China, Russia Target Audiences Online With Deep Fakes, Replica Front Pages

Looking directly into the camera, the news anchor speaks of the importance of U.S-Chinese cooperation in supporting the global economy.

At first glance, the woman appears to be presenting a regular newscast. But neither the broadcaster nor the Wolf News branding on the video is real. It's a deep fake, generated by artificial intelligence.

Viewers who look closely may see a few clues that something is off. The voice sounds unnatural and it doesn't sync with the movement of the mouth.

The video is one of two that appeared on social media in posts that seemed to promote the interests of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), New York-based research firm Graphika said in a report last month.

Advancements with generative AI tools have sparked concerns about the technology's capacity to create and disseminate disinformation at an unprecedented scale. The fake news anchors feed into those concerns.

Those technological advancements come as a February report from the European Union describes the multipronged approach China and Russia are taking to try to control narratives about everything from foreign policy to the war in Ukraine.

The use of fake news anchors themselves wasn't the most surprising aspect for Tyler Williams, director of investigations at Graphika. In 2018, The Guardian reported that China's state-run news outlet Xinhua had presented the world's first AI news anchor.

Still, Williams told VOA, "we were initially surprised to see it within this context."

Graphika came across the news anchor deep fakes on platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube while monitoring pro-China disinformation operations that the research firm has dubbed "spamouflage."

First identified in 2019, spamouflage refers to an extensive network of Beijing-linked accounts that disseminate pro-China propaganda.

"We've been tracking this spamouflage IO [influence operation] campaign for several years now," Williams said. "And this is the first time we've seen this campaign use this kind of technique or technology."

A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington told VOA the Graphika report "is full of prejudice and malicious speculations" that "China firmly opposes."

"In recent years, some Western media and think tanks have slandered China's use of fake social media accounts to spread so-called 'pro-China' information," the spokesperson said via email. "China believes that every social media user has the right to voice his or her own voice."

Multiple bodies, however, have documented how China censors social media and even jails users who criticize the government.

Trust erosion

The skill and efficiency with which AI can generate disinformation is particularly worrying to Williams.

"The bigger concern is just the continued erosion of trust — whether it's news media, or news published on social media platforms. That level of authenticity is more and more in question as we see this scale up, which we assume it will," he said. "To me, that's the primary concern. Do we end up in this final, zero-trust, cynical environment where everything is fake?"

"That's kind of a doomsday scenario," Williams quickly added. These developments shouldn't be blown out of proportion yet, he cautioned.

Currently, the technology is far from being perfected, according to Bill Drexel, who researches artificial intelligence at the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington.

"When I saw the videos initially, I thought it was almost humorous because they didn't go with a particularly high-quality deep fake," he told VOA. "But it's kind of a dark omen of things to come, as far as disinformation abroad goes."

"China's kind of infamous for its foreign disinformation being tone deaf and often counterproductive," Drexel said.

But China is not alone in using technology for disinformation.

The EU External Action Service report focused on Russian and Chinese disinformation and found that Moscow was supporting disinformation operations that impersonate international media outlets.

The study analyzed a sample of 100 cases of what it terms "information manipulation" from October through December. With 60 examples tied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow's aim is to distract audiences, deflect blame or direct attention to different topics, the report found.

"This war is not only conducted on the battlefield by the soldiers, it is waged in the information space trying to win the hearts and minds of the people," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a February speech. "We have plenty of evidence that Russia is behind coordinated attempts to manipulate public debates in open societies."

Print and TV media are the most frequent targets of Moscow's impersonation, in particular when targeting Ukraine.

The report cited four cases where fake cover pages imitating European satirical magazines were created to attack Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"Nobody is off limits from seeing their identity or brand misused," the report said. "Threat actors use impersonation to add legitimacy to their messages and to reach and affect audiences familiar with and trusting the impersonated entities."

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not reply to VOA's email requesting comment.

The spoofing strategy is rudimentary, but disinformation doesn't need to be sophisticated to be effective, said Nika Aleksejeva, who researches Russian disinformation at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Sometimes the basics work better, she said.

Attributing fake stuff to media outlets makes the lies more plausible. The aim is to make readers think, "'If this legitimate media outlet wrote about it, it must be true,'" Aleksejeva said.

