Climate misinformation ‘rocket boosters’ on Musk’s Twitter

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:45 pm

Climate misinformation ‘rocket boosters’ on Musk’s Twitter

Search for the word “climate” on Twitter and the first automatic recommendation isn’t “climate crisis” or “climate jobs” or even “climate change” but instead “climate scam.” Clicking on the recommendation yields dozens of posts denying the reality of climate change and making misleading claims about efforts to mitigate it.Such misinformation has flourished on Twitter since it was bought by Elon Musk last year, but the site isn’t the only one promoting content that scientists and environmental advocates say undercuts public support for policies intended to respond to a changing climate.“What’s happening in the information ecosystem poses a direct threat to action,” said Jennie King, head of climate research and response at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based nonprofit.“It plants those seeds of doubt and makes people think maybe there isn’t scientific consensus.” The institute is part of a coalition of environmental advocacy groups that on Thursday released a report tracking climate change disinformation in the months before, during and after the U.N. climate summit in November. The report faulted social media platforms for, among other things, failing to enforce their own policies prohibiting climate change misinformation.It is only the latest to highlight the growing problem of climate misinformation on Twitter. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, allowed nearly 4,000 advertisements on its site — most bought by fossil fuel companies — that dismissed the scientific consensus behind climate change and criticized efforts to respond to it, the researchers found.In some cases, the ads and the posts cited inflation and economic fears as reasons to oppose climate policies, while ignoring the costs of inaction. Researchers also found that a significant number of the accounts posting false claims about climate change also spread misinformation about U.S. elections, COVID-19 and vaccines.Twitter did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. A spokesperson for Meta cited the company’s policy prohibiting ads that have been proven false by its fact-checking partners, a group that includes the AP. The ads identified in the report had not been fact-checked.Under Musk, Twitter laid off thousands of employees and made changes to its content moderation that its critics said undercut the effort. In November, the company announced it would no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation. Musk also reinstated many formerly banned users, including several who had spread misleading claims about climate change. Instances of hate speech and attacks on LGBTQ people soared.Tweets containing “climate scam” or other terms linked to climate change denial rose 300% in 2022, according to a report released last week by the nonprofit Advance Democracy. While Twitter had labeled some of the content as misinformation, many of the popular posts were not labeled. Musk’s new verification system could be part of the problem, according to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, another organization that tracks online misinformation.Previously, the blue checkmarks were held by people in the public eye such as journalists, government officials or celebrities. Now, anyone willing to pay $8 a month can seek a checkmark. Posts and replies from verified accounts are given an automatic boost on the platform, making them more visible than content from users who don’t pay.When researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate analyzed accounts verified after Musk took over, they found they spread four times the amount of climate change misinformation compared with users verified before Musk’s purchase.Verification systems are typically created to assure users that the accounts they follow are legitimate. Twitter’s new system, however, makes no distinction between authoritative sources on climate change and anyone with $8 and an opinion, according to Imran Ahmed, the center’s chief executive.“We found,” Ahmed said, “it has in fact put rocket boosters on the spread of lies and disinformation.”

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Few takers among Maharashtra hospitals for BMC’s jumbo Covid equipment
Times of India | 2 hours ago | 01-02-2023 | 05:02 am
Times of India
2 hours ago | 01-02-2023 | 05:02 am

