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Britain's King Charles Diagnosed With Cancer, Buckingham Palace Reports

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 13:38
LONDON — Britain's King Charles has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and will postpone public-facing duties, Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Monday.  Charles, 75, had spent three nights in hospital last month after undergoing a corrective procedure for an enlarged prostate, when a separate issue of concern was noted. The palace said that tests had identified a form of cancer.  The palace did not give any details about Charles' cancer but a royal source said that it was not prostate.   

US Trying to Contain Conflict in Middle East While Carrying Out Retaliatory Airstrikes

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 13:35
The US is carrying out airstrikes while sending Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Middle East to try to deescalate the conflict. A Senate bill includes funding for Ukraine along with immigration reform, can it pass? Plus the President of Namibia has died, we’ll take a look at what’s next.

Chile Mourns 122 Killed in Wildfire Inferno, Searches for Missing

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 13:26
Viña del Mar, Chile — Chile began two days of national mourning Monday for at least 122 victims of a raging wildfire, as the search continued for the missing and survivors picked through the scorched remains of their lives. "All of Chile weeps for Valparaiso," President Gabriel Boric said Sunday as the central coastal region reeled from the weekend inferno that has become the world's third-deadliest wildfire this century. Crowded hilltop neighborhoods that overlook the tourist hotspot found themselves without electricity and with limited water, the streets strewn with charred cars, debris and ash. "The most important parts of my house were saved, but now we are without electricity, we can't do anything or charge our cell phones. Traffic is complicated with burned cars, everything is devastated," said Patricia Guzman, 63, in the otherwise razed Canal Chacao neighborhood. Volunteers streamed to the worst-hit areas to help families, rescue pets, and deliver food, water, and tents. Meanwhile, rescue workers scoured the rubble for further victims. The state forensic agency on Monday reported the toll stood at 122 dead, with only 32 of the victims identified. Boric had warned Sunday that the earlier death toll of 112 could rise "significantly." Most of the deaths have been in Vina del Mar, a popular tourist spot known for its beaches and botanical gardens. The town's mayor, Macarena Ripamonti, told reporters on Sunday that "190 people are still missing" in the city. The fires surged Friday in the region, fueled by winds and amid a brutal heatwave that has seen temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Authorities are investigating whether the fires were started deliberately. Supported by 31 firefighting helicopters and airplanes, some 1,400 firefighters, 1,300 military personnel and volunteers are combating the flames. Authorities on Sunday reported around 40 fires still burning, with evacuations in Til Til, 60 north of Santiago, and in Galvarino, 400 kilometers kilometers south of the capital. Abraham Mardones, a 24-year-old welder who fled his burning home in Vina del Mar, told AFP he narrowly escaped the fast-paced inferno. "We saw the fire on the hill in front of us. We looked out again and the fire was already at the walls of our house. It took only 10 minutes. The entire hill burned," he said. "The fire consumed everything — memories, comforts, homes. I was left with nothing but my overalls and a pair of sneakers that were given to me as a gift," Mardones told AFP. "I could only rescue my dog." Upon his return on Sunday, he said he found several neighbors who had died in the flames. Boric, who met with fire survivors at a Vina del Mar hospital Sunday, has declared a state of emergency, pledging government support to help people get back on their feet. According to national disaster service SENAPRED, nearly 26,000 hectares (64,000 acres) had been burned across the central and southern regions by Sunday. Authorities have imposed a curfew, while thousands in the affected areas were ordered to evacuate their homes. In the hillsides around Vina del Mar, AFP reporters saw entire blocks of houses that were burned out. Some of the dead were seen lying on the road, covered by sheets. According to Interior Minister Carolina Toha, the weekend blazes have been "without a doubt" the deadliest fire event in Chile's history. "This was an inferno," Rodrigo Pulgar, from the town of El Olivar, told AFP. "I tried to help my neighbor ... my house was starting to burn behind us. It was raining ash." During his Sunday address, Pope Francis, a native of neighboring Argentina, called for prayers for the "dead and wounded in the devastating fires in Chile." The fires are being driven by a summer heatwave and drought affecting the southern part of South America caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, as scientists warn that a warming planet has increased the risk of natural disasters such as intense heat and fires.

