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Facebook has removed several accounts owned by Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the group accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
“We removed 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts — as well as 138 Facebook Pages — that were controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, said in a blog post late on Tuesday.
Many of the Pages also ran ads, all of which have been removed. “Of the Pages that had content, the vast majority of them (95 per cent) were in Russian — targeted either at people living in Russia or Russian-speakers around the world including from neighbouring countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine,” Stamos said, who is reportedly planning to leave the company by August.
The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections. “We removed this latest set of Pages and accounts solely because they were controlled by the IRA — not based on the content,” said Stamos.
This included commentary on domestic and international political issues, the promotion of Russian culture and tourism as well as debate on more everyday issues. The US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation team is investigating into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook is also facing a backlash as a political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica that worked with Donald Trump’s election team allegedly harvested 50 million Facebook profiles of US voters to influence their choices at the ballot box.
The social network later suspended Cambridge Analytica for violating its policies and commitments. Cambridge Analytica received user data from a Facebook app years ago that purported to be a psychological research tool, though the firm was not authorised to have that information. IANS
Sommet Education, one of the worlds leading hospitality and culinary education players, recently joined hands with the countrys premium hospitality institute, Indian School of Hospitality (ISH).
With this Sommet Education now own a 51 per cent stake in the ISH, a significant addition to the former's expansive global network. The strategic partnership allows Sommet Education to establish two of its prestigious institutions in India: Ecole Ducasse, a worldwide education reference in culinary and pastry arts, and Les Roches, one of the world's leading hospitality business schools. With this academic alliance, Ecole Ducasse will now have its first campus in India at ISH, and Les Roches will launch its undergraduate and postgraduate hospitality management programmes in the country.
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Sommet Education's belief in the Indian market and its potential to grow exponentially made the country the focal point of its development plans. As per the recent data, the Indian hospitality industry has shown a 122.9 per cent growth in RevPAR in Q3 2021 as compared to Q2 2021. The sector bounced back strongly with the relaxations in regulations over travel restrictions post the second wave of the pandemic.
During the recent meeting between Benoit-Etienne Domenget, CEO, Sommet Education and Dilip Puri, Founder & CEO, Indian School of Hospitality, both the leaders shared their future development plans for India. Two are exploring opportunities to launch a second campus, most likely to be located in Mumbai, Bengaluru, or Hyderabad. The duo also plans to set up a network of Ecole Ducasse studios in select cities across India, including New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. These studios institutes will cater to the needs of not only hospitality aspirants but also professionals, enthusiasts, and career changers for upskilling and acquiring new skills in line with changing dynamics of the industry. Besides setting Ecole Ducasse studios in India, the expansion of the current ISH Gurugram campus is also underway. The new campus will feature an additional 25,000 sq. ft of classrooms, training kitchens, and student experience areas. This expansion will comfortably stretch the current capacity of the campus to over 500 students.
Speaking about the entering Indian market, Sommet Education CEO, Benoit-Etienne Domenget, said: "India is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, with hospitality and tourism contributing to a large share of economic growth and employment. As a dynamic young economy, India is the perfect development platform for international education brands to invest in and expand. We are happy to partner with ISH through which enables us to provide Indian students, within the country, with globally renowned standards of hospitality, culinary and management education.
"Together, we will be able to address the industry's need for specialised talent and expertise in a better and more organised manner. Hospitality management and culinary arts aspirants in India and neighbouring countries will now be able to benefit from our combined expertise and explore international career opportunities."
The mutually benefitting collaboration aims to offer a global standard of education to a larger number of hospitality and culinary arts aspirants in the years to come in India and the neighbouring countries. While ISH has set benchmarks with its cutting-edge pedagogical approach, updated curriculum, learning techniques, faculty base, and state-of-the-art infrastructure, expansion of the campus will lay grounds for more talented students to set foot into the exciting field of hospitality and culinary arts and become future leaders who will steer the industry towards success. New facilities are under construction and will be operational by early 2022.
