TV highlights of Ramadan

TV highlights of Ramadan
Superstar Saudi comedian Nasser Al-Qasabi stars in ‘Mamnou3 Al-tajawol.’ (Supplied) 
Short Url
Updated 09 April 2021

TV highlights of Ramadan

TV highlights of Ramadan
  • A selection of the shows we’ll all be talking about in Ramadan

‘MAMNOU3 AL-TAJAWOL’ 


Superstar Saudi comedian Nasser Al-Qasabi headlines a stellar cast that includes Rashid Al-Shamrani, Habib Al-Habib, Fayez Al-Maliki, Ilham Al-Ali, and Aseel Omran in this black comedy show examining how communities adapted to life in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic (the title translates roughly to ‘No Roaming,’ or ‘Curfew’). While it may be a comedy, it doesn’t shy away from the struggles that coronavirus has brought into our lives. ““Comedy is the general framework for (the show),” said Al-Qasabi in a press release. “It’s a social presentation of the situation in a comic nature, and I hope that we have been successful.” Al-Shamrani added: “We have tried to present topics that draw humor from the core of that suffering."

‘NEWTON’S CRADLE’

Expectations are clearly high for this Egyptian drama, which will be screened by both MBC and OSN over Ramadan (subtitled in English on the latter). Mona Zaki and Mohamed Mamdouh star as married couple Hana and Hazem. When Hana discovers she is pregnant, after many unsuccessful attempts, the couple decide that their child should be born in America, in the hope of providing greater opportunities for its future. Hana travels to the US first and, once she is there, she discovers some disturbing information about Hazem, including infidelity and his possible involvement in fraud and murder.

‘YALLA NETA’SHA’

OSN’s regional version of British reality show “Come Dine With Me” was a huge hit in its debut season late last year, so it’s no surprise to see the network pushing season two out during Ramadan. Each week, a group of four strangers take it in turns to host a dinner party in their own home. The other guests rate their food and hosting abilities out of 10 at the end of the night — which offers plenty of scope for both back-stabbing and camaraderie. The series has once again been filmed in the UAE.

‘MARGARET’


Kuwaiti actress Hayat Al-Fahad plays the title character in this fish-out-of-water series showing on MBC. Though born to an Arab father, Margaret has lived all her life with her English mother in London, so when she marries an Arab and moves to the Middle East, she struggles to fit in at first — expecting, and imposing, the same level of directness and strict organization she has been used to from her life in England. “She is not cruel but organized,” Al-Fahad said in a press release. “Lying is forbidden for her — honesty is the basis for (relationships). But those harsh habits that she acquired from her mother sometimes clash with certain models of Eastern society.” When her husband later dies, Margaret is left to raise their daughters alone, and manages to find a balance between East and West for her family. Director Basil Al-Khatib described the show as being “full of secrets, mysteries, drama, and unexpected events. It is filled with emotion and conflicts. In short, the (show) revolves around the mother's relationship with her daughters as well as the society in which she lives."

‘AL-NAMOUS’

OSN is showing this decades-spanning, multi-narrative Gulf drama series (with English subtitles available) starring Mohammed Al-Mansour as murder victim Rashid Al-Mather. The story traces Al-Mather’s long life in Kuwait and shows the impact his death — and the knowledge that perhaps dies with him — has on other characters. Also starring Kuwaiti actors Haifa Adel and Khaled Amin and Omani actress Buthaina Al Ra’isi.

‘MOUSSA’


Egyptian period drama set in WWII. Mohamed Ramadan plays the title role of a young man dreaming of escaping poverty. But when Moussa takes revenge on the man responsible for his brother’s death, he is forced to flee into the mountains, where he fights against British occupation. But when another family member gets into trouble, Moussa returns to seek justice for them, and for himself. Showing on MBC. Sumaya Al-Khashab, Munther Rayhana and Heba Magdy also star.

‘2020’

Both OSN and MBC are showing this hotly anticipated Syrian crime series starring Qusai Khouli, Nadine Nassib Njeim, Ramy Ayach, and Randa Kaady. When a drug dealer (Khouli) falls for captain in the security services (Njeim), the odds seem stacked against their relationship working out. Each will have to make sacrifices, and learn to trust the other.

