Russian Parliament backs bill enabling Moscow to block US social media giants



Proposed laws could see Moscow gain powers to restrict access to US social media giants if they “discriminate” against Russian media and levy big fines on platforms that do not delete banned content.

Authors of the two bills, passed by the Parliament’s Lower House on Wednesday local time, said infractions by YouTube and Facebook demonstrated the need for the legislation.

The legislation is part of a push to increase Russia’s internet sovereignty and it has fuelled fears of creeping China-style controls.

The two bills are expected to become law, although they still need to be approved by the upper house and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The first bill would allow Russia to restrict or fully block websites following what members of Parliament said were complaints from state outlets their accounts were being treated with prejudice by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Twitter began labelling the accounts of several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media”, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials in August, a move decried by Russia at the time.

The second bill would allow Russia to fine internet providers and sites between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of their previous year’s Russia-based turnover for repeatedly failing to remove banned content.

The bill sets a maximum fine of 8 million roubles ($140,441) for the first time sites fail to delete content calling for extremist activity, information about recreational drugs and child sexual abuse.

The bill’s authors said YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram had failed to remove hundreds of URL pages containing prohibited content, as required by Russian law.

Sites such as YouTube have become vital resources for Kremlin critics who say they are effectively banned from state television that is broadcast across Russia’s 11 time zones.

Google, Twitter and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reuters



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Enabling a clean and sustainable future


Unilever makes sustainable living accessible through its new Clean Future program

Unilever Philippines (ULP) joins many companies that are responding to the widespread call for a more sustainable future, grounded on bold climate action, through the global brand’s Clean Future initiative.

Earlier in September, the Unilever announced it will replace 100% of the carbon derived from fossil fuels in its cleaning and laundry product formulations with renewable or recycled carbon. This significant move is set to transform the sustainability of global cleaning and laundry brands, including the global brand’s portfolio in the Philippines. This also serves as a critical step towards Unilever’s pledge of net zero emissions from its products by 2039.

Unilever expects its Clean Future initiative alone to reduce the carbon footprint of its product formulations by up to 20%, more than twice lower than the 46% the company found across their lifecycle due to the chemicals used in its cleaning and laundry products.

By deliberately transitioning away from fossil fuel-derived chemicals in product formulations, Unilever aims to innovate ways of reducing the carbon footprint of some of the world’s biggest cleaning and laundry brands.

Aside from its avowed commitment, Unilever is ring-fencing €1 billion (or over Php58 billion) for the Clean Future initiative to finance biotechnology research, CO2 (carbon dioxide) and waste utilization, and low carbon chemistry.

The investment will be used to create biodegradable and water-efficient product formulations, halve the use of virgin plastic by 2025, and support the development of brand communications. Moreover, the investment is focused on creating affordable cleaning and laundry products that deliver superior cleaning results with a significantly lower environmental impact.

Tanya Steele, chief executive of World Wildlife Fund in United Kingdom, expressed her support for Unilever’s efforts in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, stressing that renewable resources reduce pressure on the world’s fragile ecosystems and help restore nature. “These significant commitments from Unilever, combined with strong sustainable sourcing, have real potential to make an important contribution as we transition to an economy that works with nature, not against it,” Ms. Steele said in a statement.

Unilever’s Clean Future initiative is guided by its ‘Carbon Rainbow’, a novel approach to diversify the carbon used in its product formulations. Through this approach, Unilever plans to replace non-renewable fossil sources of carbon (identified in the Carbon Rainbow as black carbon) using captured CO2 (purple carbon), plants and biological sources (green carbon), marine sources such as algae (blue carbon), and carbon recovered from waste materials (grey carbon).

The sourcing of carbon under the Carbon Rainbow will be governed and informed by environmental impact assessments and work with Unilever’s industry-leading sustainable sourcing programs to prevent unintended pressures on land use.

Local efforts

In the Philippines, ULP has been pushing Clean Future forward through various programs carried by its cleaning products, which have seen an unprecedented growing demand with the onset of the current health crisis.

Echoing Unilever’s global initiative, Benjie Yap, chairman, and CEO of ULP, said that ULP continues to invest in strong partnerships and superior science as it continues to deliver products that are effective, affordable, and good for the planet. “While the 2030 Clean Future ambition is now starting to take shape, Unilever’s homecare brands in the Philippines have made great strides in making sustainable living commonplace to Filipinos. With all these moving at speed, we can truly achieve a clean future,” Mr. Yap continued.

