Italy closes all non-essential business as rest of Europe hunkers down amid worsening coronavirus outbreak
Italy’s death toll reached at least 4,825 people, Johns Hopkins University recorded by 9:43 a.m. GMT (5:43 a.m. EST) Sunday, which makes it the worst-hit country in the world by the coronavirus. At least 53,578 people in Italy were infected.
www.foxnews.com | 3/22/20
Netflix is seeing a spike in downloads in Italy and Spain due to millions of people living in self-isolation as the coronavirus spreads, according to new data shared by Sensor Tower on Monday.
In Italy, Netflix app downloads surged 57% over the past seven days compared to the week prior, according to Sensor Tower’s tracking of both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Spain has seen a 34% jump in Netflix app downloads in the last week, as well, the firm said. That means “Love Is Blind” and several other Netflix shows likely saw a European boost this past weekend.
These download figures represent mobile downloads only, and not Netflix viewing on devices like Apple TV and Roku. Of course, it’s understandable that with more people quarantined, more people will be looking to pass the time by watching TV shows and movies. This builds on research shared on Monday from Nielsen, which showed South Korea has seen a 21.4% spike in TV viewing compared to the same time last year.
The coronavirus outbreak has been especially painful for Italy, where the death toll on Monday surpassed 2,100 people. Altogether, there have been nearly 28,000 confirmed cases in Italy, mostly impacting northern cities, such as Milan and surrounding regions. Spain, meanwhile, has essentially been locked down for a two-week emergency period, with all schools, universities, restaurants, bars, hotels and non-essential retail stores closing.
Netflix charges €7.99-€15.99 — or about $9 to $18 — per month in Italy and Spain, depending on the subscription tier.
Sensor Tower did not have a week-to-week comparison for app downloads for Netflix or other streaming services like HBO Now and Hulu in the U.S. as of Monday morning, but expects to have data later this week.
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www.thewrap.com | 3/16/20
With the announcement on Wednesday that movie theaters in three Indian states will be closed through the end of March, half of the top 10 markets in the global box office now face at least partial shutdowns of their movie theaters due to the pandemic.
The other countries in the top 10 that are facing various levels of closures are China, Japan, South Korea and Italy. China is the most severely hit, as tens of thousands of theaters nationwide have been closed since the start of the Lunar New Year holiday period in late January. That has erased a critical profit period for the Chinese box office that contributed $835 million to the country’s $9.3 billion total in 2019.
Last week, financial analysts told TheWrap the coronavirus would cost the box office at least $5 billion in global revenue and possibly more if the pandemic persists well into the summer.
Combined, the five top markets facing closures contributed approximately $16.5 billion to the global box office in 2019, according to the Motion Picture Association’s annual THEME report released on Wednesday. That’s 39% of the $42.2 billion grossed globally last year — though it’s worth noting that theater closures have not spread nationwide in all five countries (at least not yet).
The viral outbreak has already prompted studios to push back major global releases like the James Bond thriller “No Time to Die” and “Peter Rabbit 2,” which had previously been scheduled to open in April.
Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of the Indian state of Kerala, on Tuesday ordered the closure of all schools, universities and cinemas until at least March 31 in the region on the country’s southwest coast. Movie shoots in the region are also being shutdown, and on Wednesday, the states of Jammu and Kashmir also announced that movie theaters will be closed there until the end of March.
Several movie theater chains in Japan and South Korea have announced partial closures in regions where the coronavirus has been most widespread. Some companies, like 109 Theaters in Japan, are reducing the number of seats sold for each auditorium, keeping every other seat empty to allow space between moviegoers. Shares for Toho, a cinema chain and film studio that owns the Godzilla franchise, are down 24% from the start of the year.
Partial closures and reduced capacity has also spread to France, particularly in northern regions. The country’s National Centre for Cinema (CNC) announced on Wednesday that movie theaters, production companies and distributors will be able to have their applications for state subsidies fast-tracked as part of an effort by President Emmanuel Macron to support businesses hurt by coronavirus shutdowns. Many movie theaters in northern France that haven’t closed are keeping every other row of seats empty, and the rest of the film industry has been hit with film shoot cancellations and the possible cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival, though the festival’s director says he’s “reasonably optimistic” that the event will still go on.
