Iran conservative media hail Salman Rushdie attacker

Iran conservative media hail Salman Rushdie attacker
Rushdie was on a ventilator after the attack during a literary event in New York state on Friday. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 August 2022

Iran conservative media hail Salman Rushdie attacker

Iran conservative media hail Salman Rushdie attacker
  • Rushdie was on a ventilator after the attack during a literary event in New York state on Friday, more than 30 years after he went into hiding following late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa

TEHRAN: Iranian ultra-conservative newspaper Kayhan on Saturday hailed the man who stabbed British author Salman Rushdie — the target of a 1989 Iranian fatwa calling for his death.
Rushdie was on a ventilator after the attack during a literary event in New York state on Friday, more than 30 years after he went into hiding following late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa.
“Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York,” wrote the paper, whose chief is appointed by current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife,” the daily added.
With the exception of reformist publication Etemad, Iranian media followed a similar line, describing Rushdie as an “apostate.”
State-owned paper Iran said that the “neck of the devil” had been “cut by a razor.”
Iranian authorities have yet to make any official comment on the stabbing attack against Rushdie.
But Mohammad Marandi, an adviser to the negotiating team for Iran’s nuclear talks in Vienna, wrote on Twitter: “I won’t be shedding tears for a writer who spouts endless hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam.”
“But, isn’t it odd that as we near a potential nuclear deal, the US makes claims about a hit on Bolton... and then this happens?” he questioned.
The attack came after Iran hinted earlier on Friday that it may accept a final compromise to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. This followed the European Union’s submission of a “final text” in Vienna.
The US Justice Department said Wednesday that it had indicted a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards over allegations he had offered to pay an individual in the United States $300,000 to kill former White House national security adviser John Bolton.
Iran dismissed the allegations as “fiction.”
Rushdie, 75, was propelled into the spotlight with his second novel “Midnight’s Children” in 1981, which won international praise and Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize for its portrayal of post-independence India, where he was born.
But his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” transformed his life when Khomeini issued a religious decree ordering his killing.
In 1998, the government of Iran’s reformist president Mohammad Khatami assured Britain that Iran would not implement the fatwa.
But Khamenei said in 2005 he still believed Rushdie was an apostate whose killing would be authorized by Islam.


Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs

Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs
Updated 58 min 51 sec ago

Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs

Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs
  • Company's subsidiary filed for bankruptcy in June following the seizure of its bank account by authorities

MOSCOW: Google’s Russian subsidiary has filed a lawsuit against Russian state bailiffs, court documents show, in a year that has seen the unit file for bankruptcy in Russia and have more than 7.7 billion roubles ($127 million) in funds seized.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google declined to comment.
In May, Russian bailiffs seized funds from Google that it had been ordered to pay late last year. A month earlier, Tsargrad, a Russian Orthodox television channel blocked by YouTube, said bailiffs had seized 1 billion roubles from Google.
Google’s subsidiary filed for bankruptcy in June after saying that authorities had seized its bank account, making it impossible to pay staff and vendors.
Court documents published on Oct. 4 showed the Moscow Arbitration Court had accepted an application from Google LLC dated Sept. 30 and would consider the case.
The court listed the Moscow department of Russia’s Federal Bailiffs Service and one of its senior officials as the defendants.
Russia’s Federal Bailiffs Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The RIA news agency reported in August that the same Moscow court had rejected Google’s demand that the 1 billion roubles seized in the Tsargrad case be returned, with the TV channel still unable to access all Google services.
Tsargrad TV is owned by businessman Konstantin Malofeev, who was sanctioned by the United States and European Union in 2014 over accusations that he funded pro-Moscow separatists fighting in Ukraine, something he denies. Russia considers such Western sanctions illegal.
Tsargrad TV had no immediate comment.


Rights watchdogs condemn Taliban for latest media crackdown

Rights watchdogs condemn Taliban for latest media crackdown
Updated 06 October 2022

Rights watchdogs condemn Taliban for latest media crackdown

Rights watchdogs condemn Taliban for latest media crackdown
  • Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News shuttered for ‘propaganda’
  • Afghanistan ranks 156 out of 180 countries on Press Freedom Index

LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders condemned the Taliban on Wednesday for shutting down two news websites in Afghanistan and urged the group to stop censoring the media.

“The Taliban must restore full online access to Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News,” said CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi.

“More than ever, Afghans and the world need to know what is happening in Afghanistan. The Taliban must stop suppressing the media.”

