News Flash – 5 May 2017

National News



Suicide videos: Facebook beefs up team to monitor content



NEW DELHI: Responding to the spate of suicides being livestreamed, social media giant Facebook has announced it will add another 3,000 people to its 4,500-strong review team that moderates content. The review team will also work in tandem with law enforcement agencies on this issue. “Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook, either live or in video posted later. It’s heartbreaking, and I’ve been reflecting on how we can do better for our community,” Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a status update and added, “Over the next year, we’ll be adding 3,000 people to our community operations team around the world, on top of the 4,500 we have today, to review the millions of reports we get every week, and improve the process for doing it quickly”. “…we’ll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it, either because they’re about to harm themselves, or because they’re in danger from someone else,” Zuckerberg added announcing the move.

Over the last year, several violent incidents and suicides have been streamed live on Facebook. In India last April, a young student went live on Facebook minutes before he jumped off the 19th floor of Taj Lands End hotel in Mumbai. The same month saw similar news coming out of the US and Thailand as well. A 49-year-old from Alabama went live on Facebook before shooting himself in the head. Another man from Bangkok made a video of hanging his 11-month-old daughter, and uploaded it to Facebook. He was later discovered to have killed himself too. “It’s a positive development that Facebook is adding human power and tools for dealing with hate speech, child abuse and suicide attempts. It would be interesting to see how Facebook coordinates with the Indian police departments to get an emergency response to a potential suicide attempt or attempt to harm someone else,” says Rohini Lakshane, program officer, Center for Internet and Society, though she warns against false reports clogging up reviewers’ feeds and police notifications.

On Facebook, a video, picture or any other piece of content reaches the review team after it is reported by users for flouting its “community guidelines”. Chinmayi Arun, research director at the Centre for Communication Governance, National Law University, Delhi, says Facebook must be transparent about this process. “Facebook should also announce how it is keeping this process accountable. It is a public platform of great importance which has been guilty of over-censorship in the past. It should be responsive not just to government censorship requests but also to user requests to review and reconsider its blocking of legitimate content,” she says.



Burglars drill hole into Kalyan jewellery shop wall, rob Rs 65 lakh

The hole burglars drilled to enter the shop


KALYAN: Thieves drilled a hole into the wall of a jewellery shop and escaped with valuables worth Rs 65 lakh, including gold and cash, on Wednesday. The incident came to light at 9.30am on Thursday when Vimal Dave opened his Mataji Jewellery shop, in Hanuman Nagar area, Kalyan (East) and found the locker broken and all jewellery missing. He then saw a three-foot hole in the wall and informed the Kolsewadi police. The thieves used gas cylinders and cutter machines to drill a hole in the wall of a vacant flat which shared a common wall with the shop and also cut through its locker, taking away 2 kg of gold jewellery and Rs 5 lakh in cash.

Police said flats behind the shop were empty for four years as residents vacated the building for redevelopment, while shopkeepers were waiting till the redevelopment plan was approved. The 35-year-old Prerna building, which has seven shops and eight flats, is dilapidated and the builder who will redevelop it recently asked the shopkeeper to shift. “It was my bad luck as just 15 days ago the builder had asked all of us to shift our shops as he had received the approval for redevelopment,” Dave said. The incident shocked Jewellers as Thane and Kalyan witnessed several such burglaries in the past. Police suspect more than five people could be involved in the burglary, though CCTV footage has only one whose face was not clear. The area had no security guard and the shop didn’t have an alarm system. D B Kamble, assistant commissioner of police, Kalyan region said, “We have formed five city police and crime branch teams for the case”.



Near-collision after Jet flight aborts landing



NEW DELHI: An aircraft coming in too fast to land at IGI Airport recently caused a major scare when it had to do a go-around — abort landing and takeoff again — at the last minute. The scare occurred on April 21 when Jet Airways’ Muscat-Delhi flight 9W 597 was coming in to land at IGI’s longest runway (near the Shivaji statue) from the Dwarka side. “The ATC cautioned the pilots when Boeing 737 (VT-JGV) was about 4.5 nautical miles (8.3km) from the airport that the aircraft speed was about 310 knot (574 kmph) while its speed at that point should have been almost half at 160 knots, or 296 kmph. The crew told the ATC that they will slow down and that they are coming in to land,” said a source. Based on this, the ATC cleared another private airline’s aircraft to take off from the runway. Just as this Bengaluru-bound Airbus A-320 was getting airborne, the Jet Airways flight came in to land. But due to its high-speed approach, the Jet Boeing 737 did a go-around. At this point, both the Jet and the other aircraft were taking off almost simultaneously from IGI and there was a breach of minimum distance that has to be maintained for safety between two planes.

