What if Australia or Egypt or Kenya required you to disclose your Twitter and Facebook history before allowing you in? Would you visit India or China or Thailand if you had to first divulge your history on Reddit, YouTube and Instagram?
For the past year, the State Department has required that new U.S. visa applicants disclose of all social media handles, including pseudonyms, used over the prior five years on 20 platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and Chinese sites Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, and Youku; Russian social network VK; Belgian site Twoo; and Latvian site Ask.fm.
“Failure to provide accurate and truthful responses on a visa application or during a visa interview may result in denial of the visa by a consular officer,” according to a State Department FAQ document. “In the case of an applicant who has used any of the social media platforms listed on the visa application in the preceding five years, the associated social media identifier would be required on the visa application form.”
Now a large group of Silicon Valley’s heaviest hitters are challenging the Trump Administration’s 2019 rules requiring that nearly all U.S. visitors disclose five years’ worth of social media history.
In court papers filed last Thursday, Twitter, Reddit and the Internet Association — whose members also include Facebook, Amazon.com, Alphabet, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Expedia and others — said the government’s rules force foreign visitors “to surrender their anonymity in order to travel to the United States.” The document argues, “By requiring speakers to reveal their online identifiers in order to enter the United States — as a blanket matter and without any tailoring to situations where there is a specific need for that information — and by subjecting their online activities to potentially indefinite scrutiny once they are in the country, the Registration Requirement and related retention and dissemination policies chill a vast quantity of speech and associational activity.”
The Internet Association is throwing its support behind two documentary filmmaker groups, the Doc Society and the International Documentary Association, that filed a lawsuit last December. One of their main arguments is that views expressed on social media activity can be subjective. The document warns visitors to the U.S. to “consider the risk that a U.S. official will misinterpret their speech on social media, impute others’ speech to them, or subject them to additional scrutiny or delayed processing because of the views they or their contacts have expressed.”
The State Department has stated that these rules were prompted by Trump’s 2017 order requiring heightened vetting of visa applications. Previously, the U.S. collected contact information, travel history, family information, and prior addresses. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding its collection of social media information and using it to evaluate the security risks posed by foreign and American travelers.
In 2019, domestic and international travelers spent $1.1 trillion in the U.S. and directly supported 9 million U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Packed, Maskless Great White Show Reminds Social Media of Band’s Tragic Concert Past – Variety
Unsafe concert conditions seem to know no genre boundaries in the mid-pandemic era. Two weekends ago, it was country artists Chase Rice and Chris Janson stirring outrage when they proudly posted videos of themselves playing to packed crowds of fans with no masks in sight. Last weekend, it was hip-hop star DaBaby in the hot seat for playing a show in a large, packed nightclub where his unmasked female fans were literally reaching out and grabbing him.
Now the attention has turned to veteran hard-rock band Great White, which performed an outdoor show Thursday night for a general admission audience in North Dakota, many of whom posted videos giving no indication of even a single mask in the crowd, with fans jammed together, and even shirtless in some instances.
As the lack of protocols at the show came up for scorn on social media, it was not lost on many commenters that, if there is any band that might want to avoid being mentioned in the same breath as “unsafe concert conditions,” it’s Great White,
“Great White doing a precaution-free concert right now is like if Great White were to do a precaution-free concert right now,” jabbed writer Evie Nagy — one of countless references Twitter users made to the 2003 tragedy in which 100 people were killed and 230 more injured in a pyrotechnic-related fire at a Great White show in Rhode Island.
In the tradition of Rice and Janson posting photos and videos of their caution-to-the-wind packed crowds, it was Great White singer Mitch Malloy himself who posted the most circulated video from the show.
Late Saturday night, the group issued a statement that emphasized that emphasized that the show went well while saying they consider themselves “far from perfect” and offering an apology “to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement.”
“We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time,” the group said. “We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota’s government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws. We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions. Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town. We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community. We are far from perfect.”
