Russian radio station taken off air over Ukraine coverage

Russian radio station taken off air over Ukraine coverage
A man looks at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to Kyiv on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 01 March 2022

Russian radio station taken off air over Ukraine coverage

Russian radio station taken off air over Ukraine coverage
  • Russian officials threatened independent media with closure if their coverage of the attack deviated from the official narrative

MOSCOW: A Russian radio station critical of the Kremlin was taken off the airwaves on Tuesday, its chief editor said and the Associated Press confirmed, after authorities threatened to shut it down over the coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The move against Echo Moskvy, one of Russia’s oldest radio stations, comes amid growing pressure on Russia’s independent media to follow the Kremlin’s official line while covering the invasion of Ukraine.
Officials also threatened to block Dozhd, Russia’s top independent TV channel. The Prosecutor General’s office accused the two media outlets of spreading content that incites extremist activities, as well as “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukraine.
Shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine on Thursday, Russian officials threatened independent media with closure if their coverage of the attack deviated from the official narrative, including describing the assault as an “invasion” or a “war.”
The website of the Current Time, a Russian TV channel launched by the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that also has been critical of the Kremlin, became unavailable Sunday after the channel reported receiving a notification from the authorities.


Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’

Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’
Updated 08 August 2022

Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’

Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’
  • China warned of sanctions against companies, individuals found breaching so-called one-China principle, with goods at risk of not being approved for import or export by authorities
  • Apple’s decision has sparked criticisms from around the world, highlighting the company’s dependence on Chinese suppliers

LONDON: Apple has urged its Taiwanese suppliers to change the labeling of products manufactured in the island to “Made in China,” sources reveal.

Apple sent a warning to its suppliers on Friday about China’s increased enforcement of a long-standing import law that requires Taiwanese parts and components to have the labels “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei,” amid rising tensions between the two countries.

“A tightening of the labeling rule may not just affect Apple’s suppliers, but all those that send shipments from Taiwan island to the mainland,” Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, commented.

China’s ongoing dispute over Taiwan has been at the center of political and economic attention in recent months.

Last week, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, sparking Chinese outrage and prompting a four-day military exercise by the Chinese army around the island. Pelosi was the first high-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China warned of sanctions against companies and individuals found breaching the so-called one-China principle, with goods at risk of not being approved for import or export by the authorities.

“If the mainland authorities tighten the enforcement of the rule, this may increase the probability of shipments from Taiwan island being seized by mainland customs,” Gao said.

Apple’s decision has sparked criticism from around the world. In September 2020, the US giant issued a document titled “Our Commitment to Human Rights,” in which it stated that "at Apple and throughout our supply chain, we prohibit harassment, discrimination, violence, and retaliation of any kind — and we have zero tolerance for violations motivated by any form of prejudice or bigotry.”

Apple has long depended on China for the manufacture of most of its products. Because of its reliance on China for product assembly and sales, however, the company is unwilling to speak out against flagrant violations, despite what it claims.

“Is it a question of time before Apple starts removing apps whose name contains the characters [for] Taiwan without specifying ‘province of China’,” GreatFire, an advocacy group working against Chinese censorship online, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we suspect that Apple’s ‘red-line’, the moment where it will say: ‘Stop, no longer, we cannot continue to collaborate with the Chinese regime and enforce its requests for censorship,’ is nowhere close,” noted Benjamin Ismail, project director for GreatFire’s associated AppleCensorship.com.

Even though Apple has long sought to diversify its supply chain and manufacturing process, with new factories in India and Brazil, the tech giant’s dependence on Chinese factories for the production of most of its latest products, including the iPhone 14, exposes the instability of an already fragile supply chain and production market.

Given the economic and strategic importance of Taiwan, which accounts for over 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing capacity, China’s aggressive policies represent a significant risk for America and the rest of the world.


Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts

Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts
Updated 08 August 2022

Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts

Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts
  • Twitter on Thursday dismissed Musk’s claim that he was hoodwinked into signing the deal to buy the social media company

LONDON: Elon Musk said that if Twitter Inc. could provide its method of sampling 100 accounts and how it confirmed that the accounts are real, his $44 billion deal to buy the company should proceed on its original terms.
“However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not,” Musk tweeted early on Saturday.
In response to a Twitter user asking whether the US SEC was probing “dubious claims” by the company, Musk tweeted “Good question, why aren’t they?.”
Twitter declined to comment on the tweet when contacted by Reuters.
Twitter on Thursday dismissed Musk’s claim that he was hoodwinked into signing the deal to buy the social media company, saying that it was “implausible and contrary to fact.”
“According to Musk, he — the billionaire founder of multiple companies, advised by Wall Street bankers and lawyers — was hoodwinked by Twitter into signing a $44 billion merger agreement. That story is as implausible and contrary to fact as it sounds,” the filing released by Twitter on Thursday said.
Musk filed a countersuit Twitter on July 29, escalating his legal fight against the social media company over his bid to walk away from the $44 billion purchase.


Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists

Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists
Updated 06 August 2022

Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists

Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists
  • Amer Abu Arafa detained while Majdoleen Hassouna blocked from travel
  • Committee to Protect Journalists: ‘Israeli authorities are showing their determination to clamp down on the Palestinian press’

LONDON: Israel must release Palestinian journalist Amer Abu Arafa, who was ordered on Aug. 1 to be detained for four months, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday.

The reporter for the London-based Quds Press News Agency was under investigation for alleged membership of a terrorist organization, an Israel Defense Forces official told the CPJ. Abu Arafa’s home was raided by Israeli authorities on July 19.

Meanwhile, Israel reportedly prevented Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassouna from leaving the occupied West Bank in July.

Border guards are said to have blocked the reporter for Turkey’s TRT from crossing into Jordan. Hassouna was previously blocked from travel in 2020 and 2021.

Justin Shilad, the CPJ’s senior Middle East and North Africa researcher, said: “Whether they use prison walls or travel bans, Israeli authorities are showing their determination to clamp down on the Palestinian press.

“Israeli authorities should immediately release all detained journalists including Amer Abu Arafa, and end the use of arbitrary detention and travel bans against the press.”


Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service

Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service
Updated 06 August 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service

Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service
  • Company will offer free, paid service from next summer

LONDON: Executives at HBO Max and Discovery+ have revealed their plans to launch a new streaming service next summer that combines the two platforms’ offerings.
From a meeting with investors on Thursday, it emerged that the two companies have set out the scope and strategy of their streaming ambitions, announcing that they will offer free and paid services.
The platform, which aims to reach 130 million paying subscribers by 2025, will offer content that is currently distributed on HBO Max and Discovery+. 
The parent companies of HBO and Animal Planet merged together to form Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this year.
David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, praised the new company’s “bouquet of owned content,” and said it will offer a single paid subscription product and a free service supported by the advertisement-based revenue model.
“The fact is there are only a handful of companies globally that can do what we do,” he said. “And putting it all together, we believe no one does it better than us.”
The name of the service was not disclosed, but executives said it will launch next year in the US and then expand worldwide in the following years.
Zaslav said Warner Bros. Discovery will adopt a “disciplined strategy,” highlighting the company’s intention to steer away from the growth-at-any-cost tactics that became common in the streaming business.
“Owning the content that really resonates with people is much more important than just having lots of content,” he added. 
“In other words, at a time when almost every piece of content ever made is available to consumers across any number of free and paid services, curation, quality and brand have never been more important.”
After the boom of the pandemic era, the streaming service market has not performed well in recent months. 
Fierce competition and the fear of a looming recession have pushed many users to cancel their subscriptions. 
Earlier this week, Warner Bros. canceled the release of the $90 million DC superhero movie “Batgirl,” which was expected to be distributed through HBO Max as part of a broader plan to increase subscribers, reiterating the company’s intention to prioritize quality over quantity.


Smartwatches to be used to monitor migrant offenders in UK

Smartwatches to be used to monitor migrant offenders in UK
The individuals will be required to scan their faces using the smartwatches up to five times a day. (Shutterstock/File)
Updated 05 August 2022

Smartwatches to be used to monitor migrant offenders in UK

Smartwatches to be used to monitor migrant offenders in UK
  • The scheme will require migrant offenders to scan their faces using a smartwatch fitted with facial recognition technology up to five times daily

LONDON: The UK Home Office and Ministry of Justice announced on Friday that migrants who have been convicted of a criminal offense will soon be required to scan their faces using facial recognition technology.

The Home Office said that the scheme will involve “daily monitoring of individuals subject to immigration control,” with the requirement to wear either a fitted ankle tag or a smartwatch at all times. 

The individuals will be required to scan their faces using the smartwatches up to five times a day. Information including their names, date of birth, nationality and photographs will be stored for up to six years.

Locations of migrant offenders will also be tracked 24/7. 

The data will be shared with the Home Office, MoJ and the police, with Home Office officials stressing: “The sharing of this data (to) police colleagues is not new.”

The Home Office added that the smartwatch scheme will be for foreign-national offenders who have been convicted of a criminal offense, rather than other groups such as asylum seekers.

Critics highlighted that the surveillance scheme is a clear breach of human rights, and is likely to impact asylum seekers’ mental health.

“Facial recognition is known to be an imperfect and dangerous technology that tends to discriminate against people of color and marginalized communities,” said Lucie Audibert, a lawyer and legal officer for Privacy International.

“These ‘innovations’ in policing and surveillance are often driven by private companies, who profit from governments’ race toward total surveillance and control of populations.”

“Through their opaque technologies and algorithms, they facilitate government discrimination and human rights abuses without any accountability. No other country in Europe has deployed this dehumanizing and invasive technology against migrants,” she said.

According to the UK government website, the Ministry of Justice had awarded a £6 million contract to British technology company ‘Buddi Limited’ in May to supply electronic monitoring non-fitted devices “to support implementation of the Home Office Satellite Tracking Service for specific cohorts.”

This service, introduced in 2018, uses satellite technology to monitor foreign offenders awaiting deportation. 

“A non-fitted device solution will provide a more proportionate way of monitoring specific cohorts over extended periods of time than fitted tags,” the statement on the website reads. 

“These devices will utilize periodic biometric verification as an alternative to being fitted to an individual.”