Castle Journal - Nadeemy Haded

Castle Journal - Nadeemy Haded

 

Hundreds of workers were paid to transcribe voice recordings of Facebook users, it has emerged.

Facebook is the latest company to confirm it has used third-party workers to do such work, following Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.

The practice had been halted "more than a week ago", Facebook said.

Workers were given audio of people's conversations but were not told how it was obtained, according to Bloomberg, which was first to report the news.

Facebook said the recordings were being transcribed manually so that artificial intelligence systems used to automatically transcribe conversations could be improved.

It added this had been done only when users had opted in to transcription services and given permission for microphone access.

"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," a spokeswoman said.

Facebook's lead supervisory authority on data protection within the EU is Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner.

"We are now seeking detailed information from Facebook on the processing in question and how Facebook believes that such processing of data is compliant with their GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] obligations," a spokeswoman told BBC News.

Earlier this month, Apple and Google said they had paused the practice of getting workers to listen to voice recordings of users so they could be transcribed.

Microsoft also confirmed voice recordings of users of Skype's automatic translation service were also analysed by humans.

The data regulator in Luxembourg is also currently in discussions with Amazon about its similar use of workers to check some Alexa voice recordings

 Indian-administered Kashmir has been under an unprecedented lockdown since last week after India revoked Article 370, a constitutional provision granting the region special status. Sumantra Bose, professor of international and comparative politics at the London School of Economics (LSE), explains why the decision is fraught with challenges.

At the end of October, Jammu and Kashmir will cease to be a state of India.

Last week, India's parliament approved by a large majority the decision by the federal government to split the state into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Union territories have much less autonomy from the federal government than states do, and are essentially subject to Delhi's direct rule.

Almost 98% of the erstwhile state's population will be in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, comprising two regions - the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, which has about eight million people, and the Hindu-majority Jammu, which has about six million. The third region, the newly created union territory of Ladakh, is a high-altitude desert inhabited by 300,000 people, with almost equal numbers of Muslims and Buddhists.

Last week's events fulfilled a Hindu nationalist demand dating back to the early 1950s: the abrogation of Article 370.

Hindu nationalists have for seven decades vehemently denounced Article 370 as an example of "appeasement" of India's only Muslim-majority state. This objection to Article 370 was also congruent with the Hindu nationalists' ideological belief that India should be a unitary and centralised nation-state.

The "reorganisation" of Jammu and Kashmir also reflects a longstanding Hindu nationalist agenda.

In 2002 the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the core organisation of the Hindu nationalist movement, demanded the state be divided into three parts: a separate Hindu-majority Jammu state; the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley; plus union territory status for Ladakh.

Simultaneously the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS affiliate, called for the state to be divided into four parts: a separate Jammu state and Ladakh as a union territory, plus the carving out of a sizeable area, also with union territory status, in the Kashmir valley to be inhabited solely by Kashmiri Pandits, the valley's small Hindu minority who were forced to leave nearly en masse when insurgency erupted there in 1990.

Under the VHP plan, what remained of the Kashmir Valley would then be left to the Muslim majority.

 

The claim made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that the autonomy enshrined by Article 370 is the cause of "separatism" in Jammu and Kashmir is disingenuous.

That autonomy had already been largely stripped away by a series of integrative measures imposed on the state by federal governments between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s.

After the mid-1960s, what remained of Article 370 was largely symbolic - a state flag, a state constitution from the 1950s that was not much more than a sheaf of paper, and a state penal code left over from the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that existed from 1846 to 1947.

Article 35A, which prevents outsiders from buying land or property in the state and assures priority in jobs to state residents, continued to apply. But again, its provisions were not unique to Jammu and Kashmir.

A number of Indian states including the north Indian states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, as well as several states in India's north-eastern periphery, have very similar protections for native residents.

The actual cause of "separatism" in the state, which exploded in insurgency in 1990, was the de facto revocation of its autonomy in the 1950s and 1960s and the manner in which it was effected: through the collusion of puppet local governments installed by Delhi and by turning the place into a police state ruled by draconian laws.

By stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and dismembering it - an action without precedent in post-Independence India- the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has gone far beyond that.

The edifice of the Indian Union is built on states (29, soon to become 28), moderately autonomous of Delhi. India's union territories - there are seven, set to increase to nine from 31 October - have little to none of the status and powers enjoyed by the states.

 

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has criticised members of the Royal Family and claimed the Duke of Sussex's popularity has "fallen off a cliff" since he met his wife, Meghan.

