Twitter Testing Upvote, Downvote Feature On Replies To Tweets

Twitter Testing Upvote, Downvote Feature On Replies To Tweets

Twitter announced that it is working on a new upvote and downvote reactions feature for tweets along with the usual options of retweets and replies. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Microblogging platform Twitter said that it is working on a new upvote and downvote reactions feature for tweets. Twitter said that it was testing the feature for a small group of users on iOS, and it has already been spotted, as per multiple tweets from users that are part of the test group.

“Some of you on iOS may see different options to up or down vote on replies,” the company said in a tweet.

“We’re testing this to understand the types of replies you find relevant in a convo, so we can work on ways to show more of them. Your downvotes aren’t public, while your upvotes will be shown as likes.”

The company also said that iOS users may see upvotes and downvotes in several styles, including up and down arrows, a heart icon, thumbs up, and thumbs down icons. 

“Some keynotes about this experiment — This is just a test for research right now, and this is not a dislike button, your downvotes are visible to you only, votes won’t change the order of replies,” Twitter said.

While Twitter didn’t reveal if it plans to add upvotes and downvotes as a permanent feature, there are clear parallels to Reddit, which features upvoting and downvoting as a way of surfacing a subreddit’s favorite replies, responses, and posts. 

The company has toyed with other kinds of tweet interactions in the past, including reactions that appeared to mimic the emoji reactions Facebook uses for its posts and Messenger messages.

Twitter’s product lead Kayvon Beykpour has also said that the company planned to work on dislikes last year, claiming the feature was one of the many areas they were exploring, as per a media report.

“Twitter testing Upvoting replies. Interesting concept here. Will the best answers or replies make it to the top, or will people/bots use this to now upvote replies to get exposure,” tweeted tech blogger Miguel Lozada.

Twitter is also working on a voice transformer for its chat platform Spaces, which will change a user’s voice pitch or add echo to their audio, as per a media report. 

“My research found that the platform is working on something called Voice Transformer that will allow users to change their voice pitch or add echo effects,” said tech blogger Jane Manchum Wong. 

Twitter began rolling out Spaces in its iOS app to a limited group of people in June 2020. It added an Android app in March and a desktop version in April.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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NASA Perseverance Mars Rover To Collect First Sample Of Rock From Mars

NASA Perseverance Mars Rover To Collect First Sample Of Rock From Mars

NASA is making final preparations for its Perseverance Mars rover to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth. (NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover, @NASAPersevere/Twitter)

WASHINGTON — The space rover sent by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States’ independent agency on space program and research, will soon start the collection of its first-ever sample of rocks from the planet Mars. 

The rover, Perseverance Mars rover, is searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater, a space shuttle landing site on Mars, called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”

The rock will be sent to Earth through more advanced operations, NASA said in a press release

“Up ahead: The target spot where I plan to collect my first-ever sample of Martian rock. I have everything I need with me to get the job done. First is to collect detailed, close-up science of the rock then comes the coring,” the Twitter handle of Perseverence Rover said in a tweet.

This important mission milestone is expected to begin within the next two weeks. Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater on February 18, and NASA kicked off the rover mission’s science phase on June 1, exploring a 1.5-square-mile (4-square-kilometer) patch of crater floor that may contain Jezero’s deepest and most ancient layers of exposed bedrock.

“When Neil Armstrong took the first sample from the Sea of Tranquility 52 years ago, he began a process that would rewrite what humanity knew about the Moon,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for Science at NASA Headquarters. 

“I have every expectation that Perseverance’s first sample from Jezero Crater, and those that come after, will do the same for Mars. We are on the threshold of a new era of planetary science and discovery.”

It took Armstrong 3 minutes and 35 seconds to collect that first Moon sample. Perseverance will require about 11 days to complete its first sampling, as it must receive its instructions from hundreds of millions of miles away while relying on the most complex and capable, as well as the cleanest, mechanism ever to be sent into space — the Sampling and Caching System.

The sampling sequence begins with the rover placing everything necessary for sampling within reach of its 7-foot (2-meter) long robotic arm. It will then perform an imagery survey, so NASA’s science team can determine the exact location for taking the first sample, and a separate target site in the same area for “proximity science.”

