Family of slain American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh urges Biden to launch probe

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Updated 09 June 2022

Family of slain American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh urges Biden to launch probe

Family of slain American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh urges Biden to launch probe
  • US president should stop ‘double standards’ and hold Tel Aviv accountable for the killing, and continued ‘barbaric’ violence against Muslim and Christian Palestinians, says broadcaster’s brother
  • ‘If this had happened to a citizen elsewhere, or if this was an Israeli reporter, I am sure even sanctions would have been imposed on whoever did it.’

CHICAGO: The brother of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh called on President Joe Biden Wednesday to immediately investigate the killing of his sister saying “someone must be held accountable.”

Anton Abu Akleh, who is also an American citizen, and lives with his wife in Jerusalem, said no action has been taken so far to determine who killed Shireen, 52, while she was with other journalists covering an Israeli raid on the northern West Bank city of Jenin on May 11.

Abu Akleh said he was moved when he heard Biden, a week before his sister was killed, declaring forcefully “we must do more to protect and sustain independent media and to hold to account those that seek to silence voices essential to transparent, trustworthy, and responsive governance” in defending journalists being killed in Ukraine.

But he said he is shocked that more than four weeks later, nothing has been done.

 

 

“I would beg him (Biden) to stop these double standards. I think Israel should be — or whoever shot Shireen — should be held accountable. That is what we need. It is his duty as the US president to protect all Americans in the US and overseas,” Abu Akleh said.

“The United States is the most powerful country in the world. And looking at Americans getting killed, while covering stories abroad or reporting from abroad is not acceptable. As the US president I would urge him to take immediate action. Israel gets the most aid, more than any other country. I am sure that if this was any other country, they would have sanctioned it until someone is held accountable and is brought to justice. That’s the least he could do. We need justice for Shireen.”

Appearing on “The Ray Hanania Show” Abu Akleh said he received assurances from several US officials who offered condolences to the family at their home — including US Ambassador Tom Nides, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and officials of the US Consulate in Jerusalem — that an investigation would be launched to identify the person or party responsible for the death.

Abu Akleh said if an American journalist had been killed anywhere else in the world there would be an immediate investigation, accountability and consequences.

 

 

“We wanted, we asked for an independent US investigation. Shireen is an American citizen. She is a journalist. In the beginning of May we heard President Biden asking for the freedom of (the) press. And we expect the US to initiate a just probe for the assassination of Shireen, as an American citizen, as a journalist, as a Christian,” Abu Akleh said.

“I can’t say I am satisfied. Yes they did speak with us. They supported us. We got calls from everyone. But we need something solid. We want justice for Shireen. That’s what we need. Accountability. Whoever did this must be held accountable. This can’t go on. Not just for Shireen only but for other Americans, other journalists covering (events) in occupied Palestine. There should be something formed and there should be a decision taken by this administration to prevent any future killings of Americans. I am sure if this happened somewhere else, they would have acted immediately. Or if this was an Israeli journalist, I am sure there would have been lots of things. Even sanctions would have been imposed on whoever did it.”

On June 6, US Senators Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, and Jon Ossoff, a Democrat from Georgia, sent a letter to Blinken demanding an investigation and stating: “The killing of a US citizen and of a journalist engaged in the work of reporting in a conflict zone is unacceptable ... All over the world, journalists pursue truth and accountability at great personal risk. Press freedom is a core American value, and we cannot accept impunity when journalists are killed in the line of duty. We insist that the Administration ensure a full and transparent investigation is completed and that justice is served for Ms. Akleh’s death.”

He called on Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to act, not only to determine who killed his sister but to stop the violence and prevent more killings.

 

 

“I would love to speak with him (Bennett). You know I would tell him as a Palestinian you have to have peace and you have to be strong enough to have peace. You are doing nothing, you are just increasing the radicals here in Israel and also increasing the radicals on the Palestinian side. The Palestinian side is losing hope every day and that is not good,” Abu Akleh said.

