Patience pays off

first_imgHard work and patience pay off for IBF junior bantam holder Jerwin Ancajas (left) and chief trainer Joven Jimenez. —ROY LUARCADallas, Texas—An obedient student, Jerwin Ancajas was satisfied with the grade given to him by his mentor, Joven Jimenez.Though he knocked out Mexican Israel Gonzalez on Saturday night to retain the International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight crown, Ancajas only got a seven on a scale of 1 to 10 from Jimenez, who cited that his ward was a bit slower than usual.ADVERTISEMENT Almazan vows to comeback stronger after finals heartbreak Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award PH cuppers advance Newsome sets focus on helping Bolts open new PBA season on right track Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson View comments Michael Porter Jr. stays patient as playing time increases LATEST STORIES OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Unable to penetrate without getting hit, Gonzalez eventually stopped attacking and by the eighth round, switched on survival mode.Ancajas would have settled for a shutout decision, but Gonzales made a mistake and paid the price with two more knockdowns and stoppage at the 1:50 mark of the 10th round.After the fight, Team Ancajas was feted with a victory party by the Filipino-American community. They will leave for Manila on Tuesday.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Nueva Ecija warehouse making fake cigarettes raided, 29 Chinese workers nabbed Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew According to Ancajas he was in top shape and could have stepped on the pedal from the opening bell of the duel held at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.He didn’t rush up because Gonzalez’s style was different from that of Jamie Conlan, whom he knocked out in six rounds, last November in Belfast, Northern Ireland.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk“I don’t want to be overly aggressive because it might put me in jeopardy,” Ancajas, who scored a flash knockdown in the opening round, said in Filipino. “He has a counter and he might have one lethal punch.”Once he had studied Gonzalez’s patterns and movements, however, Ancajas started probing in, going deeper or darting out interchangeably, while keeping his impregnable defensive stance. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Nonito Donaire vs Naoya Inoue is BWAA 2019 Fight of the Yearlast_img read more

Maria Sharapova campaign off to tough start in Shenzhen

first_imgAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk No.13 lucky for Orlando Bloom Sharapova, who won the last of her five Slams at Roland Garros in 2014, has endured a disappointing return to the majors since the end of her drugs ban in April of 2017.She will next face 17-year-old Chinese wild card Wang Xinyu.Meanwhile, France’s Caroline Garcia lost in straight sets to Serbia’s Ivana Jorovic 6-4, 6-2.The tournament, which runs until Saturday, will see players battling for $750,000 in prize money.ADVERTISEMENT Japeth Aguilar embraces role, gets rewarded with Finals MVP plum James Harden has Rockets rolling with visit to Warriors looming LATEST STORIES Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil MOST READ Rombaon grabs bronze in cross country MTB race PLAY LIST 01:04Rombaon grabs bronze in cross country MTB race01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 3, 2018 file photo, Maria Sharapova, of Russia, returns a shot to Carla Suarez Navarro, of Spain, during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. Maria Sharapova returned to competitive tennis with a 6-2, 7-6 (3) win against Timea Bacsinszky in the first round of Shenzhen Open on Monday, Dec. 31. Sharapova cut short her campaign in September to recover from shoulder complaint. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova had a tough start to her 2019 tennis season Monday at the Shenzhen Open, edging out Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).In a battle of former Top 10 players, Sharapova’s serve faltered early in the match but she regained composure to take the first set, cheered on by the spirited crowd at the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center.ADVERTISEMENT Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Bacsinszky put up a strong fight in the second set, claiming the first two games and forcing Sharapova to step up her game.The Russian powered through to take the match in one hour 42 minutes.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back Chriss“It’s been a few months since I’ve been out of playing competitively,” Sharapova said in a post-match interview, calling Shenzhen a “warm-up tournament” for next month’s Australian Open.“Considering the opponent and everything I had to go through today I think it was a great practice for me.” ‘Mia’: Rom-com with a cause a career-boosting showcase for Coleen Garcia Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anewlast_img read more

Skaters to be among stars

first_imgVALENCIA – Spring Breakout, Magic Mountain’s answer to spring break parties on the beach, is planned this weekend and will feature excitement on wheels. The annual event provides a chance for amateur skateboarders, in-line skaters and BMX riders from all over Southern California to audition to perform in this summer’s new Action Sports Street Theatre at the Valencia theme park. The auditions will be held from noon to 6p.m. Saturday and Sunday on a miniramp and street course in Gotham City Plaza at Magic Mountain. Winners will get a shot at joining the theme park’s Action Sports Street Team, combining street and park riding into shows. Adio Footwear will judge the auditions as well as provide pro skateboarding demonstrations, product giveaways and autograph signings. Spring Breakout is free to the first 150 participants who sign up. Registration forms and waivers are available at www.myspace.com/ridethemountain.last_img read more