‘HARB AHLEYA’

With Egyptian actress Youssra in the leading role, this drama series (the title translates to ‘Civil War’) is sure to be popular. She plays Mariam, a successful, self-possessed plastic surgeon who, as the actress explained in a press release, “discovers that she may lose everything (due to) a moment of weakness, so she tries hard to protect herself, her family, and her two daughters, who are everything to her.” Writer Ahmed Adel and director Sameh Abdel Aziz are remaining tight-lipped about the plot, but the cast also features Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifa and Syrian star Basel Khayat.

‘AL-ROUH WA AL-RAYYA’

Another OSN Khaleeji drama, this one starring Kuwaiti actress Hiba Al-Durri as a woman trying to hold her family of four siblings together after their mother dies. Her task is made even harder by the fact that her father has fallen apart since his wife’s death, and needs constant care himself.

‘LAHM AL-GHAZAL’

Egyptian actress Ghada Abdel Razek takes on three different roles in this social drama that is set mainly in the market of a popular Egyptian neighbourhood (although the show was filmed in Beirut). Details of Razek’s roles are being kept under wraps, but we do know that the show will feature both flashbacks and jumps forward in time when the action shifts outside of the market place. The series was directed by Muhammad Osama and written by Iyad Ibrahim and also stars Amr Abdel Jalil, Khaled Kamal, Ahmed Khalil and Mai Selim.

‘KASR AL-NILE’

This Egyptian drama series revolves, MBC said in a press release “around money, power, politics and love during the 1950s and 1960s in the aftermath of the July Revolution in Egypt.” Directed by Khaled Marei, the show stars Dina El-Sherbiny, Reham Abdel Ghafour, Sabry Fawaz, Ahmed Magdy, and more. When businessman Fahmi Pasha Al-Sioufi dies, his sons, his brother and his sister all inherit his fortune, and his palace on the banks of the Nile. But how will Al-Sioufi’s close ties to Egyptian royalty affect his surviving family now that the revolution has happened? And what secrets does that palace hide?

‘DOF’AT BEIRUT’

An intriguing-sounding drama series about a group of Arab students — many from the GCC — living in Beirut in the Sixties. Writer Heba Mashary Hamadeh described the show in a press release as a “daring and controversial act” that covers a range of ideological and political ideas that would have been hot topics around Hamra Street — the chosen hangout spot for poets, writers, artists and intellectuals in the Lebanese capital — at the time, including Arab nationalists, Islamists, militants, Baathists, militants, revivalists, communists, and more. “We also shed light on the high debate between religion and liberalism at the time,” Hamadeh added. The show stars Saudi actor Muhannad Al-Hamdi, Egyptian actress Nour Al-Ghandour, Kuwaiti actress Fatima Al-Safi, and Iraqi actress Rawan Mahdi, among others.


CNN fires Chris Cuomo over help he gave to governor brother

CNN fires Chris Cuomo over help he gave to governor brother
Updated 05 December 2021

CNN fires Chris Cuomo over help he gave to governor brother

CNN fires Chris Cuomo over help he gave to governor brother

WASHINGTON: CNN fired veteran anchor and correspondent Chris Cuomo, the cable news channel said Saturday, during an investigation into his involvement with helping defend his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, against sexual misconduct allegations.
Chris Cuomo had been suspended from CNN over the matter just days before his termination.
“We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately,” a statement posted to CNN’s official communications Twitter account said.
“While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light.”
The termination comes after documents surfaced showing that Cuomo, who anchored the 9:00 p.m. news slot, offered advice to his politician brother that was deemed too close for comfort by his employer.
“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions,” a CNN spokesperson said Tuesday, adding they “point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew.”
“He’s my brother. And if I can help my brother, I do. If he wants me to hear something, I will. If he wants me to weigh in on something, I’ll try,” Chris Cuomo, 51, told investigators in July when asked about the counsel he had offered.
“He’s my brother, and I love him to death no matter what.”
Democrat Andrew Cuomo was elected governor three times before resigning in August after New York’s attorney general said an investigation concluded he had sexually harassed at least 11 women.
In October, the former governor — whose father Mario Cuomo had also been governor of New York — was charged with a misdemeanor sex crime for forcible touching.
At the start of the pandemic, the Cuomo brothers soared to new heights of popularity: Andrew, 63, earned praise for his frank daily briefings as the coronavirus ravaged New York, and his live exchanges with Chris on CNN were peppered with banter.
The investigation into Chris Cuomo’s conduct remains ongoing, CNN said.