“The idea is to get valuable data on the rock we are about to sample by finding its geologic twin and performing detailed in-situ analysis,” said science campaign co-lead Vivian Sun, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. 

“On the geologic double, first we use an abrading bit to scrape off the top layers of rock and dust to expose fresh, unweathered surfaces, blow it clean with our Gas Dust Removal Tool, and then get up close and personal with our turret-mounted proximity science instruments SHERLOC, PIXL, and WATSON.”

Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC), Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), and the Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and engineering (WATSON) camera will provide mineral and chemical analysis of the abraded target.

Perseverance’s SuperCam and Mastcam-Z instruments, both located on the rover’s mast, will also participate. While SuperCam fires its laser at the abraded surface, spectroscopically measuring the resulting plume and collecting other data, Mastcam-Z will capture high-resolution imagery, as per the press release.

“Not every sample Perseverance is collecting will be done in the quest for ancient life, and we don’t expect this first sample to provide definitive proof one way or the other,” said Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley. 

“While the rocks located in this geologic unit are not great time capsules for organics, we believe they have been around since the formation of Jezero Crater and incredibly valuable to fill gaps in our geologic understanding of this region — things we’ll desperately need to know if we find life once existed on Mars.”

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty To Sexual Assault Charges In Los Angeles Courtroom

Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty To Sexual Assault Charges In Los Angeles Courtroom

LOS ANGELES — Disgraced Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault. He made his first court appearance in Los Angeles on July 21.

Weinstein appeared in a wheelchair in the courtroom, with his hands shackled to the armrests, while wearing a rumpled dark brown jumpsuit.

Weinstein was extradited from New York on July 20 and is currently being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.

“I and My Sisters have been waiting for this day. It would not have happened without the courage and sacrifice of all the Silence Breakers who have used their voices in the name of justice and the deep desire to change the world for all survivors,” tweeted actress Caitlin Dulany on July 20.

Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, asked for a medical evaluation during the hearing. Werksman also said he would file a demurrer, challenging three of the 11 counts on statute of limitations grounds.

The three counts involve rape and sexual assault allegations dating from 2004-05, and a sexual battery charge from 2010.

“Weinstein is extradited to California to face 11 counts that carry up to 140 years in prison. Although he’s already sentenced to 23 years in New York, let’s hope a California jury ensures this predator never leaves a cell,” tweeted legal analyst Adrienne Lawrence.

Outside court, Werksman said the charges should be thrown out because they are too old to prosecute, and he said that “they are not corroborated by any scientific evidence.”

“He absolutely, unequivocally, and categorically denies the allegations in this case,” said Werksman. “We are confident that if we can have a fair trial, Weinstein will be acquitted.”

Prosecutors have said they are ready to proceed to trial within 120 days, though pre-trial motions appear likely to extend that timetable.

Weinstein was convicted in New York of rape and sexual assault in February 2020 and later sentenced to 23 years in prison. His attorneys appealed against that conviction and said that the judge made a series of faulty rulings that denied Weinstein a fair trial.

Weinstein faces allegations from five women dating from 2004 to 2013 in the Los Angeles case. He faces a theoretical maximum of 140 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

In the case, a previously sealed indictment has been announced by the Los Angeles prosecutors, though the existence of the indictment was already known due to legal wrangling in New York.

The Los Angeles trial has already been delayed repeatedly due to the Covid-19 slowdown in the court system. The courts have now resumed holding criminal trials, though there remains a significant backlog of cases.

Weinstein’s attorneys had been fighting the extradition since April, arguing that prosecutors had failed to submit the proper paperwork and that Weinstein needed treatment at the Wende Correctional Facility, near Buffalo, New York, for eye ailments to keep from going blind.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office have assured that Weinstein can get adequate medical care while being held at the Twin Towers facility.

Assuming the New York conviction is not overturned, as per a media report, Weinstein would be sent back to New York to serve the balance of his sentence following the Los Angeles trial.

Georgina Chapman and Weinstein finalized their divorce recently. The final order of divorce was signed by a judge in New York City on July 8, 2021.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Sacked Over Holocaust Joke

Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Sacked Over Holocaust Joke

A cleaner wipes a window overlooking the Tokyo Olympic stadium on Shibuya Sky Deck on July 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Olympics opening ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, has been sacked on the eve of the event after footage emerged in which he appeared to make jokes about the Holocaust. Mr Kobayashi follows a number of other figures involved in the Tokyo Olympic Games who have had to step down for inappropriate remarks. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

TOKYO — The International Olympic Committee has dismissed Kentaro Kobayashi from his role as director of the team, creating the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for making a Holocaust joke.

The decision came after a video surfaced of Kobayashi, a former comedian, making jokes in the past about the Holocaust.

“Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony creative team member Kobayashi Kentaro was dismissed from his post after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light,” International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “Following this, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee relieved Kobayashi of his role as a member of the team.” 

“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and the world.”

“As the Ambassador of Israel to Japan and as a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I was shocked to hear about the anti-Semitic remarks made in the past by the famous comedian Kentaro Kobayashi and now a director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020,” tweeted Yaffa Ben-Ari, Ambassador of Israel to Japan. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the human rights organization to protect the rights of the Jews, denounced the remarks by Kobayashi. 

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper in a press release.

“The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics.”

International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 19 accepted Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada’s resignation from the creative team for the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020.

“The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee believes that Oyamada’s actions were absolutely unacceptable,” International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “In light of his sincere apology, we expressed a willingness to allow Oyamada to continue his work on preparations in the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony.” 

Oyamada’s resignation follows days of controversy over his confessions in magazines published in the 1990s in which he boasted about bullying people in his childhood. Oyamada was in charge of composing some of the music for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Better known by his stage name Cornelius, Oyamada gave those unpopular two interviews to Japanese music magazines in 1994 and 1995, in which he described inflicting horrific abuse on fellow students at school. 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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China Snubs New World Health Organization Investigation Into Covid Origins 

China Snubs New World Health Organization Investigation Into Covid Origins 

Resident wear a mask while ride through in front of a closed of Huanan seafood market on February 9, 2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. (Getty Images)

BEIJING — China has declined the World Health Organization’s (WHO) proposal to participate in the second phase investigation of the Covid-19 origin study, a top Chinese official informed on July 22. 

The announcement was made after the possibility of the virus leaking from a Wuhan lab included in the proposal. 

“Beijing has been surprised to see a lab leak listed as a research objective under the second phase of the investigation,” said Zeng Yixin, Chinese Deputy Head of the National Health Commission.

“In some aspects, the WHO’s plan for the next phase of investigation of the coronavirus origin doesn’t respect common sense, and it’s against science. It’s impossible for us to accept such a plan,” Yixin said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also urged Beijing to be transparent and open to cooperate while addressing a press briefing in Geneva.

“We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened,” Ghebreyesus said.

“We all know there are some challenges that have to be addressed,” he said while answering a question on the status of the Covid-19 probe after the conclusion of phase one study.

“One of the challenges is access to raw data, especially the data at the start of the pandemic that was not shared.”

“Now we have designed the second phase of the study, and we are asking China to be transparent and cooperate, especially on the raw data that we had asked for in the early days of the pandemic,” he said.

Responding to the U.S. claims, Zeng Yixin also said that “no worker or researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology got infected by coronavirus before the first documented cases of Covid-19″.

U.S. officials overseeing an intelligence review into the origins of Covid-19 consider the theory of virus accidentally escaping from a lab in Wuhan as equally plausible as the possibility that it emerged naturally in the wild.

In recent months, the ‘lab-leak‘ theory has gained great traction pushing U.S. President Joe Biden to give the American intelligence team a 90-day deadline to find answers into the virus origin.

A WHO-led team of scientists that traveled to China in early 2021 to investigate the origins of the virus struggled to get a clear picture of what research China was conducting beforehand, faced constraints during its visit, and had little power to conduct thorough, impartial research. 

They said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.

“The introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway,” as per the report.

But countries, including the United States and some scientists, were not satisfied.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)

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