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Dalai Lama marks 85th birthday with album of mantras

On a promotional video for the album, when asked why he had agreed to take part, the Dalai Lama answers: “The very purpose of my life is to serve as much as I can.”

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Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama made a bid for music chart stardom on Monday, his 85th birthday, with the release of an album of mantras and teachings.

“Inner World” kicks off with the track “One Of My Favourite Prayers” and continues with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader reciting meditations and sayings with accompanying music.

The record came about when musician Junelle Kunin, a student of the Dalai Lama from New Zealand, contacted him in 2015 with the idea – and much to her surprise he said yes.

“I thought I’d have to try and convince him,” she told Reuters in an interview from her home in Auckland.

“That moment of recording him, my goodness I was shaking like a leaf before I went in there,” she said.

Kunin did the initial recordings at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala in India.

Once back home, she worked with her husband Abraham and other musicians to produce music for the tracks.

“It’s an incredible honour. But it was unbelievably, daunting like the trust and responsibility. It’s immense,” Abraham Kunin said.

On a promotional video for the album, when asked why he had agreed to take part, the Dalai Lama answers: “The very purpose of my life is to serve as much as I can.”

The release comes five years after Patti Smith led the crowd at Britain’s Glastonbury Festival singing Happy Birthday to him for his 80th.

Health

‘Young people play important role in helping stop Covid-19 transmission’

“Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic,”

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

Geneva, Aug 13 : Although most young people are not at high risk of severe disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, they play an important role in the collective responsibility to help stop the virus transmission, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

In celebrating International Youth Day, with a theme of “Youth Engagement for Global Action” this year, the WHO Director-General, together with UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay, recognized young people, youth organizations, and youth networks around the world for their collective action during COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This pandemic is having a major impact on the future of young adults — not just from the virus itself, but because of its impacts on the economy, employment, education, and the overall health system,” Tedros said, asking young people to “be informed and make choices about their health to prepare for long and healthy lives”.

“It is critical that we engage with young people now to start the journey to understanding their own health.”

He further left three requests for them.

First, he called on organizations, intuitions and governments “to listen, engage and empower young adults as partners in action. Our future is their future”.

“Second, we have to give young people a much larger role in political decision-making. Their voices often go unheard, even though more than half of the world’s population is under 35 years old.

“Finally, and most importantly, to young adults around the world, I say: Think big and be bold. We count on you for your creativity and your fresh ideas…

“Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic,” he added.

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Lifestyle

Facebook removes 22.5mn hate speech content, 1.5bn fake accounts in Q2

Facebook on Tuesday said that it purged 22.5 million pieces of hate speech content in the second quarter (April-June) this year, increased from 9.6 million pieces of content in Q1, and its proactive detection rate for hate speech increased 6 points from 89 per cent to 95 per cent.

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San Francisco: When it comes to fake accounts, Facebook said it removed 1,5 billion such accounts in Q2, down from 1.7 billion accounts in Q1.

The reason for the decline the social network gave was that when it blocks more attempts, there are fewer fake accounts for it to disable, “which has led to a general decline in accounts actioned since Q1 2019”.

“We estimate that fake accounts represented approximately 5 per cent of our worldwide monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook during Q2,” Guy Rosen, VP Integrity at Facebook, said in a blog post detailing the sixth edition of ‘Community Standards Enforcement Report’.

On Instagram, the proactive detection rate for hate speech increased 39 points from 45 per cent to 84 per cent in the June quarter, said Facebook.

It resulted in action on 3.3 million pieces of hate speech content in Q2, up from 808,900 in Q1.

“These increases (on Instagram) were driven by expanding our proactive detection technologies in English and Spanish,” Rosen said.

Another area where Facebook claimed it saw improvements was content related to terrorism.

“On Facebook, the amount of content we took action on increased from 6.3 million in Q1 to 8.7 million in Q2,” Rosen informed.

“We saw increases in the amount of content we took action on connected to organized hate on Instagram and bullying and harassment on both Facebook and Instagram”.

Facebook said that since it prioritised removing harmful content over measuring certain efforts during this time, it was unable to calculate the prevalence of violent and graphic content, and adult nudity and sexual activity.

“We want people to be confident that the numbers we report around harmful content are accurate, so we will undergo an independent, third-party audit, starting in 2021, to validate the numbers we publish in our Community Standards Enforcement Report,” Rosen said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook sent its content reviewers home in March and relied more heavily on the technology to review content.

The comlany said it has since brought many reviewers back online from home and, where it is safe, a smaller number into the office.

The company admitted that the number of appeals against the removal of accounts etc was much lower in Q2 “because we couldn’t always offer them”.

“We let people know about this and if they felt we made a mistake, we still gave people the option to tell us they disagreed with our decision”.

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Cities

Low key Janmashtami celebrations in Agra as corona cases surge

District officials indicated that a programme for conducting large scale random sampling would be started in the rural areas to break the chain.

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Janmashtami celebrations

Agra, Aug 12 : Gloom and despair greeted Krishna Janmashtami festival in the entire Braj Mandal battling with Covid-19.

Temples in Vrindavan and Mathura were closed as cases of Covid-19 were being reported in double figures daily. Mathura reported 41 new cases in the last 24 hours, while Mainpuri district had an alarming tally of 52, with 23 from one area of the city. Etah reported 28 while Kasganj had 20 fresh cases.

In Agra, the tally has gone up to 2,177 with 41 new cases. So far 1,739 have recovered. With one more death of an elderly person, the tally has gone up to 102.

The spread of the infection in the rural areas continues to remain a worry. Of the 15 development blocks in the Agra district, 11 are in the containment zones.

Officials said the rural medical infrastructure was being upgraded and more health officials were being posted at the Public Health Centres (PHCs). Only serious cases were now being referred to the S.N. Medical College Covid hospital in Agra.

District officials indicated that a programme for conducting large scale random sampling would be started in the rural areas to break the chain.

Meanwhile, the drizzle that started late Tuesday evening continued till Wednesday morning. A few spells of heavy showers were reported from the rural areas.

The festival mood is sombre. “Due to the scare of corona, few people are venturing out of their homes. Since temples are closed, the Sri Krishna bhakts will probably watch online puja or remain glued to the TV sets. This time children also do not seem to be keen on decorating ‘Hindolas’, part of the festivities associated with Janmashtami,” senior citizen Sudhir Gupta of Vijay Nagar colony said.

The priest of the famous Sri Mathuradheesh temple in Agra, Nandan Shrotriya told IANS, “All ritualistic pujas will be conducted closed doors, as the temple is not open to public.” In Vrindavan, the ISKCON temple has arranged live streaming later in the evening. The festivities at the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple will also be low key.

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