MUMBAI: The state's public health sector appears to be facing a peculiar issue of surplus. Nearly a year since the BMC dismantled its nine jumbo Covid hospitals and made its vast inventory of pandemic equipment available to state-run medical colleges and district hospitals, only half of the items have been taken. Many public facilities have either cited their own surplus inventory or logistical challenges as reasons for not taking the items from Mumbai. At the last count, the civic body was sitting on a stockpile of 418 types of supplies totalling over 73,000 items. The leftover items (see graphic) have been collected at two central depots within SevenHills Hospital and KJ Somaiya Grounds in Sion. Surprisingly, even lifesaving medical equipment such as ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and multipara monitors are languishing for months at the storage facilities, raising concerns about their continued usability. There are almost 200 ventilators, including more than 110 received under PM Cares fund, more than 800 portable oxygen cylinders, over 600 oxygen concentrators, waiting to find takers.The BMC began dismantling its jumbo Covid hospitals in February 2022. In the first phase, four jumbo centres at Kanjurmarg, Dahisar, Richardson and Cruddas in Mulund, and Nesco in Goregaon were closed. In July, the five remaining jumbos at BKC, Malad, Richardson and Cruddas in Byculla, and NSCI in Worli were shut. Soon after, the corporation appointed Dr Rajesh Dere, former dean of BKC jumbo, as chief coordinator to oversee distribution. The first opportunity to take items from the surplus inventory was given to civic-run hospitals such as KEM, Sion, Nair, Cooper, Kasturba and Nair Dental. However, since then, the distribution slowed.Dr Sanjeev Kumar, additional municipal commissioner, said they have written to the state government and received responses from a few centres which have been given equipment in the last three months. But there's a lot more than awaits distribution, he said. Since November, the BMC has given almost 5,000 items to district hospitals. Another official said they expected a lot of demand from district hospitals, but that didn't happen.Sanjay Khandare, principal secretary (health) told TOI the public health department carried out their own internal evaluation and found that they had enough surplus. "For some, it didn't make logistical sense to carry mattresses and similar items all the way from Mumbai," he said. MMRDA, which built the BKC jumbo hospital, had also written to the state government urging them to utilize all the equipment they bought. A senior civic official said that the state should have formed a joint team to assess which districts required what equipment. The official added that these items have significant value, estimated in the multiple crores.

Few takers among Maharashtra hospitals for BMC’s jumbo Covid equipment
What fuel prices? 2-wheeler sales touch pre-Covid levels in Pune
Times of India | 2 days ago | 30-01-2023 | 07:30 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 30-01-2023 | 07:30 am

PUNE: Registrations of new two-wheelers in Pune soared last year to reach pre-Covid levels of 2019, despite issues such as high fuel prices, rising insurance costs and impact on incomes due to the pandemic. An analysis revealed the number of registrations in 2022 was 58% more than the previous year and 68% more than 2020's figures.In fact, Pune registered the highest number of two-wheelers in Maharashtra in 2022 and accounted for nearly 16% of all new registrations in the state, officials from the RTO said."We thought the high fuel prices last year would have an impact on sales, but the numbers tell a different story," said one official.Fuel prices rose steadily between early 2021 and the middle of 2022. Now, a litre of petrol in Pune costs as much as Rs 105.91, compared to Rs 90 in January 2021. But there has been no impact on two-wheeler sales in the city, which many said only shows how weak the public transport infrastructure has become in the city. "Unlike Mumbai, Pune still has limited public transport options. So people here need their two-wheelers and have become extremely dependent on them," said deputy regional transport officer, Pune RTO, Sanjiv Bhor. Another RTO official said for thousands of daily commuters in Pune, a two-wheeler remains the most economical way to get around the city. "Cabs and autorickshaws are now just too expensive to use every day. As for the Metro, it's yet to link many parts of the city. Most buses are not on time either. So yes, public transport options are indeed few here," the official said, adding that the Covid pandemic, despite its impact on incomes, went on to trigger a surge in two-wheeler sales."Many started to avoid crowded public transport, like buses. So they went and bought themselves a bike or a scooter," the official said.Some families said they even borrowed money to buy two-wheelers. Kothrud resident Shameet Joshi said he bought two two-wheelers between 2021 and 2022. "Our salaries were hit during Covid. But commuting in Pune has become very difficult and expensive. So I bought a second-hand two-wheeler and my wife borrowed money from relatives to buy herself a new one. More than their fares, I would say trip refusals by autorickshaws and cabs is the real problem," Joshi said. Sales staff at showrooms said they're starting to see recovery."In 2019, we were selling an average of 1,000 two-wheelers every day. Last year, we sold 800-850," one salesman at a major showroom in the city said.Transport activists said at this rate, Pune's roads are only going to get more congested.Sanjay Shitole of the PMP Pravasi Manch said authorities should immediately improve the state of public transport in the city. "If buses are on time, people will use them more. It's that simple," he said.