District faces loss of senior staff

first_img“We’re a little bit concerned, but right now we’re concentrating on getting a new superintendent in place,” he added. The district has enlisted the help of the California School Boards Association’s executive search services to find a replacement for Graves, who spent nearly a half-century at the district as a teacher and administrator. “It might feel like it’s coming along really slowly, but we’re trying to make all of our deadlines and we hope to have someone in place by July,” Baird said. The retirements of both Morton and Dickson, who also are longtime district employees, were approved by the school board in March. While the administrative turnover could prove to be a challenge, community activist Victor Ledesma said it’s also a golden opportunity. “My feeling is that it will certainly give the new \ team an opportunity to try to do the things the community says it wants to see happen,” Ledesma said. “Maybe that’s why they asked what the community would like to see in a superintendent. I do think there might be a hope, an optimism, about how this new team could turn everything around.” For now, the school board remains focused on finding a new superintendent. “I feel optimistic that we are going to find somebody,” Baird said. “And I think the rest will fall into place after that.” tracy.garcia@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955 Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SOUTH WHITTIER – Summer will see a major administrative overhaul at the South Whittier School District, where three of four top officials – including the superintendent – are due to retire just days after the spring semester ends in June. Associate Superintendent Lilia Dickson and David Morton, senior director of fiscal services and classified personnel, have followed the lead of Superintendent Richard Graves in announcing retirements that take effect June 30. That leaves only Assistant Superintendent Cecilia Laidemitt to help head the 4,000-student district once a new superintendent is hired. “We’re going to be looking at a lot of changes,” said school board President Jan Baird. “I feel like we’re going into a new era, and it’s something to look forward to. last_img read more

FACE TO FACE WITH THE GANGSTER WHO TRIED TO KILL DONEGAL COP KEVIN

first_imgThis is the gangster accused of trying to kill Donegal cop Kevin Brennan.Louis Baby Oritz appeared before a judge in a room packed with uniformed cops — and they were staring daggers at him. Ortiz, who made a show of defiance for his cop-hating pals the night before outside the 90th Precinct, looked nervously over his shoulder twice during his arraignment.His family and friends, who had hurled abuse at the NYPD on Wednesday, weren’t there. All Ortiz saw was a wall of blue.“This was an assassination attempt by the defendant against Officer Brennan, who showed Herculean restraint in not firing his weapon,” prosecutor Lewis Lieberman told the judge.What Ortiz did, Lieberman declared, was “an evil act by an evil individual.The prosecutor said investigators have not been able to interview Brennan, who has been given morphine for his pain and remains in critical condition at Bellevue Hospital.Still dressed in the same clothes he was arrested in on Wednesday, Ortiz did not utter a word during the brief court appearance. His lawyer, Eric Poulos, entered a not guilty plea.“There was wrestling on the ground and the gun went off,” said Poulos, who claimed cops roughed up his client, bruising his face and chipping a tooth.The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS also revealed Poulos also accused Lieberman of “grandstanding” and playing to the police in the courtroom.“This isn’t an effort to do the arraignment. This is a political speech,” he said.Outside the courtroom, Poulos said Lieberman was using words like “Herculean” to wow reporters and that he was “poisoning” any potential jury for Ortiz.Ortiz is due back in Brooklyn Criminal Court Monday. He is charged with attempted murder of a police officer, assault on a police officer, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing. He faces anywhere from 20 years to life in prison if convicted.The 21-year-old gangbanger’s subdued court appearance was a far cry from his grandstanding the night before, when he sneered, “Yeah, take a picture of me,” and showed not a shred of remorse for wounding Brennan.Ortiz’s deluded display of defiance came after Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed there was a video footage of the dramatic struggle that ended with Brennan lying on a floor in a Bushwick housing project — bleeding from a bullet that just missed piercing his brain.Brennan’s brush with death came about 9 p.m. on Tuesday after the 29-year-old tackled Ortiz.In the struggle, Ortiz shot Brennan at close range with a knock-off Colt .38-caliber, police said.FACE TO FACE WITH THE GANGSTER WHO TRIED TO KILL DONEGAL COP KEVIN was last modified: February 2nd, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:KEVIN BRENNANnew yorkpolicemanlast_img read more

