Meta removes Instagram, Facebook accounts of Iran’s Khamenei

Meta removes Instagram, Facebook accounts of Iran’s Khamenei
Meta on Thursday said it had removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for violating its content policy. (Instagram)
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Updated 09 February 2024
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Meta removes Instagram, Facebook accounts of Iran’s Khamenei

Meta removes Instagram, Facebook accounts of Iran’s Khamenei
  • “We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” a Meta spokesperson told AFP
  • Though Meta did not mention the Israel-Hamas war, the company has been under pressure to ban the leader ever since the October 7 attack

SAN FRANCISCO: Meta on Thursday said it had removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for violating its content policy.
“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” a Meta spokesperson told AFP.
Though Meta did not mention the Israel-Hamas war, the company has been under pressure to ban the leader ever since the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.
After the attack, Khamenei supported the bloody rampage by Hamas, but denied any Iranian involvement.
He has also publicly supported Palestinian retaliation against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as well as attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Khamenei, in power in Iran for 35 years, has five million followers on Instagram.
“In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on our platforms,” says the policy on which Meta based its decision.
It also says it will “remove glorification, support and representation of various dangerous organizations and individuals.”
Hamas is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
Instagram and Facebook are banned in Iran, but Iranians use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to evade restrictions and access prohibited websites or apps, including the US-owned Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Arabian purebred competition bridges divisions in Libya

Arabian purebred competition bridges divisions in Libya
Updated 05 March 2024
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Arabian purebred competition bridges divisions in Libya

Arabian purebred competition bridges divisions in Libya
  • Since the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been gripped by political turmoil that descended into armed conflict between the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and a rival administration in Benghazi

QASR BIN GHASHIR, Libya: A horse breeding competition has brought together equestrians from across divided Libya in a rare show of unity after years of conflict.
Bay, chestnut or grey, more than 70 horses participated Friday and Saturday in the National Championship of Libyan Arabian Horses in a suburb of Libya’s capital Tripoli, in the west.
Since the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been gripped by political turmoil that descended into armed conflict between the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and a rival administration in Benghazi.

A participant along with his horse takes part in the National Championship of Libyan Arabian Horse (Elkheir Cup) on the outskirts of Tripoli on March 3, 2024. (AFP)

“It has been 14 years since we have seen such competitions in Tripoli,” said Ahmad Al-Amami, owner of the Al-Waha stable in Benghazi.
Winner of “Best in Show,” Amami was accompanied by six fillies and mares who won silver and gold medals in a beauty contest.
International judges, like those of the World Arabian Horse Association, were invited to evaluate the appearance of each horse.

A participant along with her horse takes part in the National Championship of Libyan Arabian Horse (Elkheir Cup) on the outskirts of Tripoli on March 3, 2024. (AFP)

The contest also saw Sima Othman Abubteina, 18, receiving a special prize as the first woman and youngest participant in such a competition in Libya.
She participated in the competition with 14 colts and fillies from a stud farm in Benghazi founded by her recently deceased father, who was a renowned equestrian in Libya.
“I started riding when I was four... I used to accompany my father to horse clubs to learn everything related to horses” she told AFP, her horse Amir — a gold medal winner — at her side.
 

 


Scientists reveal secrets of Earth’s magnificent desert star dunes

Scientists reveal secrets of Earth’s magnificent desert star dunes
Updated 05 March 2024
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Scientists reveal secrets of Earth’s magnificent desert star dunes

Scientists reveal secrets of Earth’s magnificent desert star dunes
  • The researchers used ground-penetrating radar to peer inside the dune and employed luminescence dating to determine how long Lala Lallia has taken to form, a method based on the amount of energy trapped inside the grains of sand

WASHINGTON: They are among the wonders of our deserts: star dunes, the vaguely pyramid-shaped sand formations up to about 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall with arms stretching out from a central peak to give them a star-like appearance when viewed from above.
Scientists on Monday unveiled the first in-depth study of a star dune, revealing the internal structure of these geological features and showing how long it took for one of them to form — more quickly than expected but still a process unfolding over many centuries.
The study focused upon a star dune in eastern Morocco called Lala Lallia, meaning “highest sacred point” in the local Berber language, situated within the Sahara Desert in a small sand sea called Erg Chebbi about 3 miles (5 km) from the town of Merzouga, close to the border with Algeria.

A view of the Lala Lallia star dune of the Sahara Desert, in Erg Chebbi, Morocco, as seen in an undated handout image from 2008 and obtained by Reuters on March 1, 2024. (REUTERS)

Lala Lallia rises about 330 feet (100 meters) above the surrounding dunes and is approximately 2,300 feet (700 meters) wide, containing about 5-1/2 million metric tons of sand.
The researchers used ground-penetrating radar to peer inside the dune and employed luminescence dating to determine how long Lala Lallia has taken to form, a method based on the amount of energy trapped inside the grains of sand. The answer: about 900 years, accumulating roughly 6,400 metric tons annually as wind relentlessly blows sand through the desert.
Star dunes make up just under 10 percent of the dunes in Earth’s deserts and are the tallest ones, surpassing other types such as crescent-shaped barchan dunes and straight and lengthy linear dunes. They also have been spotted on Mars and on Saturn’s large moon Titan.