“You could … at least do something good for your people, for the region. Stretch (out) your hand for peace and (you) will find many Palestinians who are interested in peace. Enough. There is no need to keep this killing cycle going on. Both sides are suffering from this. Anyone can do these things. Anyone can do war. You can see what’s happening in Ukraine now. Why don’t you be a strong man and just achieve something and do something for both nations. It is not going to be easy, but it can be done.”

Abu Akleh said he and his wife and family were “shocked” when Israeli police beat mourners during the funeral procession.

 

 

“We were shocked to see all this police gathering closing roads. We had very much difficult times entering the hospital, we as a family. Friends, all Palestinians came from everywhere to mourn Shireen and to escort her to the church. And then all of a sudden when we took out the casket from the morgue, many, I don’t know the number of Israeli occupation police, they just marched (into) the hospital, started clubbing with batons the pall bearers. Clubbing them savagely, barbarically in a way that they wanted them to drop the casket,” Abu Akleh recalled.

“They couldn’t reach the hearse to put the casket in ... I was begging the police at that moment. I just told them just give us one hour. We can finish this in one hour just get out of the way, let us get to the hospital and you don’t have to attack us. They were firing tear gas, stun grenades. Nobody can justify this actions that they took at the hospital. (In) no way can it be justified attacking a funeral. They didn’t leave any dignity for the dead nor for the living.’

Services for Shireen were held at the Roman Catholic Melkite Church located in the Old City by Jaffa Gate, Abu Akleh said, and the burial was at the Greek Orthodox cemetery about 200 meters from the church.

Abu Akleh said his sister strove to tell the accurate story, without emotion, of the challenges Palestinians face. He said American Christians need to know that Christians are suffering in the Israeli occupation.

“I can tell you Ray it is not easy. Going through all these checkpoints is a big hassle ... You can’t do anything just because one so-called police, occupation police officer, decides to block the street and you are stuck forever. We’re unable to get a permit to build a house. Many Palestinians get their house(s) demolished because they couldn’t get a license. They need to live. They need to build something for their family to live. Living in Jerusalem, as much as we love Jerusalem, it is so beautiful, but still it is a big hassle just because there is an occupation here,” he said.

“We definitely are (discriminated against). For the last maybe 10 or 12 years I couldn’t get to the (Church of) the Holy Sepulchre during the Holy Saturday or late Friday, we couldn’t get to the churches because of the checkpoints they impose on the whole city. It is off limits for Palestinians and we (Christians) can’t reach any church. It is a real occupation. This is probably the last occupation here on Earth. We saw what they did at the funeral. Barbaric. Savage. They don’t respect anyone.”

A 40-day commemoration for Shireen will be held at the Beit Hanina Roman Catholic Church, he said.

“We want all the American people to stand for Shireen and ask for justice. That is all we need. We don’t want anything more. We need justice for Shireen,” he said.

The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Greater Detroit including parts of Ohio, and WDMV AM 700 radio in Washington DC including parts of Virginia and Maryland. The show is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080.

You can listen to the radio show podcast here

 


Senior UK MP warns users off Chinese-run TikTok app

Alicia Kearns. (Wikipedia)
Alicia Kearns. (Wikipedia)
Updated 06 February 2023

Senior UK MP warns users off Chinese-run TikTok app

Alicia Kearns. (Wikipedia)
  • Kearns said the bigger concern was “data penetration” via Chinese companies, and the way Beijing was using that data to intimidate “those who sought refuge in the UK and around the world”