FUFA outs new football anthem

first_img Tags: EntertainmentFUFAFUFA Anthemirene ntaleMagogotop FUFA President Moses Hassim Magogo (FUFA PHOTO)KAMPALA: FUFA Uganda has put out a new song to act as the Football Anthem for Uganda and it was beautifully voiced by Irene Ntale.Eng.Moses Magogo, FUFA President said music is one thing that puts everyone together, in sad and happy moments, people take to music so he cited as a venture to join football fans in the country together as well as pulling more crowds to the game.                                                                    Irene Ntale performs at a concert recently (COURTESY PHOTO)Irene Ntale thanked FUFA for trusting her among all Ugandan artists to be the voice behind the Football Anthem for the Nation.Magogo is said to have written the lyrics to the song titled, ‘It is Our Nation.’This is the second Football Anthem, a few artists including Lillian Mbabazi, Jose Chameleone, among others did one a few years ago.Comments last_img read more

World Cup’s transport legacy

first_imgJohannesburg’s Rea Vaya has been runningfor a year. (Image: City of Johannesburg) Although the 2010 Fifa World Cup may almost be forgotten by some, its legacy will ensure that most urban South Africans have easy access to efficient public transport by 2020.This was the message from President Jacob Zuma during a recent parliamentary session on the success of the tournament.“The World Cup legacy will ensure that by 2020 more than 85% of any city’s population will live within a kilometre or closer to an Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network feeder or corridor,” Zuma said on 18 August.South Africa’s public transport infrastructure was beefed up for the football spectacle, which was won by Spain. Improvements included new bus and rail options, as well as the upgrade of national roads.“Public transport formed the backbone of our transport plans for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and one of the greatest successes of the tournament,” said Zuma.The government spent about R33-billion (US$4.5-billion) on transport infrastructure, telecommunications and stadiums for the Fifa tournament.Speedy bus serviceIn Johannesburg and Cape Town a Rapid Bus Transit (BRT) system was set up to provide a link between various part of the cities.Johannesburg’s BRT system is called Rea Vaya, which is local slang for “we are going”, and has been running for a year now.The service between Soweto and Johannesburg’s central suburbs has been operating at full steam, while routes and more buses to other parts of the city will be introduced in late 2010.Cape Town’s rapid bus system is currently running between the city’s civic centre and the airport. Another route linking Cape Town Stadium and the city centre, initially just for the duration of the World Cup, will resume in September, according to the city’s BRT consultant Martin Slabbert.A third route connecting the city centre and the West Coast will be introduced in February 2011.Cape Town’s system is a long-term project that will eventually link the city and most surrounding towns.“It’s an enormous project. We are talking about four phases that will be introduced between now and the next 15 years,” said Slabbert.Construction of a BRT system has also begun in Pretoria, said the City of Tshwane spokesperson Dikeledi Phiri.High-speed trainThe 160km/h Gautrain was introduced just before the World Cup to provide a shuttle service between Sandton in Johannesburg and the OR Tambo International Airport. Other lines, including one from Johannesburg to Pretoria, will start operating in the near future.“Our integrated transport infrastructure and networks will improve the lives of South Africans for many years to come,” Zuma said.Attracting investmentAfter successfully introducing user-friendly transport for the World Cup, South Africa has shown it’s capable of reaching world-class standards. “We have earned the reputation of a country that can deliver on its undertakings,” Zuma said.The infrastructure set up will also help South Africa attract more economic investment, the president added.“With regards to the economic impact, South Africa has demonstrated that it has the infrastructure and the capability to warrant serious investment consideration.“The World Cup now opens the country to further investment, growth in trade and economic opportunities,” Zuma said, adding that the country must now build on what has been established.“We view the tournament not as an end in itself, but as a catalyst for development, whose benefits will be felt long after that final whistle.”last_img read more

