Facial recognition bans spread across America

first_imgThe Oakland (California) City Council has voted to ban facial recognition technology. James Martin/CNET Oakland, California, has has become third city to ban the municipal use of facial recognition technology. Late Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council approved the ordinance, which requires a second and final vote that’s scheduled for Sept. 17.Oakland neighbor San Francisco in May became the first city to ban its police officers from using facial recognition technology, citing a breach of citizens’ civil liberties. The Somerville City Council in Massachusetts followed suit last month. Legal Facial recognition How San Francisco’s ban could impact facial recognition… Mobile Security Computers Politics Security Cameras Now playing: Watch this: 0 Facial recognition technology and human rights Aibo robot dogs and the people who love them 25 Photos Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, who prepared a report on the proposed ban, cited limitations of the technology, the lack of standards around its implementation, and its potential use in the persecution of minorities, according to KPIX.Matt Cagle, a technology and civil liberties attorney for American Civil Liberties Union Northern California, said it should be elected representatives making decisions on the government’s ability to collect and use facial recognition imaging.”Decisions about whether we want to hand the government the power to identify who attends protests, political rallies, church or AA meetings should not be made in the secret backroom of a police station, lobbied by corporate executives that market this technology,” Cagle said Wednesday in a statement.The ACLU said US House of Representatives on Tuesday night also passed an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 that would require the Director of National Intelligence to report on any government use of facial recognition technology (PDF).Reports would include information on the accuracy of the technology, as well as policies and procedures to protect human rights and First Amendment rights. The law shows Congress is recognizing “that this surveillance technology presents an unprecedented threat to our most fundamental democratic values,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU senior legislative counsel. 3:04 null Share your voice San Francisco becomes first city to bar police from using facial recognition AI experts want Amazon to stop selling facial recognition tech to police Huge leaps in AI have made facial recognition smarter than your brain Why facial recognition’s racial bias problem is so hard to crack Smart home cameras bring facial recognition ethics to your front door Tagslast_img read more

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Lebanese PM Hariri to meet major powers in Paris after revoking resignation

first_imgLebanese prime minister Saad Hariri attends a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace of Baabda, east of the capital Beirut, on 5 December, 2017. Photo: AFPLebanese prime minister Saad Hariri will attend talks in Paris Friday on the crisis triggered by his recent resignation announcement to be attended by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, France said Tuesday.”The aim is to support the political process (in Lebanon) at a crucial moment,” the French foreign ministry said, minutes after Hariri announced he had rescinded his resignation.”It will send a message both to the various parties in Lebanon and to countries in the region,” the ministry added.The five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — will be represented at the meeting, along with Germany, Italy and Egypt.French officials said the goal was to shore up Lebanese institutions, by strengthening the army and supporting Hariri’s economic programme, with a view to encouraging foreign investment in the country.Hariri announced he was stepping down on 4 November in a surprise televised address from Saudi Arabia that sent tremors through Lebanon, long a proxy battleground for regional powers.His resignation was seen as part of an intensifying power struggle between the Saudi kingdom — which had long backed Hariri — and its regional rival Iran, which backs the armed organisation Hezbollah.After announcing he was bowing out Hariri, who accused Hezbollah of destabilising Lebanon, remained in Riyadh, sparking speculation that he was being held hostage by the Saudis.French president Emmanuel Macron intervened to try defuse the crisis, inviting Hariri to Paris for talks, after which he returned to Beirut to a hero’s welcome.Two weeks later, following consultations with the various political groups in Lebanon, Hariri announced Tuesday he was withdrawing his resignation.last_img read more

