Hezbollah loyalists attack Lebanese photojournalist, leave bullet on his car

Hezbollah loyalists attack Lebanese photojournalist, leave bullet on his car
The next morning, Shaaban found a bullet stuck to his car window, a move he believed reiterated Hezbollah’s threats against him. (Twitter)
Short Url
Updated 05 August 2022

Hezbollah loyalists attack Lebanese photojournalist, leave bullet on his car

Hezbollah loyalists attack Lebanese photojournalist, leave bullet on his car
  • Hezbollah has consistently targeted and intimidated journalists in Lebanon, especially Shiite reporters who oppose their views

LONDON: A group of Hezbollah loyalists attacked Lebanese photojournalist Hasan Shaaban on Wednesday after videos of the protests he filmed in his hometown in the Shia-dominated south circulated on social media.

The assault took place shortly after his footage documented the residents in the southern town of Beit Yahoun, in Bint Jbeil district, protesting over water shortages in their homes.

While covering the protests, Hezbollah-affiliated members threatened to kill him if he did not leave town.

 

"On Wednesday, after the videos I took went viral on social media, a few men whom I believe are affilated with Hezbollah came up to me while I was walking my dog," Shaaban told Arab News. "I didn’t know at the time whether it was intentional, or I just happened to be in their way, but they started attacking me. None of them told me why they’re beating me, they just did it. They didn’t even give me the opportunity to ask why I was being attacked."

"As I tried to flee the scene, one of the men told me that if he would see me again, he will kill me," Shaaban added. 

Shaaban highlighted to Arab News that he contacted the Hezbollah leadership in the South of Lebanon, where he resides, and they assured him they will make the men who attacked him accountable for what they did.

The next morning, however, Shaaban found a bullet stuck to his car window, a move he believed reiterated Hezbollah’s threats against him. 

He published a photo of the bullet on his social media pages, and held a Hezbollah member accountable in the event of any harm befalling him or his belongings.

 

 

“I woke up this morning and found a bullet stuck to my car window,” Shaaban wrote in a Facebook post. “I hold the Hezbollah member with the initials ‘H.N.M.’ and all people with him accountable for any harm that befalls me, my dog, my house, my car or my chickens.” 

Shaaban mentioned that he did not initially name any Hezbollah memebrs nor did he point any fingers towards anyone specific, as such he was surprised when he saw the bullet on his car the next day. He believes that it could have been any of the men who assaulted him, or someone who was standing within earshot. 

“(The Hezbollah member) assaulted me in front of 15 witnesses, even if he wasn’t the one who placed the bullet on the car . . . the information was given to law enforcement, let’s see if they will do anything about it.”

Meanwhile, the Alternative Press Syndicate held “the de facto forces, specifically Hezbollah,” responsible for Shaaban’s safety, and called on the “absent state to assume its responsibilities and hold the aggressors to account immediately.”

Ali Aloush, head of the Press Photographers Syndicate, added that the attack “will not go unpunished, and we will reach out to the judicial and security agencies (or what remains of them) to ensure that whoever assaulted him, no matter the party they belong to, is held to account.”

This is not the first time Hezbollah members have assaulted Lebanese journalists or threatened to kill them.

In January, Hezbollah trolls launched a racist campaign against Sudanese-Lebanese journalist Dalia Ahmad following a report on her show that criticized the Lebanese government, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

In another instance, former Alhurra news anchor Layal Alekhtiar received death threats and was subjected to harassment online after tweeting a video of the unveiling of a Soleimani statue and a line from the Qur’an that said: “What are these statues to which you are so devoted?”

In October 2020, independent journalist Luna Safwan was targeted by Hezbollah in an online abuse campaign after her tweet criticizing the party was carried by an Israeli news channel and she was accused of cooperating with Israel.

Lebanese journalist Maryam Seif Eddine, known for her harsh criticism of Hezbollah despite being Shiite, received death threats from the group while her mother and brother were physically assaulted, with her sibling being left with a broken nose.

Party loyalists targeted her family home in Burj El-Barajneh, in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut.

Similarly, former LBC news anchor and Shiite journalist Dima Sadek was subjected to harassment by the group after her phone was stolen from her during a demonstration. The harassment, she said, was followed by insulting and threatening phone calls to her mother.


Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful

Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful
Updated 50 min 1 sec ago

Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful

Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful
  • Court brief: Musk’s speech is chilled by the threat of SEC investigations and prosecution for contempt of court

DETROIT: US Securities regulators are unlawfully muzzling Tesla CEO Elon Musk, violating his free speech rights by continually trying to enforce a 2018 securities fraud settlement, Musk’s lawyer contends in a court brief.
The document, filed late Tuesday with the federal appeals court in Manhattan, was written to support Musk’s appeal of a lower court’s April decision to uphold the settlement with Securities and Exchange Commission.
The brief says that a provision in the settlement requiring Musk to get prior approval before tweeting about the electric car company is an illegal “government-imposed muzzle on Mr. Musk’s speech before it is made.”
The settlement required that his tweets be approved by a Tesla attorney before being published. The SEC is investigating whether Musk violated the settlement with tweets last November asking Twitter followers if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock.
But in the brief, Musk attorney Alex Spiro contends that the SEC is continually investigating Musk for topics not covered by the settlement. It asks the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to strike or modify the prior approval provision.
“The pre-approval provision in the consent decree qualifies as a prior restraint on speech that runs afoul of the First Amendment,” Spiro wrote. “It forbids future lawful speech on a range of topics absent approval.”
Further, Musk’s speech is chilled by the threat of SEC investigations and prosecution for contempt of court, the brief said.
The whole dispute stems from an October 2018 agreement with the SEC that Musk signed. He and Tesla each agreed to pay $20 million in civil fines over Musk’s tweets about having the “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
The funding was far from locked up, and the electric vehicle company remains public, but Tesla’s stock price jumped. The settlement specified governance changes, including Musk’s ouster as board chairman, as well as pre-approval of his tweets.
In April, US District Judge Lewis Liman in New York rejected Musk’s bid to throw out the settlement that he signed with the SEC. He also denied a motion to nullify a subpoena of Musk seeking information about possible violations of the settlement.
Liman’s ruling said that Musk made the tweets without getting pre-approval, but the judge later wrote that he didn’t mean to pass judgment on that issue.
A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from the SEC.
Spiro writes that Mr. Musk’s waiver of his First Amendment rights in the settlement was not voluntary because there was no way for Musk to know how far reaching it was. “The provision applies to future speech about circumstances no one could anticipate in advance,” he wrote.
Musk, he said, is under constant threat that the SEC will disagree with his interpretation of what he can say. Musk also agreed to the deal when Tesla was a smaller company and the SEC action could have jeopardized its financing.
“The SEC has maintained constant investigations into Mr. Musk’s speech, employing nebulous interpretations of the consent decree seemingly designed to curb and chill his future speech, all regarding speech entirely unrelated to the 2018 tweet for which the SEC initiated this action,” Spiro wrote.
Tesla is now the most valuable automaker in the world, and Musk is the world’s wealthiest person.
Liman ruled that Musk’s claim that economic duress caused him to sign the settlement is “wholly unpersuasive.”
Even if Musk was worried that litigation with the SEC would ruin Tesla financially, “that does not establish a basis for him to get out of the judgment he voluntarily signed,” Liman wrote.
The judge also said Musk’s argument that the SEC had used the settlement order to harass Musk and launch investigations was “meritless.”


Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East

Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East
Updated 27 September 2022

Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East

Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East
  • The free tools, available in Arabic and English, provide insights that can help destinations and hotels quickly identify travel trends and plan accordingly

DUBAI: Google unveiled two new tools on Tuesday, World Tourism Day, designed to help travel-related businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Destination Insights and Hotel Insights, which were launched on the Travel Insights With Google website, aim to help businesses quickly identify travel trends and plan accordingly. They are free to use and available in English and Arabic.

For example, in the past eight months internet users in Saudi Arabia searched for information about many countries, including Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Thailand, the UAE and the UK, according to Google Trends. In addition, searches for “booking tickets” increased by 153 percent in the Kingdom compared with the previous year.

Over the same period in the UAE, people searched for local entertainment destinations including the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Butterfly Garden, along with hotels in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The number of searches for “ticket prices” in the UAE increased by 122 percent compared with the previous year.

“From our continuous conversations with travel partners around the region, we heard that timely insights are very much necessary for the travel industry at this period, especially with many local and regional events coming up,” said Anthony Nakache, managing director of Google MENA.

“This is why we’re very excited to bring a new insights portal for the region’s travel and tourism sector, to help businesses reach regular and new travelers.”

Google said its Destination Insights tool provides travel businesses, governments and tourism boards with a clearer picture of the leading sources of demand for a destination, and the places and attractions within their countries that travelers are most interested in visiting.