LONDON: The head of an influential parliamentary committee in Britain on Sunday advised people not to use the Chinese social media app TikTok because of data security concerns.
“There is a reason why China has this app...,” Conservative deputy Alicia Kearns, who chairs parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Sky News television.
“Our data is a key vulnerability and China is building a tech-totalitarian state on the back of our data. So we have to get far more serious about protecting ourselves.”
Kearns referred in passing to the recent incident in which the US shot down a Chinese ballon off its Atlantic coast. China has denied US allegations that it was being used for espionage purposes.
Kearns said the bigger concern was “data penetration” via Chinese companies, and the way Beijing was using that data to intimidate “those who sought refuge in the UK and around the world.”
Asked if she was saying people should delete TikTok from their phones, she answered: “Without question... It is not worth having that vulnerability on your phone.”
Kearns has been a longterm critic of China’s intelligence activities and what she says is its abuse of technology to that end.
A spokesman for TikTok responded to Kearns’s allegations on Sunday.
“TikTok is enjoyed by millions of people across the UK, and we want to be clear that they can trust us with their data.
“We’re taking steps like storing UK user data in our data center operations in Ireland, starting this year; further reducing employee access to data; and minimizing data flows outside of Europe.”
Relations between London and Beijing have been tense for a number of years.
Points of contention have included China’s crackdown in the former British colony of Hong Kong, and Britain’s refusal to grant a Chinese company Huawei access to its 5G network because of security concerns.
Last October, a British-based Hong Kong pro-democracy activist accused Chinese diplomats of assaulting him during a protest outside China’s consulate in Manchester, northern England.
During the ensuing diplomatic row, six Chinese envoys left Britain and returned to China. Kearns at the time accused them of having “fled the UK like cowards, making clear their guilt.”

 


As Adrian Monck leaves WEF, his legacy of turning it into a ‘global storytelling platform’ lives on

As Adrian Monck leaves WEF, his legacy of turning it into a ‘global storytelling platform’ lives on
Updated 05 February 2023

As Adrian Monck leaves WEF, his legacy of turning it into a ‘global storytelling platform’ lives on

As Adrian Monck leaves WEF, his legacy of turning it into a ‘global storytelling platform’ lives on
  • ‘He was very understanding of the Arab world and successfully advanced the forum’s relations with the regional media,’ says Al Arabiya’s Jamil El-Hage
  • ‘Monck was able to put the important — and often overlooked — stories before world leaders, reminding them of their ultimate mission,’ says The National’s Hassan M. Fattah

LONDON: After over 13 years of leading public and social engagement at the World Economic Forum, Adrian Monck announced on Friday that he is leaving his role as managing director of the international organization for public-private cooperation.

“From creating a global storytelling platform, to putting refugees center stage in Davos, and in helping guide the institution through a global pandemic, I am leaving the forum both fortunate and grateful — especially to all of you,” Monck wrote in a LinkedIn post addressing his colleagues.

The seeds Monck has planted through his work with the WEF will continue to grow and be remembered, namely by former colleagues and media figures acquainted with his endeavors.

“Adrian Monck created a global storytelling platform that was able to put the important — and often overlooked — stories before world leaders, reminding them of their ultimate mission,” Hassan M. Fattah, ex-New York Times correspondent in Iraq and former editor-in-chief of UAE’s The National newspaper, told Arab News.

“He brought passion to his role but also imparted empathy and authenticity amid the noise.

“But many of us know him as a fearless journalist who innovated the storytelling format in broadcast and print and brought out compelling stories.”

Former Editor-in-Chief of The National Hassan Fattah.

Monck has redefined the forum and its annual Davos meeting for the digital age, building the organization’s global media presence, establishing a social media following that exceeds 30 million and spans LinkedIn to TikTok, and reaching about a million email subscribers.

“Arguably, Adrian is the man who gave the word ‘forum’ in World Economic Forum its true meaning during his tenure over the past decade,” said Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of Arab News.

“Adrian opened up the deliberately reclusive WEF to more journalists than ever before, including those who were skeptical of it. He also fought for and created its own media operation and digital presence, an investment which paid off handsomely during the pandemic when Davos lived on only because the set up was there to conduct it virtually.”

Monck’s career started as a journalist in 1988, working for CBS News, ITN, where he was the managing editor of Five News, and Sky.

