisfied with Facebooks record on removing questionable…

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A new India is emerging, and it is a country ruled by fear | Amit Chaudhuri

Modis vision for the country is one that stifles dissent and difference, says the author and academic Amit Chaudhuri Four months have passed since Narendra Modi and the BJP came back to power in India, and more seems to have happened there than in the last 40 years. The sense of suspension of civil liberties in the emergency of 1975 to 1977 and the political traumas that followed. This is because without the matter being explicitly articulated citizen has been set against citizen: not just Muslim against Hindu or, say,…

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Indian farmers shocked as suspected meteorite crashes into rice field

Football-sized object landed in paddy in Bihar state after fireball came down from sky A suspected meteorite crashed into the middle of a rice field in eastern India, authorities say. The object the size of a football landed with a thud in a paddy field in Madhubani district in Bihar state on Monday, startling farmers and sending up clouds of smoke. Kapil Ashok, the magistrate for Madhubani, 1,100 people were injured after a meteorite flared in the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The meteor broke up before it…

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At least 31 children in India killed by toxin in lychees

Dozens of children have died from acute encephalitis in the past 10 days, say health officials At least 31 children have died in northern India in the past 10 days from a brain disease believed to be linked to a toxic substance found in lychee fruit, health officials have said. The deaths were reported by two hospitals in Muzaffarpur in Bihar state, famed for it lush lychee orchards, officials said. The children all showed symptoms of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), senior health official Ashok Kumar Singh said, adding most had…

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Sexism, slander, hatred: Sri Lankas culture of online abuse

From politicians to members of the LGBTQI community, social media in Sri Lanka is a hotbed of harassment and hostility The threats began after Jegatheeswaram Jeyachandrika decided to contest local government elections. Clutching a file of printouts, Meena, as she is known, points to a Facebook post in which she is pictured, circled in red, among a group of people. We opened some new shops that day, part of a collective project, she says. This post implies that Im the mistress of one of the ministers in the photo. That…

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Five more years of Narendra Modi will take India to a dark place | Kapil Komireddi

If the Indian prime minister is returned to office, his sectarian politics will make bigotry the defining ideal of the republic, says author Kapil Komireddi Indian elections are a marvel to behold. The rules stipulate that no citizen should have to travel more than 2km to vote. So the state goes to the voters. Carrying oxygen tanks, election officials scaled the Himalayas to erect a voting booth in a village in Ladakh, 4,500 metres above sea level. In western India, a polling station was set up for the lone human…

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Sri Lanka: churches shut as worshippers mourn one week after bombings

Cardinal Ranjith delivers televised sermon as bells ring out across the country It was the first Sunday anyone could remember without a mass at St Sebastians. A week since the a gunfight and explosions the previous day left 15 people dead near the eastern town of Kalmunai, soldiers guarded St Mary Magdalens church. A sign on the gate said the church and the school would be closed until 6 May. A nearby mosque also had soldiers stationed outside. Alleged members of the terrorist cell were still being hunted on Sunday.…

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Anti-vaxxers are taking populism to a new, deadly level | Gaby Hinsliff

A distrust of elites and expertise is now becoming a public health crisis, says Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff The two men rode into the village on a motorbike, eyewitnesses said, and opened fire. They left one woman dead and another injured, and a trail of fear in their wake. Both women were vaccination workers trying to repeatedly been attacked amid rumours, gather intelligence. In Nigeria, too, the extremist group Boko Haram has murdered vaccination workers, attempting to frighten families out of having their babies protected. British parents dont know how…

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Kashmir: at least eight killed as Pakistan and India resume hostilities

At least six civilians and two Pakistani troops killed as clashes along frontier continue Indian and Pakistani soldiers have targeted each others posts and villages along the volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops, officials said. Tensions have been running high since Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan on Tuesday, carrying out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed in what Islamabad described as a peace gesture. Map Fighting resumed, however, overnight on Friday. Pakistans military said two of its soldiers had…

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Reuters reporters jailed for seven years in Myanmar

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December after reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims have been found guilty of breaching the countrys Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison. Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, are being held in prison in Yangon after being arrested in December, in a landmark case that has prompted international outrage and been seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the…

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‘A Brexited flatland: Peter Gabriel hits out after Womad stars refused entry to UK

Festival co-founder urges government to make it easier for international artists to perform in Britain The musician Peter Gabriel has expressed alarm over UK foreign policy after a number of international artists were unable to perform at artists declined invitations to perform at Womad, with many citing the difficulty of entering the country under the automated visa system that first created issues for the festival in 2017. Whether their perceptions are real or inflamed, the reality is that artists are deciding that the hassle and cost of entering the UK…

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Imran Khan claims victory in Pakistan elections

Former cricketer strikes unifying tone after campaign marred by violence and vote that opponents say was rigged The former international cricket star Imran Khan has declared victory in Pakistans general election, hailing what he described as the fairest vote in the countrys history, despite widespread allegations it was rigged in favour of his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. In a televised address to the nation from his house in Bani Gala, a wealthy suburb of Islamabad, Khan struck a unifying tone, pledging to rise above personal attacks and lift up the poor.…

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Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 10 years in jail

Corruption charges related to purchase of London flats, with verdict likely to affect election The former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption in a verdict likely to influence the general election the Panama Papers leak, published by the Guardian and others in 2016. The court also sentenced Sharifs daughter and presumed political heir, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, to seven years imprisonment, fined the family 10m and ordered the seizure of the Imran Khan, the former cricketer and leader of the main opposition…

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‘Nothing but lies and deceit’: Trump launches Twitter attack on Pakistan

US president tweets saying Pakistan is providing safe haven to terrorists and America was foolish to give $33bn in aid Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of lies and deceit, saying America was foolish to have given Islamabad more than $33bn in aid. Trump began the new year by launching an attack on Islamabad in his first tweet of 2018, saying Pakistan was providing safe haven to the terrorists we hunt. The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and…

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Too many have died in Afghanistan already. Trump must not draw us back | Owen Jones

Too much blood has already been spilled in a conflict that the west cannot win, says Guardian columnist Owen Jones The test of any professed opposition to Donald Trump is what response is forthcoming when he starts dropping bombs or sending soldiers to die. There were those who spoke in grave tones about Trumps threat to world peace even implying he was an American Hitler but got teary-eyed as soon as he sent missiles hurtling unveiled plans to send more American soldiers to the graveyard of Afghanistan and he wants…

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