Commenting over the new partnership and expansion plans, ISH Founder and CEO, Dilip Puri, said: "ISH and Sommet Education joined hands for the two share similar belief system and vision of establishing entrepreneurial and developmental mindset among learners. The higher education landscape in India is rapidly transforming. In order to elevate the same to the global standards, ISH, with the help of its new partner, intends to be the pioneer of this transformation, bringing the best of industry education and opportunities from across the world to our students.
Industry demands for hospitality leaders by bringing two of the world's best brandsUnsplash
"Partnering with Sommet Education will also enable us to strengthen our academic offerings and expand our presence pan India, and in neighbouring countries, as now on we will be part of Sommet's prestigious network of 18 campuses across eight countries. We will also be able to further support industry demands for hospitality leaders by bringing two of the world's best brands in hospitality management and culinary education to India."
The current transition in the hospitality and services sector requires future leaders to be well-prepared to take on global opportunities emerging in India and abroad. This tie-up will help ISH to further expand its portfolio of programs with opportunities for students to study semesters abroad and benefit from various pathways within undergraduate and post-graduate programs throughout the Les Roches network of institutions. Students can access opportunities, including pursuing a part of the select course at Les Roches campuses in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Marbella, Spain and Shanghai. Together the two hold a common vision of empowering learners with new-age skills to stay ahead in the robust and fast-evolving industry and aim to become the country's largest hospitality and culinary arts education player in the next three years. (IANS/PR)
Keywords: hospitality management, culinary education
'Web 3.0' envisions a decentralised future where users and machines are able to interact with data via asmart, digital contracts' over peer-to-peer networks, without the need for Big Tech.
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According to the report by crypto and digital asset exchange CrossTower in partnership with US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), the digital asset economy's value to India's GDP will grow at 43.1 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) -- from $5.1 billion in 2021 to $261.8 billion over an 11-year period, resulting in a $1.1 trillion contribution to India's GDP. Digital asset market capitalisation was nearly $1.5 billion in 2013, and stands at about $3 trillion today.
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According to the report, most of $1.1 trillion in the total economic growth in the next 11 years can come from ancillary digital asset-related businesses that are yet to be invented.
"India is poised for growth to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. Digital assets are expected to have tremendous potential in the next 11 years across countries, due to their rapid adoption. They are expected to help India achieve the $5 trillion economy goal," said Dr Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of USISPF.
According to the findings, the adoption rate of digital assets (as reflected by accounts opened on centralised cryptocurrency exchanges) is growing nearly twice as fast as that of the Internet.
The report projected that digital identity could contribute $8.2 billion to India's GDP in 2032.Unsplash
It took the Internet approximately 7.5 years to go from around 100 million users to one billion users. "The same growth at cryptocurrency exchanges will take about four years. From digital art to ticket sales, music, collectables, luxury items and gaming, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) could transform the way people interact day-to-day. While still nascent, NFTs are projected to emerge into a market of $1 trillion or more," the report mentioned.
"With the right policies and regulatory framework, India's regulators can bring safety, combined with hope and prosperity to India," said Kapil Rathi, Co-founder and CEO, CrossTower.
The government-related Blockchain projects are estimated to drive close to $0.1 billion of GDP to India in 2021, ramping up to $5.1 billion in 2032. The report projected that digital identity could contribute $8.2 billion to India's GDP in 2032. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : blockchain, India, GDP, technology, economy, growth, future, machine, data, crypto, asset, US, partnership, NFT, million, billion, dollar.)
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The Taliban-led government, controlled today by the Haqqani Network, a loyal proxy of Pakistan, is in the news once again for having summarily killed several former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). These killings and disappearances have been documented in a report recently published (December 4) by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The international condemnation of the actions of the Taliban demonstrate that the West is still far from recognising a regime well known for its brutal ways. That the US, European Union and 20 other countries condemned the Taliban over allegations of summary killings of former police and intelligence officers is a sure sign of continued global antipathy towards the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The statement echoing the sentiments of the world came after HRW's documentation (November 30) of the killing or disappearance of at least 47 members of the ANSF including military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and paramilitary militia, who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces between August 15 and October 31. HRW said its research also showed that the Taliban have killed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former members of the ANSF in the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces. The main findings of the report come from the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces, but the cases reflect a broader pattern of abuses reported in Khost, Paktiya, Paktika, and other provinces.