It is learnt that when the Jet flight was passing at 2,800 feet, the other plane was passing 2,400-feet altitude and, at that point, the two were 400 feet apart vertically and just over half a km apart laterally. Luckily, modern aircraft have collision avoidance systems, which tell pilots what maneuvers to conduct in such a situation, and the two planes flew safely away from each other. A Jet Airways spokesman said: “In the interest of safety, Jet Airways’ 9W 597 from Muscat to Delhi, of April 21, 2017, executed a go-around maneuver to attain the desired approach and landing. During the execution of the maneuver, another aircraft was aligned for departure on the same runway and as their activation envelope overlapped, the onboard automatic traffic alert and collision avoidance system issued appropriate guidance to keep both aircraft at a safe distance from each other”. The spokesperson added: “The flight crew followed the guidance and the flight with 163 guest and seven crew landed safely. The matter was duly reported to the regulatory authorities. The airline is also undertaking an internal investigation and actively cooperating with the authorities”. The aviation ministry has termed it as a serious incident and is forming a committee of inquiry.



Security checks set to get faster at KIA with automated system



Bengaluru: For those passengers who have to make a last-minute dash to catch a flight, enduring a long wait at the security checkpoint could be a frustrating experience. However, the Automatic Tray Retrieval System (ATRS) that has been installed at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) could save precious time for passengers. Under the current system, passengers have to stand in long queues awaiting their turn as the security personnel at these points hands them a tray on which valuables are placed, and subsequently pushed towards the scanner. However, this entire process is set to get automated with ATRS. “Using the ATRS, four trays can be pushed into the scanner at a time,” said a spokesperson from Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL). ATRS will restrict the role of security personnel at these points to just monitoring the baggage on screens. Passengers can deposit their luggage on the tray, which will automatically arrive at the other end, without security staff being involved.

Besides saving time for passengers, the automated system will also free personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) freed from airports duties. A minimum of three officers are stationed at these security points for handing over trays, and automation could lead to their being deployed for other duties. Segregation of suspicious baggage also becomes easier with ATRS – all that the CISF personnel now need to do is push a button to separate luggage they suspect is dangerous. BIAL has also equipped the airport with additional screens at security points to enable passengers to get a view of the scanning process. “Earlier, the scanned baggage was displayed on a monitor in front of the CISF personnel, and passengers couldn’t see the process. The additional screens will show passengers what the CISF officer is viewing,” the spokesperson added. Two automated systems were introduced around three months ago at one of the security points at KIA. “Passengers accustomed to the old system are taking time to adjust to ATRS. Once they get familiar with it, the project will be extended to other security points as well,” said BIAL sources.

Waiting at KIA this holiday season to be fun, Waiting for a flight at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) won’t be a dreary affair this holiday season. Passengers can entertain themselves at the terminal by playing virtual reality games, and snooker football while they wait for the airlines to make the boarding announcement. Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) on Thursday unveiled Playport, – where passengers can enjoy a series of digital and other new-age sports — which will be in place at the waiting lounge of KIA till May 15. The initiative has been launched keeping in mind the heavy passenger traffic this month. Some of the virtual reality attractions on offer at Playport include giving passengers an experience of surfing and simulation of flight travel. Puzzles, knots and magic shows add to the excitement at the terminal. Although largely meant for children, the adults too could be seen soaking in the fun at KIA on Thursday. A British citizen waiting to board a Kochi-bound flight had an enjoyable experience with the virtual reality jump suit. “This is really cool for an airport,” she said. “We wanted to offer visitors a unique and engaging experience while they waited at the airport. We want their vacation to begin right here, at KIA,” said Hari Marar, president (operations), BIAL, in an official statement.



Only in India, officials don’t care for air safety norms: HC



Mumbai: Only in India, authorities throw caution to the winds and are unconcerned about air passenger safety norms, the Bombay high court said on Thursday. A bench, headed by Justice Vidyasagar Kanade, made the oral observations while it declined to stay the collector’s order to remove a 90-ft chimney of a sugar factory, Siddheshwar Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana, which is in the approach of the runway at the Solapur airport. “There can be no compromise. What has to go, has to go,” said Justice Kanade. Senior advocate Ram Apte, appearing for the sugar factory, admitted the chimney’s height is above the permissible level, but attributed it to disputed calculation. He said the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Mumbai had given its no-objection certificate and the factory has now approached the AAI Delhi seeking relaxation.

To this, Justice Kanade said, “Only in India this can happen. I have travelled all over the world and realized that only in our country authorities throw caution to the winds without any care for passenger safety norms. You want accidents to happen?”. The bench said it is ‘well-settled’ that height restriction in respect of buildings in the approach of the runway and funnel areas cannot be reduced. “These restrictions have been imposed taking into consideration the safety of passengers in aircraft and people residing in areas near airports,” said the bench, adding that the court has earlier given directions with regards to Mumbai that the height of structures has to be calculated from mean sea level with special equipment. Declining relief, the judges said the petitioner could apply to the AAI Delhi to stay the collector’s order. “We are not inclined to stay the order. Principle of greater good for greater number of people has to prevail,” said Justice Kanade.