What fuel prices? 2-wheeler sales touch pre-Covid levels in Pune
A Mumbai bureaucrat who refuses to be taken down
Times of India | 2 days ago | 30-01-2023 | 05:46 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 30-01-2023 | 05:46 am

BMC administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal is indeed a bold bureaucrat. When the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned him to record his statement in a money laundering case over allotment of a contract for a Covid centre, his colleagues in the bureaucracy believed it would be the end of his career. Members of the fourth estate floated all types of reports anticipating his arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act before CM Eknath Shinde left for Davos for the prestigious World Economic Forum meet and before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the city for laying the foundation stone of projects worth Rs 50,000. It was believed that the CM would give him an insignificant assignment or send him on leave. However, neither was he shunted out nor sent on leave. In fact, all along various events, he was spotted along the CM and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Even after the ED recorded his statement, Chahal didn't escape the media. He came out of the ED office, addressed an impromptu press conference and replied to all questions raised by the media before leaving. A cabinet member said it was not a summons, and that the ED had called Chahal to secure more information on the Covid jumbo center contract awarded to a close aide of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. In the past too, Chahal was caught in a series of controversies over allotment of contracts for cement concrete roads and cost of his clothes and the watches he is wearing. On all occasions, Chahal was instant to take on his detractors in bureaucracy and politics. As of now, it appears that Chahal is firm in the saddle.An honour well deserved: For Pune collector Rajesh Deshmukh, it was a rare honour when President Draupadi Murmu felicitated him for his outstanding contribution to 'healthy and pure' electoral rolls in the district comprising four lakh sabhas, 21 assembly seats, and a total voter population of 80 lakh. Two years ago, the Election Commissioner of India had asked all state chief electoral officers to draft a comprehensive action plan for preparing a 'healthy and pure' electoral register by removing duplicate names and those of deceased persons. Soon after taking over the reins of Pune district, Deshmukh embarked on a one-point mission to purify the electoral register. He mobilized officials of two municipal corporations, 17 urban local bodies, 1,400 gram panchayats and 1,900 villages for the purpose. Deshmukh involved nearly 450 colleges in the district with an emphasis on registration of young voters, and measures were taken to end urban apathy, since in the past, the voting percentage was less than 35 per cent in certain Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies. It was the biggest exercise in the recent past, says Deshmukh. He expects better results, in terms of percentage of voting in the ensuing elections.

A Mumbai bureaucrat who refuses to be taken down
2, Including 62-Year-Old Man, Arrested For Making Fake Passports In Mumbai
Ndtv | 6 days ago | 25-01-2023 | 09:28 pm
Ndtv
6 days ago | 25-01-2023 | 09:28 pm

Fake immigration rubber stamps of many countries were found in the flat. (Representational)Mumbai: Two persons, including a 62-year-old man, were arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch on Wednesday for allegedly making fake passports and visas and issuing bogus COVID test reports, an official said.The police are on the lookout for the third member of the gang, he said.The three operated from a flat in suburban Andheri. The Crime Branch raided the apartment and seized 28 duplicate passports, 24 bogus visas of different countries and several fake COVID-19 test certificates, said the official.Fake immigration rubber stamps of many countries were found in the flat, he said.The police have learnt that the three were charging lakhs to make fake passports and visas. They suspect the gang has already sent many people out of India with the help of the fake documents made by it.The three had made 414 fake rubber stamps carrying the names of government departments and officials, and bank staffers. There were fake rubber stamps in the name of officials from the state-run JJ hospital to issue COVID test certificates, which are required for travel to some countries, the official said.The Crime Branch also recovered stickers with images of the national emblem and the logo of the Income Tax department.Three colour printers, scanners and seven pen drives were seized from the flat, said the official.The three have been booked for cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Passport Act.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comA court has remanded the arrested persons in police custody till February 4, the official added.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayNDTV Exclusive: Super 30 Founder Anand Kumar On Being Awarded The Padma Shri

2, Including 62-Year-Old Man, Arrested For Making Fake Passports In Mumbai