This strategy is particularly effective because when readers click around on the fake pages, they'll be brought back to the real news site, according to Aleksejeva.

"It takes more vigilance from a reader to actually notice that something is off," she told VOA from Latvia's capital, Riga.

Aleksejeva is also concerned about how generative AI could be used to supercharge disinformation campaigns. Now, she said, it's as easy as feeding an AI tool some details and asking for a story.

"The volume will definitely change," she said. "It's just so much easier to invent a story."

Source: Voice of America

India’s opposition leader found guilty of defamation over Modi remark

An Indian court has found opposition leader Rahul Gandhi guilty of defamation for a 2019 campaign trail remark implying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a criminal.

Gandhi, the leading face of the opposition Congress party, was sentenced to two years imprisonment on Thursday but immediately granted bail after his lawyers announced their intention to appeal.

The case stemmed from a remark made during the 2019 election campaign in which the 52-year-old had asked why "all thieves have Modi as (their) common surname".

His comments were seen as a slur against the prime minister, who went on to win the election in a landslide.

Members of the government also said the remark was a smear against all those sharing the Modi surname, which is associated with the lower rungs of India's traditional caste hierarchy.

"If you are going to insult the entire Modi surname, this is completely defamatory," Ravi Shankar Prasad, a lawmaker for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told reporters.

"There was a proper hearing. He got an opportunity to present his side of things," he added. "The decision has been taken according to the due judicial process."

'Fighting to expose corruption'

Modi's government has been widely accused of using the law to target and silence critics, and the case in the premier's home state of Gujarat is one of several lodged against his chief opponent in recent years.

Gandhi's lawyer B. M. Mangukiya said his client had not meant to insult anyone.

"When the magistrate asked Gandhi what he had to say in his defence, the Congress leader said that he was fighting to expose corruption in the country," Mangukiya told reporters outside the court.

"His comments were not meant to hurt or insult any community."

Gandhi is the son, grandson and great-grandson of a dynasty of former Indian prime ministers, beginning with independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru.

But the descendant of India's most famous political dynasty has struggled to challenge the electoral juggernaut of Modi and its nationalist appeals to the country's Hindu majority.

Gandhi, who was present in court in Surat for the verdict, was greeted by supporters on his arrival.

He faces at least two other defamation cases elsewhere in the country.

Gandhi is also on bail in another money laundering case that has been snaking its way through India's glacial legal system for more than a decade. He denies any financial impropriety.

Source: TRTworld.com

Study Shows Sharp Decline of Australian Shallow Reef Species

An Australian study published Thursday found that up to 138 shallow-water reef species that have suffered sharp declines in the past 10 years now qualify as endangered or critically endangered.

The Reef Life Survey found that larger fish have shown a greater decline than smaller varieties — most likely because of a combination of overfishing and climate change. Pollution and development are also factors.

In what the survey’s authors say is a clear sign of global warming, population declines are disproportionately affecting marine species in cooler conditions off southern Australia.

There is a warning that more than 30% of invertebrates in the region’s cool, shallow waters are now considered to be at high risk of extinction.

Graham Edgar, a senior research fellow at the University of Tasmania, is the study’s lead author.

“The declines were much more pronounced along the southern Australian coast than in the tropical waters,” Edgar told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “So, regardless of all the attention paid to the Great Barrier Reef, which is deserved in terms of the impacts that are occurring there with heatwaves, we found that species along the southern Australian coast showed even greater declines in general.”

Researchers say that more marine animals and plants in Australia are migrating south to avoid warmer sea temperatures. They caution, however, that species in cooler waters are facing so-called “climate traps,” or geophysical barriers stopping them from moving, such as water temperature or salinity.

Edgar warned that warmer ocean temperatures were “starting to push species to their limits.”

The Reef Life Survey analyzed more than 1,000 species at around 1,600 locations. The field work was undertaken by about 100 recreational divers trained to collect scientific data.

The results are published in the journal Nature.

Source: Voice of America

Fact check: No, Putin did not kneel before Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia made international headlines. The demonstrative display of closeness between him and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and the signed new pact between their two nations are considered to be a sign of a strategic consolidation of relations between the two powers. This comes at a time when the West has been calling upon China to clearly distance itself from Russia, especially now that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Putin.