Outside of the global top 10, other countries like Poland, Kuwait, and Lebanon have also announced movie theater closures with more Middle Eastern nations expected to do the same. Aside from China, the hardest hit country has been Italy, which has also had all theaters closed as part of a nationwide lockdown announced Tuesday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
One major market that hasn’t closed theaters or reduced capacity yet is the United States. On Tuesday, the California/Nevada division of the National Association of Theater Owners announced that movie theaters in Santa Clara County, one of the areas hardest hit by the virus so far in the U.S., will remain open this weekend. County health officials announced a ban on “mass gatherings” that draw over 1,000 people into a single space, but this does not apply to cinemas as modern movie auditoriums hold a maximum capacity of 180-220 people.
Pacific Northwest Theater Owners, the NATO regional office for Washington State, told TheWrap that theaters will also remain open there this weekend. Over 700 cases of coronavirus have been reported so far in the U.S.
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www.thewrap.com | 3/11/20
Disney/Pixar’s “Onward” has taken a $40 million opening weekend, one of the lowest starts in Pixar’s 25-year history of feature films. However, it is unclear whether fears of the spreading coronavirus had any impact, as the overall box office has yet to see a serious week-to-week drop.
While year-over-year comparisons show a sharp drop of more than 50%, that is mostly because the $1 billion-plus hit “Captain Marvel” came out this weekend in 2019 with a $153 million opening. “Onward,” being an original title, had long been projected by trackers to open in the $40 million range even before the coronavirus had reached North America. While final totals for the weekend are still being tabulated, industry estimates for films grossing over $500,000 this weekend stands at $99 million, up from $93.8 million last weekend.
This shows that while coronavirus is still a growing concern in the U.S., it has yet to have an impact on moviegoer turnout even as events like SXSW have been canceled over public health concerns. Distribution execs who spoke to TheWrap say they are monitoring the situation on a day-by-day basis, asdding that the ultimate barometer of the virus’ box office impact will come with the release of “Mulan” in three weeks.
As for “Onward,” this Pixar title was never expected to reach the heights of some of Pixar’s recent sequels. However, it has also fallen short of some original animated films that Pixar and Disney have released in recent years. Disney released “Zootopia” in early March four years ago and earned a $75 million opening weekend. “Onward,” meanwhile, is only the second Pixar film since the turn of the century to take an opening of less than $45 million, the other being the $39 million opening of “The Good Dinosaur” in 2015.
The good news for “Onward” is that reception has been much stronger than the tepidly received “Good Dinosaur.” Along with an 86% score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences have given Dan Scanlon’s film an A- on CinemaScore and 4.5/5 on Postrak. With such strong results from families and younger adults, “Onward” has the potential — coronavirus notwithstanding — to leg out over the coming weeks as schools and universities go on spring break.
On the other hand, “Onward” is seeing its overseas numbers take a hit, as it grossed $28 million from 37 countries, leaving the film with a $68 million global opening that’s far below the $80-90 million that trackers had projected. Disney is downplaying the coronavirus’ impact in other countries, noting that the film has only opened in one market in Asia where the virus has spread the most, while taking No. 1 in 15 European countries.
However, markets in Western Europe are starting to see a sizable drop in audience turnout and are expected to do so for the foreseeable future, a trend that was a major factor in the decision by MGM and Universal to delay the release of the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” from April to November. “Onward” is not set to release in Italy, Japan or Korea, three of the countries hardest hit by the virus, until mid-April. China, where the virus originated, does not have a release date for the film.
Back on the domestic side, Universal/Blumhouse’s “The Invisible Man” is in second on the charts this weekend with $15.2 million, a solid hold that gives it a 46% drop from its opening weekend and a 10-day total of $52.9 million domestic and $98.3 million globally.
In third is Warner Bros.’ “The Way Back” with an $8.5 million opening weekend from 2,020 screens. It’s a debut that’s on the lower end of recent films for lead star Ben Affleck, who has had a mixed bag outside of his two DC films as Batman. While he was part of a $37.5 million opening for the Oscar-nominated 2014 film “Gone Girl,” he has also seen opening weekends as low as $5.1 million for the 2017 wide opening of “Live by Night.” The good news is that reception has been strong for Affleck’s performance in “The Way Back,” receiving an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on CinemaScore.
Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” is in fourth as it prepares to pass both $300 million globally and the $144 million domestic run of fellow video game adaptation “Detective Pikachu.” With $8 million in its fourth weekend, the film now has a total of $140 million domestic and $295 million global. 20th Century’s “The Call of the Wild” completes the Top 5 with $7 million in its third weekend for a $57.5 million total.