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North Korea skips annual antiUS rally
first_imgIn this 25 June 2017, file photo, tens of thousands of men and women pump their fists in the air and chant as they carry placards with anti-American propaganda slogans at Pyongyang`s central Kim Il Sung Square, in North Korea, to mark what North Korea calls `the day of struggle against US imperialism` – the anniversary of the start of the Korean War. In another sign of detente following the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US president Donald Trump, North Korea has opted not to hold this year’s “anti-US imperialism” rally. Photo : APIn another sign of detente following the summit between leader Kim Jong Un and US president Donald Trump, North Korea has decided to skip one of the most symbolic and politically charged events of its calendar: the annual “anti-US imperialism” rally marking the start of the Korean War.Fist-pumping, flag-waving and slogan-shouting masses of Pyongyang residents normally assemble each year for the rally to kick off a month of anti-US, Korean War-focused events designed to strengthen nationalism and unity. It all culminates on 27 July, which North Korea celebrates as a national holiday called the day of “Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.”Last year’s event was held in Kim Il Sung Square with a reported 100,000 people attending. North Korea even issued special anti-US postage stamps.Officials had no on-the-record comment on the decision not to hold the event this year. But Associated Press staff in the North Korean capital confirmed Monday that it would not be held.North Korea has noticeably toned down its anti-Washington rhetoric over the past several months to create a more conciliatory atmosphere for the summit and avoid souring attempts by both sides to reduce tensions and increase dialogue.North Korea’s state media were filled with reports, photos and video of the 12 June  meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore.A 42-minute documentary-style news special was aired on the state television network two days after the summit and has been repeated frequently since, meaning that by now there are probably few North Koreans who are unaware of the changes in the air. For many North Koreans, the program was also quite likely the first time they had ever seen what Trump looks like.Still, North Korea’s handling of the changes and how it presents them to its people remains highly nuanced.So far, it hasn’t said much about what Washington is interested in the most – denuclearisation. But it has made significantly fewer references to its need to have nuclear weapons than it was making last year, when Kim was test-launching long-range missiles at a record pace and tensions with Washington neared the boiling point.North Korea’s decidedly less strident posture these days underscores the delicate position it finds itself in after decades of touting the United States as its archenemy.State media referred to Trump quite deferentially in their reports of the summit, calling him by his full name and adding the title of president of the United States of America – itself a somewhat jarring contrast to the way it normally spits out merely the surname of US officials, with no titles.Considering how its relations with Washington could quickly slip back into acrimony if the difficult process of negotiating denuclearisation and the lifting of trade sanctions breaks down, it remains unclear how much, or if at all, North Korea intends to recalibrate its other propaganda and indoctrination efforts.Getting rid of all the anti-American propaganda would be a Herculean task.The 1950-53 Korean War, and the devastation the country suffered at the hands of the US and its allies, remain a major part of every North Korean’s education.Negative portrayals of Americans as big-nosed goblins are a common sight at elementary schools and kindergartens and exhortations to beware of American aggression, deceit and brutality are a staple message of textbooks and at “class education” centers around the country. Anti-American slogans can also still be seen in Pyongyang and throughout the countryside, though they are not that numerous.And while softening its criticism of the current US administration, North Korea has stepped up its attacks on “capitalist values” in general – an oblique warning that its diplomatic outreach to the world should not be taken to mean it’s ready to throw away its socialist ideals anytime soon.last_img
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Whatever Happened To The Kids Whose Lead L

