- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Says the Mosque Shooting Gunman Legally Acquired 5 Guns
- People Are Leaving Floral Tributes at Mosques Around the World After the New Zealand Attack
- How the New Zealand Mosque Shootings Are Putting Scrutiny on the Country’s Gun Laws
- I Survived a Far Right Terror Attack in 2011. Here’s What We’re Still Getting Wrong About Extremism
- Tokyo Olympic Organizers Say ‘Human Support Robots’ Will Assist at 2020 Games
- ‘A Game of Whack-a-Mole.’ Why Facebook and Others Are Struggling to Delete Footage of the New Zealand Shooting
- The Quick Read on Justin Trudeau’s Mounting Political Troubles
- These Are the 10 Journalists Facing the ‘Most Urgent’ Threats to Press Freedom Around the World
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 02:24 PM PDT
(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) — New Zealand’s prime minister says the “primary perpetrator” in the mosque shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used in the shootings.
Jacinda Ardern said Saturday the country’s national gun laws will change after at least 49 worshippers were shot dead in the two mosques in Christchurch.
She did not specify how the laws will be changed.
The Australian suspect will appear in court on Saturday morning.
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 02:08 PM PDT
In the wake of a terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that took the lives of 49 people and injured at least 20, people have been expressing their sympathies for the victims by leaving flowers at local mosques in New Zealand and around the world.
A post by New Zealand’s public broadcasting station showed flowers left outside a mosque in Auckland.
Soon after, images of similar memorials at other mosques around the country began to appear on Twitter.
Many of the people leaving flowers have not been Muslim themselves. Rather, the floral tributes have become a way for people to express unity and solidarity in the face of Islamophobic and anti-immigration sentiment.
In London, the New Zealand War Memorial in Hyde Park Corner became a center of mourning. Several people gathered for a vigil Friday evening and to lay flowers to express their condolences.
Flowers and messages of kindness have been showing up in other parts of the world as well. One mosque in Vancouver shared images of their front gates on Twitter.
Many more around Europe and in the U.S. have begun to do the same.
Prime Minister’s Jacinda Ardern has described as a “terrorist attack” and “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
The attack was carried out by an Australian white-nationalist who detailed his motivations in a 74-page manifesto. The man, who is now in custody, live-streamed the horrific event on Facebook. While the original post has been deleted, social media sites have been struggling to remove footage from the gruesome video online.
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 11:07 AM PDT
The mass shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand on Friday, which killed at least 49 people, has brought the country’s gun laws into scrutiny. New Zealand is a sparsely populated peaceful nation with very little violent crime but has what are considered to be some of the most lax gun regulations in the Pacific region. Gun ownership levels are high but the rate of gun deaths has historically been low.
Within 24 hours of the attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a promise to change the country’s gun laws. “I can tell you right now, our gun laws will change,” Ardern said, addressing the nation on Saturday.
In an earlier address, Ardern described the shootings as “acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.” Attacks are extremely rare in the small island state which prides itself on its inclusion. “We represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it,” added Ardern.
The shooting is New Zealand’s deadliest since 1990, when 13 people were killed in the town of Aramoana. Following the attack, New Zealand tightened its existing gun laws, which first passed in 1983.
However, even with the stricter laws, New Zealand’s gun regulations are more permissive than many other Western countries outside of the United States. New Zealand, along with the U.S. are the only two nations that don’t require universal gun registration, according to GunPolicy.org, which tracks guns throughout the world and presents research from the University of Sydney.
However, despite relatively relaxed regulations on guns, fatalities by firearms have remained low in New Zealand, where violent crime and murders are rare. A total of 48 people were murdered in 2017 in New Zealand, marking a low in the country’s homicide figures, according to a police report. Killings by firearms have stayed in the single digits between 2007 and 2016, with the exception of the year 2009, when 11 people were killed by guns, police said.
While guns can be purchased online or through mail order with police approval, self-defense does not count as a reason to possess a gun, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. People are permitted to carry guns for “lawful, proper, and sufficient purpose,” which includes using firearms for hunting or pest control.
Gun ownership, however, abounds. At least 1.2 million firearms are estimated to be owned by civilians in New Zealand, which has a population of nearly 5 million, according to the 2017 Small Arms Survey. New Zealand’s gun per capita rate, about one for every three people, is higher than in Australia, where there are about 3.15 million guns, about one for every eight people, the Morning Herald reports.
In the wake of the shootings, questions are being asked about the country’s gun regulations. The main attacker in the mosque shootings was a licensed gun owner who had legally acquired the five guns that were used in the attacks.
