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Hindus ask Blizzard Entertainment to withdraw Devi Avatar ‘Kali’ in Video Game

Hindus ask Blizzard Entertainment to withdraw the Devi skin from their video game Overwatch

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Devi Skin in Overwatch. Image source: NDTV
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  • The skin is said to demean and be dismissive of the respected Hindu goddesses by letting anyone assume the avatar of a holy deity
  • Zed said, this false interpretation of Hindu deities and concepts for the purposes of commercialization goes against the core value “lead responsibly” of Blizzard Entertainment
  • Hindu scholars would willingly and happily provide the details needed to depict the skin respectfully as inaccurate depictions would influence the minds of highly impressionable children and teens

People belonging to Hindu community have urged the California-based Blizzard Entertainment to remove the Devi skin of the Symmetra character from its video game Overwatch. The skin is said to demean and be dismissive of the respected Hindu goddesses by letting anyone assume the avatar of a holy deity.

The Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has asked the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, and its parent Activision Blizzard’s CEO, for a withdrawal in a statement in Nevada. He said, in the video game players can essentially control a devi by acquiring that skin, which goes against Hindu tradition of believers letting goddesses control their destiny.

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Symmetra, the character in question, is sent by her corporation “on clandestine missions around the world to uphold its corporate interests”. She is also famous for “utilizing her light-bending Photon Projector to dispatch adversaries.”

Blizzard Entertainment logo. Image source: kultur2.blog.fc2.com
Blizzard Entertainment logo. Image source: kultur2.blog.fc2.com

Moreover, it has been noted that the skin is an inaccurate depiction of the goddesses and the movements do not correlate with those in the Hindu scriptures. Zed has said that this false interpretation of Hindu deities and concepts for the purposes of commercialization goes against the core value “lead responsibly” of Blizzard Entertainment.

Devis are meant to be worshipped and not manipulated by the mere movement of a joystick, said Zed. He also added that the skin has reduced the sacred deities to no more than a character rather than appreciating the high place they hold in the scriptures.

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He noted the difference between artistic freedom and belittling the faith of a community for monetary gains. He has also added that Hindu scholars would willingly and happily provide the details needed to depict the skin respectfully as inaccurate depictions would influence the minds of highly impressionable children and teens.

Overwatch was released in May and had claimed to be a “critical hit” by the “premier developer and publisher of entertainment software” Blizzard Entertainment. Overwatch has also been localized for overseas customers by incorporating other languages.

– prepared by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. You can find her on Twitter @VarshaGupta94

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Insurance Claims From California’s Wildfire At $9 Billion

State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties.

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California, Insurance
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones talks about the costs of recent wildfires during a news conference in Sacramento, California. VOA

Insurance claims from last month’s California wildfires already are at $9 billion and expected to increase, the state’s insurance commissioner announced Wednesday.

About $7 billion in claims are from the Camp Fire that destroyed the Northern California city of Paradise and killed at least 86 people, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in at least a century. The rest is from the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California.

Collectively, the fires destroyed or damaged more than 20,000 structures, with the vast majority in and around Paradise. On Tuesday, state and federal authorities estimated it will cost at least $3 billion just to clear debris.

“As the claims get perfected, as individuals get access to their former homes and neighborhoods, as they dialogue with their insurance companies and share more information about the scope of their loss, we expect these numbers to rise,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said of the $9 billion estimate.

California, Wildfire, Insurance
Jennifer Christensen sorts through items found in a safe at the remains of her home Dec. 5, 2018, in Paradise, California. VOA

Over 28,000 claims

There are more than 28,000 claims for residential personal property, nearly 2,000 from commercial property and 9,400 in auto and other claims for the fires.

That’s well above the number of claims filed following a series of fires that tore through Northern California’s wine country last year. Losses from those fires were initially pegged at $3.3 billion but eventually grew to $10 billion.

While the Camp Fire destroyed about double the number of structures as the 2017 fires, home values in Butte County are far lower than those in Sonoma County. That’s part of the reason total claims may seem low compared to the 2017 figures, Jones said. Median home values in Sonoma County are more than double those in Butte.

Jones advised home owners to be cautious of “fraudsters and scam artists” trying to take advantage of vulnerable communities.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires, Insurance, rain
A controlled burn ignites pine trees on the “Rough Fire” — which closed camps east of Fresno at Hume Lake as it crossed Highway 180 — in the Sequoia National Forest in California, Aug. 21, 2015. VOA

He also said its time for California to start rethinking how and if it builds in fire-prone areas. Ken Pimlott, outgoing director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told The Associated Press this week the state should consider banning construction in vulnerable areas.

Jones said local governments may not be fully considering the long-term impacts of building in areas at high risk of fire, floods and rising sea levels.

“That’s going to be a hard conversation. Everybody likes to build new, people obviously want to rebuild their communities,” he said. “We’re in a new era where these risks are so bad I think we’ve really got to take a look at how we’re making these decisions.”

Cause of fire remains unknown

Authorities are still determining what caused the fire.

Pacific Gas & Electric told regulators that a high-voltage power line malfunctioned at the time and spot that investigators believe the fire started on Nov. 8.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires, Insurance
Joe Balog, a workforce management director at Travelers, examines weather, social media and other data from recent natural disasters inside the company’s catastrophe response command center in Windsor, Connecticut. VOA

The San Francisco-based utility told the California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday that several miles away workers found a fallen power pole and equipment with bullet holes.

86 deaths linked to fire

A number of fire victims have filed lawsuits alleging that PG&E’s equipment started the fire that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed at least 86 people.

The cleanup costs for last month’s fires will far surpass the record expense of $1.3 billion the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spent on debris removal in Northern California in 2017.

California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said the state will manage cleanup contracts this time. Last year, hundreds of Northern California homeowners complained that contractors paid by the ton hauled away too much dirt and damaged unbroken driveways, sidewalks and pipes.

The state OES spent millions repairing that damage.

California, School
Trees reflect in a swimming pool outside Erica Hail’s Paradise, Calif., home, which burned during the Camp Fire. VOA

Lesson learned

Ghilarducci said the state OES will hire auditors and monitors to watch over debris removal in hopes of cutting down on the number of over-eager contractors.

“We learned a great number of things,” last year, Ghilarducci said.

Also Read: Insurance Company’s Response To Wildfire Claims Better Due to Technology

He said the U.S. Corps of Engineers was asked to lead the effort last year because state resources were stretched thin after responding to more than a dozen wildfires. This year, he said state officials can manage the cleanup and costs will be shared among state, federal and local authorities.

Cleanup is expected to begin in January and take about a year to complete. State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties. (VOA)