Formative Content head Gay Flashman

“Adrian showed incredible foresight all those years ago, when he created his vision for the publishing platform and quality content juggernaut that the World Economic Forum has become,” said Gay Flashman, who runs Formative Content and has worked with Monck’s team at the forum since 2014.

“As a former news journalist he recognized the power of a strategy that enabled the forum to communicate directly with its audiences in a truly unique way,” she told Arab News.

“From long form thought leadership to short snackable content, this approach to content is ubiquitous today, but was groundbreaking when he started his team.”

Al Arabiya news channel’s head of business section Jamil El-Hage, who manages the channel’s annual coverage and sessions at the WEF, told Arab News that Monck, with whom he had a personal as well as professional relationship, played a key role in advancing the forum’s relations with Middle Eastern media.

He described Monck as “very understanding and caring of the region,” hoping that the next person would maintain these strong relations.

Al Arabiya's Head of Business Jamil El-Hage.

In addition to leading the forum’s media and communications activities, Monck oversees the Foundation of Young Global Leaders and the Global Shapers Community.

Prior to joining the forum in 2009 as head of communications and media, Monck worked in academia, heading City University of London’s Department of Journalism during the period from 2005 to 2009.

He co-authored “Crunch Time: How Everyday Life is Killing the Future” with award-winning journalist Mike Hanley in 2007, and wrote “Can You Trust the Media?” in 2008.

Monck is a supporter of applying British television regulations to the press and online media, advocating “regulation that insists on accuracy, fairness and, crucially, impartiality,” in a Press Gazette piece in July 2004.

Nevertheless, he has been a strong advocate of press freedom, while at the same time encouraging media firms to “avoid misleading ‘both-sides-ism.’”

In a 2022 World Association of News Publishers article, he urged editors and reporters to “push back against politicians and political commentators who bring fringe falsehoods into the mainstream public discourse. After all, neutrality does not mean abandoning fact-based journalism.”

Monck added: “Fact-based journalism is vital to protecting free speech as disinformation often tarnishes forward-thinking debate.”

Monck was also president of Britain’s Media Society during the years 2005 and 2006, and a member of multiple influential bodies, including the British Academy Film Awards and the Royal Television Society.

In his WEF departure message, Monck wrote: “As a child in a remote English coastal town I could never have imagined the people, the places and the projects this remarkable organization would open up for me.

“That opportunity is thanks to Klaus. For everyone at the forum, working here means a chance to continually reimagine and reinvent the organization, helping it to stay relevant and true to its mission. And that’s a wonderful gift.”

Although Monck has not revealed his next endeavor, former colleagues and friends trust that he still has a lot to offer.

“We can all be grateful for the impact he has made on the lives he has touched with his energy, his caring and his tenacity,” Fattah said.

“I look forward to his next undertaking which I’m sure will be no less important.”

Flashman said: “We will miss his wit, dry humor and razor-sharp intellect; his team will miss him for all of those traits, plus his kindness and unswerving support.”

 

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Pakistan blocks Wikipedia over ‘blasphemous content’

A police officer stands guard as people take part in Friday prayers at a mosque, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.
A police officer stands guard as people take part in Friday prayers at a mosque, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.
Updated 05 February 2023

Pakistan blocks Wikipedia over ‘blasphemous content’

A police officer stands guard as people take part in Friday prayers at a mosque, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation — the non-profit fund managing Wikipedia — said the block “denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository”