New Zealand does not ban outright the sale of semi-automatic military style assault weapons, which further sets the country’s gun laws apart from Australia, which banned semi-automatic and other military-style weapons in the wake of a 1996 mass shooting.
New Zealand allows anyone 18 and older who has applied for or already has a firearms license to apply for a permit that allows possession of a military-style semi-automatic firearm. Anyone over the age of 16 can obtain a firearms license, which permits owing or using a rifle or shotgun. Permits are granted following background checks, and applicants are required to attend a gun safety talk and take a test, according to the Morning Herald.
The deadly attack on the mosques has sparked conversation over how New Zealand will address its gun laws going forward. New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told the New Zealand Herald that the current gun law are set to be reviewed, and will be regarded with greater intensity in the wake of the shootings.
“There is no doubt we need to readjust how we think about security,” Peters said.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said the current gun law can be “undoubtedly” improved in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Personally, I would be surprised if the New Zealand parliament didn’t accept that challenge head-on to strengthen the law,” she said. “I think we could do better and a tragedy like this brings that forward as a priority.”
New Zealand has seen renewed debate over its gun laws in recent years. Multiple efforts by lawmakers to change legislation between 1997 and 2017 have broadly been ignored, dismissed or dropped, according to New Zealand news outlet stuff.co.nz.
In the last year, police in New Zealand have pointed out loopholes in the gun law that defines military-style semi-automatic rifles. While those styles of weapons are more regulated by law, police have noted that other types of rifles could be modified into a military-style semi-automatic weapon with the addition of larger-capacity magazines and other unregulated parts.
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 10:22 AM PDT
In July 2011, Bjørn Ihler was on Norway’s Utøya island when far-right extremist Anders Breivik fatally shot 69 people and injured 110, mostly students who were attending a summer camp organized by the youth wing of Norway’s Labour party. Since then, Ihler, 27, has worked as a counter-extremism activist, attempting to understand and prevent radicalization.
What happened in New Zealand is devastating, and brings back my memories from 2011 fairly directly. But as someone who has been trying to fight far-right extremism for almost eight years now, I can’t say that I’m very surprised.
In all this time, most Western countries have still not learnt the lessons from what happened at Utøya. Most of us have refused to recognize something fundamental: that violent extremism and terrorism are not something external to our society. They are a part of our society.
Over the coming days, as happened with Anders Breivik, people will talk a lot about the mental health issues of the individual perpetrators in New Zealand. They’ll try to make them seem abnormal, outside of society, that they have nothing to do with our policies or our governments.
This also happens when the perpetrators are Islamist extremists. Even when these are people who have grown up on the outskirts of Paris and Brussels – the capitals of the Western world, to a large extent – we speak about them as foreign because they happen to be Muslim. We say their ideology distances us from them.
But we need to start seeing violent extremism as something universal, rather than something ideological. It’s an expression of the simple idea, regardless of what ideology you hold, that we can’t all live together in diverse societies.
That idea has only become more prominent since Utøya, as far right movements have grown in political influence. Now, in countries from Eastern Europe to Germany to the U.S., we see people in suits and ties fomenting fear of migration in general and fear of Muslims in particular, just as people marching in streets have. That’s what caused the murder of British lawmaker Jo Cox in 2016 during the run-up to the Brexit vote. The far-right’s belief that we can’t live together is growing in legitimacy, and that is in turn legitimizing violence.
The perpetrators in New Zealand clearly want to spread that idea. The attack bears all the signs of being targeted towards an audience, rather than just being a physical attack. By filming themselves and spreading a manifesto – which references Breivik’s attack – they are trying to create the idea that there is a war going on, a clash of civilizations. They want people to see them as fighters in that war and inspire more to do the same. Those who share that video, and media who publish the manifesto are doing exactly what the attackers wanted. They are running errands for extremists.
Politicians, the media and individuals need to stop sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that these violent extremists have nothing to do with us. We need to react with unity, by showing that we can all live together with very few problems, that minorities are safe. That’s the only way to stop neighborhoods and communities in our countries from becoming breeding grounds for terrorists of all kinds.
In 2016 Ihler co-founded the Khalifa Ihler institute which works for peace through knowledge, technology and design. Since 2016 he has also been part of the Kofi Annan Foundation initiative Extremely Together, exploring means of countering violent extremism.
As told to Ciara Nugent
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 10:15 AM PDT
(TOKYO) — Tokyo’s Olympics may become known as the “Robot Games.”
Organizers on Friday showed off robots that will be used at the new National Stadium to provide assistance for fans using wheelchairs.
Tokyo Olympic official Masaaki Komiya pointed out that Japan is known for its robot technology, and the 2020 Summer Games are a good place to show off.