Farther down the charts, Focus Features’ “Emma.” expanded to 1,565 screens and took in $5 million in its first wide-release weekend, giving it a total of just under $7 million after three weekends. Finally, Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” crossed $200 million in domestic grosses this weekend, earning $3 million in its eighth frame for a total of $202 million domestic and $415 million worldwide.
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www.thewrap.com | 3/8/20
A total of 107 people have now died in Italy, the location of Europe's largest coronavirus outbreak.
www.bbc.co.uk | 3/4/20
One is a postgraduate student at Queen's University who had been in northern Italy, the BBC understands.
www.bbc.co.uk | 3/4/20
Italy announced Wednesday it will temporarily close all its schools and universities as the country continues to grapple with a surge in coronavirus infections, according to new reports.
www.foxnews.com | 3/4/20
Pupils from three Northern Ireland schools who were recently on trips to Italy were sent home.
www.bbc.co.uk | 2/26/20
Schools in Cheshire and Middlesbrough close after pupils show "flu-like symptoms" after skiing trips.
www.bbc.co.uk | 2/25/20
Ethan Hawke, “Mudbound” director-screenwriter Dee Rees and Emily Mortimer are among the jury members selected for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute announced on Tuesday.
Twenty-five experts were selected to award feature films and short films shown at the upcoming festival, which will take place from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 in Park City, Utah. Thirty-one prizes will be announced at a ceremony on Feb. 1, while the Short Film Awards will be announced at a separate ceremony on Jan. 28.
The juried Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize was awarded to “Tesla,” which stars Hawke, Jim Gaffigan, Kyle MacLachlan and Lucy Walters.
See the jury members below.
U.S. DRAMATIC JURY
U.S. DOCUMENTARY JURY
E. Chai Vasarhelyi
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC JURY
Haifaa Al Mansour
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY JURY
SHORT FILM JURY
ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE JURY
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www.thewrap.com | 1/14/20
A few weeks, I attended a one-day conference at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at the occasion of the launch of their new $7.5 million Centre for Data Science. This laboratory is also the lead node of a new Australian Data Science Network, bringing together data science organizations from across the country.
The new center aims to support data-led decisions across key areas like health, environment, business, government and society — in short, data for the good.
There was also an interesting link to my work with smart cities. One of the new center's flagship projects is a first-of-its-kind study into Queen's Wharf Brisbane (QWB), a $3.6 billion integrated resort development in the Brisbane CBD. The QWB development will contain hotel and residential accommodation, a casino, retail and entertainment areas along with a new public space.
A longitudinal benefits and impacts study (LBIS), jointly initiated by QUT and the Queensland Government, is monitoring the social and economic effects of the QWB development from the outset. The intention is to record these outcomes over a significant time span, allowing decision-makers to plan, coordinate, manage and improve the development proactively.
Key areas of the study include connectivity, safety, public sentiment, finance and construction, as well as tourism and business returns — forming the basis of an analytical framework that could be readily applied to other significant multi-purpose developments.
The study is a unique and critical strategic framework for evidence-based monitoring and decision-making that can be applied where any large-scale infrastructure projects are being considered.
I discussed this project with Professor of Statistics, Kerrie Mengersen, the Director of the Centre. There will be plenty of opportunities to explore the latest smart city developments within this project. There are several councils within the greater Brisbane that have well-developed smart city strategies and plans in place, and it would be good to bring the various developments together and share insights and learn from each other.
During the conference, various other interesting developments were presented in relation to the power of data science.
Still, on smart cities, the Sunny Street project that started in the Sunshine Coast and has since been further extended into Brisbane gives valuable data on where and when to provide services from the GP and nursing mobile outreach service, with healthcare for those experiencing homelessness and vulnerability.
Other projects discussed included an initiative with the United Nations to help countries use satellite data for agricultural development. This study prompted me to look back in history at the time in the 14th century when the first city-states started to emerge in Italy and what is now Belgium. The power of these cities totally depended on the region around them to supply food, raw materials, and labor that allowed growth. The interaction between the cities (megacities) and its regions is an understudied element, and the African study will also be relevant for megacity developments elsewhere.
Other fascinating big data developments that were presented included estimates of conflict casualties. This is based on thousands of data points partly based on historical data, population estimates, death records from various lists, historical memories, stories from the field, and so on. A different set of data points allows organizations such as the UN to forecast genocides. A key input here is data from 18 known genocide perpetrator countries.
Together with AI, data science is also used to build machine learning tools to better predict society changes and the effect this has on social services in relation to homelessness and healthcare requirements. These tools are already used by various city authorities and also organizations such as Google.