ISLAMABAD: Wikipedia was blocked in Pakistan on Saturday after authorities censored the website for hosting “blasphemous content” in the latest blow to digital rights in the deeply conservative nation.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and social media giants Facebook and YouTube have previously been banned for publishing content deemed sacrilegious.
The online encyclopedia had been blocked across the country on Friday “after it failed to respond to our repeated correspondence over removal of the blasphemous content and meet the deadline,” Malahat Obaid, a spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, told AFP on Saturday.
The PTA had earlier in the week given Wikipedia a 48 hour ultimatum to remove material, without publically specifying its exact objections.
“They did remove some of the material but not all,” Obaid said. “It will remain blocked until they remove all the objectionable material.”
An AFP reporter in Pakistan was not able to access the site from a mobile phone on Saturday.
The Wikimedia Foundation — the non-profit fund managing Wikipedia — said the block “denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository.”
“If it continues, it will also deprive everyone access to Pakistan’s knowledge, history, and culture,” a statement said.
Free speech campaigners have highlighted what they say is a pattern of rising government censorship of Pakistan’s printed and electronic media.
“There’s just been a concerted effort to exert greater control over content on the Internet,” said digital rights activist Usama Khilji.
“The main purpose is to silence any dissent,” he told AFP. “A lot of times blasphemy is weaponized for that purpose.”
Pakistan blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016 after it carried a film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to violent protests across the Muslim world.
In recent years, the country has also blocked the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok several times over “indecent” and “immoral” content.

 


Tesla’s Elon Musk found not liable in trial over 2018 ‘funding secured’ tweets

Tesla’s Elon Musk found not liable in trial over 2018 ‘funding secured’ tweets
Updated 05 February 2023

Tesla’s Elon Musk found not liable in trial over 2018 ‘funding secured’ tweets

Tesla’s Elon Musk found not liable in trial over 2018 ‘funding secured’ tweets
  • Tesla shareholders claimed Musk misled them when he tweeted on Aug. 7, 2018, that he was considering taking the company private at $420 per share
  • Shares of Tesla rose 1.6 percent in after-hours trading following the verdict and Musk tweeted that "he wisdom of the people has prevailed"

SAN FRANCISCO: A US jury on Friday found Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk and his company were not liable for misleading investors when Musk tweeted in 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take the electric car company private.
Plaintiffs had claimed billions in damages and the decision also had been seen as important for Musk himself, who often takes to Twitter to air his views.
The jury came back with a unanimous verdict roughly two hours after beginning deliberations.
Musk was not present in court when the verdict was read but soon tweeted that he was “deeply appreciative” of the jury’s decision.
“Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed,” he said.
Nicholas Porritt, a lawyer for the investors, said in a statement, “We are disappointed with the verdict and are considering next steps.”
Shares of Tesla rose 1.6 percent in after-hours trading following the verdict.
“A dark chapter is now closed for Musk and Tesla,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said. Ives added that some Tesla investors feared Musk might have to sell more Tesla stock if he lost.
The world’s second-richest person has previously created legal and regulatory headaches through his sometimes impulsive use of Twitter, the social media company he bought for $44 billion in October.
Minor Myers, who teaches corporate law at the University of Connecticut and who had previously called the investors’ case strong, called the outcome “astounding.”
The US anti-securities fraud law “has always been thought to be this great bulwark against misstatements and falsehoods,” he said. “This outcome makes you wonder if it is up to the job in modern markets,” he said, adding that Musk himself was likely to “double down” on his communication tactics after the verdict.
Musk’s attention has been divided in recent months between Tesla, his rocket company SpaceX and now Twitter. Tesla investors have expressed concerns that running the social media company has taken up too much of his focus.
’Bad word choice’
Tesla shareholders claimed Musk misled them when he tweeted on Aug. 7, 2018, that he was considering taking the company private at $420 per share, a premium of about 23 percent to the prior day’s close, and had “funding secured.”
They say Musk lied when he tweeted later that day that “investor support is confirmed.”
The stock price soared after the tweets and then fell again after Aug. 17, 2018, as it became clear the buyout would not happen.
Porritt during closing arguments said the billionaire CEO is not above the law, and should be held liable for the tweets.
“This case ultimately is about whether rules that apply to everyone else should also apply to Elon Musk,” he said.
Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro countered that Musk’s “funding secured” tweet was “technically inaccurate” but that investors only cared that Musk was considering a buyout.
“The whole case is built on bad word choice,” he said. “Who cares about bad word choice?“
“Just because it’s a bad tweet doesn’t make it fraud,” Spiro said during closing arguments.
An economist hired by the shareholders had calculated investor losses as high as $12 billion.
During the three-week trial, Musk spent nearly nine hours on the witness stand, telling jurors he believed the tweets were truthful. 
Musk later testified that he believed he could have sold enough shares of his rocket company SpaceX to fund a buyout, and “felt funding was secured” with SpaceX stock alone.
Musk testified that he made the tweets in order to put small shareholders on the same footing as large investors who knew about the deal. But he acknowledged he lacked formal commitments from potential backers.
The verdict is another victory for Musk and his lawyer Spiro after they won a defamation lawsuit against the billionaire in 2019 over his tweet calling a cave explorer a “pedo guy.” 


