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Arrests, censorship and propaganda mark expanding government control of information

first_img News China: Political commentator sentenced to eight months in prison News Dong Rubin, a blogger in the southern Chinese province of Yunan who has written critically of local officials’ actions, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison as a wave of arrests of journalists and bloggers signal tightening of government control of the internet. April 27, 2021 Find out more July 26, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Arrests, censorship and propaganda mark expanding government control of information Censors have gone so far as to prevent web searches for “Big Yellow Duck” . And references to toads have been systematically erased from the website of state news agency Xinhua. That move followed popular response to installation of a statue of the amphibian creature in Beijing park. Citizens mockingly claimed that it resembled former president Jiang Zemin.That episode may be comical. But censorship and repression usually take harsher forms.Imprisoned journalist Dong Rubin, who writes under the pseudonym Bianmin, has reported on local officials’ misappropriation of funds, and other actions. His sentence, also included a fine of 350,000 yuan (42,000 euros). His conviction in a court in the Wuhua district grows out of a government “anti-rumour” campaign. “This conviction, following an unjust trial, shows officials’ determination to muzzle all critical voices,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “The action also shows authorities’ sense of weakness in the face of a growing numbers of netizens and whistleblowers. Party officials, and the political and government elite in general, feel themselves under constant threat from bloggers’ asserting freedom of speech and the right to criticize.”Ismaïl asked, “When will officials understand that for each netizen who is convicted, 100 others take up the battle against censorship and for freedom of information?”In Dong’s case, he had previously been arrested and had computers seized following his criticism of construction of a petrochemical plant near the Yunan capital of Kunming in 2013. That project prompted major protest demonstrations. In the latest case, Dong’s daughter was the only family member authorized to attend his trial.New rules in effectA number of journalists had been asking about delays in the implementation of new rules published in July by censorship authorities of the Chinese Community Party. The rules include prohibitions on disclosing state secrets, expressing unauthorized criticism, and on working with foreign media.The answer to journalists’ questions about timing was not long in coming. Song Zhibiao was the first victim of the new regulations. He was fired by China Fortune, a monthly magazine, after publishing work on the Hong Kong website Orient, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based Oriental Press Group. to go further Follow the news on China Help by sharing this information News Democracies need “reciprocity mechanism” to combat propaganda by authoritarian regimescenter_img March 12, 2021 Find out more China’s Cyber ​​Censorship Figures Receive email alerts June 2, 2021 Find out more Organisation ChinaAsia – Pacific News RSF_en ChinaAsia – Pacific If any of Song’s articles in particular led to his dismissal, it may have been a piece in July about Pu Zhiqiang, a human rights activist detained for more than two months. China Fortune, whose immediate owner is Southern Metropolis Daily, is believed to have been acting under an order from the party’s propaganda department to end the journalist’s contract.Song was the target of a previous punitive dismissal in 2011, when he worked for Southern Metropolis Daily. He was forced out after writing an article on the three-year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake, in which he pointed to official responsibility in the disaster and its aftermath.The internet as propaganda toolFree Tibet, an NGO, recently revealed the existence of about 100 false Twitter accounts, which are used to promote Chinese policies in Tibet and to malign those who defend Tibetan rights. Employing western names and frequently using portraits of American celebrities in user profiles, the accounts publish and re-tweet attacks, especially those against the Dalai Lama. Some messages have been re-circulated several thousand times. After the false accounts were revealed, Twitter announced that it would move to suspend them.“The official policy of censorship and disinformation is especially visible in issues involving Tibet and Uyghurs,” Ismaïl said. “On these subjects, the government has lost all self-restraint. All means are seen as acceptable to keep Tibet and Xinjiang isolated. They have become information black holes.”A report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project last June found that 80 per-cent of the content on Uyghur websites had been destroyed in 2009-2010 in what amounts to a digital book-burning. The operation followed repression of a Uyghur protest movement.In October, 2009, three months after violent disturbances in Xinjiang, Reporters Without Borders investigated conditions of access to websites aimed at the Uyghur community. The conclusion: the vast majority of sites were inaccessible, whether they were based in Xinjiang or abroad and regardless of the language they used. Of 91 websites surveyed, more than 85 per-cent were blocked, censored, or impossible to access.China is ranked 175th of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index for 2014. last_img read more