Amazing results were presented to use an enormous variety of totally different data sets to assist in the development of public policy. Data that is included comes from environmental data, healthcare, coal train management, and water resource management, just to mention a few of those data points.
Mapping cancer outcomes identifying addressing inequality led to the production of the Australian Cancer Atlas — an interactive, online atlas showing how the burden of cancer varies across small geographical areas for the whole country.
It clearly showed the power of data for the social good; in general, we are only receiving news on the negative effect of big data. However, it is important to realize that there are plenty of developments that are greatly beneficial to our society.
Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication
www.circleid.com | 1/6/20
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) announced on Monday the lineup for the 35th edition, which will run January 15 to 25, 2020. The festival will feature 47 world premieres and 71 U.S. premieres from 50 countries, along with tributes with the year’s top talent, panel discussions and free community education and outreach programs.
SBIFF 2020 will start with the Opening Night Film on Wednesday, January 15, at the historic Arlington Theatre with the U.S. Premiere of “A Bump Along The Way” directed by Shelly Love and starring Bronagh Gallagher, Lola Petticrew, Mary Moulds, Dan Gordon and Brendan Farrell.
“A Bump Along The Way” is female-led, feel-good, comedy drama set in Derry, Northern Ireland, about a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves.
For the festival’s Closing Night Film on Saturday, January 25, they will put the spotlight on Santa Barbara to highlight a series of short documentaries by local filmmakers. This distinctive selection of films covers a range of iconic people and places in the Santa Barbara area including immigrant farm workers, an aging bronc rider, a female cyclist that defied all odds, backpackers exploring the Los Padres National Forest, artists documenting the breathtaking landscapes of the Carrizo Plain, and a celebrated local guitarist who performs in parking garages and public spaces throughout downtown Santa Barbara. The Closing Night Film is sponsored by Winchester Mystery House.
The festival will also present tributes to a number of awards contenders including, Renée Zellweger, Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Taron Egerton, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and Brad Pitt.
22 WORLD PREMIERE FEATURE FILMS (listed alphabetically)
Amazing Grace, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Lynn Montgomery
Americaville, USA, China – World Premiere
Directed by Adam Smith
Bastard’s Road, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Brian Morrison
Born in a Ballroom, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Clara Lehmann and Jonathan Lacocque
By Hand, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Kellen Keene
The Delicacy, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Jason Wise
Exploring the Pacific Northwest, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Ian A. Nelson
Faith Based, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Vincent Masciale
The Lafayette Escadrille, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Darroch Greer
Man in the Field: The Life and Art of Jim Denevan, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Patrick Trefz
Medicating Normal, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Lynn Cunningham and Wendy Ractliffe
Mentors – Tony and Santi, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Andrew Davis
The Mustangs: An American Story, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Steven Latham
The Naturemakers, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Scott Saunders
The Night, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Kourosh Ahari
The Oratorio, USA, Italy – World Premiere
Directed by Mary Anne Rothberg
Overland, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Elisabeth Haviland James and Revere La Noue
The Prison Within, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Katherin Hervey
The Restoration (La restauracion), Peru – World Premiere
Directed by Alonso Llosa
Sergio Mendes in the Key of Joy!, UK – World Premiere
Directed by John Scheinfeld
Tell My Story, USA – World Premiere
Directed by David Freid
A Worm in the Heart, USA – World Premiere
Directed by Paul Rice
For the complete list of films, synopses, and other special events please visit www.sbiff.org or the SBIFF app.
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www.thewrap.com | 12/30/19
Amanda Knox is among almost 250 people who have signed an open letter to Governor Tony Evers supporting the petition for clemency for “Making a Murderer” subject Brendan Dassey.
“We write this letter to express our sincere hope that you will extend executive clemency, in the form of either a pardon or a commutation, to Brendan Dassey,” the letter, obtained by Fox 11 News and dated October 24, read. “Some of us are psychologists, including leading experts in the psychology of interrogations and confessions. Some of us are experts on juvenile justice; some of us are disability experts. Some of us are academics who study miscarriages of justice in Wisconsin and abroad. Some of us are exonerees who have ourselves been convicted of crimes we did not commit and who were later cleared by DNA evidence. Still others simply wish to lend our names and voices in support of Brendan.”
The letter continued: “Many of us believe Brendan Dassey to be wrongly convicted and his statements, which constitute the primary evidence against him, to be unreliable. Many of us believe that the process that led to the conviction of this sixteen-year-old special education student was indefensibly flawed, characterized by egregious defense attorney misconduct. And many of us believe that Brendan’s sentence – life in prison, with no chance of parole until 2048 – is wildly inappropriate. All of us agree that, after serving more than thirteen years in prison and accumulating an exemplary prison record, it is time to bring Brendan Dassey home.”