Amla leads South Africa to number one

first_img29 August 2012South Africa made sporting history on Tuesday evening after an 80-run victory over England in a one-day international at the Rose Bowl in Southampton made them the first team to be ranked number one in the world in all three forms of cricket.The crushing victory not only took the Proteas to number one, it also ended a run of 10 wins on the trot in the one-day format for the hosts.Leading the way, as he has done throughout South Africa’s tour of England, Hashim Amla also made it into the record books. With a man-of-the-match winning knock of 150 off only 124 balls, he became the fastest man to 3 000 runs in ODI history.Bettered recordHe bettered the record of the great Viv Richards, and it wasn’t even close. The West Indian legend reached 3 000 runs in his 69th ODI innings. Amla did it in 57 innings.The two men represent a great contrast in batting styles. Richards, who never wore a helmet, simply blasted bowling attacks to all corners of the ground with a take-it-to-’em attitude. Amla achieves similar results, but in a vastly different manner, placing the ball with seeming ease, and using his wrists to create angles and runs.By the end of the match, Amla, ranked number one in one-day internationals and number two in tests among batsmen, had scored 3 031 runs at the remarkable average of 58.28. His figures include 10 centuries and 18 half-centuries.Highest scoreTuesday’s 150 was his highest score yet in ODIs and the sixth highest ever by a South African. The man on top of the list is Proteas coach Gary Kirsten with 188 not out against the UAE in the 1996 Cricket World Cup.AB de Villiers (124), who contributed 28 runs to South Africa’s batting effort, became the fourth-fastest man to 5 000 runs in ODI history behind only the West Indian greats Richards (114), Brian Lara (118) and Gordon Greenidge (121).After De Villiers opted to field, Amla and test captain Graeme Smith gave the Proteas a solid platform in testing conditions, putting on 89 for the first wicket before Smith departed for the game’s second highest score of 52.All about AmlaThe rest of the batsmen provided some assistance without really getting going, but the innings was all about Amla, who was out with three balls remaining in the innings, trying to manufacture a boundary with a late, lofted cut.The Proteas totalled 287 for 5 in their 50 overs, leaving England needing to bat at 5.76 runs per over to win.Graeme Swann led the England bowlers with a haul of 2 for 50 from his 10 overs.When they visited the crease, England’s reply began poorly when Lonwabo Tsotsobe cleaned bowled captain Alastair Cook with the second delivery of the innings.Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell then put on 64 for the second wickets before Trott departed for 23.When Bell fell for 45 off 41 balls, with the score on 77, England were struggling. A lot rested on the shoulders of Eoin Morgan, who had twice previously scored ODI centuries at the ground, but he couldn’t up the run rate.All but doneWhen the left-hander was out for 27 off 48 balls the English challenge was all but done as they slumped to 159 for 6 in the 34th over.Some late, lusty hitting from Samit Patel, with 45 off 51 deliveries, made things look a little better for England, but they came up well short, bowled out for 207.Every one of the seven South African bowlers used, excepting Ryan McLaren, picked up at least a wicket, with Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell and Robin Petersen all removing two batsmen.Dean Elgar, playing in only his second ODI, snapped up 1 for 11 in his three overs of left-arm spin and claimed two catches to make a good impression.DifferenceThe most obvious difference between the two teams was Amla, who made batting look easy on a testing pitch. He offered some chances, but the ease with which he seemed to score his runs made it look as if he was playing a different game to the rest of the players.South African captain AB de Villiers declared himself happy with the result afterwards, while England skipper Alastair Cook said: “We didn’t play very well, in all three aspects”, and that summed up the match very succinctly.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Prevented planting and soybeans