“Robots should not overwhelm people,” Komiya, the vice director general to the Tokyo Olympics, told a news conference. “Robots are something that have an amicable relationship with human beings and can work together. That’s the kind of robots we envision.”
The robots are made by major Olympic sponsor Toyota Motor Corp. Toyota officials said 16 of the so-called “human support robots” will be used at the National Stadium with five other “delivery support robots” also being available.
Not to be outdone, Panasonic Corp.— also a major Olympic sponsor — showed off its “power assist suit.” When worn, the suit offers support to the back and hip area and allows for heavy objects to be lifted with less effort. Panasonic said 20 of the suits will be used at the Olympics and could help guests with their luggage and with other lifting chores.
“Through this occasion, people in the world will be able to realize how advanced Japan is in terms of robot technology,” Hideyo Hirata, director of technology services for the Tokyo Olympics, told reporters.
Minoru Yamauchi of Toyota, the general manager for 2020 Robot Development, said the automaker is branching out and becoming a “mobility company.”
“We have been looking at how we can support the daily lives of people, and how we can develop robots that can partner with daily life,” Yamauchi said. “In the Tokyo Olympics, there will be many guests in wheelchairs and we would like them enjoy the games without worrying about their mobility.”
Yoshifumi Uchida, general manager of Panasonic’s Paralympic department, said its power assist suit technology was developed partly because of Japan’s aging population. This could help get more women and the elderly into the working population.
“We would like to have a society where people can work without caring about gender differences or age differences,” Uchida said. “When you are carrying a suitcase or a heavy box, this is where the power assist suit becomes valuable.”
He said the suits would also be used away from the venues in “related facilities and airports.”
He said the suit improved “efficiency” by about 20 percent, allowing the wearer to lift more, and for a longer time.
Battery life if about four hours, and the suit gives the wearer the ability to lift about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) more with the same energy expended.
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 08:21 AM PDT
In an apparent effort to ensure their heinous actions would “go viral,” a shooter who murdered at least 49 people in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday live-streamed footage of the assault online, leaving Facebook, YouTube and other social media companies scrambling to block and delete the footage even as other copies continued to spread like a virus.
The original Facebook Live broadcast was eventually taken down, but not before its 17-minute runtime had been viewed, replayed and downloaded by users. Copies of that footage quickly proliferated to other platforms, like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, and back to Facebook itself. Even as the platforms worked to take some copies down, other versions were re-uploaded elsewhere. The episode underscored social media companies’ Sisyphean struggle to police violent content posted on their platforms.
“It becomes essentially like a game of whack-a-mole,” says Tony Lemieux, professor of global studies and communication at Georgia State University.
Facebook, YouTube and other social media companies have two main ways of checking content uploaded to their platforms. First, there’s content recognition technology, which uses artificial intelligence to compare newly-uploaded footage to known illicit material. “Once you know something is prohibited content, that’s where the technology kicks in,” says Lemieux. Social media companies augment their AI technology with thousands of human moderators who manually check videos and other content. Still, social media companies often fail to recognize violent content before it spreads virally, letting users take advantage of the unprecedented and instantaneous reach offered by the very same platforms trying to police them.
Neither YouTube, Facebook nor Twitter answered questions from TIME about how many copies of the Christchurch video they had taken down. New Zealand police said they were aware the video was circulating on social media, and urged people not to share it. “There is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” police said on Twitter. “We would strongly urge that the link not be shared.” Mass shooters often crave notoriety, and each horrific event brings calls to deny assailants the infamy they so desire. (Four arrests were made after the Christchurch shooting, and it remains unclear whether the shooter who live-streamed the attack acted alone.)
Facebook said that the original video of the attack was only taken down after they were alerted to its existence by New Zealand police, indicating that an algorithm had not noticed the video.
“We quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware.”
Experts say the Christchurch video highlights a fatal flaw in social media companies’ approach to content moderation.
“It’s very hard to prevent a newly-recorded violent video from being uploaded for the very first time,” Peng Dong, the co-founder of content-recognition company ACRCloud, tells TIME. The way most content-recognition technology works, he explains, is based on a “fingerprinting” model. Social media companies looking to prevent a video being uploaded at all must first upload a copy of that video to a database, allowing for new uploads to be compared against that footage.
Even when platforms have a reference point — the original offending video — users can manipulate their version of the footage to circumvent upload filters, for example by altering the image or audio quality. The better “fingerprinting” technology gets, the more variants of an offending piece of footage can be detected, but the imperfection of the current systems in part explains why copies of the video are still appearing on sites like YouTube several hours after the initial assault. “Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage,” YouTube said in a statement.