Earlier this month, Dassey’s legal team launched a campaign to persuade the governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers to grant him clemency. According to the petition, Dassey is either asking for a pardon, which would result in his release from prison, or a commutation of his remaining sentence. This is one of the last remaining legal options available to Dassey.
Dassey was 16 when he confessed to aiding his uncle Steven Avery in killing Halbach. However, his attorneys have since seen it as a coerced confession given Dassey’s learning disabilities. At the time of the interrogation, no lawyers or other adults were present. The Netflix series “Making a Murderer” chronicled the trials and convictions of both him and his uncle, Steven Avery.
In December 2018, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. It was a tight vote, however, with a 4-3 outcome. Lower courts ruled that Dassey’s confession was involuntary. In June of last year, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear his case, but no reason was given. Dassey is currently serving a life sentence. At this time, Dassey is not eligible for parole until 2048, when he would be 59 years old.
Avery was also found guilty in Halbach’s 2007 murder. Avery, who says the police framed him for the crime, is still appealing his case.
Avery is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Knox spent four years in prison in Italy after she was convicted for the 2007 murder of a fellow exchange student who shared her apartment. She was released from prison in 2011 after a subsequent trial showed the evidence used against her was not credible and police made numerous errors, and in 2015, she was definitively acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation.
Click here to see the full letter and all the petitioners.
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www.thewrap.com | 10/25/19
Trump Administration ‘Intended to Sit on’ Plan for Egypt to Arrest NY Times Reporter, Publisher Says
During a speech at Brown University on Monday, New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger told a story about an Egypt-based Times reporter nearly getting arrested in August 2017.
President Trump’s administration’s intended to “sit on the information” rather than intervening, Sulzberger said.
Here is what Sulzberger said about the incident and its precedent in full:
Walsh, who is currently the Cairo bureau chief for the Times, was not arrested, according to Sulzberger, who lamented that the Times was “unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned.” Instead, diplomats from Walsh’s home country of Ireland were able to escort him to an airport.
Also Read: New York Times en Español Shuts Down
“Unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned,” he said.
A representative for the White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
On Twitter, Walsh reacted to Sulzberger telling the story publicly for the first time and subsequently publishing his remarks as an article. Walsh wrote, “The incident occurred in August 2017 after @NYTmag published my story about Giulio Regeni, an Italian student found dead in Cairo. Italy accuses Egypt of involvement, and Egypt denies. It’s a sensitive issue.”
“I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t received that timely warning. Possibly nothing, and possibly a major problem. The workings of Egypt’s security apparatus are notoriously opaque under Mr. el-Sisi, even to Egypt experts,” he added. “Lastly, I owe a belated thanks an Irish diplomat who rushed to help in a tight spot. He was cool, swift and fearless. And to someone in Washington who took a risk to reach out.”
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www.thewrap.com | 9/24/19
St. Edward Catholic School, a private Roman Catholic school in Nashville, Tennessee, has removed “Harry Potter” books from its library due to its content, in particular, the “curses and spells” that its pastor said are in the books.
In an email obtained by The Tennessean, Rev. Dan Reehil, a pastor at the school, stated that “These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”
Additionally, Reehil said that he consulted with exorcists in the United States and Italy before making the determination that the books about a boy wizard and his friends should be removed.
Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, told The Tennessean that “Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school,” and that “He’s well within his authority to act in that manner.”
She also told the paper that she thinks that the “Harry Potter” books remain in other libraries in the diocese.
A rep for St. Edward Catholic School and Hammel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
The first “Harry Potter” book was published in 1997, but love for the series — and its movie spinoffs — has endured through 2019. A mobile app for Potterheads just launched in June.
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www.thewrap.com | 9/2/19
Italy's top court rules the right to eat packed lunches on school grounds is not "unconditional".
www.bbc.co.uk | 8/1/19
Instagram has expanded hiding “likes” to six new countries, months after the Facebook-owned app launched its initial test in Canada.
On Wednesday, Instagram rolled out the test in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Users will still be able to see how many like their posts get, but when someone else goes to their post, the total number of likes will be absent.
“We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” Facebook director Mia Garlick told the BBC.