Mr Farage also said he hoped Prince Charles would not become king because of his views on climate change.

But the ex-UKIP leader told the right-wing conference in Australia the Queen was an "amazing, awe-inspiring woman".

His spokesman said the comments were not part of a speech at the event.

The comments were first reported by the Guardian, which said media had been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney but that it had heard a recording of Mr Farage comments on Saturday.

It reported Mr Farage had said Prince Harry had been "the most popular royal of a younger generation that we've seen for 100 years" before he met Meghan.

"Here was Harry, here he was this young, brave, boisterous, all-male, getting into trouble, turning up at stag parties inappropriately dressed, drinking too much and causing all sorts of mayhem," he said.

"And then he met Meghan Markle, and it's fallen off a cliff."

He went on to discuss the prince's remarks last month that he and Meghan plan to have no more than two children to help fight against climate change.

Mr Farage said the move was "irrelevant" because the "population of the globe is exploding" in areas including China and India.

He said he hoped the Queen would live a "very, very long time" to prevent the Prince of Wales becoming king.

"When it comes to her son, when it comes to Charlie Boy and climate change, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," he said.

"Her mother, Her Royal Highness the Queen's mother was a slightly overweight, chain-smoking gin drinker who lived to 101 years old.

"All I can say is Charlie Boy is now in his 70s... may the Queen live a very, very long time."

Mr Farage's comments have been criticised on social media, with Labour MP David Lammy urging Mr Farage to "lay off Meghan".

And BBC political correspondent Mark Lobel said Number 10 was refusing to give the remarks any more oxygen by commenting on them.

But one Brexit Party MEP dismissed the criticism saying Mr Farage's comments were "wholly irrelevant to our goal of delivering Brexit".

Another MEP said: "Sounds like he was having fun with the Australians. He said the Queen was an amazing woman.

 A body has been found in the search for a vulnerable 15-year-old girl who went missing while on holiday in Malaysia.

Nora Quoirin, who has special needs, disappeared from her room at the Dusun resort on 4 August.

Malaysian police confirmed rescuers had found a body on Tuesday near where Nora was reported missing.

Missing persons charity the Lucie Blackman Trust said the body had not been identified but was "likely" to be the teenager, from London.

About 350 people had been searching for Nora in dense jungle near the resort.

BBC correspondent Howard Johnson said the body had been found just over a mile (2km) away from the Dusun.

State police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said officials were in the process of determining whether the body, of a Caucasian female, was Nora.

Authorities have been treating Nora's disappearance as a missing persons case, but her family have said they believe she may have been abducted.

Nora was born with holoprosencephaly, a disorder which affects brain development, and her family said she was "not independent and does not go anywhere alone".

On Monday, her parents Meabh and Sebastien, a French-Irish couple who have lived in London for 20 years, put up a 50,000 Malaysian ringgit (£10,000) reward for help to find her.

While announcing the reward, they described their daughter as being "so precious to us", adding their "hearts are breaking".

More than £110,000 has been donated on two crowdfunding sites set up by relatives to cover costs incurred by the family during the 10-day search.

Over £98,000 has been raised on a page set up by Nora's aunt, while a second created by her uncle which allows people to pay in euros has reached more than €17,500 (£16,000).

Investigators previously said they had not ruled out a "criminal element" in the teenager's disappearance.

Nora, her parents and her younger brother and sister arrived at the resort in a nature reserve near Seremban, about 39 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, on 3 August for a two-week stay.

Her father raised the alarm at 08:00 local time the next day after she was discovered missing from her bedroom.

Search teams were assisted by local Orang Asli people, who have knowledge of the jungle terrain, while two shamans also joined the operation.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), the Met Police, Irish and French police have also been providing support to Malaysian authorities.

In a statement the Lucie Blackman Trust said: "We can confirm a body has been found in the search for Nora Quoirin.

"At this time we cannot confirm it is Nora. However it sadly seems likely. Investigations are under way to confirm identity and cause of death."

3 August: The Quoirins arrive at the Dusun forest eco-resort

4 August: Nora disappears from her room

5 August: The Lucie Blackman Trust says Malaysian police are treating Nora's disappearance as a potential abduction, but officers deny any foul play is involved

6 August: Nora's family say they believe she has been abducted

11 August: Malaysian police set up a hotline dedicated to receiving information about teenager

12 August: A reward of £10,000 - donated by an anonymous Belfast business - is made available for information leading to Nora's safe return

13 August: A body is found in the search for Nora

Ireland's deputy prime minister and foreign minister Simon Coveney said the discovery of a body was a "harrowing time" for Nora's family.

"All of out thoughts and prayers are with the family," he tweeted.

St Bede's School in south London, which Nora attended, said it would open at 13:00 BST to allow the community "to join in prayer for Nora and her family... in this heartbreaking and horrific moment"

 

The death toll from Typhoon Lekima in China has risen to 28 with another 20 people missing, local authorities say.

Officials say about five million people in Zhejiang province have been affected with over one million evacuated to safe spaces.

Lekima made landfall in the early hours of Saturday in Wenling, between Taiwan and China's financial capital Shanghai, packing strong winds and heavy rain.

It is due to move further up the east coast on Sunday.

Most of the deaths were in the city of Wenzhou where torrential downpours caused a landslide, state media said.

The landslide occurred after a barrier lake - or natural dam - formed, pooling water from the heavy rains before collapsing.

Emergency crews battled to save stranded motorists from floods and searched for survivors in the rubble of damaged buildings.

In Zhejiang province, Lekima damaged crops and 34,000 houses. The direct economic loss amounts to 14.57 billion yuan (£1.7 billion), state media said.

Footage on Sunday from state broadcaster CCTV showed rescue workers on boats in Linhai city where streets were completely submerged in water.

Lekima has now passed over Shanghai and is expected to hit Shandong province later on Sunday.

Shanghai evacuated some 250,000 residents.

More than 3,200 flights have been cancelled due to the typhoon with Shanghai, Beijing and other cities grounding planes.

It is the ninth typhoon of the year, Xinhua news said - but the strongest storm seen in years. It was initially given China's highest level of weather warning but was later downgraded to an "orange" level.

Chinese weather forecasters said the storm, which had winds of 187km/h (116mph) when it made landfall, was moving north at 15km/h.

It earlier passed Taiwan, skirting its northern tip and causing a handful of injuries and some property damage.

Lekima is one of two typhoons in the western Pacific at the moment.

Further east, Typhoon Krosa is spreading heavy rain across the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. It is moving north-west and could strike Japan some time next week, forecasters said

 

A shooting at a mosque in Norway is being investigated as a possible act of terrorism, police say.

A gunman opened fire on the Al-Noor Islamic Centre, on the outskirts of the capital Oslo, on Saturday.

One person in the mosque managed to overpower the gunman, suffering "minor injuries" in the process.

Later, a woman was found dead at the house of the suspect. Police confirmed that the woman was related to the suspect.

Acting chief of the police operation Rune Skjold said that the suspect, described as a "Norwegian man", had been known to police before the incident but could not be described as someone with a "criminal background".

Mr Skjold said that the man appeared to hold "far-right" and "anti-immigrant" views and had expressed sympathy for Vidkun Quisling, the leader of Norway's collaborationist government during the Nazi occupation.

The suspect is appeared to have acted on his own.

The head of the mosque said only three people had been inside at the time of the attack.

The mosque's director told local media that the victim was a 75-year-old member of the congregation.

Irfan Mushtaq told local channel TV2 that the attacker had "carried two shotgun-like weapons and a pistol".

"He broke through a glass door and fired shots," he added.

 

Firefighters have put out a blaze at an ammunition dump in Siberia and munitions are no longer exploding there, the Russian military says.

Ten massive Il-76 cargo planes and five Mi-8 helicopters are water-bombing the area, near the town of Achinsk in the Krasnoyarsk region.

A defence ministry statement said "there are no more fires" at the site, an old dump due for closure housing some 55,000 artillery shells.

More than 9,500 people were evacuated.

Six injured people are in hospital, but they are not critically ill.

Flying munitions damaged a school and a kindergarten in the village of Kamenka. But Deputy Defence Minister Gen Dmitry Bulgakov said that besides smashed windows there was little structural damage in the area.

Local residents were evacuated from inside a 20km (12 miles) radius around the arms dump.

Witnesses posted videos of balls of flame and black smoke, starting during the day and continuing after dark.

Krasnoyarsk region is one of those affected by huge wildfires that engulfed parts of Siberia in recent weeks, due to unusually hot weather and strong winds.

The worst of the fires, however, were many miles away to the north-east.

Military sources told the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta they believe the explosions were triggered by an old shell blowing up in an army truck

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