Given these circumstances, an image that has gone viral on social media has been the topic of much debate. It purports to show Vladimir Putin kneeling before Xi Jinping. It would a gesture of submission with much symbolism — if the image were not fake.

Claim: "Putin down on his knees, swearing obedience and loyalty to his master and commander," one Twitter user wrote after posting the image in question. Another user joked that Putin's knees must be hurting. A correspondent for the English-language Kyiv Post also shared the picture that has also been circulating on the instant messaging service Telegram and the online image sharing service imgur.

Across platforms, the image has been viewed over 1 million times. Did Putin really kneel before Xi?

DW Fact check: False.

Putin did not kneel before Xi Jinping: The photo is fake. Aside from the fact that such a gesture of submission would be highly unrealistic on the part of a head of state, our research suggests that the image was generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) app. There are a number of clues that point in that direction, starting with the results produced when the image is run through a reverse image search tool. The oldest result is dated March 20 but a more concrete source cannot be found for the image, even when different tools are used.

Deformed ears, one giant shoe, fused hands

Upon closer inspection, several puzzling details in the image catch the eye. The rear shoe of the person kneeling — claimed to be Putin — is disproportiontely large and wide. The calf on the same leg looks stretched. The person's head, while half covered, is also very large and does not match the proportions of the rest of the body. The ear is strangely deformed and features several odd, nondescript lumps that other images of Putin's ear do not show. The ear on — purportedly — Xi Jinping's head also appears strangely deformed if one zooms in. But the most obvious discrepancy does not regard either Xi or Putin, but the person standing left of them. This man's hands appear to be fused together.

Experience has shown that these are all noticeable problems that occur in AI-generated pictures. These are graphics created by apps with the help of AI and intended to look real. Recently, an AI app generated fake images of former US President Donald Trump being arrested even though he had not been arrested. AI tools such as Midjourney and DALL-E can create photorealistic images of natural settings and humans that are full of detail and hard to distinguish from real images. However, AI apps regularly produce images that contain errors; especially unrealistic representations of hands and ears are one of the problems AI image generators face.

AI detector: 57% artificially generated

Since there were many signs of artificial intelligence with regard to the Putin-Xi image in social media, we decided to examine it using AI-detecting software. We used the program Hugging Face, which inspects images for abnormalities and then gauges whether they arose more or less artificially. It estimated that the picture of Putin kneeling before Xi Jinping had been 57% artificially generated.

Finally, we searched for images of Xi's state visit to Russia. In particular, we were looking for details that might be similar to the image in question. But we found no images, whether in the database of the US-British visual media company Getty Images nor that of the Russian state news agency TASS , that featured the alleged genuflection. Even the furniture depicted in real photos of the state visit did not match.

Conclusion: The image purportedly showing Putin kneeling in front of Xi Jinping is fake. It cannot be found in any agency database and our research has found clear evidence that the image was generated by AI software.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Tawang: The town living in the shadow of India-China war

Thutan Chewang, 71, still remembers the day the war began.

It was October 1962 and China had just launched a surprise attack on what was then known as the North East Frontier Agency (which later became Arunachal Pradesh state) in north-eastern India.

"They [Chinese troops] came charging from all sides. People started to flee, fearing for their lives," says Mr Chewang, who was just 11 at the time.

The attack was swift, and despite putting up stiff resistance in some areas, Indian forces appeared to be struggling against Chinese troops.

Soon, China seized Mr Chewang's hometown Tawang, a few miles away from the disputed border between the two countries. China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops remained there for around a month before withdrawing.

More than 60 years later, that war still casts a shadow over the people of Tawang - especially when tensions escalate between the nuclear-armed neighbours. In December the town was back in the headlines when Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Tawang border.

But locals say despite the pain of the past, they are looking forward to a more promising future.

"A lot has changed in Tawang between then and now," Mr Chewang says.

Perched some 3,000m (10,000 feet) above sea level in the westernmost part of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang shares a boundary with China in the north and Bhutan to the south-west.

At first glance, the town could easily be mistaken for one of several hill stations in India, with mushrooming hotels, eateries and small market areas, and rampant residential and commercial construction.

But there are many things that set it apart. The 8m-high giant Buddha statue looking over the township and the sprawling Tawang monastery - India's largest Buddhist monastery - underscore the influence and significance of Buddhism here.

Tawang is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists and attracts a steady stream of tourists every year.