It also allows businesses and authorities to explore the ways in which tourism demand is changing compared with previous months or years, and adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly.

According to Google, the Hotel Insights tool provides businesses with in-depth information about interest in their accommodations, aiding understanding about the sources of that interest and how best to attract new guests by creating a stronger digital presence.

The launch of the tools comes as the travel industry begins to bounce back following a challenging few years as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The value of the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East alone is expected to reach $246 billion this year, based on a recent study, Nakache said.

Google said it will continue to develop tech-driven tools that can help businesses in the travel and tourism sector better engage with customers.


Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game

Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game
Updated 27 September 2022

Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game

Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game
  • Collaboration includes song track, music video, live radio show hosted by Big Hass

ABU DHABI: Streaming platform Anghami has partnered with EA Sports, a division of Electronic Arts that develops and publishes sports video games, to produce and release a special track and music video to mark the launch of the “FIFA 23” video game in the region.

The hip-hop track “Merengue” featuring Saudi-based rapper and hip-hop artist Lil Eazy has been produced by Outlaw Productions and the music video by Anghami’s production arm Anghami Studios.

Ramy Al-Kadhi, head of Anghami Studios, said: “As Anghami’s production arm, we are delighted to be part of this project together with EA Sports to celebrate with all the video gamers’ generations the 30th edition of the world’s most popular football simulation video game, ‘FIFA.’

“This occasion will be one to remember as we have put all our efforts to produce a track that illustrates it best.”

The track celebrates the latest edition of the video game, developed by EA Sports, and scheduled for global release on Sept. 30.

Anghami will also air a three-episode live radio show hosted by Big Hass. The platform launched the feature in May, allowing users to talk while any audio is being played in real-time.

Over the course of the three shows, Big Hass will invite guests to discuss the entertainment and sports scene in Saudi Arabia, with conversations focusing on gaming and women’s football in the Kingdom.

Arbie Artinian, director of brand marketing and franchise development at EA Sports, said: “Gaming, music, and football are intrinsically linked, and we are excited to partner with Anghami in this space.”


Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’
Updated 27 September 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’

DUBAI: Warner Bros. Discovery, the global leader in media and entertainment and SRMG, the MENA region’s largest media group, announced today their long-term partnership to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’, a new free-to-air (FTA) Arabic language channel, exclusively for audiences in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Asharq Discovery will be the newest addition to SRMG's fast-growing media and international offerings.

The new FTA channel will be an authentic gateway connecting MENA-wide audiences to the world and global viewers to the region, offering compelling content, enriching experiences, and memorable stories that allow audiences a step outside their established media consumption habits.

The partnership upholds Warner Bros. Discovery's MENA expansion strategy and SRMG's growth strategy, brought together by a shared goal of diversifying content and improving its accessibility, and to help propel MENA's maturing entertainment industry to become one of the largest globally.

"The MENA's entertainment industry has been undergoing an incredible transformation and exponential growth, posing great potential and offering immense opportunities for content players and consumers. Having established our Discovery brand in linear channels and successfully launching our non-fictional streaming service discovery+ last year, we believe launching a new FTA channel in MENA with the homegrown powerhouse, SRMG is a solid step for us to build a 360 ecosystem of entertainment. This partnership will also support our MENA business development strategy to increase our presence in KSA," says Jamie Cooke, GM CEE, Middle East & Turkey.

“Our new strategic collaboration with Warner Bros Discovery will further bolster our ability to deliver dynamic, innovative, and exciting Arabic content, through new multiple formats and platforms. This partnership is a further demonstration of SRMG’s unrelenting focus and commitment to its consumer-centric approach; bringing our audiences engaging and premium content - when, where and how they want it. Discovery has an unrivaled legacy of producing cutting-edge, high-quality documentaries. We look forward to working together to deliver co-commissioned quality content, provide new job opportunities and best-in-class training, as well as tap into a new global network for our growing audiences,” says Jomana Al Rashid, SRMG CEO.

Asharq Discovery will offer audiences unparalleled real-life entertainment with thousands of hours' worth of premium content, including originals, premiers and exclusives, across a wide selection of genres spanning pop science and engineering, motoring and turbo, wildlife and nature, adventure and travel, reality and lifestyle, crime mystery documentaries.  In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG have earmarked co-productions of high-quality local programming, to be distributed globally through the Discovery Global network – thus adding more cultural and market relevance to the mix.