Report: Google profited from sale of T-shirts praising Hamas

Report: Google profited from sale of T-shirts praising Hamas
Updated 04 December 2021

Report: Google profited from sale of T-shirts praising Hamas

Report: Google profited from sale of T-shirts praising Hamas
  • The Independent report found that Google has been displaying adverts for T-shirts bearing a picture of a Hamas fighter with the message “HAMAS ARMY”

LONDON: A report by the Independent revealed on Saturday that Google has been profiting from the sale of T-shirts glorifying Hamas, days after the UK government designated their political arm a terrorist organization.

Last Friday, Home Secretary Priti Patel made the move in a bid to crack down on anti-semitism, making it a criminal offence to be a member of Hamas or even wear clothing suggesting affiliation.

Nevertheless, the Independent report found that Google has been displaying adverts for T-shirts bearing a picture of a Hamas fighter with the message “HAMAS ARMY” ever since Patel’s designation.

Google had been advertising the £9.93 ($13.14) shirts, to be sold via another website, at the top of the shopping section of its search engine. One advert even highlighted a price drop, showing that the T-shirt was previously sold for £19.26.

Shortly after the Independent published its report, Google removed the adverts.

“We prohibit ads or products that are made by or in support of terrorist groups. In this case, we removed the ads and listings from our platform. We enforce our policies vigorously and take action when they are breached,” a Google spokesperson said.

Teepublic, the website selling the T-shirts, removed the adverts after being contacted by the Independent.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We expect tech companies to tackle terrorist content on their platforms and respond to emerging threats quickly. We are pleased Google acted so swiftly here, and we will continue to work with companies to ensure it remains a priority.”


Facebook whistleblower says transparency needed to fix social media ills

Haugen said the company should be required to disclose which languages are supported by its tech safety systems. (AFP)
Haugen said the company should be required to disclose which languages are supported by its tech safety systems. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2021

Facebook whistleblower says transparency needed to fix social media ills

Haugen said the company should be required to disclose which languages are supported by its tech safety systems. (AFP)
  • Facebook whistleblower says the degree to which Facebook is harmful in languages other than English will leave people “even more shocked”

LONDON: A deeper investigation into Facebook’s lack of controls to prevent misinformation and abuse in languages other than English is likely to leave people “even more shocked” about the potential harms caused by the social media firm, whistleblower Frances Haugen told Reuters.
Haugen, a former product manager at Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, spoke at the Reuters Next conference on Friday.
She left the company in May with thousands of internal documents which she leaked to the Wall Street Journal. That led to a series of articles in September detailing how the company knew its apps helped spread divisive content and harmed the mental health of some young users.
Facebook also knew it had too few workers with the necessary language skills to identify objectionable posts from users in a number of developing countries, according to the internal documents and Reuters interviews with former employees.
People who use the platform in languages other than English are using a “raw, dangerous version of Facebook,” Haugen said.
Facebook has consistently said it disagrees with Haugen’s characterization of the internal research and that it is proud of the work it has done to stop abuse on the platform.
Haugen said the company should be required to disclose which languages are supported by its tech safety systems, otherwise “Facebook will do ... the bare minimum to minimize PR risk,” she said.
The internal Facebook documents made public by Haugen have also raised fresh concerns about how it may have failed to take actions to prevent the spread of misleading information.
Haugen said the social media company knew it could introduce “strategic friction” to make users slow down before resharing posts, such as requiring users to click a link before they were able to share the content. But she said the company avoided taking such actions in order to preserve profit.
Such measures to prompt users to reconsider sharing certain content could be helpful given that allowing tech platforms or governments to determine what information is true poses many risks, according to Internet and legal experts who spoke during a separate panel at the Reuters Next conference on Friday.
“In regulating speech, you’re handing states the power to manipulate speech for their own purposes,” said David Greene, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The documents made public by Haugen have led to a series of US congressional hearings. Adam Mosseri, head of Meta Platforms’ Instagram app, will testify next week on the app’s effect on young people.
Asked what she would say to Mosseri given the opportunity, Haugen said she would question why the company has not released more of its internal research.
“We have evidence now that Facebook has known for years that it was harming kids,” she said. “How are we supposed to trust you going forward?“