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Gary Schnitkey, Krista Swanson, Jonathan Coppess, and Ryan Batts, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois and Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at the Ohio State University The Ohio prevented planting date for soybeans is June 20 with a 25-day late plant period that extends until July 15.After June 20, the following two options are realistic to consider for most Midwest situations:Take a prevented planting indemnity on soybeans, orPlant soybeans.A farmer could plant another crop on intended soybean acres, but the economics of those alternatives likely are not competitive with soybeans after the soybean final planting date has arrived. A farmer with qualifying insurance coverage could also wait until the end of the late planting period (25 days after the final planting date) to plant another crop for harvest besides soybeans, resulting in a reduction to a 35% prevented planting indemnity. Viable alternative crop options to be planted on intended acres are difficult to identify aside from specific situations such as a livestock farmer who needs the acres for feed grains.When considering the prevent plant or plant options for soybean, the following is useful to calculate: 1) net return from prevented planting and 2) minimum net return from planting soybeans. These calculations are illustrated for an 85% RP policy with a Trend Adjusted Actual Production History (TA-APH) yield of 60 bushels per acre. The 2019 projected price of $9.54 per bushel is used. Net return from prevented plantingThe prevent payment factor for soybeans is .60.  An option of 0.65 prevent plant payment factor exists but it must have been purchased during the insurance enrollment period.  For the .60 payment factor, the prevent planting indemnity is: $292 per acre = .60 PP factor x .85 coverage level x 60 TA-APH yield x $9.54 projected price.From the prevented planting indemnity, costs of $40 per acre will be subtracted to cover weed control costs and the crop insurance premium. As a result, net return from prevent plant is:$252 per acre = $292 PP payment – $40 costs. Minimum net return from planting soybeansRevenue is often lowest when crop insurance elected by the farmer will just make a payment.  This revenue can thus serve as a comparison to evaluate the risks of planting. In the case of late planting, it also often is a reasonable expectation of net return from planting.To calculate minimum net revenue, a price and yield that just triggers crop insurance indemnities is needed. Prices at the $9.54 projected price will be used. A $.40 basis is subtracted from the $9.54 projected price to reflect the fact that farmers receive funds based on cash sales in a local area. As a result, the price that will be used is $9.14 ($9.54 projected price minus $0.40 basis). At that price level, a yield just at the TA-APH yield times the coverage level will trigger a payment. Note that the guarantee must be adjusted down 1% per day after the final planting date. Soybeans will be assumed to be planted 2 days after the final planting date, resulting in a yield of 50 bushels per acre (60 TA-APH yield x .85 coverage level x (1 – .02)). The 50-bushel yield and $9.14 price gives revenue of $457 per acre (50 yield x 9.14 price).The minimum net return will equal this minimum revenue minus costs yet to be incurred, plus a per acre estimate of Market Facilitation Payment (MFP). In our estimate, a $260 cost and $50 MFP payment is used. The net return from planting soybean at its lowest level is: $247 per acre = $457 revenue – $260 costs + $50 MFP payment. ComparisonNote that the minimum net return from planting soybeans is $5 less than the net return from taking the prevent plant indemnity: $247 minimum net return from planting compared to $252 net return from prevent plant. Other than reductions to APH yield because of a low 2019 yield, late planting of soybeans presents little risk, particularly in 2019, and some upside return potential. The downside risk will become greater the further past the final planting date because the crop insurance guarantee will continue to decline.The above analysis is based on several assumptions:The 2019 MFP payment will be near $50 per acre, a level that has not been announced by the Farm Service Agency at press time.Costs yet to be incurred are $260 per acre. Costs can vary from this estimate. Some farmers have purchased treated soybean seeds, which cannot be returned. Alternatives for storing this seed should be considered. This seed could also be used as a cover crop for prevent planting acres.Prevented planting payments will not change. There is some discussion that prevented payments may be increased because of a recently passed disaster assistance bill. Increases in prevented planting payment would increase the returns from prevent planting.For the above analysis, there is some upside to planting soybeans. Yields could exceed the 52 bushels per acre minimum level resulting in higher return.  Prices could also increase above the $9.14 cash price used in the minimum guarantee calculation. While there is an upside, the upside on soybeans appears limited. This suggests taking the soybean prevent planting payment may be the best alternative, particularly the later soybeans are planted.Planting soybeans has limited risk as compared to taking a soybean prevent plant indemnity, particularly if planting can occur near the final planting date. However, upside of soybean planting likely is not large and will deteriorate during the late planting period. Many will find that the reduced upside potential and higher risks warrant not planting soybeans about a week after the final planting date. Moreover, some farmers may find taking the prevent planting payment immediately after the final plant date has arrived a proper alternative.Because each farm situation is unique, we suggest using the Prevent Planting Module to aid in calculations of returns from alternatives.  The Prevent Planting Module is part of the Planting Decision Model, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet available at https://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2019/05/prevented-planting-2019-market-facilitation-program-payments-disaster-assistance-and-price-dynamics.html on the farmdoc website.  Moreover, alternatives should be discussed with crop insurance agents.last_img read more

