PARIS: Digital activists supporting Iran’s wave of women-led protests have hacked a state television live news broadcast, superimposing crosshairs and flames on the face of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The blood of our youths is on your hands,” read a message on screen in the broadcast that started 9pm local time Saturday, as protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, again rocked Tehran and other cities.
The hack interrupted footage of Khamenei meeting state officials and was claimed by the Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice) hacktivist group, which added a slogan on the top right-hand corner of the screen: “Join us and rise up.”
The images beamed to Iranian viewers for a number of seconds also showed black-and-white pictures of Amini and three other women killed in the more than three weeks of unrest and crackdown by state security forces.
Anger flared after the death of Amini on September 16, three days after her arrest in Tehran by the notorious morality police for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
The hack was widely reported by Persian media and rights groups based outside Iran, who shared the footage on social media.
Inside the Islamic republic, Tasnim news agency confirmed that the evening news broadcast “was hacked for a few moments by anti-revolutionary agents.”
In videos posted online, the news anchor is seen shifting uncomfortably in his seat after the clip finishes, with his squirming reaction becoming a widely shared meme on social media, despite recent Internet restrictions.
The hackers added a message on screen, urging Khamenei to vacate his Tehran office and flee the country: “It’s time to collect your furniture from Pasteur Street and find another place for your family outside Iran.”
Taliban close women-run Afghan station for playing music
Sadai Banowan, which means women’s voice in Dari, is Afghanistan’s only women-run station and started 10 years ago
Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in Badakhshan province, said the station violated the “laws and regulations"
Updated 01 April 2023
JALALABAD, Afghanistan: A women-run radio station in Afghanistan’s northeast has been shut down for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official said Saturday.
Sadai Banowan, which means women’s voice in Dari, is Afghanistan’s only women-run station and started 10 years ago. It has eight staff, six of them female.
Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in Badakhshan province, said the station violated the “laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate” several times by broadcasting songs and music during Ramadan and was shuttered because of the breach.
“If this radio station accepts the policy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and gives a guarantee that it will not repeat such a thing again, we will allow it to operate again,” said Ahmadi.
Station head Najia Sorosh denied there was any violation, saying there was no need for the closure and called it a conspiracy. The Taliban “told us that you have broadcast music. We have not broadcast any kind of music,” she said.
Sorosh said at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate arrived at the station and shut it down. She said station staff have contacted Vice and Virtue but officials there said they do not have any additional information about the closing.
Many journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Media outlets closed over lack of funds or because staff left the country, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.
The Taliban have barred women from most forms of employment and education beyond the sixth grade, including university. There is no official ban on music. During their previous rule in the late 1990s, the Taliban barred most television, radio and newspapers in the country.
106-year-old Kalinga tattooist becomes Vogue’s oldest cover star
Apo Whang-Od from the Philippines is the oldest person to appear on a Vogue Magazine cover
Updated 01 April 2023
LONDON: A 106-year-old tattoo artist featured in the April issue of Vogue Philippines is the oldest person ever to appear on the magazine’s cover.
Apo Whang-Od is also believed to be the oldest traditional Kalinga tattooist, known as a mambabatok, in the Philippines, CNN reported.
“Heralded as the last mambabatok of her generation, she has imprinted the symbols of the Kalinga tribe — signifying strength, bravery, and beauty — on the skin of thousands of people who have made the pilgrimage to Buscalan,” wrote Vogue Philippines in an Instagram post revealing the new cover.
Once prized by indigenous warriors who protected local villages, the hand-tapped tattoos are created using a bamboo stick, a thorn from a pomelo tree, water and coal.
Whang-Od, who lives in the mountain village of Buscalan, north of Manila, learned the art of hand-tapping tattoos from her father during her teenage years.
Today, tourists seeking Whang-Od’s signature geometric designs make up much of her clientele.
The traditional art is passed down only to blood relatives, and Whang Od has been instructing her two grandnieces for years now.
“The tradition will continue as long as people keep coming to get tattoos,” she told CNN in 2017, adding that she would persevere until her vision gets blurry.
“We felt she represented our ideals of what is beautiful about our Filipino culture,” said Bea Valdes, Vogue Philippines editor-in-chief.
Staff at the publication were in complete agreement that Whang-Od should go on April’s cover, she added.
“We believe that the concept of beauty needs to evolve, and include diverse and inclusive faces and forms. What we hope to speak about is the beauty of humanity,” Valdes said.
The magazine’s previous oldest cover star was British actress Judi Dench, who featured in British Vogue in 2020 at the age of 85.
Also upheld was the board’s order that Tesla reinstate and provide back pay to an employee who was fired for union-organizing activity
Updated 01 April 2023
NEW ORLEANS: A 2018 Twitter post by Tesla CEO Elon Musk unlawfully threatened Tesla employees with the loss of stock options if they decided to be represented by a union, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a March 2021 order by the National Labor Relations Board, which ordered that the tweet be deleted. The case arose from United Auto Workers’ organizing efforts at a Tesla facility in Fremont, California.
Also upheld was the board’s order that Tesla reinstate and provide back pay to an employee who was fired for union-organizing activity.
Musk tweeted on May 20, 2018: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets health care.”
The ruling said that “because stock options are part of Tesla’s employees’ compensation, and nothing in the tweet suggested that Tesla would be forced to end stock options or that the UAW would be the cause of giving up stock options, substantial evidence supports the NLRB’s conclusion that the tweet is as an implied threat to end stock options as retaliation for unionization.”
The UAW, and Richard Ortiz, the worker whose reinstatement was ordered, praised the ruling. “I look forward to returning to work at Tesla and working with my co-workers to finish the job of forming a Union,” Ortiz said in a UAW email.