Why US Army Helicopters Are Named After Native Americans

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 13:01
How US military names its weapons and equipment

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 13:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Oversight Board Urges Meta to Rethink Policy on Manipulated Media

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 12:51
NEW YORK — An oversight board is criticizing Facebook owner Meta's policies regarding manipulated media as "incoherent" and insufficient to address the flood of online disinformation that already has begun to target elections across the globe this year.  The quasi-independent board on Monday said its review of an altered video of President Joe Biden that spread on Facebook exposed gaps in the policy. The board said Meta should expand the policy to focus not only on videos generated with artificial intelligence, but on media regardless of how it was created. That includes fake audio recordings, which already have convincingly impersonated political candidates in the U.S. and elsewhere.  It also said Meta should clarify the harm it is trying to prevent and should label images, videos and audio clips as manipulated instead of removing the posts altogether.  The board's feedback reflects the intense scrutiny that is facing many tech companies for their handling of election falsehoods in a year when voters in more than 50 countries will go to the polls. As both generative artificial intelligence deepfakes and lower-quality "cheap fakes" on social media threaten to mislead voters, the platforms are trying to catch up and respond to false posts while protecting users' rights to free speech.  "As it stands, the policy makes little sense," oversight board co-chair Michael McConnell said of Meta's policy in a statement on Monday. He said the company should close gaps in the policy while ensuring political speech is "unwaveringly protected."  Meta said it is reviewing the oversight board's guidance and will respond publicly to the recommendations within 60 days.  Spokesperson Corey Chambliss said while audio deepfakes aren't mentioned in the company's manipulated media policy, they are eligible to be fact-checked and will be labeled or down-ranked if fact-checkers rate them as false or altered. The company also takes action against any type of content if it violates Facebook's Community Standards, he said.  Facebook, which turned 20 this week, remains the most popular social media site for Americans to get their news, according to Pew. But other social media sites, among them Meta's Instagram, WhatsApp and Threads, as well as X, YouTube and TikTok, also are potential hubs where deceptive media can spread and fool voters.  Meta created its oversight board in 2020 to serve as a referee for content on its platforms. Its current recommendations come after it reviewed an altered clip of Biden and his adult granddaughter that was misleading but didn't violate the company's policies because it didn't misrepresent anything he said.  The original footage showed Biden placing an "I Voted" sticker high on his granddaughter's chest, at her instruction, then kissing her on the cheek. The version that appeared on Facebook was altered to remove the important context, making it seem as if he touched her inappropriately.  The board's ruling on Monday upheld Meta's 2023 decision to leave the seven-second clip up on Facebook, since it didn't violate the company's existing manipulated media policy. Meta's current policy says it will remove videos created using artificial intelligence tools that misrepresent someone's speech.  "Since the video in this post was not altered using AI and it shows President Biden doing something he did not do (not something he didn't say), it does not violate the existing policy," the ruling read.  The board advised the company to update the policy and label similar videos as manipulated in the future. It argued that to protect users' rights to freedom of expression, Meta should label content as manipulated rather than removing it from the platform if it doesn't violate any other policies.  The board also noted that some forms of manipulated media are made for humor, parody or satire and should be protected. Instead of focusing on how a distorted image, video or audio clip was created, the company's policy should focus on the harm manipulated posts can cause, such as disrupting the election process, the ruling said.  Meta said on its website that it welcomes the Oversight Board's ruling on the Biden post and will update the post after reviewing the board's recommendations.  Meta is required to heed the oversight board's rulings on specific content decisions, though it's under no obligation to follow the board's broader recommendations. Still, the board has gotten the company to make some changes over the years, including making messages to users who violate its policies more specific to explain to them what they did wrong.  Jen Golbeck, a professor in the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies, said Meta is big enough to be a leader in labeling manipulated content, but follow-through is just as important as changing policy.  "Will they implement those changes and then enforce them in the face of political pressure from the people who want to do bad things? That's the real question," she said. "If they do make those changes and don't enforce them, it kind of further contributes to this destruction of trust that comes with misinformation." 

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 5, 2024 - 12:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.