But its strategic location has long made it the focus of tensions between India and China - Tibet, annexed by China in 1950, lies just 35km (22 miles) to the north. In fact, the Tawang monastery was where the 14th Dalai Lama briefly stayed after fleeing from Tibet in 1959.

The Indian monastery town coveted by China

India and China share a frontier that isn't fully demarcated - India says it is 3,488km long but China puts it at around 2,000km. Both sides have deployed tens of thousands of soldiers with heavy armaments along of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which separates Chinese and Indian territory.

China continues to stake claim on the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it "South Tibet". In 2021, it even came out with a list renaming 15 places in the state, triggering a sharp response from India. Beijing has also routinely objected to visits by the Dalai Lama and Indian leaders to the region.

But many people in Tawang say that they don't allow the border tensions to dominate their lives. Civic issues feature more frequently in their conversations than China.

"The media blows things out of proportion at times," says Karmu, who goes by only one name and runs a garment store in Tawang.

The "exaggerated" media coverage of border face-offs, Ms Karmu adds, brings fewer tourists to Tawang, hitting incomes.

While many people from the area join the Indian army, paramilitary forces and other government jobs, others depend mainly on tourism.

The Indian government has now allowed tourists to go right up to the LAC in the Bum La area, opening up another income source for scores of cab operators in Tawang, some of whom undertake multiple trips to the border in a day.

Tenzin Darge, who runs a gift store, says that life in Tawang is as normal as it is anywhere else.

"The media makes a hullabaloo every time something happens on the border. But for us, it is life as normal."

That doesn't mean the town has forgotten the horrors of the past.

Sitting in the courtyard of the Khinmey monastery near his house, Mr Chewang speaks of the hardships people had to face during the 1962 war.

"We didn't even have proper roads. People walked night and day through jungles to reach safer places. It was a nightmare."

For others, too, the memories of 1962 are still fresh.

Lobsang Tsering, 71, recounts how his parents fled all the way to the neighbouring state of Assam for shelter.

He says it was equally hard to return. When China announced a ceasefire and withdrew its troops in November 1962, many who had escaped from Tawang were too afraid to go back.

"We were told that the war was over and that we could go back but not many could believe or understand this. Some thought that they were going to be handed over to the Chinese," says Lham Norbu, 76, who, along with his family had also escaped to Assam in 1962.

The journey back home also left many scarred.

Rinchin Dorje, who was in his mid-twenties during the war, says he remembers seeing dead bodies of Indian soldiers on the roads.

"I wish I could forget those memories," he says.

A memorial at Tawang lists the names of 2,420 Indian soldiers who died in the area during the 1962 war. The bullet-riddled helmets of Indian soldiers displayed there are also a grim reminder.

Others are trying to keep the memories alive in their own ways.

Around 22 miles from Tawang, in a small township called Jang, is a roadside restaurant called Café 62.

Named for the year of the war, the eatery was opened by Rinchin Drema, a retired paramilitary solider who served in the army for 21 years.

"When the war happened, our elders were put through a lot of misery. Café 62 is just a tribute to all they went through," he says.

Source: BBC

TikTok: Why do countries think Chinese tech firms are a security risk?

The US has threatened to ban it completely if the company remains under Chinese ownership.

Many Western countries are also taking measures against other Chinese tech firms over security fears.

What restrictions have been introduced against TikTok?

TikTok is a platform for creating and sharing short videos which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

It was started in 2016, and has become the third most popular internet service in the world, with more than a billion active monthly users.

The app has been banned on government devices in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, Taiwan, the UK and the US.

The EU told its staff to remove the app from phones it has issued, and also recommended they remove it from private devices on which official apps are installed.

India has banned TikTok outright because of security concerns.

Afghanistan has also banned it to prevent young people from "being misled".

TikTok's US future at stake in showdown at Congress

Who is TikTok chief Shou Zi Chew?

How a TikTok ban would - or wouldn't - work in practice

Why do countries think TikTok poses a security risk?

TikTok gathers the same type of user data as many other social media firms such as Facebook and Instagram.

This includes names, ages, phone numbers, email addresses and photos.

FBI director Chris Wray has pointed to China's 2017 National Intelligence Law, saying it requires companies "to do whatever the government wants them to do in terms of showing them information or serving as a tool for the Chinese government."