first_img by NPR News Susan Brink 8.29.19 12:28pm In January 2016, Goats & Soda reported on lead levels in the soil of neighborhoods near an abandoned smelter in Kabwe, Zambia — and in the blood of the children. For nearly 100 years, smoke from the smelter, which closed in 1994, had been releasing heavy metals, including lead, in the form of dust. Children have grown up playing in that dust, inhaling it — and being poisoned by it. How are the people of Kabwe faring 2 1/2 years later?To date, little has changed for the 76,000 people living in the most contaminated areas of Kabwe.In 2016, there was reason to hope for improvement. The World Bank lent the Zambian government $65.5 million for a five-year project to clean up lead-contaminated areas and treat the people affected by lead poisoning,But the title of a report from Human Rights Watch, released this month, is decidedly pessimistic: “We Have to be Worried: The Impact of Lead Contamination on Children’s Rights in Kabwe, Zambia.””It’s not getting any better,” agrees Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth, an organization that identifies environmental toxins in poor communities and helps with cleanup. “I’ve been working on this town for 18 years. And when we looked at the place again recently, nothing has happened. It’s really upsetting.” Fuller is co-author of a book with a chapter focusing on Kabwe, The Brown Agenda: My Mission to Clean Up the World’s Most Life-Threatening Pollution.Past studies of Kabwe offered sobering statistics. To identify children with abnormally high lead levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses a reference level of 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. A deciliter is a metric measure equal to about one-tenth of a quart. The lowest blood level in the children measured in Kabwe was 13.6 micrograms per deciliter; the average was 48.3; and the highest couldn’t be measured because more than 25% of the children had levels higher than the 65 micrograms per deciliter the instruments could measure.Affected children can have short attention spans, behavioral problems and a host of health problems.A 2018 report in the journal Environmental Research re-analyzed data from three existing studies and estimated that more than 95% of children in those areas have elevated blood lead levels; about half of those children have levels high enough to require medical intervention.In November 2018 and April 2019, Human Rights Watch visited lead- contaminated areas to see if any progress had been made. They interviewed officials, teachers and community members, both adults and children.They found almost no encouraging signs. “A loan from the World Bank, launched in 2016 — and still no visible results on the ground,” says Joanna Naples-Mitchell, research fellow in the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.Testing of blood levels in some children of Kabwe was done until 2016 when test kits ran out, according to the Human Rights Watch report. It also found that medicines for children with extremely high levels of lead have run out as well, so those children go untreated. Cleanup efforts of homes, schools, yards and fields are small and inconsistent, the report noted.The Human Rights Watch report found that the Kabwe cleanup and treatment project was still in the planning stages. In a June 2019 status report, the World Bank rated the Kabwe project “Moderately Unsatisfactory.” The Zambian government has responded by saying that it intends to begin cleanup of contaminated soil as well as testing and treatment of affected people before the end of 2019.There’s no clear-cut plan yet, but past pilot projects to address the problem consisted of cleaning up soil outside homes, schools and public areas, as well as ridding individual homes of dust using special vacuum cleaners, Fuller says.Dirt roads present a special challenge. In previous efforts to address lead contamination in other parts of the world, Pure Earth has found that existing dirt roads should be paved or tarred so that passing traffic doesn’t kick up contaminated dust. “But the government has said they don’t have enough money to do the roads,” says Naples-Mitchell. “If a home is cleaned but the road next to it is not, it’s only a matter of time before everything is recontaminated.”The World Bank loan is also intended to pay for diagnosis and treatment of children with lead poisoning. Naples-Mitchell says she hopes that efforts will be coordinated, or they will fail. For example, when a child is treated for lead poisoning — with nutrition or, in severe cases, with medical therapy — the child must go home to a lead-free environment or else could be recontaminated.Lead cleanup can work. “A success story is in Dong Mei in Vietnam,” says Jack Caravanos, a consultant on Pure Earth’s effort in this village of 3,000. The main industry was the informal recycling of lead acid batteries, Caravanos says. The result was highly contaminated soil — and children with blood lead levels five to 13 times higher than the CDC’s levels of concern, according to a case study by Pure Earth. During the year of the project, blood lead levels in 206 tested children dropped by 75%, according to Pure Earth’s summary of the project.But the lead contamination in Kabwe is even worse than in Dong Mei. “This is really a public health emergency that has never been treated with the urgency it deserves,” says Naples-Mitchell. “I’m hopeful that, given the attention to Kabwe right now from the World Bank project and this report, that we’ll see real change.”Fuller is not so much hopeful as just plain determined. “This is a massive human rights violation and disaster,” he says. “It has to get fixed. We have to keep pushing. We’ll find a way.”Susan Brink is a freelance writer who covers health and medicine. She is the author of The Fourth Trimester, and co-author of A Change of Heart.Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit NPR. Whatever Happened To … The Kids Whose Lead Levels Were… last_img read more

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