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The recent statement is perhaps the strongest issued on the Taliban since August 15. Countries said they were "deeply concerned" by the allegations and underlined that the "alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban's announced amnesty" for former Afghan officials. They called on the Taliban "to effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former Government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks", and urged prompt and transparent investigations into the reported killings. The countries include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and Ukraine.
US officials had held talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar and expressed deep concern over human rights abuses and urged the Taliban to provide countrywide access to education at all levels for women and girls. Shortly afterwards, (December 2), the Taliban released a decree on women's rights which states that women should not be considered "property" and must not be forced into marriage. The decree, supposedly issued by Taliban supremo, Haibatullah Akhundzada states that "both (women and men) should be equal. No one can force women to marry by coercion of pressure". Can the world consider this a small step in the right direction? Actually, the answer is that it is small step taken under pressure and with no guarantee that it will be enforced.
Recall that the Taliban, keen to gain international recognition, had pledged in August this year that its rule would be different to its previous time in government in the 1990s, which included public stonings, limb amputations of alleged criminals and a ban on women's education. However, every single step taken by the ï¿½so-called' government in Afghanistan has been retrograde and continues to carry out violent punishments. The UN has also expressed concern about "credible allegations" that the Taliban has carried out reprisal killings since their victory. In its latest report, HRW said Taliban leaders had directed the surrendering by security forces personnel to register with authorities to be screened for ties to certain military or special forces units. Subsequently, personnel were to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety.However, the Taliban used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find, says HRW.
It also notes that the Taliban had announced the establishment of a Commission to investigate reports of human rights abuses, corruption, theft and other crimes but said the commission had not announced any investigations into any reported killings. In an undated audio recording, Taliban Deputy Chief and Afghan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is heard appealing to "our brothers to cooperate with the Commission and don't protect or support any individual of bad character on the basis of personal friendship". More likely this was just a publicity stunt meant to impress the international community, but the reality is far more sinister.
Targeted killings by the Taliban have been a regular feature even prior to the takeover of Afghanistan of 15 August. The BBC states (December 5) that in August, an Amnesty International report found that 300 Taliban fighters had travelled to an area near Dahani Qul village (DaykundiProvince) on 30 August 2021, where former government soldiers, some of whom had been staying with their families. Amnesty says the Taliban executed 13 ethnic Hazaras, 11 of whom were former soldiers who had already surrendered, two more died in the crossfire and a further two civilians were killed during the fighting that ensued, including a 17-year-old girl.
Taliban had taken systematic measures to root out opposition in the weeks before they overran Kabul.Unsplash
Also read: Taliban ban women from appearing
Prior to August 15, after penetrating the weak Ashraf Ghani government, the Taliban had taken systematic measures to root out opposition in the weeks before they overran Kabul. Revenge killings, including targeting of government officials, were already on the rise in major cities and along key highways. This was evident in July 2021, when Taliban forces escalated operations around Kandahar city and carried out summary executions of surrendered and captured members of the security forces. Similar patterns have emerged in many other provinces, including since August 15. The HRW report aptly concludes that the Taliban's unsupported claims that they will act to prevent abuses and hold abusers to account appears, so far, to be nothing more than a "public relations stunt".
Russia has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan could become the place for civil war if the Taliban were unable to properly govern. However, the challenge of governing Afghanistan is also linked to the availability of funds. The Taliban alleges that the freezing of Afghan central bank assets amounting to US$ 9.5 billion has obstructed the proper functioning of government. While this may be a fact, it does not mean that the Taliban is anywhere near to having a functional system of administration.
As of now, it has a Cabinet with many UN proscribed individuals and a loose administration the roots of which are really an extension of the Quetta Shura. The most important thing to note is that with a gory past behind them, the Taliban will find it difficult to change their colours. The truth is they do not want to change, and even if they decide to do so, Pakistan will not allow it. That is the reality of the new Taliban today.(IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Taliban, Afghanistan)