On WhatsApp, Fake News is Fast and Fatal

first_imgAmericans associate misinformation with Facebook and the ways it shaped debate around the 2016 presidential election. But in other countries, falsities are just as likely to spread on private messaging services – sometimes with deadly consequences.At least two dozen people have been killed in mob lynchings in India since the start of the year, their deaths fueled by rumors that spread on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service.In Brazil, messages on WhatsApp falsely claimed a government-mandated yellow-fever vaccine was dangerous, leading people to avoid it. And as Mexico was heading into its presidential election this month, experts there called WhatsApp the ugly underbelly of the country’s news environment, a place where politically misleading stories, memes and messages can spread unchecked.On WhatsApp, with 1.5 billion users, information can go viral in minutes as individuals forward messages along to their friends or groups, without any way to determine its origin.Messaging platforms have hosted disinformation campaigns in at least 10 countries this year, according to a report by the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University. WhatsApp was the main platform for disinformation in seven of those nations, including Brazil, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Mexico. Other messaging apps that have hosted disinformation include Telegram in Iran, WeChat in China and Line in Thailand.“In the U.S., the disinformation debate is about the Facebook news feed, but globally, it’s all about closed messaging apps,” said Claire Wardle, executive director of First Draft, a nonprofit news literacy and fact-checking organization affiliated with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.The closed nature of messaging services complicates the already difficult task of fighting rumors and stamping out lies. Unlike the largely open forums of Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp hosts private chats among groups of friends. It is encrypted, or mathematically scrambled, so that no one – not even the service’s employees – can read the content of messages that were not intended for them.“In many countries, messaging services are the main platform to get online,” said Samantha Bradshaw, co-author of the report from the Computational Propaganda Project. “The closed platforms can be more dangerous because the information is spreading in these intimate groups of friends and family – people we tend to trust.”A group of friends picnicking in southern India this month stopped their car to offer some local children chocolate. It proved to be a deadly mistake – rumors quickly spread on WhatsApp that they were child kidnappers.A virulent mob gathered in response to the messages. In the end, one of the picnickers, a software engineer named Mohammed Azam Ahmed, 32, lay dead.“They kept pleading, but nobody listened to them,” said the victim’s brother, Mohammed Akram. “My brother was killed by fake news.”Now WhatsApp, under pressure from political leaders and spurred by new leadership, is taking steps to root out misinformation. Executives held urgent meetings with political leaders in India last week, and the service is building new technology to promote news literacy. On Thursday, the company announced a major change, limiting the ability to forward messages – a feature that has been blamed for enabling disinformation to go viral.WhatsApp’s new boss – Chris Daniels, a veteran executive from WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook – has vowed to prioritize safety. Daniels is playing catch-up with Facebook, which since the 2016 U.S. election has poured immense resources into combating viral fake news and other malicious content promoted by profiteers, ideologues and Russian operatives – an effort with mixed results. The fix at WhatsApp is even harder because the chat app was designed to be a black hole.The app’s encryption makes it impossible for WhatsApp’s security staff to read messages unless a user specifically reports them as problematic. And because WhatsApp lets people sign up just with a phone number – unlike Facebook, WhatApp does not require users to have an email address or reveal their real name – engineers have limited visibility into users’ friends or into what they’ve posted in the past, cutting them off from key clues to malicious behavior. WhatsApp says the average group size is six, but it allows groups of up to 256.Conversations on these platforms are less visible to outsiders, journalists and fact-checkers who often debunk misinformation. In Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, news and fact-checking organizations have recently set up WhatsApp hotlines where people can forward along questionable content to be debunked. The organizations then return the correct story to the person who sent it and hope that person shares it with their groups.For months leading up to the Mexican election, an edited video with accompanying text began circulating on WhatsApp. The grainy footage showed a man being burned alive in the state of Tabasco, while a crowd shouted “Morena” – the political movement of the front-runner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won the election – in the background, implying that the man was being tortured for his political beliefs. Accompanying text blamed Obrador supporters, using a derogatory term for leftists. Many people forwarded it to the Mexican fact-checking hotline, asking whether it was real.Journalists and fact-checkers who reviewed the video said that the man was attacked because he was stealing a motorcycle, not for his political beliefs, and that the full unedited version showed the crowd shouting the names of different political candidates. The fact-checking group published an article with the facts as they understood them – citing local news reports – and sent it back to all the people who forwarded the original falsehood, asking them to spread it in their own groups. They said they recognized the limitations of the strategy.In Brazil, a nationwide strike by truck drivers in May was organized on