Bottled holy water, sterilized pebbles

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia has issued guidelines for about 1,000 pilgrims who will be allowed to perform the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca later this month, an experience that will be unlike any before because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pilgrims will be only be able to drink holy water from the Zamzam well in Mecca that is packaged in plastic bottles, and pebbles for casting away evil that are usually picked up by pilgrims along hajj routes will be sterilized and bagged ahead of time. Pilgrims will also have to bring their own prayer rugs.

The guidelines were announced Monday as Saudi authorities prepare for a very limited hajj, which for the first time will not include pilgrims from outside the country. Instead, the kingdom said that 70% of pilgrims allowed to make the pilgrimage this year will be from among foreign residents of Saudi Arabia

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Venice Film Festival Unveils Details of Slimmer Lineup Structure

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The upcoming Venice Film Festival’s reconfiguration due to coronavirus safety measures has been officially unveiled.

Barring complications, Venice, which runs Sept. 2-12, is set to be the first major international film event to hold a physical edition after the coronavirus crisis, with a line-up that is somewhat reduced but still substantial.

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Venice Artistic Director Alberto Barbera on Tuesday announced that — though he is slimming down the fest’s 77th edition in order to implement social distancing and other sanitary protocols — the core of the fest’s official selection is being kept intact, both in terms of the lineup structure, as well as the number of titles that will world-premiere on the Lido in the main sections.

That core will consist of 50-55 feature films, roughly 20 of which will screen in the main competition, called Venezia 77. The rest of

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How ‘hatewank’ videos became a tool for harassing women in the public eye

How 'hatewank' videos became a tool for harassing women in the public eye
How ‘hatewank’ videos became a tool for harassing women in the public eye

In March, one of British journalist Ash Sarkar’s Twitter followers informed her there were “hatewank” videos featuring images of her on a porn website. One of the videos was titled “racist hatewank for Ash Sarkar” and it had been uploaded onto xHamster.

It was during a time when there was a particular uptick in racist online harassment targeting Sarkar, who’s a prominent political journalist and broadcaster in the UK. As a Muslim woman, she is frequently subjected to racist, misogynistic, and highly sexualised abuse. “The racist hatewank was literally a guy masturbating to images of me,” Sarkar told me over the phone. “After I’d read this tweet that it was out there, my partner was the one who looked it up to confirm that it was all there.” Sarkar discovered that photographs of her wearing bikinis had

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Social media firms make $1bn a year from anti-vax followers, report says

Conspiracy theorists at Hyde Park Corner on 16 May 2020 in London: Getty
Conspiracy theorists at Hyde Park Corner on 16 May 2020 in London: Getty

Social media platforms are making up to $1bn a year from people following anti-vaccine misinformation that could cause “tens of thousands” of coronavirus deaths, researchers say.

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) said the number of people viewing pages and posts claiming that a Covid-19 vaccine is unnecessary or would pose a health risk had risen dramatically during the pandemic.

Despite pledges by Facebook and others to crack down on harmful posts, a report found that at least 57 million users now follow anti-vaxxers on mainstream platforms across the UK and US – up 7.7 million since the start of the outbreak.

A YouGov poll suggested that almost one in five British adults say they would refuse the injection if it becomes available, and a further 15 per cent are unsure.

The research suggested that people

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Venice Film Festival Outlines Structure For 77th Edition: Fewer Titles, Section Shifts

Click here to read the full article.

The Venice Film Festival this morning said that the 77th edition will go ahead from September 2-12 with certain changes owing to sanitary protocols imposed by the COVID-19 crisis. The overall number of films in the official selection will be reduced, down to about 50-55, while the competitive sections Venezia 77 and Horizons will maintain their usual procedures and format, as will the Out of Competition section, and Biennale College Cinema. Screenings will take place in the theaters where they have been traditionally held on the Lido, adopting safety measures, including social distancing. The full lineup will be unveiled on July 28 for what will be the first major international festival to be held since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Artistic Director Alberto Barbera called the fact that the festival is happening, “A message of concrete optimism for the entire world of cinema which

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Third of Britons say they may not take coronavirus vaccine

Almost a third of Britons definitely will not or are unsure about whether they will take up a COVID-19 vaccine. (PA)
Almost a third of Britons definitely will not or are unsure about whether they will take up a COVID-19 vaccine. (PA)

Almost a third of Britons say they may not take up a vaccine for coronavirus, a poll showed, as researchers warned about the amount of anti-vaccine content circulating online.

In the study carried out by YouGov for the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) research group, 6% of those polled said they definitely would not get vaccinated for COVID-19.

A further 10% said they would “probably not” have a vaccine, while another 15% said they did not know, meaning a total of 31% will not have one or are unsure about it.

Researchers also warned about the large amount of anti-vax misinformation spreading on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

The survey polled more than 1,600 people in Britain, and found 38% said they would “definitely” have a coronavirus vaccination

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Where to buy transparent coverings for people with hearing problems

While not as widely available as cloth face coverings, you can find transparent face masks online: iStock
While not as widely available as cloth face coverings, you can find transparent face masks online: iStock

The UK government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have both advised wearing face coverings in a bid to reduce the infection transmission of Covid-19.

As of 15 June, face coverings have been mandatory in England while using public transport, in Ubers and in hospitals. The new rules mean that anyone travelling by train, Tube, bus, ferry or plane in England should be wearing a face covering.

From 22 June, Scotland has made it compulsory for people to wear face coverings on all public transport too, including the Glasgow Subway, Edinburgh trams and taxis. Those under five and with certain medical conditions are exempt. Wearing face coverings in shops will also be mandatory in Scotland from 10 July.

In Wales, people are being encouraged to wear face coverings in spaces where social distancing

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Foreign College Students Must Take In-Person Classes Or Face Deportation, ICE Says

International students studying in the U.S. must leave the country or switch schools if they attend a university that will hold classes entirely online this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, government officials said Monday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the measure as cases of the virus continue to surge in most states around the country and many colleges and universities are still figuring out how or if they can reopen for the fall term.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” the agency said Monday, noting the shift applies to F-1 and M-1 visa holders. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

The change will not impact international students who take classes

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10 Home and Away spoilers for next week

From Digital Spy

Home and Away spoilers follow for UK-pace episodes on Channel 5.

Next week’s Home and Away episodes see Ben and Gemma face a backlash after spending a night in each other’s company, while Bella delivers a few surprises when she returns home.

Here’s a full collection of ten big moments coming up.

1. Gemma and Ben cause a stir by spending the night together

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

Gemma spends the night at Ben’s motel. The new friends confide in each other and fall asleep together, but nothing physically intimate happens between them.

Nikau is livid over his mum staying out all night with another man, feeling that she is disrespecting the memory of his late father. The teen ends up apologising for crossing the line with some of his harsher comments, but he’s still far from understanding over the situation.

2. Nikau drops a bombshell on

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Stop hate speech and harassment of Black users

T’Nae Parker, a Black activist who’s been on Facebook since college, almost always has the app open on her phone, spending hours each day helping her community in South Carolina – that is, unless Facebook cuts off her access.

By her count, Parker has had her posts removed and her account locked in a punishment commonly referred to as “Facebook jail” 27 times for speaking out against racism or the complicity of white people in anti-Blackness.

“Shutting us out is basically saying ‘Shut up,’” Parker, 36, says.

Now, a Facebook advertising boycott is giving voice to years of complaints that the social media giant disproportionately stifles Black users while failing to protect them from harassment.

Launched by civil rights groups three weeks ago, the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which has a broader aim of curbing hate speech, white supremacy and misinformation on Facebook, has struck a national nerve. Hundreds

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