Laundry detergent Surf, for instance, operates a flagship sachet collection program across the country with “MisisWalastik”. Multi-purpose home cleaner Domex, meanwhile, backs a partnership with the Department of Education for safe toilets in schools through its #TogetherWeAreUnstoppable initiative.

Further fulfilling Clean Future’s main objective, ULP’s cleaning brands like Breeze, Domex, Comfort, Sunlight, and Surf have started to roll out new bottle packaging made of 100% recycled material.

Unilever ensures, nonetheless, that products that reach consumers are made with ingredients and processed with the highest standards, as Sandeep Desai, ULP’s vice-president for supply chain, noted. “Our Clean Future program turbocharges Unilever’s Supply Chain operations so that our products can be made from renewable or circular sources, using cutting-edge tech, and work better in a climate-challenged world,” Mr. Desai explained.

The public, businesses, and partners can find out more about the Clean Future initiative by visiting www.unilever.com/brands/home-care/clean-future. Individuals or businesses with an idea for an innovation, solution, or opportunity to partner with Unilever to accelerate its Clean Future initiative can get in touch with Unilever through the company’s Sustainability Partnerships and Open Innovation Submission Portal https://bit.ly/37Ljt0i





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Rail trail enabling legislation like a ‘nail in the coffin’ for trains



THE passage of legislation through NSW parliament which will enable the establishment of a Northern Rivers rail trail felt like a “nail in the coffin” for at least one pro train enthusiast.

Beth Shelley of the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group described the passing of the Transport Administration Amendment (Closures of Railway Lines in Northern Rivers) Bill 2020 through the NSW upper house on Thursday as a “terribly sad thing”.

Although acknowledging the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor would remain in public hands under the new legislation, it would remain much harder to get trains back to the region.

“We have been really let down by government,” she said.

“This area is rapidly growing and rail could be a fantastic asset for tourists into Byron and get them out to Lismore and Murwillumbah.”

While her group and others like it hadn’t given up hope of returning rail to the corridor they had yet to meet and work out a way forward.

She was encouraged by the rail study carried out for Byron Shire Council and remained hopeful that some form of rail services could be restored there.

“It is such a huge loss. I am bewildered to lose railway rail services. Moree and Armidale have less populations and they have rail services,” she said.

“All along the way there has been this underlying agenda to get rid of this railway.

“Now that this legislation is through there are people in government there that will think there is really no point as the rest of the line is cut off from Sydney.

“This kind of means it is less likely something is going to end up happening on the rail corridor.”

Ms Shelley said her group would definitely keep going.

“For rail trail members this is the first step for them and they will be fighting for the extension of the rail trail from Bentley to Eltham next,” she said.

“We are just ordinary little people with no money and nowhere near the skill level of people in the rail trail movement.

“We need to work harder and get better at lobbying and with the media and social media”





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DNC ‘Complicit’ in ‘Gaslighting of Survivors,’ They’re ‘Enabling’ Perpetrators



During an interview with Fox News released on Thursday, Biden accuser Tara Reade stated that the Democratic National Committee is “complicit” in and “participating” in “gaslighting of survivors,” and that the lineup of speakers at the DNC is “a thumb in all our faces.”

Reade said, “I’m a sexual assault survivor. So, to me, what the speaker lineup showed is kind of a thumb in all our faces. … Rape culture in the United States is thriving under the Democratic Party. I feel like they are not only enabling, but they’re allowing that behavior to continue, just by virtue of who they lined up as speakers, who have credible sexual assault and harassment allegations against them. And I feel like there’s an abandonment of the voices that were trying to be heard, that really wanted systemic change about issues like sexual harassment in the workplace and sexual assault and other issues.”

She also stated, “What I find really astounding has been the hypocrisy around the sexual assault and sexual harassment that I brought forth. You know, when there were Republicans being accused of that, the media and the reaction from the Democratic Party was quite different and quite aggressive and quite hostile to the perpetrator — potential perpetrator before it was even investigated. In my case, the hostility was directed right towards me.”

Reade also argued, “It’s not so much about believing someone before it’s been investigated. It’s more about how it’s approached. For instance, in my case, you shouldn’t have to lose everything to come forward.”

Reade said Democrats are “pretending that they’re the upholders of the Me Too, like a shield, but meanwhile, some of their main Democratic elites, some of the main, powerful people involved with the party are actually perpetrators themselves. And it’s this denial, this collective denial and gaslighting of survivors, that is so concerning to me. And frankly, I think the Democratic National Committee is complicit. Because they’re not just ignoring it. They’re participating [in] it and continuing the behavior and enabling those perpetrators.”

Fox News also reported that Reade said she would be “more than happy” to speak at the RNC.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett





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