Social media companies are also experimenting with machine learning to detect violent footage the first time it is uploaded, the experts say, but the algorithms are not advanced enough yet to reliably take down such footage. One could easily imagine a situation, Lemieux says, where an algorithm confuses footage of a first-person-shooter video game with real-life violent footage, for example.
Human moderators are fallible, too. The job is psychologically grueling, as a recent report from The Verge illustrates, with workers exposed to the most grotesque footage imaginable on a daily basis for low pay and with minimal mental health support. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter each employ thousands of content moderators around the world; many have recently promised to take better care of their workers.
What’s especially challenging about the Christchurch video is that the attack wasn’t recorded and uploaded later, but livestreamed in real-time as it unfolded. And with current AI technology, it’s all but impossible to detect a violent scene as it is being live-streamed — and to quickly take down that stream while it’s still happening. So on platforms like Facebook Live, YouTube Live and the Twitter-owned Periscope, all of which give users the ability to go live anywhere, any time, rapid content moderation is a nearly impossible task. “There’s no perfect technology to take down a video without a reference database,” says Dong.
Several murders and other horrific acts have been broadcast on Facebook Live before. But the Christchurch massacre appears to have been the first time a mass shooter specifically chose to live-stream the killing of dozens, and they appear to have done so in an effort to ensure their action would spread around the Internet, carrying their hateful message with it. Social media companies like Facebook and YouTube, already under scrutiny for a wealth of reasons, will now be left once again to defend their content moderation practices — and explain why a mass murderer was so easily able to manipulate their systems to have his heinous act seen around the world in a matter of minutes.
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 05:27 AM PDT
What Happened This Week:
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his struggle to contain the fallout from one of the biggest political scandals in Canadian history.
The controversy centers on a Quebec-based construction firm, SNC-Lavalin, accused of bribing the Gaddafi regime in Libya to win government contracts. Canada’s former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Rabould says she was pressured by the Trudeau administration to settle corruption charges with SNC-Lavalin, a move which would have avoided the company being barred from bidding on government contracts. That would have hurt both the company and its workforce, a significant proportion of whom work in Quebec — Trudeau’s home province.
The prime minister’s critics say his administration—and Trudeau himself—improperly interfered; Trudeau and his supporters claim that he was only looking out for the wellbeing of Canadian citizens and did nothing improper. As ever, the reality lies somewhere in the middle.
Why It Matters:
Although nobody in Trudeau’s cabinet has been accused of breaking the law, the scandal has rocked Canadian politics. Two Trudeau cabinet ministers have resigned on principle, along with Trudeau’s longtime friend and closest advisor Gerald Butts (he didn’t resign on principle, but to make sure he wouldn’t be a distraction. Read into that what you will). Trudeau maintains that he did nothing wrong and was keeping the interest of Canadian workers front of mind, like he was elected to do.
This would all be bad for Canadian politics under normal circumstances. Two things make it worse; the first is the fact that Trudeau has been held up—and holds himself up—to be the champion of Western liberal democracy at a time when that worldview is under assault. There is no shortage of critics who see Trudeau as getting his just come-uppance—for all the talk of “real change” (his 2015 campaign’s slogan) and his being a “feminist” prime minister, the resignation of two of the most high-profile female ministers makes Trudeau appear like just another run-of-the-mill politician.
The second is that Canada has elections in the fall; while it was looking like Trudeau and his Liberal party were going to sail to victory and form another majority government, polling in the wake of the scandal has now thrown that prospect into question.
What Happens Next:
Unlike Trump, who generates controversy at a dizzying clip, this one looks significant—and rare enough—to leave a permanent mark on Trudeau and his government. While elections are still months away, it looks like Canada could be heading for a minority government that will require coalition-formation. The only question is whether Trudeau and the Liberals lead that coalition or if it’s their Conservative counterparts.
The Key Number That Explains It:
3 percent — the polling lead lead the Conservatives currently have over the Liberals, whose support has tumbled in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Even so, Trudeau remains Canadians preferred choice of prime minister, with 32.5 percent of respondents choosing Trudeau over his Conservative counterpart Andrew Scheer (25.2 percent). Which suggests that while the Liberal brand has undoubtedly been tarnished by this scandal, opposition leaders have yet to really capitalize on it. But when it comes time to head to the voting booths in October, Canadians may have a difficult time making the distinction between the parties and their leaders.
The One Thing to Read About It:
Of feminism and Canadian politics—read this piece in The Atlantic to understand why this particular scandal cuts to the core of Trudeau’s image as a “feminist” prime minister, and a whole lot of his political appeal.