‘Asharq Discovery’ launch-related forward planning and necessary steps are currently underway, with the aim for it to be available to end-users in MENA, during the course of 2023, through broadcast, streaming and third-party local apps, with a catch-up facility available on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

Related


Twitter to interview Elon Musk, known for combative testimony

Twitter to interview Elon Musk, known for combative testimony
Updated 27 September 2022

Twitter to interview Elon Musk, known for combative testimony

Twitter to interview Elon Musk, known for combative testimony
  • Musk’s lawyers will want to keep him focused on answering questions, but that can be a challenge with such a smart and opinionated witness, said James Morsch, a corporate litigator who is not involved in the court battle

WILMINGTON, Delaware: Billionaire Elon Musk’s tendency to dish out insults while being questioned under oath will be tested anew this week, when lawyers for Twitter Inc. are expected to interview the Tesla Inc. CEO about his abrupt decision in July to ditch his $44 billion deal for the social media company.
Testifying in past legal battles, the world’s richest person has called opposing attorneys “reprehensible,” questioned their happiness and accused them of “extortion.” He asked one attorney if he was working on a contingency because the lawyer’s client was allegedly behind on child support payments.
“So probably you’re on a contingency or you’re taking that kid’s money. Which is it?” Musk asked a lawyer for a whistleblower in a case against Tesla, according to a transcript of the 2020 deposition.
The high-stakes Twitter interview is closed to the public. A court filing last week said the Musk deposition was scheduled to begin on Monday and run into Wednesday, if needed. Sources with knowledge of the deposition said Musk was not questioned on Monday and they did not know what day it would begin nor did they give a reason for the delay.
Musk’s lawyers will want to keep him focused on answering questions, but that can be a challenge with such a smart and opinionated witness, said James Morsch, a corporate litigator who is not involved in the court battle.
“I would compare it to trying to hold a tiger by his tail,” Morsch said.
In a 2019 deposition in litigation over Tesla’s takeover of solar-panel maker SolarCity, Musk refused five times to answer one of the initial questions because of the way it was worded, the transcript shows.
“We can stare at each other until you rephrase it,” Musk told opposing attorney Randall Baron, according to a transcript.
“I’ll guess we’ll just cancel this deposition,” Baron responded. Baron suggested that he would seek an order from the judge directing Musk to answer questions, which seemed to get things moving.
Twitter declined to comment and Musk’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter’s attorneys are expected to use the interview to try to show that Musk abandoned the deal due to falling financial markets and not because the company misled him about the real number of users or hid security flaws, as he alleged.
Musk wants a judge to allow him to walk away without penalty, while Twitter wants an order forcing him to buy the company for $54.20 per share. Twitter’s stock ended up 0.4 percent at $41.58 on Friday.
A five-day trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 17 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dozens of depositions are scheduled in the case, including of Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, as each side questions witnesses and gathers evidence to make its case.
Agrawal was scheduled to answer questions from Musk’s lawyers at a law firm in San Francisco starting at 9 a.m. local time on Monday, according to a court filing, although sources said that deposition was also postponed and did not give a reason.
Twitter co-founder and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was scheduled to be deposed last week.
WHAT IS THE WHOLE TRUTH
Musk at times has shown in his depositions the charm and wit he deploys on Twitter, where he has built a cult-like following.
The Twitter deposition atmosphere could be especially fraught. Its legal team includes the firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and the main lawyer on the case, Bill Savitt, initially represented Musk and Tesla in the SolarCity deal, although not during discovery and depositions in the litigation.
Savitt did not respond to a request for comment.
Twitter is also represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
A constant in the three depositions reviewed by Reuters is Musk’s dislike of attorneys representing the opposing side, who he accuses of “trickery” and pursuing him merely for money.
“I heard yesterday that 3 percent of the US economy is legal services. That’s one of the saddest facts I’ve heard in a long time,” Musk said to Baron, the lawyer in the SolarCity deposition.
The deposition in the litigation with the Tesla whistleblower, Martin Tripp, who accused the company of wasting raw materials, began with Musk being asked if he understood the oath he took to testify truthfully.
“This sounds like some sort of legalese, semantic argument. The — what is the whole truth of something?” asked Musk, according to the transcript. “You say, ‘Is that a tree? What kind of tree is it? Is it a tree with lots of leaves?’ Or is — if you’re saying something is a tree is the whole truth? No, of course not.”
Tripp’s attorney reminded Musk that the judge warned he would oversee the deposition in person if questions weren’t answered properly.
“Do you intend to comply with the judge’s admonition there?” asked attorney William Fishbach.
“Of course,” Musk said.