TikTok also has a tool which recommends video clips for users to watch, called the "For You" feed.

"It looks like a very effective algorithm," says Professor Ross Anderson, from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. "[It has great] potential to spread Chinese influence and propaganda amongst young people in the West."

TikTok users shrug at China fears: 'It's hard to care'

Which other Chinese tech has been targeted?

Chinese companies specialising in 5G technology such as Huawei, ZTE and Hytera have been banned from installing equipment on networks in Australia, the US, Japan, India, and Canada.

The UK government has ordered equipment installed by Huawei to be removed from 5G networks by 2027.

The US and Dutch governments are restricting the export of semiconductors to China because of security fears over the country's development of supercomputing and AI technology.

The UK and Australian government have ordered Chinese-made security cameras to be removed from sensitive sites such as government buildings.

Police use of Chinese cameras criticised

What is behind these bans?

Governments fear that 5G equipment installed by Chinese firms in foreign countries' networks contains "backdoors" through which data can be passed back to Beijing.

Through companies such as Hikvision, China is the world's largest producer of security cameras. It is thought that that these could also be secretly feeding intelligence to China.

"Why wouldn't they have put in backdoor access?" asks Prof Anderson. "Western countries have done that for years when they've built telephone networks around the world."

There's no hard evidence that China is using its tech firms for espionage, says Jake Moore, global security advisor to ESET, an internet security firm.

However, he says: "There's a fear that firms like Huawei and TikTok have become so big that they could be hacking huge amounts of data and damaging national security.

"Governments are right to take precautions against it now rather than later."

What is Huawei and why is it being banned?

US ramps up curbs on chip sales to China

Netherlands to restrict some chip technology exports

What does China say about curbs on its tech firms?

China's foreign ministry has called the bans on TikTok and other tech firms "political theatre", saying the "US is overstretching national security concerns to suppress other countries' companies."

TikTok insists it gathers no more data than other social media apps, and that it is independent of the government.

In 2022, it admitted that some of its staff in China could access user data gathered in Europe, but it says that it is working on ways of keeping such information within Europe.

It also says that American users' data is nowadays processed through US servers, and does not go to China.

But the firm has launched a new strategy to govern how it stores and uses data called Project Clover.

Source: BBC

Australia has a ‘pokies’ gambling problem, but is change coming?

At the lowest point of her addiction, Kate Seselja sat in front of an electronic gambling machine for hours, crying as she stared at the glowing nil balance.

Her phone buzzed on an intermittent loop - her worried husband calling "a hundred times", and increasingly desperate to find her.

Overcome with feelings of dread and shame, she thought about ending her life - but didn't because she was pregnant with her sixth child.

"I was so mentally, physically, [and] emotionally done with this existence, this addiction" she tells the BBC.

"But I couldn't figure out how to take my life and not hers."

After 12 years of destructive gambling, she had lost about A$500,000 (£273,000; $336,000).

Ms Seselja's story, while shocking, is familiar to many Australians - about one in 100 have a gambling problem.

If gambling losses were averaged over Australia's entire adult population, each person would lose about A$1,200 a year, according to H2 Gambling Capital. This is significantly more than for other nations.

Driving this are electronic poker machines, or slot machines - known colloquially here as the pokies. Critics liken them to "electronic heroin".

But Australia could be on the cusp of the biggest reform to the industry since the machines were first legalised in 1956.

World's pokies hotspot

Australia has just 0.33% of the world's population, but a fifth of its pokies.

Rows of machines fill not just casinos but thousands of pubs, clubs and hotels too. Each year they rake in about $13bn - more than casinos, lotteries and sports betting combined.

Recent inquiries have found the machines are being used to launder money in Australia. But this is nothing compared to their personal cost, opponents say.

Often concentrated in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, the machines contribute to suicides, financial offences, domestic violence, family breakdowns and poverty, research has shown.

"You're taught about smoking and drinking alcohol, but nobody warned me about pokies," Ms Seselja says.

And so, at the age of 18, she slipped a $20 note into a machine one night at her boyfriend's urging. She instantly won hundreds.

As the lights flashed and the machine sung out, Ms Seselja remembers her heart pounding in reply. "It made me feel like I was lucky or clever."