Twitter admits policy ‘errors’ after far-right abuse

Twitter launched new rules Tuesday blocking users from sharing private images of other people without their consent. (File/AFP)
Twitter launched new rules Tuesday blocking users from sharing private images of other people without their consent. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 December 2021

Twitter admits policy ‘errors’ after far-right abuse

Twitter launched new rules Tuesday blocking users from sharing private images of other people without their consent. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter admitted policy errors which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent
  • This comes after a screenshot of a far-right call-to-action circulated on Telegram claiming things now “work more in our favor.”

WASHINGTON: Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.
Even the social network admitted the roll out of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.
It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.
Their concerns were quickly validated, with anti-extremism researcher Kristofer Goldsmith tweeting a screenshot of a far-right call-to-action circulating on Telegram: “Due to the new privacy policy at Twitter, things now unexpectedly work more in our favor.”
“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.
Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.
Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.
“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.
In announcing the privacy policy on Tuesday, Twitter noted that “sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm.”
But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”
By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”
“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.


However, Los Angeles-based activist and researcher Chad Loder said their account was permanently blocked after reports to Twitter over publicly-recorded images from an anti-vaccine rally and a confrontation outside the home of a former Vice journalist.
“Twitter is saying I must delete my tweets featuring photographs of people at newsworthy public events that did indeed get news coverage, or I will never get my account back,” Loder told AFP, adding it was the third report of their account to Twitter in 48 hours.
“The current mass-reporting actions by the far-right are just the latest salvo in an ongoing, concerted effort to memory-hole evidence of their crimes and misdeeds,” Loder added, using a term popularized by George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
Experts noted that Twitter’s new rules sound like a well-intentioned idea but are incredibly thorny to enforce.
One reason is that the platform has become a key forum for identifying people involved in far-right and hate groups, with Internet sleuths posting their names or other identifying information.
The practice of so-called “doxxing” has cost the targets their jobs, set them up for intense public ridicule and even criminal prosecution, while the activists who post the information have faced threats or harassment themselves.
A major example was the online effort to track down people involved in the violence at the US Capitol, which was stormed in January by Donald Trump supporters seeking to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Even the US Federal Bureau of Investigation regularly posts images on its feed of as-yet unnamed people it is seeking in connection with the violence.
“Twitter has given extremists a new weapon to bring harm to those in the greatest need of protection and those shining a light on danger,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of advocacy group Human Rights First, which called on Twitter to halt the policy.
The new rules, announced just a day after Parag Agrawal took over from co-founder Jack Dorsey as boss, wander into issues that may be beyond the platform’s control.
“It gets complicated fast, but these are issues that are going to be resolved probably in our courts,” said Betsy Page Sigman, a professor emeritus at Georgetown University. “I’m not optimistic about Twitter’s changes.”


Twitter’s design, engineering heads to step down in management rejig

The moves come just days after co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as chief executive officer. (File/AFP)
The moves come just days after co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as chief executive officer. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 December 2021

Twitter’s design, engineering heads to step down in management rejig

The moves come just days after co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as chief executive officer. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter's design and engineering heads will step down from their roles as part of a management restructuring campaign

LONDON: Twitter Inc. said on Friday its engineering head Michael Montano and design chief Dantley Davis would step down from their roles by the end of this month, as part of a broader management restructuring at the social networking site.
The moves come just days after co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as chief executive officer and handed over the reins to Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal.
Twitter said Agrawal, in his newly assumed role, has decided to reorganize the leadership structure at the company and shift to a general manager model for consumer, revenue and core tech that would oversee all core teams across engineering, product management, design and research.
Product lead Kayvon Beykpour, revenue product lead Bruce Falck and Vice President of Engineering Nick Caldwell will now lead the three units respectively, the company said.
Twitter added Lindsey Iannucci, a senior operations and strategy executive at the company, would be the chief of staff.