How Salient is committed to nurturing Saudi talents in booming communications market

How Salient is committed to nurturing Saudi talents in booming communications market
Updated 05 February 2023

How Salient is committed to nurturing Saudi talents in booming communications market

How Salient is committed to nurturing Saudi talents in booming communications market
  • Andrew Bone, Sean Trainor highlight challenges of retaining talents and opportunities for the industry

LONDON: Newly formed communications advisory firm Salient, which launched in Riyadh earlier in the week, is committed to forming the next generation of Saudi industry leaders looking to pursue a career in the communications industry.

“Our fresh, innovative approach to communications is the perfect learning environment for nurturing Saudi talents to become global communications consultants,” Salient General Manager Osamah Al-Qusayer told Arab News.

The company, which was founded by industry veterans Andrew Bone and Sean Trainor, specializes in corporate reputation and organizational culture management and offers a range of services including mentoring, coaching, training and consultations.

Recent years have seen a surge in the growth of the communications sector in Saudi Arabia, with many international and boutique agencies, as well as local communications companies, entering the market.

But with this growth comes the challenge of a shortage of local Saudi talents, who often lack the experience and knowledge required for communications work.

The biggest challenge facing the communications market in Saudi Arabia is the search for talent, the pair explained.

“This is where our new agency comes in, with a unique approach to tackling this challenge and creating opportunities for local talents,” Trainor said.

Bone and Trainor, two former employees of public relations firm Hill and Knowlton Strategies, decided to start their own agency with the goal of empowering young Saudis with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the communications field.

However, after several years of working in the Kingdom, the pair realized that, while the Saudi market provided a large pool of young communications professionals to invest in, maintaining those talents presented a number of obstacles.

“After years of investment, many of these young talents often leave for higher paying jobs or are attracted by the idea of working for big international agencies like Hill and Knowlton, creating a vicious cycle,” Trainor explained.

Seeking to address the issue and turn challenges into opportunities, Salient aims to attract young Saudis by offering employees shares of the firm and a progressive company culture that values talents and allows them to tell their own stories.

“We see an opportunity to create a talent pool that would stay in the game, have skin in the game,” Trainor continued.

“We believe we can establish our own agency with a vision that Saudis can own and build and that focuses primarily on Saudi, and in the long term create a great brand that can stand on its own and service the local market, potentially exporting to the rest of the world.”

Bone and Trainor explained that Salient’s approach is guided by the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision. The country’s transformative moment provides an exciting chance for the industry to construct a narrative and enable Saudi organizations to tell their own stories and take the lead on the world stage, they said.

“Good, bad or indifferent, everybody has an opinion about the nation. And for a person in communications, that is a gift because there is nothing we like better than a good, honest discussion to really help people understand what is going on,” Bone explained.

“If you do not tell your story, somebody else will, and they will invariably get it wrong.”

The pair agreed that much international criticism of Saudi Arabia is generated by a lack of “true understanding” of the country, often caused by “big headlines and bad PR campaigns,” and stressed the importance of tackling the gap between perception and reality when it comes to the international reputation.

Bone and Trainor explained that Salient recognizes the importance of communications in bridging this gap and promoting a better understanding of the country and its people.

“By having locals tell their own story, they can help change the perceptions and attitudes toward Saudi Arabia,” Bone said.