The group’s statement did not specify what safety precautions the promoter assured them about.
One difference between the show performed by Great White in North Dakota and the controversial gigs by Rice, Janson and DaBaby is that there wasn’t even the promise of social distancing Thursday, as organizers said ahead of time that none would be enforced or even encouraged.
“We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any,” event coordinator April Getz told the local Dickinson Press in touting the city’s “First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights” programming last month. (Grand White was the only act of national renown announced for the series.) ““I guess it’s one of the first events this year that didn’t get canceled and was approved by the city; we’re all very, very excited about it… It’s one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that’s their personal choice. We’re leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend.”
Although they were in the minority, there were some on social media defending Dickinson’s and the band’s right to put on shows with no coronavirus-related restrictions and fans’ right to attend.
“People are INSANE about masks right now,” wrote one Twitter user. “People are actually looking for pictures around the country of people not wearing masks to get pissed about. If you’re mad people in North Dakota at a Great White concert aren’t wearing masks, get out of the house and get a hobby.”
The version of the band that played Thursday in North Dakota has three members who have been with the group since the 1980s, along with lead singer Mitch Malloy, who joined in 2018. It is not to be confused with “Jack Russell’s Great White,” a spinoff group started by original singer Russell in 2011.
Russell is probably hoping no one associates him with this version of Great White or the North Dakota show, judging from recent omments he made strongly favoring the use of masks.
“There’s no need to be out [in public places],” Russell said in an interview with Austria’s Mulatschag that was found and publicized by Blabbermouth. “People don’t take it seriously — they don’t take the virus seriously. It’s sad. …It’s no small wonder that when you open all these places up, ‘Gee, the numbers [of coronavirus cases] rose up.’ It’s, like, what did you think was gonna happen? It’s, like, ‘I took my mask off and I got COVID.’ Well, what a big surprise that is.” Russell added, “If you don’t wanna help yourself, help everybody else. ‘Well, it’s my right. It’s my human right.’ Well, look, dude, you’ve gotta pay for your car to get smogged, you’ve gotta have a seat belt, you have a driver’s license, you have to have a license to be born, you have to have a marriage license. I mean, so you have to wear a mask for a while so you don’t die. What’s the problem?”
The version of Great White fronted by Malloy doesn’t have any other dates listed on its tour schedule before August 7, when it is booked for Riverfest FM in Fort Madison, Iowa, billed as “Southeast Iowa’s largest rock and roll festival.” That five-day festival in four weeks is “absolutely happening,” according to posts on the fest’s Facebook page. “With all of the uncertainty, it would have been easy to throw in the towel on this year,” Riverfest said, “but we firmly believe that ‘If we rock it, they will come’ and boy, do we have a line-up that is prepared to do just that!”
North Dakota has not been ravaged by COVID-19 as much as other states have, largely by virtue of a mostly rural population. Nonetheless, the state has seen rapid recent upticks. As of Saturday, North Dakota’s Department of Health reported 623 active cases, double the number from just 10 days earlier. Ninety of those cases were being newly reported Saturday. Earlier in the week, the state’s total case count was reported at 4,070.
Two missing in south China biofuel plant blast – state media – TheChronicleHerald.ca
SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Two people were missing and two injured after an explosion on Sunday at a biofuel plant in China’s Fujian province, the local fire department and state media said.
The blast occurred around 10:10 a.m. (0210 GMT) at Longyan Zhuoyue New Energy Co Ltd, a Shanghai-listed biofuel producer based in the southern city of Longyan, as workers were doing maintenance, CCTV said.
Video on state television showed thick dark smoke bellowing into the sky.
The fire was continuing as of 0600 GMT, as more than 100 firefighters were dispatched to the site and nearby residents had been evacuated, CCTV said.
Longyan Zhuoyue New Energy processes gutter oil into biodiesel, the company website says.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu in Singapore and Liangping Gao in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard)
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