"Every time you'd go out with friends, there was pokies available," she says. "It wasn't like I left the house thinking yes, I'm going to go gamble tonight."

But before long, Ms Seselja was feeding all her earnings into the machines. She began lying to loved ones, taking money from her family business, and maxing out credit card after credit card.

"I quickly became somebody I didn't recognise," she says, crying. "But I now hold compassion for her, because the reality is I was so unprotected, as a consumer, against addiction by design."

Researchers like Charles Livingstone say electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are designed to deliver the brain's happy chemical - dopamine - "in spades", even when players are losing money, which makes them highly addictive.

"If you wanted to look at the worst example of exploitation of a vulnerable community by a legal product that is poorly regulated, it will be hard to find a better example than the [pokies] industry in Australia," Dr Livingstone, from Monash University, tells the BBC.

The man who pioneered the use of pokies in Australia - Len Ainsworth - has previously rejected the notion they're addictive, calling it "nonsense".

"I mean, if you like something you'll continue to do it… it's like kissing girls," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017.

Australia's Gaming Technologies Association also defends the machines, saying they are made according to regulations which prioritise "fairness, probity, and harm minimisation" as "paramount objectives".

It also points to a failed lawsuit against a pokies manufacturer in 2018. A Federal Court judge found the applicant had not provided enough evidence that features of the machines were addictive and deceptive.

"Playing EGMs is a legitimate recreational activity that millions of Australians enjoy safely," a spokeswoman said.

Ms Seselja finds that argument ridiculous. "If it's able to take $10 from you every three seconds, that does not equal harmless entertainment," she says.

Hurdles to reform

There has been growing appetite for change in Australia - and an election on Saturday in New South Wales (NSW) could bring it.

Advocates say NSW, with half of Australia's pokies, is "the beating heart" of gambling in the nation.

The state government and opposition have committed to policies which target problem gamblers. Premier Dominic Perrottet's government has also promised - if re-elected - to require all players to set spending limits and to make all machines cash-free within five years.

The government could not continue to "profit off people's misery", according to Mr Perrottet. In 2020-21, it received almost $2bn in pokies tax revenue.

Similar strategies in Norway - and closer to home in Tasmania - have proven effective at dramatically slashing problem gambling.

"If the reforms were in place when I was 18, there's no way my life would have taken that 12-year trajectory," Ms Seselja says.

But parts of the premier's proposal have drawn staunch opposition. "Rather than banning cash, we support banning criminals and problem gamblers from club gaming rooms," said George Peponis, the chairman of lobby group ClubsNSW, in January.

Such opposition could make things difficult. Andrew Wilkie, an independent federal MP, knows this all too well.

In 2010, he negotiated similar gambling reforms with the federal government - but the deal quickly came under great pressure.

Governments were reluctant to forgo huge sources of tax income. Mr Wilkie says he found himself fighting a powerful lobby consortium led by ClubsNSW - which he argues is "akin to the National Rifle Association in the United States".

Groups such as ClubsNSW have long been huge political and community donors in Australia, and they lobbied against the changes - arguing they jeopardised the livelihoods of clubs.

There was a wide-ranging ad campaign and lobbying of MPs. Mr Wilkie even claims his effigy was burned at one pro-gambling rally in NSW.

"They went ballistic. And they won," Mr Wilkie says. "Basically the government chickened out and pulled out of the deal."

A former NSW government minister, Victor Dominello, last week alleged similar treatment.

In response, ClubsNSW said it worked hard to represent the interests of NSW clubs and the communities they serve - in the same way that "hundreds of peak bodies and businesses [do] on a daily basis".

"Our expectation is that these activities are undertaken in an appropriate manner, and where they are not appropriate action is taken," a spokesperson said.

Reform hope

Mr Wilkie says if Mr Perrottet's government in NSW is returned to power, it could be a "watershed moment".

"You get reform in NSW, and you've cracked the nut - you get reform across half the country's poker machines."

"And the dam wall will have broken - it'll be impossible for other states not to follow suit eventually."

Ms Seselja - who is now a gambling reform advocate - is less excited. Polling has not indicated the government will be returned to power, and she has too often felt let down by politicians anyway.

But she believes community sentiment is turning and that is encouraging.

"There's a time and a place for personal responsibility, but there hasn't been a time and a place for open and honest discussion about this addiction in this country," she says.