The One Major Misconception About It:
That Trudeau is done, politically speaking. If this scandal had happened in August, then Trudeau’s reelection chances would be in more peril. Still, a lot depends on the next few months, especially if and how the Liberals can change the narrative and shift the Canadian electorate’s focus away from the scandal.
The One Thing to Say About It:
When your campaign slogan is “real change,” you leave little room for error. Or for traditional politics. Trudeau is finding that out the hard way. The next seven months will be the most difficult of his political career; we’re about to see what this man is made of.
The One Thing to Avoid Saying About It:
No sex. No drugs. Even Canadian political scandals are boring.
Posted: 15 Mar 2019 02:00 AM PDT
More than 250 journalists were imprisoned around the world last year, and at least 53 journalists were killed on the job — making 2018 the deadliest year for the press in the past three years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Those stark numbers have fueled calls for stronger protections for journalists and their work. TIME has partnered with a dozen leading news organizations — including Reuters, the Associated Press, Forbes and HuffPost— to launch the One Free Press Coalition with the goal of promoting press freedom around the world.
“TIME is proud to stand with the One Free Press Coalition and journalists all over the world who are taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths,” said TIME Editor in Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal.
On Friday, the coalition released its first-ever 10 Most Urgent list, identifying 10 journalists around the world who represent the most severe examples of abuses to press freedom or cases of injustice.
TIME named The Guardians the 2018 Person of the Year, recognizing four journalists and one news organization for their work in the face of threats. Two of those journalists, Maria Ressa and Jamal Khashoggi, now appear on the 10 Most Urgent list, which will be updated each month.
Read about their cases here:
1. Maria Ressa and Rappler (Philippines): Arrest and legal threats for the critical media outlet and its editor.
National Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Ressa at Rappler on Feb. 1 over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. She was released the next day, but Rappler faces separate retaliatory tax charges. CPJ and First Look Media are partners in a legal defense fund for journalists, of which Ressa and Rappler are the first recipients.
2. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia): Justice denied for murdered Saudi journalist.
Nearly five months after his brutal murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, and despite findings from the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent UN criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release intelligence reports have gone unheeded, along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.
3. Eman Al Nafjan (Saudi Arabia): Women’s rights blogger imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
Al Nafjan, founder of the Saudiwoman’s Weblog, was sent to prison in relation to her reporting on elections, human rights activists, and the fight for women to have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. She is one of at least 16 Saudi journalists behind bars, according to CPJ’s most recent census of imprisoned journalists.
4. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Myanmar): Reuters reporters imprisoned under the official secrets act.
Following their investigation into a security force massacre of Rohingya men and boys in western Rakhine State, the pair were convicted under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years each in prison even though a policeman testified they had been entrapped. Their appeal was rejected in January; a final appeal is pending.
5. Claudia Duque (Colombia): Veteran investigative reporter deserves justice for harassment and attacks.
Duque has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture and repeated exiles as a result of her work. Colombian courts convicted three high-ranking officers of the Colombian security services for torturing in 2003 and 2004 Claudia and her daughter. As of January 2019, all the defendants in the case were free.
6. Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed (Mauritania): Blogger languishes in jail for commentary on religion.
Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed was arrested in 2014 for an article he wrote criticizing the Mauritanian caste system and initially faced a death sentence. The apostasy charges have been dropped, but he still remains behind bars, with limited contact with his family and the outside world.
7. Anna Nimiriano (South Sudan): Newspaper editor in South Sudan, lives under constant threat.
As editor of the Juba Monitor, Nimiriano fights to keep her colleagues out of jail for their reporting, and has in the past been ordered by the government to shut down the paper. She perseveres in spite of arrest threats and constant censorship of her and her colleagues.
8. Pelin Unker (Turkey): Paradise Papers reporting leads to jail sentence for Turkish reporter.
Pelin Unker wrote a piece as part of the Paradise Papers corruption investigation in 2017, revealing offshore holdings of the family of then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. As retribution, authorities charged and sentenced him to 13 months for insulting the prime minister.
9. Thomas Awah Junior (Cameroon): Journalist jailed on anti-state and false news charges.
Thomas Awah Junior, a correspondent for privately owned Afrik 2 Radio and publisher of Aghem Messenger monthly magazine, was arrested while interviewing protesters and is serving an 11-year sentence in Cameroon on anti-state and false news charges. CPJ has written to President Paul Biya requesting that he be released on humanitarian grounds.
10. Tran Thi Nga (Vietnam): Journalist accused of spreading propaganda.
After a one-day trial, Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state.” She produced a number of videos critical of authorities on topics like toxic environmental spills and government corruption
Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images
|You are subscribed to email updates from World – TIME. |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States|