Meanwhile, the RSF said in a statement: “In addition to the Taliban’s continuous restriction of the media, the closure of the websites of Hasht-e-Subh (8am) and Zawia Media, marks the start of a new phase in the Taliban’s war on media freedom.”

“They have used violence and regulations to restrict and censor the media, but for the first time they have gone so far as to directly violate media freedom by closing the websites of two Afghan newspapers,” the statement added.

On Monday, the Taliban’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology shut down the websites of Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News reportedly due to “false propaganda” against the Taliban.

The Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News sites are two prominent independent media outlets that have been operated by Afghan journalists reporting from exile since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021.

The award-winning Hasht-e Subh Daily newspaper has operated in Afghanistan since 2007 and moved its operations entirely online after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. It has nearly 2.75 million combined followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, Zawia News is part of Zawia Media, which, according to its website, describes itself as a “pioneer” of digital media in Afghanistan and covers “untold realities” about the country.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Afghanistan ranks 156 out of 180 countries on the 2022 Press Freedom Index. In the first three months after the Taliban takeover in August 2021, 43 percent of Afghan media outlets disappeared.

According to the RSF, although four new media outlets have been created since August 2021, Afghanistan has lost 219 of the 547 media outlets it used to have operating in the country.


Musk, Twitter could reach deal to end court battle, close buyout soon

Musk, Twitter could reach deal to end court battle, close buyout soon
Updated 06 October 2022

Musk, Twitter could reach deal to end court battle, close buyout soon

Musk, Twitter could reach deal to end court battle, close buyout soon
  • Billionaire, after a surprising U-turn on Monday, pledged to finish his proposed $44 billion takeover of Twitter

WILMINGTON: Elon Musk and Twitter Inc. may reach an agreement to end their litigation in coming days, clearing the way for the world’s richest person to close his $44 billion deal for the social media firm, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Musk, who is also chief executive officer of electric car maker Tesla Inc, proposed to Twitter late on Monday he would change course and abide by his April agreement to buy the company for $54.20 per share, if Twitter dropped its litigation against him.
In their effort to end the litigation, the two sides agreed to postpone the billionaire’s deposition in court scheduled for Thursday, the source said on Wednesday, but negotiations are continuing with a full resolution expected to take more time.
However, Twitter’s legal team was yet to accept any agreement and Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick, the judge on Delaware’s Court of Chancery, earlier in the day said she was preparing for the looming trial.
“The parties have not filed a stipulation to stay this action, nor has any party moved for a stay. I, therefore, continue to press on toward our trial set to begin on Oct. 17, 2022,” McCormick wrote in a Wednesday court filing.
Musk’s proposal on Monday included a condition that the deal closing was pending the receipt of debt financing. The potential agreement would likely remove that condition, said the source, who requested anonymity as the discussions are confidential.
Twitter’s legal team and lawyers for Musk updated the judge on Tuesday with their attempts to overcome mutual distrust and find a process for closing the deal.
Two firms that were interested in partly financing the deal, Apollo Global Management Inc. and Sixth Street Partners, had ended talks to provide up to a combined $1 billion, two sources told Reuters.
An attorney representing a proposed class action against Musk on behalf of Twitter shareholders said in a letter to McCormick that Musk should be required to make a “substantial deposit” in case he again reneges on his commitment to close. He should also be liable for interest delaying the closing of the deal, said the letter from attorney Michael Hanrahan.
Representatives of Musk and Twitter held several unsuccessful talks in recent weeks about a possible price cut to his $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform before he reversed course on Monday, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Musk initially sought a discount of as much as 30 percent, according to the report, which was later narrowed to about 10 percent and ultimately rejected by Twitter.
A DISTRACTION
It is not clear what led the Musk legal team to offer to settle, but his scheduled deposition on Thursday in Austin, Texas, was expected to include some tough questioning, which could have given Twitter leverage in talks to close the deal.
Shares of Twitter closed 1.3 percent lower at $51.30 on Wednesday. The stock on Tuesday hit its highest level since Musk and Twitter agreed in April that he would buy the company for $54.20 per share.
Tesla stock ended down 3.5 percent on Wednesday as investors worry that Musk may have to sell more shares in the electric carmaker to fund the Twitter deal and that Twitter could be a distraction for the entrepreneur.
Musk sold $15.4 billion worth of Tesla stock this year, but analysts said he may have to raise an additional $2 billion to $3 billion provided that the rest of his financing remains unchanged.
Musk said in July he was walking away from the takeover agreement because he discovered Twitter had allegedly misled him about the amount of fake accounts, among other claims.
Part of Musk’s case was based on allegations by Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko that became public in August, and Musk’s legal team on Wednesday rejected the idea that they had inappropriate talks with Zatko or spoken with him before his concerns became public.
Twitter’s legal team has wanted to investigate if Alex Spiro, a lawyer from legal firm Quinn Emanuel, who has led the case for Musk, communicated with the whistleblower as early as May.
Twitter lawyers were suspicious that Zatko sent an anonymous May 6 email to Spiro. The sender claimed to be a former Twitter employee, offered information about the company and suggested communicating by alternate means.
Spiro said in a filing with the court on Wednesday he never read the email until Twitter brought it to his attention and it appeared to be someone seeking a job. Spiro also said he was unaware of the existence of Zatko’s allegations before they became public on Aug. 23.


