Hong Kong newspaper increases print fivefold after arrests

The paper’s average daily circulation increase from approximately 86,000 copies to 500,000 overnight. (AFP)
The paper’s average daily circulation increase from approximately 86,000 copies to 500,000 overnight. (AFP)
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Updated 18 June 2021

Hong Kong newspaper increases print fivefold after arrests

The paper’s average daily circulation increase from approximately 86,000 copies to 500,000 overnight. (AFP)
  • Hong Kong's Apple Daily prints increased fivefold after the police arrested five top editors and executives.
  • On Thursday, police raided the offices of the pro-democracy newspaper, arrested five people and froze $2.3 million worth of assets.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily increased its print run more than fivefold to 500,000 copies as residents lined up Friday to buy the paper in a show of support for beleaguered press freedoms, a day after police arrested five top editors and executives.
The raid on the paper’s offices by hundreds of police and security agents — along with the freezing of $2.3 million worth of its assets — marked the first time a sweeping national security law has been used against the media. It was the latest sign of a widening crackdown on civil liberties in the semi-autonomous city, which has long cherished freedoms that don’t exist elsewhere in China.
Police said the editors were arrested on suspicion of foreign collusion to endanger national security, based on over 30 articles that authorities said had called for international sanctions against China and Hong Kong.
On Friday, the National Security Department charged two men with collusion with a foreign country to endanger national security, according to a government statement. The two will appear in court on Saturday.
It did not name them, but the South China Morning Post newspaper cited an unnamed source saying they are Apply Daily’s chief editor Ryan Law and Cheung Kim-hung, the CEO of Apple Daily’s publisher Next Digital. The other three were being detained for investigation.
With anti-government protests silenced, most of the city’s prominent pro-democracy activists in jail and many others fleeing abroad, people snapped up copies at newsstands and in convenience stores.
“There are lots of injustices in Hong Kong already. I think there are a lot of things we cannot do anymore,” said resident Lisa Cheung. “Buying a copy is all what we can do. When the law cannot protect Hong Kong people anymore, we are only left to do what we can.”
The front page of Friday’s edition splashed images of the five editors and executives led away in handcuffs. Police also confiscated 44 hard drives worth of news material. A quote from Cheung, the arrested CEO of Next Digital, said “Hang in there, everyone.”
Another resident, William Chan, said he bought a copy of the paper as a show of support.
“It was such a groundless arrest and suppressed freedom of the press,” he said.
The national security law was imposed after massive protests in 2019 challenged Beijing’s rule by calling for broader democratic freedoms. It outlaws subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries. The maximum penalty for serious offenders is life imprisonment.
Security Minister John Lee had on Thursday warned other journalists to distance themselves from those under investigation at Apple Daily. He said those arrested had used journalistic work to endanger national security and that anyone who was “in cahoots” with them would pay a hefty price.
The United States, which has imposed sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials over the crackdown, strongly condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the five arrested.
“We are deeply concerned by Hong Kong authorities’ selective use of the national security law to arbitrarily target independent media organizations,” State Department spokesman Price said, adding that the suspected foreign collusion charges appear to be politically motivated.
“As we all know, exchanging views with foreigners in journalism should never be a crime,” he said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a tweet that freedom of the press is one of the rights China had promised to protect for 50 years when Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997.
“Today’s raids & arrests at Apple Daily in Hong Kong demonstrate Beijing is using the National Security Law to target dissenting voices, not tackle public security,” Raab said.
European Union spokesperson Nabila Massrali said that the arrests “further demonstrate how the National Security Law is being used to stifle media freedom and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.” Media freedom and pluralism are fundamental to Hong Kong’s success under the “one country, two systems” framework, she said.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian rejected the foreign criticism and defended the government’s action, repeating China’s insistence that the national security targets only a “small group of anti-China elements who disrupted Hong Kong and endangered the national security of the country.”
“No right or freedom, including freedom of the press, can break through the bottom line of national security,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.
“Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong, Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and no country, organization or individual has the right to intervene,” he said.
Apple Daily has pledged to readers that it will continue its reporting, and on Thursday night invited members of the media to its printing presses to watch its Friday edition roll off the press in a show of commitment.
Its founder Jimmy Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence on charges of playing a part in unauthorized protests in 2019, and faces further charges under the national security law that could potentially put him away for life.
The paper’s average daily circulation has been around 86,000 copies.


STARZPLAY partners with YouNeedCharacter to expand kids’ content portfolio

STARZPLAY partners with YouNeedCharacter to expand kids’ content portfolio
Updated 04 August 2021

STARZPLAY partners with YouNeedCharacter to expand kids’ content portfolio

STARZPLAY partners with YouNeedCharacter to expand kids’ content portfolio
  • Partnership adds ‘CricketPang’ animation series endorsed by Ajinkya Rahane, vice captain of Indian cricket team

DUBAI: STARZPLAY has expanded its portfolio of kids’ content on the streaming platform with the addition of “CricketPang,” an animated TV series based on cricket and endorsed by the talented Ajinkya Rahane, vice captain of the Indian cricket team.

“We are thrilled to stream ‘CricketPang’ for our youngest viewers who can now enjoy a fun animation show while also honing their creative skills. We look forward to our partnership with YouNeedCharacter and are confident that this all-new edition will be loved by our MENA subscribers,” said Nadim Dada, vice president of content acquisition at STARZPLAY.

The series is produced by global character creation and animation production company YouNeedCharacter, which recently signed Indian cricketer Ajinkya Rahane as the brand ambassador for the show. With Rahane onboard, the company aims to launch activities to support cricket by securing scholarships for promising young cricketers.

“‘CricketPang’ offers a simple and interesting way for kids to learn while being entertained, and we hope that animation fans in the region enjoy the series as much as we enjoyed creating it,” said Minsu Song, CEO of YouNeedCharacter.

Each episode of “CricketPang” has been designed to contain stories of friendship, conflict resolutions, cooperation and creativity in ways that children can understand and learn from. The fun and light-hearted stories aim to help children with problem-solving, cooperation and communication skills.

“We have been working continuously to increase awareness for ‘CricketPang’,” Song said, adding that the partnership with STARZPLAY would further strengthen the brand.

The first season of the series is currently streaming on STARZPLAY.


Twitter accidentally verifies fake account of novelist Cormac McCarthy

Twitter accidentally verifies fake account of novelist Cormac McCarthy
Updated 04 August 2021

Twitter accidentally verifies fake account of novelist Cormac McCarthy

Twitter accidentally verifies fake account of novelist Cormac McCarthy


LONDON: Twitter admitted on Tuesday that the platform had accidentally given a fake account for renowned author and novelist Cormac McCarthy a blue tick marking it as a “verified user.”

The account, under the misspelled name “CormacMcCrthy,” was registered in 2018 and was recently tweeting about kombucha and SoundCloud for thousands of followers on the platform.

 

Both the author’s agent and publisher confirmed that McCarthy has never signed up for Twitter.

A spokesperson for Twitter said: “The account referenced was verified by mistake and that has since been reversed. The account will also be required to adhere to Twitter’s parody, news feed, commentary, and fan account policy.”

This is the second time Twitter has verified a fake account supposedly belonging to McCarthy; the first time was in 2012.

The fake account of 2012 was not only verifed, but also welcomed by Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey.



In order to qualify for verification, Twitter users must upload an ID to authenticate their identity or show that an official website links directly to their account.

However, the fake account “CormacMcCrthy” did neither, and Twitter verified the account anyway following a viral tweet that gained more than 122 thousand likes.


Twitter restarted its verification process in May after halting it for several years to reassess how the process works.

Verification was initially introduced to combat identity theft on the platform and has since grown to include an array of special features for those carrying a blue tick.

Features include access to additional tools for notifications, priority for algorithmic filters and moderation, and a few or no adverts on the site.

The process was paused in 2017 and restarted in May 2021, only to be paused again a week later because of a flood of requests for verification.

 

 

 

 


Zain records fastest response times for popular video games in Saudi Arabia

Zain records fastest response times for popular video games in Saudi Arabia
Updated 04 August 2021

Zain records fastest response times for popular video games in Saudi Arabia

Zain records fastest response times for popular video games in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Telecoms company Zain has recorded the fastest response times for the most popular online video games, according to a Saudi industry survey.

The firm’s rating was revealed in the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission’s quarterly Game Mode report.

The study compared the response times of telecom providers in Saudi Arabia, reviewed the most popular video gaming platforms and games, and offered guidelines to improve the quality of internet connections for video games.

The Game Mode initiative forms part of the commission’s drive to increase competition between telecom providers to give the best experience for video gamers.

Its efforts are also aimed at increasing transparency in the sector by publishing data and indicators and enabling investors to view market performance indicators in the Kingdom.

The quickest response time rate for the popular “Fortnite” online game was secured by Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) and Zain with an average of 12 milliseconds, jointly followed by Mobily and Salam on 24 milliseconds.

Response time performance for “FIFA” again showed STC and Zain in the lead at 13 milliseconds and Mobily and Salam closely behind with an average of 23 milliseconds and 24 milliseconds, respectively.

Battle royale-hero shooter game “Apex Legends” mirrored the results of “FIFA” with STC and Zain heading the list with a 13-millisecond response time, followed by Mobily in second on 24 milliseconds, and Salam third at 28 milliseconds.

Mobily hit top spot in “League of Legends” with a time of 79 milliseconds, followed by STC, Salam, and Zain on 86, 89, and 91 milliseconds, respectively.

Zain came first for battle arena game “Dota 2,” recording a response time of 20 milliseconds, followed by STC on 23 milliseconds. The third and fourth place were taken by Salam and Mobily with 25 and 31 milliseconds, respectively.


The White House is frustrated with media coverage of pandemic

The White House is frustrated with media coverage of pandemic
Updated 04 August 2021

The White House is frustrated with media coverage of pandemic

The White House is frustrated with media coverage of pandemic

LONDON: The White House and senior officials in President Joe Biden’s administration have expressed their frustration last week over media coverage of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases among vaccinated Americans.

A senior official in the Biden administration stated on Friday that the press is reporting misleading information on a breakthrough of Delta variant infections spreading among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The official said that the White House had asked these news organizations to tone down the language as focusing on “breakthrough infections” is likely to lead to more vaccine hesitancy.

A member of Biden’s COVID-19 response team, Ben Wakana, also referred to a Washington Post article as “completely irresponsible” for featuring a story about an outbreak in Massachusetts among vaccinated people.

This comes as the Biden administration steps up its efforts to combat COVID-19 misinformation.

Last week, Biden blamed Facebook for the soaring number of COVID-19 infections and said that the social media company was “killing people” by allowing the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

However, a few days later, Biden softened his tone and said instead that he meant to accuse a dozen users who have been responsible for spreading the most amount of misinformation on the social media platform, not the company itself.

With a combined 59 million followers, the 12 online personalities — also known as the “Disinformation Dozen” — include doctors who practice pseudoscience, a bodybuilder, a wellness blogger, a religious zealot, and, most notably Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the nephew of former US President John F. Kennedy.


Facebook’s WhatsApp rolls out option for disappearing photos, videos to take on Snapchat

The feature is called 'View Once' and will be displayed as 'opened' once the media has been viewed by the user. (File/AFP)
The feature is called 'View Once' and will be displayed as 'opened' once the media has been viewed by the user. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 August 2021

Facebook’s WhatsApp rolls out option for disappearing photos, videos to take on Snapchat

The feature is called 'View Once' and will be displayed as 'opened' once the media has been viewed by the user. (File/AFP)
  • WhatsApp rolls out new feature which allows users to send photos and videos which will then disappear from the chat after they have been seen

Aug 3 : Users of Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp can now send disappearing photos and videos on its platform starting this week, as it looks to better compete with Snap Inc’s photo messaging app Snapchat.
The feature, called View Once, will let photos and videos disappear from the chat after they have been seen, Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that once the media content has been viewed, the message will be shown as “opened.”
Snapchat, known for its Stories feature that lets users post updates that disappear after 24 hours, has grown in popularity last year as pandemic-induced curbs kept users at home. The company has also been adding new features on its messaging app to attract more users.