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Rubio leads Suns over Jazz in his return to Utah

first_img Written by Tags: NBA/Phoenix Suns/Ricky Rubio/Utah Jazz FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailSALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Ricky Rubio had 22 points, 11 assists and seven steals to lead the Phoenix Suns over the reeling Utah Jazz 131-111 on Monday night.In his first game back in Salt Lake City after playing for the Jazz for two seasons, Rubio engineered an offense that shot 56% seemed a step ahead of the Jazz all night.Devin Booker had 24 points and 10 assists while Deandre Ayton  added 16 for the Suns. Associated Press February 24, 2020 /Sports News – Local Rubio leads Suns over Jazz in his return to Utahlast_img

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Lecture begins Digital Week

first_imgCEO of edX and MIT professor Anant Agarwal kicked off the first annual ND Digital Week on Friday with the keynote lecture entitled “Reinventing Education.”Agarwal said online education not only provides access to superb teaching where educational infrastructure is weak, but it also has the potential to improve the quality of education at existing universities.EdX, a massive open online course (MOOC) provider, reaches a global audience and offers 300 courses to nearly 3 million learners, Agarwal said.Featuring courses in a variety of disciplines taught by professors from Harvard, MIT and other renowned institutions, edX also caters to a broad range of students, many of whom do not have access to a formal education. Agarwal said in developing countries, university expenses and hyper-competitive admissions bar the vast majority of people from pursuing higher education.“One of edX’s main goals is to offer instruction to those who either can’t qualify academically or financially,” he said.The numbers are encouraging, Agarwal said. For edX’s first course, “On Circuits and Electronics” offered by MIT, over 155,000 students from 152 countries signed up. Agarwal said over 7,000 students passed the same course that electrical engineering majors at MIT take.“These are very big numbers … I would have to teach for 40 years to reach these many students,” he said.Behind the large numbers are the “amazing” individual stories of the learners, Agarwal said citing a student from an African village who took a course on solar energy.“In the village, the power kept coming and going,“ he said. ”Based on what this student learned in the course, he actually set up a solar system … because of that, the power is more continuous in the village.”Agarwal said edX implemented a free and publicly accessible open-source version of its platform, named Open edX, to further increase access.“Open source is good for all of us because people can contribute to the platform,” he said. “Today…there are 50 Open edX sites and 500 courses running on these sites.”EdX also aims to integrate decades-worth of educational research into the American university system, Agarwal said.“In many fields research has been rapidly moving into practice,” he said. “But in education, things don’t look all that different today … we really have not adapted all these ideas.“On the edX platform, there are no lectures as such, but learning sequences: an interleaved sequence of videos and activities. This form of learning, where [the student] is not just listening to the lecture, but engaging with the material, is called active learning.”In addition to implementing educational research, Agarwal said edX uses A/B testing and big data analysis to determine the most effective methods of teaching. EdX groups its users into separate tracks and exposes them to different methods of instruction.“The A group will continually see A material, and the B group will continually see the B material,” he said. “Then you can give them a common assessment and see who does better. This way, we as educators, can continually examine the engineering and improve what we do.”Despite questions as to whether MOOCs like edX seek to replace traditional education, Agarwal said the aim is to blend online learning with classroom interaction. In multiple experiments with San Jose State University, Agarwal said students who supplemented their in-class instruction with corresponding edX videos fared better than students who only took the course.“In the traditional sections the failure rate for the course was historically 41 percent,” he said. “But in the blended version, the failure rate was 9 percent.”Agarwal said there is a synergy between online learning and traditional instruction and hopes more schools will adopt this method of instruction.“Whether you are a community college or private university, I believe that blended learning can be used by everybody,” he said.Tags: Anant Agarwal, Digital Week, edX, MIT, MOOC, Reinventing Educationlast_img read more

