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Friday prayers back in Saudi mosques

On Friday, worshippers flocked to mosques across Saudi Arabia amid strict health measures. Each person had his own rug and observed designated distancing.

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Friday Prayer

Riyadh, June 6 : Muslims performed their first Friday prayers in mosques across Saudi Arabia in more than two months following the suspension of congregational prayers to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, it was reported.

Nearly 100,000 worshippers attended the Friday prayers in the Prophet Mosque in Medina, a state body in charge of the holy site”s affairs said on its official Twitter account on Friday.

However, prayers at mosques across Jeddah city have once again been temporarily interrupted, reports Gulf news.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in the city of Mecca as part of the Kingdom”s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

On Friday, worshippers flocked to mosques across Saudi Arabia amid strict health measures. Each person had his own rug and observed designated distancing.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has agreed that nearly 4,000 additional mosques be venues for the Friday prayers in different parts of the Kingdom until further notice so as to ease crowding during the prayers.

–IANS

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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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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India

Majority of parents oppose reopening schools

Risk and unknowns of Covid-19, and hard to implement social distancing norms in schools pose risk to…

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Children wearing mask

New Delhi, Aug 11 : Only 33 per cent parents support reopening of schools from September 1, according to a survey by LocalCircles.

Risk and unknowns of Covid-19, and hard to implement social distancing norms in schools pose risk to seniors in the family are among the top reasons why parents don’t want schools starting from September 1.

Many schools started online sessions for the children to ensure that learning does not stop. As per latest media reports, the central government is now considering opening schools from September 1 as part of its final unlocking measures starting with Classes 10-12 and Classes 6-9 with a 15-day gap.

As a reaction to the media reports, many parents raised the issue of schools restarting on September 1 and subsequently, LocalCircles decided to conduct a survey to get the collective parent pulse on how they feel about reopening of schools in less than a month.

The survey received over 25,000 responses from parents and grandparents in different parts of India.

With total number of Covid-19 cases at 2.2 million and a daily case load of approximately 65,000, India now has the highest number of daily cases in the world.

The infection is spreading so fast in the country that it took only 20 days for the number of infected to increase from 1 million to 2 million and as per the WHO guidelines, children fall in the high-risk category.

Children if infected can be carriers of the virus and spread it to other members of the family with grandparents being the most vulnerable as many families in India have a joint family structure.

Parents were asked if they approve of the reported Government plan of restarting schools from September 1 for Classes 10-12 and for Classes 6-10 after 15 days. In response, 58 per cent said ‘no’ while only 33 per cent answered ‘yes’.

With majority of the parents opposing the reopening of schools from September 1, parents were also asked for the reason as to why they are opposed to schools in India starting from September 1, 2020.

In response, 13 per cent said they cannot afford to take chances with children given the risk and unknowns related to Covid-19, while 1 per cent said there is a serious risk with seniors in the family in case a child in the family gets infected.

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