Myanmar court hands Japanese journalist 10-year prison term

Myanmar court hands Japanese journalist 10-year prison term
Updated 06 October 2022

Myanmar court hands Japanese journalist 10-year prison term

Myanmar court hands Japanese journalist 10-year prison term
  • Toru Kubota was arrested after filming an anti-government protest in July
  • Incitement is a catch-all political law covering activities deemed to cause unrest

BANGKOK: A court in military-ruled Myanmar has handed a 10-year prison sentence to a Japanese journalist who was arrested after filming an anti-government protest in July, a Japanese diplomat said Thursday.
Tetsuo Kitada, deputy chief of mission of the Japanese Embassy, said Toru Kubota was sentenced Wednesday to seven years for violating the electronic transactions law and three years for incitement, which would be served concurrently.
The electronic transactions law covers offenses that involve spreading false or provocative information. Incitement is a catch-all political law covering activities deemed to cause unrest.
Kubota was arrested on July 30 by plainclothes police in Yangon, the country’s largest city, after taking photos and videos of a flash protest against Myanmar’s 2021 takeover by the military.


TV remains more popular option among Saudis for watching the World Cup

TV remains more popular option among Saudis for watching the World Cup
Updated 06 October 2022

TV remains more popular option among Saudis for watching the World Cup

TV remains more popular option among Saudis for watching the World Cup
  • Research by advertising company Digital Turbine found that despite the many other options, 58 percent of people in the Kingdom plan to watch at least some games on television
  • However, 86 percent said they will use more than one device to follow the World Cup action, with 55 percent intending to use their smartphones at least part of the time

DUBAI: With just over six weeks until the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar, football fans around the world are eagerly looking forward to the start of the showpiece tournament.

The fact that it is taking place in the Middle East for the first time adds another layer of excitement for fans in the region. Meanwhile, those in Saudi Arabia will be keen to see how their national team fares in the group stage against Argentina, Mexico and Poland.

Not so long ago, the only way to watch World Cup games was to tune in to coverage on TV but these days there are several options, including mobile phones and tablets.

Mobile advertising company Digital Turbine carried out research to discover the preferences and plans of viewers in the Kingdom for watching the World Cup, and football in general, along with the ways in which brands interact with the audience.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said they watch football coverage at least once a week, indicating that the sport is one of the most popular in the Kingdom.

Given the range of options available for viewing, 86 percent of respondents said they plan to use more than one device to follow the World Cup, with 58 percent saying they will watch at least some of it on TV and 55 percent using their smartphones at least part of the time.

It is perhaps no surprise that 57 percent of people said they tend to spend more time using sports apps during the World Cup and similar big tournaments, often while watching games.

During matches, 24 percent of those surveyed said they intend to browse sports news apps; 23 percent will be active on social media apps; 16 percent will use mobile sports game apps; and 16 percent will be chatting on messaging apps.

It is not only fans who are interested in major sporting events such as the World Cup; they also attract the attention, and marketing budgets, of brands looking to reach as wide an audience as possible. The global advertising spend on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, for example, reached $2.4 billion, with brands expected to spend $200 million on an official sponsorship package, according to research from media company Zenith.

According to Digital Turbine’s research, most Saudis have a positive attitude toward adverting during the World Cup. Eighty percent said they would consider purchasing a product they see in an advert that airs during the tournament, with 36 percent indicating that they would do so within two-to-three days of seeing it. Meanwhile, 66 percent said they would be likely to go online to follow up on an advert shown during the World Cup and might even watch it again.

While the research suggests that World Cup audiences are generally open to adverts during the tournament, they do have certain expectations and preferences for the type of commercials. For example, 59 percent of respondents said they would prefer the adverts to be funny, while 40 percent said it is more important for them to be emotional or heartwarming.

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