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Changing focus

first_imgBy Stephanie SchupskaUniversity of GeorgiaWhen Carole Brookins gives her spin on global trends, she reaches into the future to work in the present. As former U.S. executive director to the World Bank and a historian, she doesn’t look at numbers but at what they represent.“Agriculture’s markets are shifting, and not only due to farm policy and trade negotiations,” Brookins said in Athens, Ga., in the annual J.W. Fanning Lecture at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.“Ethanol and biofuels are having a profound impact on rural America,” she said. “Climate change can mean big benefits to agriculture and rural economies.”Climate change and emissions trading can lead to new sources of farm income from carbon credits, she said.Consumer tastes and food products are changing, and not just because of the “food police.” Brookins said modern wars are against calories, food allergies, fats, aging, diseases and bioterrorism.Technology, too, is “making agriculture sexy,” she said. Couple that with the demand for organic, which grew 15 percent last year, five times the rate of conventional foods, and you’ve got a picture of American trends.But while Americans now look at whether they saved a cow or tree by the kind of cereal they ate for breakfast, she said, “we’re the few who can be this selective.”To think globally, Brookins said, all it takes is a look at future numbers.With the United States, Europe and Australia containing fewer than 10 percent of the world’s consumers, she said, industry, agriculture and business need to shift their focus abroad.“In 1950, developed countries had 30 percent of the world’s population,” she said. “By 2050, we’ll have only 10 percent.” By 2025, she said, 1.6 billion people will have been added to the world, 96 percent in developing countries.Asia’s share of the global gross domestic product will reach 50 percent of the total GDP by 2050, she said. Latin America’s share will rise by 3 to 4 percent. Europe’s will decline substantially, and the U.S.’s will remain constant.A key to working within these trends is to have smart engagement in emerging markets. “Development assistance is the key to improving ports, customs and trade infrastructure,” she said. “Trade platforms, not paper agreements, move products into real trade.”This has to be taken in the context of each country. Governments that work, she said, have good rule of law, regulatory enforcement and transparency and dispute resolution. With poor governance, 25 percent of a product’s cost is from poor shipping and infrastructure.The average time it takes to clear customs for sea cargo is a bit more than two days in developed countries, according to the International Exhibition Logistics Associates. In East Asia and the Pacific, it’s about five days. And in Africa and South Asia, it’s about 10.In India, it takes more than 80 days to wade through paperwork to start a new business, compared to just a few in the U.S. In Sierra Leone, a person must have more than 1,200 percent of his income saved to start a new business. In the U.S., you need about zero.All of these factors affect how countries develop, how growers and producers get their products to market and how businesses meet the demands of fast-growing populations. This is critical, since cities like Bombay and Delhi, India, will each have more than 20 million people by 2015.Europe’s largest city then will be Paris, with just 10 million. The U.S. will have two megacities: New York (19.7 million) and Los Angeles (13.1 million).“We need to be focusing on global trends,” Brookins said. “People plus urbanization equals purchasing power. Megacities are proliferating. By 2015, 360 million people will be occupying 22 cities in the world.”(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says Liverpool move was ‘hardest decision of his life’ and explains reason for Arsenal exit

first_img Comment Metro Sport ReporterThursday 16 Apr 2020 12:04 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link217Shares The Ox joined Arsenal from Southampton in 2011 (Picture: Getty Images) ‘It was a big decision for me to leave a club like Arsenal. It was everything I knew at the top level for seven years.‘When you’ve been at a club like that for seven years… it’s a club where you love being and it’s more than just a football club, it’s a family culture.‘When I had to make the decision to leave, it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and to be honest there was a part of me that didn’t know if it was the right thing.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalFormer Gunners boss Arsene Wenger deployed Chamberlain in a multitude of roles such as winger and wing-back, which he felt did not suit his game.He added: ‘I feel a lot of my best performances for Arsenal came in midfield but I never played consistently in that position.‘The first game of that season I switched with Hector [Bellerin]. First game I played on the left [wing-back], he played on the right and second game we switched.‘I thought, “I’ve got to take the risk, I’ve got to take the chance. I don’t want to look back at the end and think I didn’t try”.’MORE: Carlos Soler’s agent speaks out on Arsenal transfer target’s futureMORE: Arsenal slap £22m price tag on Roma target Henrikh MkhitaryanFollow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.For more stories like this, check our sport page. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says Liverpool move was ‘hardest decision of his life’ and explains reason for Arsenal exit ‘I just didn’t believe I was going to be able to play where I wanted to play and that was it.‘Me winning the Champions League was obviously a dream come true and a massive bonus but I didn’t feel like, “Ah, I told you so”.Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live Video Settings 1 min. story PLAY Advertisement Full Screen About Connatix V67539 Chamberlain has already won silverware in his short time at Liverpool (Picture: Getty Images)Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up on the ‘hardest decision’ of his life to leave Arsenal, revealing the move was based on being played out of position rather than a lack of trophies.The England international spent seven years in north London, winning three FA Cups before making the switch to Merseyside in 2017. After spending the majority of the 2018-19 season out with a serious knee injury, Chamberlain returned towards the end of the campaign as the Reds were crowned European champions for the sixth time.However, the 26-year-old says his move was not motivated by a desire for silverware, telling Ian Wright: ‘I wouldn’t say I wanted to leave Arsenal because I didn’t believe we could win.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENT Advertisementlast_img read more

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