“This a great victory for workers who have the courage to stand up and organize in a system that is currently stacked heavily in favor of employers like Tesla who have no qualms about violating the law,” said UAW Region 6 Director Mike Miller.
Tesla had not responded to emailed requests for comment Friday afternoon.
‘Only journalism can save journalism,’ FII Priority panel told
News subscriptions grew by nearly 58 percent between 2019 and 2020
Social media platforms have grown up and are now being held responsible by governments and regulators, panel discusses
Updated 01 April 2023
MIAMI: Trust in news has fallen in almost half of 46 countries surveyed by the Reuters Institute. Other studies show that only 8 percent of people in the US trust what they read, see and hear.
These numbers do not surprise Faisal Abbas, the editor-in-chief of Arab News. Speaking at the FII Priority conference, he said: “We’re living in an era where we are bombarded by information left, right and center so for people to distrust the information that they are receiving is not unusual.”
Abbas said there was a silver lining in this situation, which is the increase in subscriptions.
“People, for the first time since the expansion of the internet, are willing to actually pay money for professional, quality journalism.”
There was a median increase of nearly 58 percent in active subscribers between 2019 and 2020, according to data from analytics firm Piano.
Given anyone now has the “ability to disseminate and receive information unfiltered instantly,” professional quality journalism is more important than ever.
Justin Smith, former CEO of Bloomberg Media and current CEO and co-founder of global news platform, Semafor, who moderated the panel, said that Semafor believes the best way of “attacking trust is to rethink the actual format”.
Semafor’s articles are therefore broken down into sections featuring the news, analysis, different perspectives on the topic, and other articles on the topic.
In the Middle East, unlike America, there isn’t a first amendment that protects the free speech of the press and people. However, and particularly in Saudi Arabia, “we’re living in a positive climate of reforms,” said Abbas.
While he acknowledged “we’re not there yet,” he added that since “the whole vision is focused on setting targets, KPIs, and transparency for government officials and bodies, it is unthinkable that we will not get there in the end.”
Arab News itself has seen 500 percent growth in traffic and audience and a large rise in newsletter subscriptions, so “we must be doing something right,” he added.
Moreover, when it comes to quality journalism, Saudi media continues to dominate the media scene, Abbas said.
This is, in part at least, due to the diligence and responsibility of media outlets to maintain editorial integrity, which “can’t be promised or pledged, it has to be proven with every story.
“Reputation arrives on foot and leaves on horseback, so it only takes one mistake. It’s not a responsibility we take lightly and neither does our management.”
Abbas pressed on how social media is impacting the truth and discussed the recent pressure social media companies are facing from governments and regulators.
He likened social media platforms to someone entering their teenage years — “whatever they did before was cute,” or “they were too young to know what they’re doing,” Abbas said.
But now, regulation is catching up and platforms are being held accountable, and treated as publishers who are liable for the content on their sites, he added.
Beyond news dissemination, Abbas drew attention to the problem of commercialization.
“We’re a victim of a situation whereby you are penalized to do professional journalism, and rewarded if you do lazy fake news.”
News media organizations incur multiple costs from commissioning a story, to legal reviews, to copyediting. They then end up sharing revenue with social platforms or Google, which is unfair, Abbas said.
Often, fake news stories go viral on social media platforms garnering millions of clicks, “and that is just a classic model of how easy it is and how social media will reward you if you are publishing fake news.”
It is important to remember that “big tech companies weren’t founded by journalists or publishers; they were founded by engineers who didn’t quite understand the impact that fake news has,” Abbas said.
Ultimately, he concluded, “it’s up to us, only journalism can save journalism.”
Nobel-winning Russian editor: “I know Gershkovich, he’s no spy“
Dmitry Muratov told Reuters the case against Gershkovich was part of a wider trend to make journalism a "dangerous profession" in Russia
More than 260 publications have been closed, blocked or de-registered since then, he said
Updated 31 March 2023
MOSCOW: A Nobel prize-winning Russian journalist said on Friday he did not believe that arrested American reporter Evan Gershkovich was a spy, and that he hoped diplomacy could bring about his quick release.
Dmitry Muratov told Reuters the case against Gershkovich — a Wall Street Journal reporter facing espionage charges that carry up to 20 years in jail — was part of a wider trend to make journalism a “dangerous profession” in Russia.
“I know Gershkovich. I’ve met him two or three times over the last year. I know the practice exists of using journalists as spies, intelligence officers and ‘illegals’ (undeclared spies) — this is not that kind of case,” Muratov said.
“He was no kind of so-called deep-cover operative — using being a journalist and his journalist’s accreditation as a cover for espionage ... Gershkovich was not a spy,” said Muratov, a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for his efforts to defend press freedom in Russia.
He was speaking outside a closed court hearing in Moscow on Friday in the case of Vladimir Kara-Murza, an opposition politician facing charges including state treason and spreading false information about the armed forces.
Muratov also cited the case of Ivan Safronov, a former journalist sentenced to 22 years in jail for treason last year.
“At every turn, we’re being charged with espionage and treason. It’s a trend — to show that journalism is a dangerous profession ... both for Russian and other journalists.”
Muratov was editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which has seen several of its reporters killed in the last two decades, and had its registration revoked last year after Russia went to war in Ukraine. More than 260 publications have been closed, blocked or de-registered since then, he said.
“I don’t really understand how, given that trend and the lack of media competition, you can hold the elections that President Vladimir Putin announced for 2024,” he said.
“Does it mean they’ll go ahead without difficult topics, discussions, candidate programs? I’m starting not to understand how that can work.”
Muratov said he was aware of the “popular theory” that Gershkovich had been seized as a bargaining chip for Moscow to use in a prisoner exchange with the United States, though he did not say if he believed that himself.
He said he very much hoped that “through back-channel diplomacy,” Gershkovich would soon be freed.