The larger test comes only a few months after Instagram head Adam Mosseri told BuzzFeed News the company wants users to focus less on their like counts. Mosseri said he wanted to create “a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,” rather than an environment where people delete posts that don’t rack up enough likes.
The test also comes as there’s mounting evidence likes are detrimental to mental health.
A 2017 study from the U.K. Royal Society for Public Health reported Instagram was the social app most detrimental to mental health for people 14-24, often exacerbating their depression, anxiety or body image issues. Instagram in particular makes young women “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality,” the report said.
“The brain responds to likes like any other reward or thing that excites the brain like food, sex or gambling,” Cal State University professor Ofir Turel recently told TheWrap. “When you get likes, the reward system lights up and releases dopamine, making us feel good.”
That good feeling can become fleeting, though, as users get hooked on checking their phones for social validation after posting a picture or video. Turel, who has studied the impact of social media on the brain for more than a decade, said users habitually check their phones — including 40% of Americans while driving — because Instagram and other platforms have created a “variable reward,” something best associated with betting in a casino.
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www.thewrap.com | 7/18/19
Amanda Knox has arrived in Italy for the first time since she was acquitted by an appeals court in October 2011 in the murder of her British roommate in the university town of Perugia.
www.foxnews.com | 6/13/19
Amanda Knox says she is returning to Italy for the first time since she was convicted and imprisoned, but ultimately acquitted, in the murder and sexual assault of her British roommate in the hilltop university town of Perugia.
www.foxnews.com | 5/8/19
A radioactive isotope one billion times older than the Universe! An international team of researchers, including six scientists from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC), was able to measure for the first time the longest average lifetime of a radioactive isotope recorded by a device of measurement. This extraordinary fact is published (April 25), as the main piece on the cover, in Nature, the most prestigious of all scientific journals. The isotope in question is Xe 124 and its average lifetime is approximately one billion times older than the Universe. The Universe is about 14 billion years old, a period of time inconceivable when compared to the scale of human life. As if that alone did not cause enough amazement, there are radioactive isotopes (unstable elements that change over time emitting radiation) whose average life happens on scales much greater than the existence of the Universe itself. "The fact that we can directly measure such a rare process as this demonstrates the extraordinary scope of our measurement system, even when it was not made to measure these events, but rather dark matter," stresses José Matias, coordinator of the Portuguese team in this effort international and researcher of the Laboratory of Instrumentation, Biomedical Engineering and Radiation Physics (LIBPhys) of FCTUC. In fact, this measurement was only possible thanks to the XENON1T system, the most sensitive instrument ever produced by mankind for the detection of dark matter. It is installed in the National Laboratory of Gran Sasso (Italy), the largest underground laboratory in the world, under 1300 meters of rock to shield the system from cosmic rays existing on the surface. The study published by Nature shows that, after all, "XENON1T was also able to measure other rare physical phenomena, such as double electronic capture. In this case, the nucleus captures two of the electrons that orbit it in the atom, transforming two of the protons that constituted it into neutrons and emitting radiation in the form of two neutrinos. The energy released in this process forms the signal that the system registers, despite the extreme difficulty in being detected by its rarity, and can be generally masked by the omnipresent "normal" radiation ", affirms the also vice president of the Higher Institute of Engineering of Coimbra (ISEC). The average life span of Xe 124 Only with the detailed knowledge of the sources of radiation recorded by the detector was it possible to observe 126 events of double electron capture of the isotope Xe 124 and thus to determine for the first time its average life time of 2.5 x 1022 years (25 thousand millions of billions of years). This is the longest physical process ever measured directly by mankind. In fact, there is a register of phenomena with a longer average life (isotope Te 128) in the Universe, but that was inferred indirectly from another process. For the time being, it is not possible to predict the implications of this discovery that opens new horizons in human knowledge. The XENON consortium consists of 160 scientists from 27 research groups from the US, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Israel and Abu Dhabi. Portugal has been a partner in this collaboration since its inception in 2005 through the LIBPhys team. Cristina Pinto University of Coimbra • Faculty of Science and Technology Translated from the Portuguese version Ekaterina Santos
www.pravdareport.com | 4/25/19
The internet started to take on momentum in the 1990s. At that time many analysts, myself included, marveled at the opportunity of creating a platform that would boost grassroot democracy. There was no need for a middleman and there were few barriers to ordinary people becoming involved. This included organizing groups, discussions and events, sharing knowledge, insights and information, publishing opinions — just some of the potential attached to the internet. And for the first two decades, this basically was what happened, in a very positive and constructive way. It did disrupt several business, social and political models but that that was seen as 'a new broom sweeping clean.'
