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US, Russia sign memo on safe flight operations over Syria


Washington: The Pentagon said that the US and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding on safe flight operations over Syria as they carry out separate airstrikes against militant groups in the country.

“Senior officials from the department of defense and the Russian ministry of defense signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding measures to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between coalition and Russian aircrafts operating in Syrian airspace,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook here on Tuesday at a briefing.

According to Cook, specific safety protocols were established for air crews of both sides to follow, including the use of specific communication frequencies and the establishment of a communication line on the ground, Xinhua reported.

The US and Russian militaries would also form a working group to discuss any implementation issues that would follow, added Cook.

The two countries reached agreement on air safety in Syria 10 days after US and Russian aircrafts came within visual range of each other during a mission.

To avoid an inadvertent clash in Syrian airspace during their airstrike’s against the extremist group-the Islamic State (IS), the US and Russia started their latest round of military contacts early this month after a long hiatus due to rivalry on the Ukraine crisis.


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Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are taking steps to police terrorists and hate groups on their sites, but more work needs to be done, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday.

The organization released its annual digital terrorism and hate report card and gave a B-plus to Facebook, a B-minus to Twitter and a C-plus to Google.

Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said the company had no comment on the report. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said Facebook in particular built “a recognition that bad folks might try to use their platform” as its business model. “There is plenty of material they haven’t dealt with to our satisfaction, but overall, especially in terms of hate, there’s zero tolerance,” Cooper said at a New York City news conference.

Rick Eaton, a senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center, said hateful and violent posts on Instagram, which is part of Facebook, are quickly removed, but not before they can be widely shared.

He pointed to Instagram posts threatening terror attacks at the upcoming World Cup in Moscow. Another post promoted suicide attacks with the message, “You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom.”

Cooper said Twitter used to merit an F rating before it started cracking down on Islamic State tweets in 2016. He said the move came after testimony before a congressional committee revealed that “ISIS was delivering 200,000 tweets a day.”

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This photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. VOA

Cooper and Eaton said that as the big tech companies have gotten more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, promoters of terrorism and hate have migrated to other sites such as, a Facebook lookalike that’s based in Russia.

There also are “alt-tech” sites like GoyFundMe, an alternative to GoFundMe, and BitChute, an alternative to Google-owned YouTube, Cooper said.

“If there’s an existing company that will give them a platform without looking too much at the content, they’ll use it,” he said. “But if not, they are attracted to those platforms that have basically no rules.”

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism. (VOA)

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