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Twitter’s Jack Dorsey under fire after skipping India meet | News




Twitter has come under fire by right-wing groups in India after senior executives, including CEO Jack Dorsey, skipped a parliamentary committee meeting where it stood accused of a left-wing bias by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Hours after Dorsey’s non-show on Monday, the committee suggested that it could initiate “breach of privilege action” against it.

“Of course it can be an issue of breach of parliamentary privilege,” committee head Anurag Thakur told journalists in New Delhi, referring to the disregarding of the rights enjoyed by the House and its members.

“They are taking advantage of the world’s biggest market and are unwilling to answer,” added Thakur, a legislator for the ruling BJP.

The committee had reportedly summoned the senior Twitter officials via a letter on February 1, but the San Francisco-based giant cited “short notice” for its refusal to appear.

Dorsey, whose stake in the social media giant is estimated to be around $600m, has now been summoned to appear on February 25.

The row comes amid claims of a leftwing bias on Twitter, where rightwing accounts supportive of the BJP and its ideology are alllegedly being “shadowbanned”.

Last week, members of the right-wing “Youth for Social Media Democracy” group protested outside Twitter’s offices in New Delhi. 

According to local reports, the group had also written to Thakur about Twitter “systematically suspending their handles, restricting their reach and removing trends from the trends list”.

In a statement last week, the company rejected accusations of bias against certain handles.

‘Censoring right-wing voices’

Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, a spokesperson of the BJP in New Delhi who has been at the forefront of these protests, accused Twitter of “a 100 percent leftist bias” and said it was “censoring right-wing voices”.

“Twitter suspended many accounts without giving any specific reason although they later reinstated them. It is worrying that Twitter does not actually disclose how their censorship decisions work,” Bagga told Al Jazeera.

“If there was any abusive content from these right-wing accounts, we won’t support them. But that was not the case here,” he added.

“This happened in the US as well when [President Donald] Trump complained about shadow-banning Republican accounts. Why is this big company suspending accounts of a certain ideology alone?”

Twitter said it made more than 70 changes to their product, policies and processes last year to improve its platform.

“Improving the health of the public conversation is the number one  priority for our company – from our CEO down, it’s part of everyone’s job at Twitter,” a company spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

“The changes we made last year enabled us to take action on more abusers who were reported to us in comparison to last year, stop hundreds of thousands of accounts from rejoining after a suspension for abusive behavior and reduce abuse in conversations,” the spokesperson added.

‘No data to back right-wing claims’

The right-wing anger against Twitter has been brewing since Pratik Sinha, who runs the fact-checking website, exposed several anonymous accounts that were allegedly preaching hate and spreading fake news.

“To summon Twitter reps for a parliamentary panel is ridiculous. Let the right wing make the data public about this so-called bias. They have no data to back their claims that the right wing is being targeted,” Sinha told Al Jazeera.

Sinha said Twitter had not only failed at countering hate-mongering, but they had also made the process of suspending accounts completely opaque.

“This is not an ideological bias, they are doing a bad job at moderating,” he said.

“In Iran, Facebook and Twitter had removed hundreds of pages because they were facing heat from the US government. But in India, despite reporting hate-filled pages, they are not taken down because most of these are doing pro-government propaganda. Their moderation policies are different in different countries,” Sinha added.

Limits on free speech

Twitter’s problems in India, however, are not new. In November last year, Twitter apologised after a massive backlash from upper-caste Indians who said they were offended after a picture of Dorsey circulated him showing him holding a poster critical of patriarchy. 

Reading “smash Brahminical patriarchy”, the banner referred to the highest Hindu caste and its alleged sanction for patriarchal oppression of women.

But Twitter’s apology also sparked outrage over the perceived inability of social media giants to stand-up to far-right bullying in India.

Earlier last year in the US, the platform faced criticism for “verifying” and handing out “blue ticks” to several hate groups and white supremacists.

Twitter will be further tested when India votes in a general election due by May, in what will be the world’s largest democratic exercise.


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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day




The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat




In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic




TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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