International News



Russia, Turkey, Iran ink deal on safe zones in Syria



ASTANA, Kazakhstan: Syrian regime allies Russia and Iranand rebel supporter Turkey on Thursday signed a memorandum on a Moscow-backed plan to create safe zones in Syria to bolster a fragile truce. An AFP reporter at peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana saw the heads of the delegations, representing the three countries sponsoring the negotiations, sign the document. However, a member of the rebel delegation left the room, shouting against regime ally Iran, the AFP reporter saw. The Syrian government and rebel delegations are not signatories. The Kremlin has been touting a plan to create safe zones in Syria that is aimed to “further pacification and cessation of hostilities”. “Over the past two days, the participants in the Astana talks reviewed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the cessation of hostilities,” Kazakhstan’s foreign minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said of a frail truce brokered by Moscow and Ankara in December. “As a result the guarantor countries agreed to sign a memorandum on the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria”.

An Arabic-language version of the Russian draft proposal seen by AFP calls for the creation of “de-escalation zones” in rebel-held territory in the northwestern province of Idlib, in parts of Homs province in the centre, in the south, and in the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. The aim is to “put an immediate end to the violence” and “provide the conditions for the safe, voluntary return of refugees” as well as the immediate delivery of relief supplies and medical aid, the document said. But issues including which countries could police any safe zones remain unclear. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that ways to monitor the zones would be an issue for separate talks. Syrian rebels said earlier Thursday that they had resumed participation in the talks after having suspended their involvement a day earlier over air strikes against civilians. After talks with Turkey counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the safe zones were meant to lead to “further pacification and cessation of hostilities”.

He also said the proposed zones would also be no-fly areas if fighting on the ground there stopped entirely. The Kremlin’s plan echoes calls by US leader Donald Trump to establish safe zones in Syria. Putin said Wednesday that “as far I could tell” the US leader broadly supported the idea in a phone call they held on Tuesday. Erdogan said in comments published Thursday that Moscow’s plan to set up these zones in Syria would “50 percent” solve the six-year conflict. Damascus supports the Russian plan, Syrian state news agency SANA reported. More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.



California family with 2 toddlers booted from Delta flight



LOS ANGELES: Delta Air Lines is offering refunds and compensation to a California family that says they were forced off a plane and threatened with jail after refusing to give up one of their seats on a crowded flight. A video of the April 23 incident was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday and added to the list of recent encounters on airlines that have gone viral, including the dragging of a bloodied passenger off a United Express plane. Brian and Brittany Schear of Huntington Beach, California, told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that they were returning from Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii with their two toddlers. They wanted to put one of the children in a seat they had bought for their 18-year-old son, who instead flew home on an earlier flight. Delta says on its website that tickets cannot be transferred and name changes are not allowed. Federal regulations do not bar changing the name on a ticket as long as the new passenger’s name can be run through a database before the flight, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman. By late Thursday afternoon, Delta still had not explained why the Schears were removed from the plane. A spokesman said the flight was not overbooked.

On the video, Brian Schear can be heard talking with a person off-camera – it is not clear whether that person is a Delta employee, a security officer, or somebody else. After Schear says that he won’t leave – the airline will have to remove him – the person off-camera replies, “You and your wife will be in jail … it’s a federal offense if you don’t abide” by an airline crew’s order. “I bought that seat,” Schear protests. Schear then suggests that his wife could hold one of the toddlers during takeoff and then put the youngster in the car seat. Another person, who appears to be a Delta supervisor, tells him that federal rules require that children under 2 must stay in a parent’s lap throughout the flight. That is false. The Federal Aviation Administration “strongly urges” that infants be in a car seat, although it permits those under 2 to be held in a parent’s lap. On its website, Delta recommends that parents buy a seat for children under 2 and put them in an approved child-safety seat.

Brian Schear spoke briefly to The Associated Press by telephone Thursday and said he has been overwhelmed by media requests. He declined additional comment said the family may hold a news conference. The Atlanta-based airline issued an updated statement late Thursday afternoon. “We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we’ve reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation,” the statement read. Delta said its goal is to work with customers to resolve travel issues, “that did not happen in this case and we apologize”. A spokesman said Delta would not disclose the amount of the refund or compensation. Congress held two hearings this week on airline customer service – a response to the video of Chicago airport security officers dragging a 69-year-old man off a United Express flight to make room for crew members who were traveling for work. Executives from United, American, Southwest and Alaska testified at one or both hearings. Delta was notably absent.

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