"We're the number one gambling nation in the world, experiencing the most harm. There's something profoundly wrong there, and maybe it's not [me]."

If you are feeling emotionally distressed and would like details of organisations in the UK which offer advice and support, go to bbc.co.uk/actionline.

If you are in Australia, you can call Lifeline on 131114 or the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.

Source: BBC

Man gets death penalty for killing woman in city

A Dhaka court today sentenced a man to death

for killing a housewife in 2018 in city's Namapara area under Cantonment

Thana.

The court also fined convict Ariful Haque Shiplu Taka 20 thousand.

As he was produced before the court today, Judge Sabera Sultana Khanam of

Dhaka Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Tribunal-7 handed down the verdict.

According to the case, on February 9, 2018, the victim was found stabbed and

wounded at her house in West Manikdi Namapara area.

She was rushed to Mirpur Islamia Hospital, and later to Dhaka Medical College

and Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.

The medical report showed she was raped before murder. A case was filed

against Shiplu by the victim's father Lutfar Rahman with Cantonment Thana the

next day.

Cantonment Thana SI Riyad Ahmed pressed charge sheet against the accused and

the trial began in 2019.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Call to bring all undetected TB patients under treatment

Health experts at a post-rally meeting

unequivocally called for a concerted effort to bring all the undetected

tuberculosis patients under proper treatment for building a TB free society.

They said TB is no longer a killer disease as early detection, proper and

timely diagnosis and treatment and preventive measures are found effective in

fighting the disease.

Offices of Divisional Director of Health and Civil Surgeon, Chest Disease

Hospital and Rajshahi City Corporation jointly organised the meeting at Civil

Surgeon Office premises in Rajshahi city to mark the World Tuberculosis Day-

2023 today.

World TB Day 2023, with the theme 'Yes! We can end TB!', aims to inspire hope

and encourage high-level leadership, increased investments, faster uptake of

new WHO recommendations, adoption of innovations, accelerated action, and

multisectoral collaboration to combat the TB epidemic.

Different organisations like Damien Foundation, Brac, ICDDR'B, Tilottoma,

SMC, NATAB, Rick, and Ashakta Punarbashan Sangstha (APOSH) joined the anti-TB

programme displaying banners, festoons and placards.

Divisional Deputy Director of Health Dr Anwarul Kabir addressed the meeting

as chief guest, while Dr Bayezid Ul Islam, Medical Officer (Civil Surgeon

office), was in the chair.

Superintendent of Chest Disease Hospital Dr Mojibur Rahman, Divisional TB

Expert of National TB Control Programme Dr Saiful Islam, District

Surveillance Medical Officer Dr Abdur Rab Siddiqui and Junior Consultant of

Chest Disease Clinic Dr Chandan Kumar Pramanik spoke on the occasion.

In his remarks, Dr Anwarul Kabir said the existing challenges of Multi Drug

Resistance (MDR) tuberculosis should be faced collectively as its

consequences are very dangerous.

He urged all the government and non-government organizations concerned to

help doctors and health workers in identifying TB patients and bring them to

treatment.

"TB is no more a deadly disease now and it could be fully cured if the

affected patients take medicines properly for six to eight months at a

stretch as per the suggestions of the physicians", he added.

TB is an infectious disease that usually spreads through breathing of the

affected patients. Coughing with pain in the chest for more than three weeks

is the symptom of the disease.

In the event of contracting the disease, the infected persons are required to

be diagnosed immediately.

Dr Saiful Islam told the meeting that free treatment facilities are available

at all the upazila health complexes, district hospitals, public and private

medical colleges and other health centres in the country.

Around thirty percent of old patients turned into MDR-TB patients in

Bangladesh. The scope of treatment for MDR-TB patients is limited compared to

its number in the country.

Dr Mojibur Rahman said the healthcare providers can help prevent MDR TB by

quickly diagnosing cases, following recommended treatment guidelines,

monitoring patients' response to treatment, and making sure therapy is

completed.

Another way to prevent getting MDR TB is to avoid exposure to known MDR TB

patients in closed or crowded places such as hospitals, prisons, or homeless

shelters, he added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Two killed in Mymensingh road accident

Two people were killed and three others injured in a collision between a truck and a CNG-run auto-rickshaw on Mymensingh-Netrakona road in Charpara Madrasa area under Gouripur upazila of the district last night.