WhatsApp, said Daniel Bramatti, head of Abraji, Brazil’s association of investigative journalism, and an organizer of a WhatsApp hotline to vet news that may be fake. False stories have spread about political candidates and about the dangers of many vaccines, he said – the yellow-fever story reached so many people that the federal government issued an official warning debunking it. Since the hotline was created, 17,000 messages have been forwarded to the group, Bramatti said.WhatsApp is giving software tools to Brazilian news organizations that will allow them to send a link to a fact-checked story to large numbers of users at once – allowing them to debunk fake news en masse – ahead of the country’s presidential election in October.Brazil, which has about 160 million WhatsApp users, has shut down WhatsApp three times, most recently in 2016, over a fight between the site and the government, which wanted data about malicious actors and criminals.But the dark side of misinformation on messaging services is most apparent in India, where more than 225 million people in India use it, according to the Indian government, a total quickly gaining on the estimated 240 million who use Facebook.There, the combination of an inexperienced and digitally illiterate user base, coupled with WhatsApp’s encryption, has proved to be toxic, leading to fear, misunderstanding and, in some cases, violence.Beyond the July 13 incident that claimed the life of Ahmed, two dozen others have died in recent weeks from lynch mobs sparked by rumors that spread on WhatsApp of child-kidnapping rings or organ-harvesting gangs, authorities say.The violence has prompted an angry warning from the Indian government. Last week the government called on WhatsApp to do more to address accountability and “traceability” in the app to stem the tide of fake news – or face legal action.Many police departments and municipalities have created their own grass-roots response to the crisis, including public education campaigns with street theater, or “town criers” going from village to village with loudspeakers on tops of fans, warning citizens not to believe fake news.But some Internet experts say that the Indian government has been slow to respond to the growing problem, in part because their political parties are hardcore users of the platform and often use it to send out false or misleading information themselves.In a recent regional election in India that was seen as a prelude to the country’s 2019 national election, WhatsApp researchers found that one political party – which they did not name – used the platform inappropriately, with party loyalists setting up thousands of WhatsApp groups and in some cases successfully spamming users with near-constant political messages.The misuse of WhatsApp mirrors the way in which other tech tools have been weaponized in recent years, in particular around misinformation. The company’s roots are about getting as little information about users as possible, and WhatsApp’s founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, were libertarians who believed deeply in privacy.After Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, its largest acquisition ever, the messaging company operated separately from its parent and was divorced from Facebook’s efforts to combat misinformation, such as hiring thousands of moderators and building artificial-intelligence software to spot malicious posts. Researchers said that independence allowed problems to fester, undermining Facebook’s corporate mission to promote democracy around the world.“Our focus has always been on helping people stay safe and maintaining private communication on WhatsApp,” said WhatsApp spokesman Carl Woog. “We recognize the severe consequences that can come from viral misinformation, and we’re working with others to address this challenge.”Acton and Koum fought frequently with Facebook over user privacy, access to data and how to make WhatsApp turn a profit, according to two people familiar with the debates. Acton left late last year. Koum announced his resignation this year after a Washington Post report revealed he planned to leave over broad clashes with Facebook.“They were fierce when it came to data privacy, and they were fiercely independent,” said Kevin Lee, who was a global manager for spam operations at Facebook through 2016.WhatsApp does not see itself as a social-media service, because content is not posted publicly and algorithms do not spread information virally. But even without algorithms, WhatsApp’s ability to forward messages has turned it into a hybrid. Its leadership was previously opposed to any efforts to intervene in users’ ability to send messages.The shutdown in Brazil and growing commercial spam problems led to a crisis within WhatsApp, and Facebook began to clamp down, according to the two people familiar with the matter. Facebook sent engineers and pushed WhatsApp to hire policy experts for the first time, doubling the company’s size and moving WhatsApp’s headquarters to Menlo Park, California, where Facebook is based.Last week the company started training Indian nonprofit organizations on how to spot fake news and “to think before you share,” Woog said. WhatsApp also ran full-page newspaper ads in India that included 10 tips on how to recognize false information, including “check information that seems unbelievable” and “use other sources.”The company is hiring engineers to specifically focus on disinformation in elections, and it is building in new technology that will indicate whether a message has been forwarded, an indicator that the person who sent the message did not actually write the story or produce the content in question.On his first week as CEO in May, Daniels, who declined to be interviewed, assembled WhatsApp’s 300 employees for a town hall. The commitment to privacy would not change, he told them, but from now on the focus of the service would also include safety – preventing misinformation and the harm it can cause, according to an executive who attended the meeting.Annie Gowen reported from New Delhi. Farheen Fatima in India contributed to this report.© Washington Post Related Itemslast_img read more