All of that is still happening — and as a matter of fact, it has only increased. However, at the same time, the ugly side of humanity has moved into this area as well. They all jumped on the bandwagon — cheats, plain criminals, misogynists, racists and bullies. This was very unfortunate, but it became serious when more organized misuse of the internet began to take place. This is undermining democracy and democratic processes; many people began to say enough is enough.
Most of the misuse is aimed at generating fake traffic that leads to extra advertising income or click income on YouTube for instance. In proportion to overall internet activity the other, serious political misuse is significantly less. It has, however, far deeper negative consequences. It is using manipulation to set people against each other. It interferes with democratic processes such as elections and undermines democratic institutions.
This criminal internet activity happens more or less in parallel with broader traditional forms of manipulations and is not limited to the internet. The fake news activities and the undermining of democratic institutions are for example carried out by President Trump without the internet. The same is happening in countries such as Britain, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Italy, to name just a few.
There is no doubt that the internet has become an important tool to create division, hatred and conflict. This has more to do with human behaviour than with technology. Addressing only the technology element of this problem will not solve the much more serious underlying issues.
Division, lies, hatred, fake news, racism and conflict are being used by our leaders in public. It is then not difficult to understand that people perceive this as a license to do the same, with or without technology.
It is important to state that it is not the internet that is causing all of this. So far the internet has created far more positive than negative outcomes, and we need to preserve what's best about it. Most importantly, this includes the freedom for people to express themselves. Equally important is that entrepreneurs can innovate and build new business models. At the same time, we need to ensure that we protect society from broader harm.
We can look at what we have done with other tools that we use — tools like guns, cars, chemicals and drugs. All these products and services can have negatives associated with them. What we have done over the years to address this is to build elements into these products and services to limit the risk and increase safety.
This has been done through the hard work of everyone involved: the government and industry, as well as the users/consumers. As an example, look at cars in the 1970s. They killed 3 to 4 times more people than they do now, and our population has nearly doubled over that period. How did this change happen? Partly through regulation, partly through better products, and partly through human behaviour.
Have we, as a result, eliminated all the harmful elements of motor cars? No, of course not. But the risks have been reduced considerably over those years. This to such a level that the negative (e.g., death by car accidents) seems to be acceptable to most of us. Is that enough? No, it isn't. And so we are still trying to improve, through the combined efforts of government, industry and us, the people.
We will also have to begin to develop similar processes in relation to the internet. However, before we know what we need to do, we will first have to drill down to where the problems are and work out who can do what in addressing the issues.
Starting with the government, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the need for a more active role for governments and regulators. He suggested the need for an update of the rules for the internet. In particularly in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
In relation to the industry, he recommends starting with data manipulation aimed at defrauding the internet companies. Here the social media companies have a vested interest in tackling that problem themselves as fraud cost them money. The tools that they develop to minimize this can also be used to address other data manipulation issues — for example, interferences in elections and fake news. As Zuckerburg indicated, the government will also have to play a key role in setting up the rules for this. This will also need to be done at international levels.
It will remain a cat and mouse situation. New — more sophisticated — technologies to combat this will be developed, and they will be circumvented by criminals, and this process will continue. In the end, criminal interferences will be greatly reduced. The reason being that it simply becomes too costly for many of the groups to come up with their own tools to crack the ones developed by industry. The best hope here is for a managed situation, similar to those that have been created to manage other potentially dangerous tools, as in the motor car example.
A challenging issue here is the fact that what is harmful to one society, culture or religion is not necessarily the same for another group. A real threat — or even perhaps a reality — is that this would lead to a further regionalization of the internet. Countries such as China, Iran and North Korea have already created their own walls around the internet, and Russia is also trying to build its wall.
Another issue in relation to the industry is whether some of these companies are becoming too dominant and are showing monopolistic tendencies. A very human reaction to this is that we don't tolerate monopolies. We, therefore, need to start looking at industry legislation, be it anti-trust remedies, breaking up companies or other solutions.
Lastly, we also need to drill down on the people's side. We need to identify and address what causes the problematic behaviour of those misusing the internet before we can address these issues. Education and information at schools and elsewhere will be important. They will deliver longer-term positive outcomes.
Full-blown criminal behavior, racism, hate speech and the like are already punishable under existing laws. Our enforcement agencies, however, are still not well-equipped to address Internet-based crimes as effectively as they address similar crimes conducted in more traditional ways.
I am sometimes alerted by people who read my analyses to information or activities that are of an illegal or criminal nature. I report them to the appropriate authorities, but I have never received an answer from them. And if one goes to a police station to report internet abuse that will still too often elicit a blank look from the officer at the desk.
In order to get the people on board here, they need to be supported by well-functioning institutions. They should be able to take effective action against individuals that are crossing the line online. At the moment there is a feeling among the public that they are losing control over some of the central mechanisms of their lives. In the case of the internet, the lives of most people have been improved, and it has created lots of new economic activity. At the same time, it is also clear that the negatives of technology are such that people are not comfortable with the risks and safety issues. Comparing this with the example of motor cars, it is obvious that more work is needed. And whether we like it or not, people want action now.
So far this is resulting in some countries introducing broad and vague sweeping laws. Laws which are not implemented effectively, because it is impossible to do so while they are still being written. We clearly need to improve on that.
This will become increasingly apparent as time goes on. My colleagues in America say that the problems with the hastily introduced social media legislation will soon become evident in Australia. Other countries will learn from these mistakes and will adopt more realistic legislation to safeguard innovation, economic growth and freedom of speech. These core democratic elements seem to become the casualties of bad legislation. With a lack of effective self-regulation from the digital media giants, there is however no doubt that major changes to these negative elements in the use of the of the Internet will increasingly be regulated and legislated.
Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication
www.circleid.com | 4/24/19
Two university students are accused of igniting a massive forest fire in northern Italy last December and they were hit with the bill for the damages: a cool $15.3 million each.
www.foxnews.com | 4/17/19
Education in Italy is compulsory from 6-15/16 years of age, and is divided into five stages: kindergarten (scuola materna), elementary school (scuola elementare), middle school (scuola media), high school (scuola superiore) and university (università). Italy has both public and private education systems. In Italy a state-born school system, or Education System has existed since 1859, when the Legge Casati (Casati Act) mandated educational responsibilities for the forthcoming Italian state (Italian unification took place in 1861). The Casati Act made primary education compulsory, and had the goal of reducing illiteracy. This law gave control of primary education to the single towns, of secondary education to the provincie (counties), and the universities were managed by the State. Even with the Casati Act and compulsory education, in rural (and southern) areas children often were not sent to school (the rate of children enrolled in primary education would reach 90% only after 70 years) and the illiteracy rate (which was near 80% in 1861) took more than 50 years to halve. The next important law concerning the Italian education system was the Legge Gentile. This act was issued in 1923, thus when Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party were in power. In fact, Giovanni Gentile was appointed the task of creating an education system deemed fit for the fascist system. The compulsory age of education was raised to 14 years, and was somewhat based on a ladder system: after the first five years of primary instruction, one could choose the 'Scuola media', which would give further access to the "liceo" and other secondary instruction, or the 'avviamento al lavoro', which was intended to give a quick entry into the low strates of the workforce. He enhanced the role of the Liceo Classico, created by the Casati Act in 1859 (and intended during the Fascist era as the peak of secondary education, with the goal of forming the future upper classes), and created the Technical, Commercial and Industrial institutes and also the Liceo Scientifico. The Liceo Classico was the only secondary school that gave access to all types of university, until 1968. The influence of Gentile's Idealism was great, and he considered the Catholic religion to be the "fundament and crowning" of education. In 1962 the 'avviamento al lavoro' was abolished, and all children until 14 years had to follow a single program, encompassing primary education (scuola elementare) and middle school (scuola media). From 1962 to the present day, the main structure of Italian primary (and secondary) education remained largely unchanged, even if some modifications were made: a narrowing of the gap between males and females (through the merging of the two distinct programmes for technical education, and the optional introduction of mixed-gender gym classes), a change in the structure of secondary school (legge Berlinguer) and the creation of new licei, 'istituti tecnici' and 'istituti professionali', giving the student more choices in their paths. In 1999, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Bologna Process, the Italian university system switched from the old system (vecchio ordinamento, which led to the traditional 5-year Laurea degree), to the new system (nuovo ordinamento). The nuovo ordinamento split the former Laurea into two different tracks: the Laurea triennale (a three-year degree akin to the Bachelor's Degree), followed by the 2-year Laurea specialistica, the latter renamed Laurea Magistrale in 2007. A credit system was established to quantify the amount of work needed by each course and exam (25 work hours = 1 credit), as well as enhance the possibility to change course of studies or to continue studies in a foreign country after the first 3 years. However, it is now established that there is just a five-year degree "Laurea Magistrale Ciclo Unico" for programmes such as Law.