The deceased are CNG run auto-rickshaw driver Humayun, 20, son of Rashid, resident of Beltali Dakshinpara area of Sidhla union of Gouripur upazila and Rubel Miah, 32, son of Abdul Sattar, resident of Beltoli Maddhyapara area of the upazila.

The accident occurred in the Charpara Madrasa area when a sand-laden truck collided head-on with a Shyamganj-bound CNG-run auto-rickshaw coming from the opposite direction around 10:30pm last night, leaving the CNG driver dead on the spot and four passengers of his vehicle injured, officer-in-charge (OC) of Gouripur Police Station Md Mahmudul Islam said.

The injured were taken to Mymensingh Medical College and Hospital, where the on-duty doctor declared Rubel Miah dead.

Police seized the truck but its driver managed to flee the scene, he said

A case was filed in the connection, the OC added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Cheques distributed among patients in Gopalganj

Cheques worth of Taka 82 lakh were

distributed among 164 patients with chronic diseases in the district today.

A function was held on this occasion at the Conference Room of the Deputy

Commissioner this noon. District Department of Social Services organised the

function.

Deputy Director of Gopalganj district Department of Social Services Md Harun-

or-Rashid in the chair Deputy Commissioner Kazi Mahbubul Alam, beneficiaries

Shahida Begum, Amal Baksi and Badsha Mollah spoke, among others, in the

function.

Each of the recipient got a cheque worth of Taka 50,000 in the function.

Prime Minister's Relief and Welfare Fund provided the cheques.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Fugitive death-row war crimes convict held in Keraniganj

The Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) of Police arrested a fugitive war criminal, who was sentenced to death by International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1), from Keraniganj in the district on Wednesday night.

The convict is Md Abdul Khaleq Talukdar, 73, son of late Md Rustom Talukdar of Kharchail village under Purbodhola thana of Netrokona district.

ATU (Media and Awareness Wing) Police Super Mohammad Aslam Khan told BSS that acting on a tip-off, an ATU team conducted a drive in Keraniganj and arrested him.

Khaleq was awarded the capital punishment by the ICT-1 on March 28, 2019, as the court found him guilty of mass murder, torture and other anti-humanity crimes during the Liberation War, he said.

"Necessary legal action against him is underway." the ATU official added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Experts for early diagnosis, treatment of TB patientsx

Experts at a post-rally discussion here today put importance on ensuring early diagnosis and on time treatment of tuberculosis (TB) patients to eliminate the curable disease from the country.

They viewed this at the discussion held at the Civil Surgeon's conference room in observance of the World Tuberculosis Day- 2023 with the theme of 'Yes we can end TB' in the city.

The Office of the Divisional Director (Health) in association with brac and National Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh (NATAB) organized the events under the National Tuberculosis Prevention Program.

Earlier, physicians, health workers, nurses, teachers, public representatives, religious leaders and NGO activists participated in the rally.

Divisional Deputy Director (Health) Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman presided over the discussion moderated by a Medical Officer at the Civil Surgeon's Office Dr. Nur Jahan Binte Islam Naz.

Medical Officer at the Civil Surgeon's Office Dr. Md. Akhteruzzaman Shuvo delivered a presentation narrating the symptoms of TB infection, its treatment, child tuberculosis, drug resistant tuberculosis, TB preventive therapy, test and identification of TB.

Deputy Civil Surgeon Dr. Md. Ruhul Amin, Rangpur District Manager of brac Feroz Shah Mian, President of Rangpur unit of NATAB Shah Md. Nabiullah Panna, Rangpur Divisional Manager of National Tuberculosis Prevention Program Jafrul Alam Prodhan and Sadar Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr. Rabi Sankar Mandal spoke.

Dr. Akhteruzzaman Shuvo put emphasis on ensuring proper implementation of the tuberculosis eradication programs to reduce TB-related deaths aiming at freeing the country from the curable disease by 2035 next.

Dr. Ruhul Amin said both adults and children should be brought under the TB identification program and cost-free treatment process to completely free the country from tuberculosis.

Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman discussed various programs of the government for controlling tuberculosis and stressed on using Tuberculosis Preventive Therapy (TPT), modern GeneXpert Machines and Digital X-ray Machines for diagnosing TB patients.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha