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Facebook, Twitter Take New Measures to Curb Poll Manipulations by State-Affiliated Media August 07, 2020 20:11

The move comes amid concerns over campaigns by governments aiming influential elections and public sentiment in other countries through media outlets. Twitter and Facebook on Thursday have announced their moves to thwart the efforts by governments to deceive or divide voters as the US nears the Presidential elections in November. Twitter revealed its new steps to prevent the content spreads from state affiliated media used to advance their political agenda which is a move affecting key outlets from Russia and China. Meanwhile, Facebook said that it took down the accounts running a deceptive campaign out of Romania pretending to be Americans who are supporting the US president Donald Trump. The deceptive campaigns targeted the US with posts about presidential election, the Trump campaign, conservative ideology, Christianity belief which are linked to conspiracy theories. Twitter mentioned that it would add new labels to state affiliated media accounts and would not longer amplify their tweets through the recommendation systems which will identify and prevent the spread of government led influencing campaigns. Twitter has released a statement recently saying that state affiliated media unlike the independent media frequently use their news coverage for their political agenda and to advance it. It also said that this decision to limit state affiliated media advertising would not affect state financed media organizations with editorial independence like BBC and National Public Radio. Twitter’s announcement is followed by a similar announcement by Facebook which labeled content from media which is generally controlled by the government. State led influence campaigns have become popular since 2016 US elections and have been seen across the world. A recent report by the Oxford University researchers says that there is an evidence of misinformation and conspiracy theories being cooked up and spread by the leading media outlets from Russia, China, Iran and Turkey, all of which are state controlled. Twitter also plans to launch new authentication symbols for government officials who are authorized to speak on behalf of the state. Facebook has removed 35 people, 3 pages and 88 instagram accounts as a part of the ongoing fight against inauthentic behavior. The people behind these networks use fake accounts to portray themselves as Americans, amplify their content and comment on their own posts and also manage some pages including those posing as Trump’s fan pages. The Facebook has found out that such activity has been originated in Romania and is focused on the US. The network often reposted stories from the US conservative news networks and from the trump campaign. By Gayatri Yellayi

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IPL Team to observe 6-day Quarantine Period upon reaching UAE August 06, 2020 20:38

IPL teams have decided to play safe and would leave for Dubai after August 20 and hold their respective camps in UAE. In the IPL team owners’ meeting that was held on Wednesday, the owners have decided that each IPL team will be in quarantine for 6 days after reaching Dubai. The owners have decided not to take any chance on health. This was told by an IPL franchise officer to the Indian Express. As per the Dubai government’s rules, an RT-PCR test needs to be done 3 days before the journey and also should take one after reaching the country. Only those tested positive in the tests will be quarantined for 14 days in UAE. All the team members must download the ALHOSN app of Dubai which is an official platform for testing COVID-19. The team members also want to play safe and hence they have decided to leave to Dubai after August 20. Every franchise will have to arrange its own bio security and a BCCI-appointed agency will supervise the whole thing. The meeting on Wednesday by the team owners was held after the VIVO’s departure as the brand partner of IPL. The board is expected to issue a new request for proposal (RFP) to pick a replacement sponsor shortly. However, it is estimated that the new sponsorship amount would be less owing to the economic distress due to COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction in the title sponsorship revenue will affect both the BCCI and the franchises; particularly more affect would be to the franchises as they are unlikely to get any gate receipts. Revenue from the central pool is basically distributed between BCCI and the franchises in the ratio of 60:40. Team owners have mutually agreed on restricting their squad strength to 24. IPL, the most awaited tournament of the year was supposed to be held in India this year but after meticulous calculations from the BCCI and the Indian cricket board, the former has decided to conduct the cricket tournament in the UAE considering the coronavirus pandemic in India. Comparatively, UAE has reported less number of cases and has quickly recovered from the virus. UAE’s quarantine and travel restrictions are also very stringent which makes it safer for the players to land in the country for their game. The Indian premiere league is all set to kick off from September 19 and the final would be held on November 8. By Gayatri Yellayi

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Why is a Giant Lord Ram Deity Appearing on Times Square and Why is it Controversial? August 06, 2020 19:51

The bitter battle among Indian Americans, Hindus and Muslims erupted after the portrayal of Lord Ram and the Ram Temple on Times Square. Times Square is usually a pretty busy place with tourists thronging the place. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic the place has become deserted and the New York city’s landmark saw complete silence. However, this has not prevented the bitter battle among Indian Americans, Hindus and Muslims in the area. The dispute is over the billboard that has been erected on the Times Square marking the celebration of Ayodhya temple construction in the Northern India, about 8000 miles from the Times Square. The bill boards went up on Wednesday that displayed 3D image of the Hindu god Ram and the temple. The Babri Masjid issue had run for centuries and the construction of Ram Temple is a victory for the Hindus after all these decades of long wait. But, as the bill board battle demonstrates, the conflict is far from over, both in India and the Indian Diaspora in the US. Indian American Muslims, human right groups and anti-Modi groups have asked the advertisers in the Times Square to not put up the display of the images of the temple or the deity on Wednesday. They have also urged the New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio to step in and stop the advertising. These groups have reportedly seen some success. Branded cities Network, the organization in charge of advertisements at the Nasdaq building told the battling Indian Americans that it would not put up the advertisements of Ram Temple on their bill boards. However, the Ram Temple advertisements are going to run on Disney and Clear Channel outdoors as well. According to reports, these ads cannot be blocked from displaying and the Indian Americans have been late in stopping the ads. All of this issue may be a new thing to the New Yorkers passing on their way across the Times Square and they have no idea about what is going on 8000 miles away from them. But, to Indian Americans, Hindus and Muslims, the issue is what they symbolize and is about their beliefs and emotions. This dispute in the New York city indicates that not just in the minds of Indian Muslims but also the Indian Americans are irked by the construction of the temple in India. However, to the crores of Hindus in India, the laying of foundation stone event that was done on August 5 is auspicious and marks the victory of the Hindu beliefs. Hindus of India say that Ram Rajya has begun in the country. By Gayatri Yellayi

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Kangana Ranaut says Ram Mandir Bhumi Pujan Will be a Part of Her Next Film August 06, 2020 17:37

Aparajita Ayodhya will be the directional venture of Kangana Ranaut under her banner Manikarnika films. Ram Mandir Bhumi Pujan ceremony was held on Wednesday, August 5 where PM Modi had laid the foundation stone to begin the construction of the much awaited Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Kangana Ranaut spoke about the mega event yesterday and how her directional venture Aparajita Ayodhya will feature the entire sixty decades old journey of the Ram Mandir. While speaking about her new film Aparajita Ayodhya, she said that she is re uniting with the Marnikarnika movie writer, K V Vijayendra Prasad for this movie too. She also said that the temple has been a struggle of 600 years when it was invaded by Babur and demolished. After that 72 battles were fought and even during the first mutiny, the British had used the temple when it was divided into Hindus and Muslims. She said that it was attempt used by the British to divide Indians into Hindus and Muslims using this temple. Kangana stated that in her film Aparajita Ayodhya several real Muslim characters have fought for the justice of Ram Temple. Ranaut further added that her film is a story of devotion, faith and mainly unity in the country. She claimed that Ram Rajya is beyond a religion and that is what her film is all about. The film will have a very tough screenplay as it travels across 600 years and the Ram Mandir Bhumi Pujan will be a part of Kangana’s film too. She has praised K V Vijayendra Prasad for creating the story so beautifully which connects the history to present in an enthralling way. Speaking about the historic event, Kangana said that Ram Mandir is not just a temple at Ayodhya but an emotion to all. For Kangana, Ayodhya is very symbolic and the journey of the 500 to 600 years of the temple excites her a lot. She also said that she does not want to waste her limited time but instead invest it into doing something that will enhance the way people are living. Aparajita Ayodhya will be launched under her own banner Manikarnika films in the next year. Kangana has been very active on social media since Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and has been voicing out her opinions in the matter. From that day one, she has been claiming that his death is not due to depression but a well planned murder. She even claimed to return her Padma Shri if her claims are proved false. She alleges that Bollywood doesn’t encourage talent and the industry is filled with nepotism. Apart from Arnab Goswami, a senior journalist of the Republic TV, Kangana has also been waging war against the depression theory that is scripted for Sushant. By Gayatri Yellayi

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Google’s ‘Nearby Share’ File Transfer Tool is Now Available on Android August 06, 2020 15:10

Nearby Share is similar to Apple’s Air Drop that lets users share pictures, files, links and more to another android phone nearby. Google has launched a new sharing feature for android called the nearby share that will let the android users share files, links and many others to the other android devices nearby. This feature works very much like Apple’s Air Drop feature for the I phones. Android users can use the feature on their mobiles by simply selecting the content a user wants to share and then drag it from the bottom of the screen and tap on the option ‘Nearby Share’. After this, the users can select to share those files to the nearby android users. Google said in a statement the Android users can send and receive files anonymously and also make themselves invisible if they don’t to receive the files. Daniel Marcos, the Product Manager of Google said that the android users need not worry about sharing the contact information because Nearby share allows the users to both send and receive files anonymously. It also allows the users to adjust the privacy settings of the phone’s quick settings at any point of time. Nearby share will currently be available on Google Pixel phones and Samsung devices. In the coming days or months, Google will work with Chrome books so that one can swiftly share the files between an android phone and a chrome book and the vice versa. Chrome books already have a feature that makes them work well with Android like Instant tethering. Nearby share works on Android platform which are running with 6.0 or above. More smart phones that work on android will receive this feature in the coming weeks. Nearby share was earlier called Fast share and was discovered earlier this year within Android 10’s code. Google says that Nearby share will automatically choose the method to share the files either by Bluetooth or WiFi. This feature will allow you to send files even offline. Similar to Air Drop in Apple, users can customize the phone’s visibility to other devices. Users will get the option to choose from hidden contacts, some contacts or all contacts. For a one time transfer to another user, the android users don’t have to add someone to their contacts. However, with nearby share android users cannot share files to iphone users and windows users. But, according to Google, the feature to send files to iphones and window phone can be added later on. By Gayatri Yellayi

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Here’s the List of Activities Ranked on Basis of Risk Factor Amid COVID-19 August 05, 2020 20:00

The WHO has ranked the activities into low, moderate and high risk in the times of COVID-19. Take a look and be clear on activities you can do. At a time when Unlock 3.0 has embarked in the country from August 1, India is still seeing the biggest spikes in daily number of coronavirus cases. However, people are moving out be it for grocery shopping or to visit friends or family. It is important to note that Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recommended people to not step out of their houses except if there’s an emergency. Now that it has become mandatory to step out for one or the other thing, the WHO has segregated the list of activities normally done by everyone outside into categories of risk factors- low, moderate and high. Low risk activities Picking up food delivery at the restaurant’s take-away counter. Opening a parcel or mail. Moderately-Low risk activities Shopping for groceries at a supermarket. Going for walking, biking or running. Visiting a park. Moderate Risk activities Working from Office. Visiting elderly relatives. Moderately High Risk Going to a salon. Dining at a restaurant. Playing contact sports. Traveling by airplane. Shopping at a mall or a market. Hugging and shaking hands. High Risk activities Working out at a gym. Visiting religious places and gatherings. Attending a wedding or a funeral with many guests. Precautions to take while doing low risk activities: Always wear a face mask once you step out of your home. Remove mask while jogging or running as it can cause breathing problems. Maintaining social distancing while walking at parks and also while shopping for groceries. Throw away the packaging of your food takeaway immediately after you bring home. Wash your hands at least for 20 seconds after returning to home. Precautions for moderate risk activities: Avoid entering shops during the peak of the day. Maintain 6 feet distance between each other in offices. Avoid shaking hands and hugging your colleagues. Avoid large physical congregations. Wash your hands for 20 seconds at least 3 times while at office. Ask the employers to ensure staggered lunch breaks. Do not visit any relative’s house in large number and neither should you allow a large number of people into your house at a time. Remember to carry a sanitizer if you are using public transport. Try to meet the person outdoors instead of indoors. Precautions for moderately high risk activities: Passengers who are about to have a flight journey must wear a face mask right from the moment they leave the house. If you want to take a cab, choose an authorized one to reach the airport. Let the officials at the airport record your body temperature first before entering. Ensure to collect your safety kit with masks and sanitizers before boarding. You cannot take any precautions if you are performing high risk activities like attending a wedding or funeral. Simply avoid going doing these activities till the pandemic subsides. By Gayatri Yellayi

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Trump Bans Hiring of H1B Visa Holders for Federal Contracts August 05, 2020 19:14

Trump signs an executive order to ensure that the federal government lives by a simple rule: Hiring Americans Only. United Nations President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order which prohibits American employers from hiring non-Americans and also bans giving priority to H1B workers instead of native people. The order aligns with the rule that federal contracting and hiring practices must be in the interest of American workers. President Trump had said that this move is the first time ever that the US has seen and his motive is simply one thing, Hiring Americans only. The order will majorly change the priorities of the federal government in the US drastically. It would force employers and contractors to hire Americans rather than foreign workers who are in the country on H1B visas. He said that he is finalizing this executive order because he does not want to see Americans being replaced again. H-1B’s must be used for the top and highly paid talent to create American jobs but not as inexpensive labor program to destroy American jobs, according to Trump. The H1-B is a non-immigrant visa that is used to allow companies in the US to hire foreign workers in specialty operations that require technical expertise and theoretical knowledge. As per a report, about 50,000 workers were hired based on the H1-B visa program. The H1-B visa is also popular among the highly skilled Indian IT professionals. The executive order signed by the President Donald Trump states that the head of each agency that enters into contracts shall assess the contractors for any impact of their foreign hiring practices or off shoring practices on the economy till now. It would also assess the efficiency of federal procurement and on the national security and will propose an action if necessary and appropriate. This assessment would improve the economy and the efficiency of federal procurement and also protects the national security of the country, according to the order issued. Notably, a few Republican senators had written to the President Trump to suspend all the new guest work visas for 60 days and some of its categories including the work visas or the H1-B visas at least till the next year or at least till the employment figures return to the normal rate or the pre-COVID rate in the country. The decision to sign the executive order by Trump comes after the request from these senators. According to a survey, more than 33 million American Americans have lost their jobs in the past two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its crisis that caused that economy’s downfall. The White House officials predict that the country’s economy is likely to go negative by 15 to 20 percent in the second quarter of 2020. By Gayatri Yellayi

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Google Launches its First 5G Phone Pixel 4A, Sale in India Likely from October August 05, 2020 17:57

Google’s Pixel 4A is now available to pre-order in the US on the Google store and Google Fi. It’s first 5G-enabled phones, Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5 will be available from this Fall and costs $499 as the starting price. Google on Monday introduced its new affordable smart phone Pixel 4A starting at $349 for the 6 GB + 128 GB model which will be available in the US. Pixel 4A will be pumped with 5G technology and will arrive in Indian markets by October 2020. Google had said that it would reveal the price of its phone for Indians ahead of the launch. Google Pixel 4A will be on sale in Flipkart from October in India. While Pixel 4A is now available in the US to pre-order in Google store and Google Fi, the company’s first 5G phones Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5 will be available from this fall at a starting price of $499. The company has also cut down the non-5G budget phone Pixel 4A to make it affordable for the budget-conscious customers. The Pixel 4A will be available to customers on August 20 through Google store, bestbuy.com, Amazon, as well as US carriers including U S Cellular and Verizon. The smart phone from Google features 5.8 inch OLED display and comes in only one color variant i.e., black. The phone has a matte finish and includes a pixel signature color pop power button in mint. The camera of this Google phone is same as the one that is used in Pixel 3, 3A and Pixel 4. The camera is Sony’s 12 MP IMX363. The rear camera supports HDR+ which has dual exposure controls, Portrait mode, Top shot, Night Sight and fused video stabilization. There is also an optical image stabilization feature and for selfies, an 8 MP camera sensor at the front is provided with f/2.0 lens. Google Pixel 4A is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G and Titan M security module for device security. The smart phone has 6 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage. The phone is powered with 3140 mAH battery that supports 18W fast charging feature. Google’s lower priced devices have been the top sellers but are far from being the major profit providers. Wheras, Google’s high priced devices have gained little traction when compared to those from industry leaders such as Samsung and Apple because of limited market and more competition. The 5G models of the Google Pixel phone will be available in the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, Australia and Taiwan. Google’s Pixel phones are known for its high performance but however, this Pixel 4A lags a good battery backup as the 3140 mAH is pretty insufficient in this modern world. By Gayatri Yellayi

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What are the New Guidelines for International Travel Issued by Indian Health Ministry? August 03, 2020 19:00

Health ministry has issued fresh guidelines for International travel which will be applicable from August 8. The rules include pre-boarding, during travel and after travel restrictions upon arrival. In what comes as a recent update, the health ministry has issued fresh guidelines for international passengers coming to India. The previous guidelines were issued on May 24. These new guidelines come as an update to the existing ones. These new guidelines were issued on Sunday, August 2 by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Guidelines to follow before travel: All passengers must submit a self declaration form online at www.newdelhiairport.in at least 72 hours before their travel commences. Travelers must also give an undertaking on the same portal that they would be in mandatory isolation for 14 days. The quarantine includes 7 days of paid institutional isolation for travelers at their own cost and 7 days of home quarantine with self monitoring of health. Institutional quarantine will be exempted only in the cases of pregnancy, travelers with ailments or travelers who are coming in case of a death of family member. However, they should be under home quarantine for 14 days. If anyone wants to seek exemption under the above categories, they must before-hand seek the exemption through the same online portal. The decision taken by the Indian government on the matter will be final. Travelers can also seek exemption from institutional quarantine by submitting negative RT-PCR report on the portal. The test must be conducted 96 hours before the journey. Each passenger must submit a declaration of the test report and if proven otherwise would have to face criminal prosecution. The test report can also be produced upon arrival at the entry gates of the airports. Guidelines to follow before boarding: Do’s and Don’ts at the airport shall be provided by the respective agencies along with the air tickets. All passengers must have Arogya Setu app installed on their mobile phones. Only asymptomatic patients will be allowed to board the flight upon thermal screening. Passengers arriving through land borders must also follow the same rules and only asymptomatic patients will be allowed to cross the border. Precautionary measures like sanitization and disinfection of the airports will be done in the airports daily. During boarding at the airports, all social distancing measures will be ensured by the airport authorities. Guidelines to follow during travel: Travelers who had not filled the self declaration form online will be given a duplicate form by immigration officials. Suitable announcements related to COVID-19 precautionary measures will be given during the journey. While on board, self hygiene measures like wearing masks, hand hygiene, and respiratory hygiene would be checked by the airline staff. Guidelines to follow upon arrival: Passengers must de board the flight ensuring social distancing. Thermal screening would be conducted and self declaration form would be checked by the health officials. Passengers who were found to be symptomatic shall be immediately sent into isolation to a medical facility. After thermal, passengers who have the exemption form must show it to the authorities, either soft or hard copy at the counters. Passengers shall be kept under institutional quarantine for 7 days and shall be tested as per ICMR protocol. Asymptomatic patients shall be sent for home isolation for 7 days. Passengers with mild symptoms shall be sent to medical care facilities for treatment and would be managed accordingly. By Gayatri Yellayi

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World’s Highest Railway Bridge in J&K by 2021: All You Need to Know August 03, 2020 18:01

The bridge is being built over the Chenab River and will be completed by 2021. It will be 35 meters higher that Eiffel tower. The world’s highest railway bridge above the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir will be ready by 2021 and the first link between Kashmir valley and the rest of India will be established by 2022.It has a span of 467 meters and is being built 359 meters above the sea level. The construction of this bridge allegedly began in 2004. However, the work was accelerated last year under the supervision of top officials from the central government.A senior government official said that the height of Qutub minar which is 72 meters and the height of Eiffel tower is 324 meters and the height of this railway bridge would be 359 meters, making it the highest one in the world.The maximum designed wind speed for the bridge is 266 kmph.The bridge will link Udhampur-Katra, Banihal-Quazigund and Quaigund-Baramulla and also the Katra-Banihal sections of the Kashmir valley. The three sections have already been commissioned and the fourth one, the katra-Banihal section is currently under execution. It is targeted for completion in December 2022. According to the officials, the Katra-Banihal section is 111 kilometers. The 126 kilometers of 174 kilometers of the tunnels have been already completed.Kashmir will witness the first train running on the bridge to other parts of the country by December 2022.The bridge is being constructed under The Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) which was announced in November, 2015.Some interesting facts about the railway bridge you might want to know:                       (Image source from: cloudfront.timesnownews.com) The bridge will be 1.315 kilometers long and will have railway stations at both its terminal ends. The Railways is in a plan to install sensors along the bridge to measure the wind velocity. In case the wind speed exceeds 90kmph, a red signal will be present to alert the train movements and the train would stop. The lifespan of the bridge is expected to be 120 years. Since the bridge is being built in the terrorism-prone area, DRDO is working with the Indian Railways to ensure the bridge can withstand any major blasts. Special 63 mm thick blast proof steel will be used in the construction of the bridge. Consultants from Finland and Germany have designed the bridge. The arch bridge is also designed in such a way that it can withstand earthquakes of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale. Three big tunnels are also being constructed on the other side of the river. Over 1300 workers and 300 engineers have been working round the clock on this project to complete it by the year end. Foot paths and cycling trails will also constructed adjacent to the bridge. A rope way is also installed near the railway bridge for maintenance and surveillance. By Gayatri Yellayi

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