A view of the Lala Lallia star dune of the Sahara Desert, in Erg Chebbi, Morocco, as seen in an undated handout image from 2008 and obtained by Reuters on March 1, 2024. (REUTERS)

“I first encountered star dunes in Namibia 20 years ago, and was instantly amazed at the size of them. I have a vivid memory of the long climb to the top, struggling up very loose sand in the heat of the day,” said geographer Geoff Duller of Aberystwyth University in Wales, co-author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“I find desert dunes very beautiful,” Duller added. “The sight of the sinuous curves, and the way that the light and shadow changes with the sun mean that they always look different, whether that is in the cool of the morning, the midday sun or near sunset. The different colors of sand in different deserts are also very striking, with yellow, white, red and even black dunes in different parts of the world.”
The ground-penetrating radar revealed the layers within the Lala Lallia dune, showing how it was constructed over time through accumulating sand and how parts of its internal structure resembled other types of dunes.
“Star dunes are formed in areas with complex wind regimes, which means winds blowing from different directions, and net sand accumulation, points within the desert where big piles of sand can be blown around to form giant dunes,” said Birkbeck University of London sedimentologist and study co-author Charlie Bristow.
The researchers also determined that Lala Lallia is moving westerly at a speed of about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) annually.
While many star dunes are known today, only a single ancient one has been found preserved as sandstone in the geological record, dating to about 250 million years ago, in Scotland. By revealing their internal structure, the researchers said their findings provide a guide for geologists to identify more sandstone remnants of ancient star dunes.
Earth’s largest star dunes are found in the Badain Jaran desert in western China. Star dunes also are found in places including the Namib Sand Sea in Namibia, large sand seas in Algeria such as the Grand Erg Oriental and Grand Erg Occidental, and Rub’ al Khali in Saudi Arabia. In North America, Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado contains a series of them.
“They form extraordinary and awe-inspiring landscapes,” Bristow said. “From the ground they can be intimidating, mobile mountains of sand.”

 


Archaeologists in Egypt unearth section of large Ramses II statue

Archaeologists in Egypt unearth section of large Ramses II statue
Updated 05 March 2024
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Archaeologists in Egypt unearth section of large Ramses II statue

Archaeologists in Egypt unearth section of large Ramses II statue
  • Also known as Ramses the Great, he was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled from 1,279 to 1,213 BCE

CAIRO: A joint Egyptian-US archaeological mission has uncovered the upper part of a huge statue of King Ramses II during excavations south of the Egyptian city of Minya, Egypt’s tourism and antiquities ministry said on Monday.
The limestone block is about 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) high and depicts a seated Ramses wearing a double crown and a headdress topped with a royal cobra, Bassem Jihad, head of the mission’s Egyptian team, said in a statement.
The upper part of the statue’s back column shows hieroglyphic writings that glorify the king, one of ancient Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs, he said.
Also known as Ramses the Great, he was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled from 1,279 to 1,213 BCE.
The size of the statue when combined with its lower section, which was unearthed decades ago, would reach about 7 meters.
The city of El Ashmunein, on the west bank of the River Nile, was known in ancient Egypt as Khemnu and in the Greco-Roman era was the regional capital of Hermopolis Magna.
Studies have confirmed that the upper part of the statue is a match for the lower section discovered by German archaeologist Gunther Roeder in 1930, said Mustafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The mission has begun cleaning and preparing the block ahead of modelling what the statue would look like when the two sections are combined, Waziri said.

 


Israel to revise Eurovision entries said to allude to Hamas attack

Israel to revise Eurovision entries said to allude to Hamas attack
Updated 03 March 2024
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Israel to revise Eurovision entries said to allude to Hamas attack

Israel to revise Eurovision entries said to allude to Hamas attack
  • The selected song will be revealed on March 10

JERUSALEM: Israel on Sunday said it had asked lyricists to revise its proposed Eurovision Song Contest entries, potentially heading off a dispute with organizers over political content.
Authorities last week said Israel would not be able to participate in this year’s edition of the popular competition if organizers rejected the song choice, which reportedly referenced victims of Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that triggered the ongoing war in Gaza.
Eurovision rules ban political content.
In a statement on Sunday, Israeli public broadcaster Kan said President Isaac Herzog had called for “necessary adjustments” that would ensure Israel’s inclusion in the event, which it has won four times.
This year’s competition is set to be held in Sweden in May.
The Israeli broadcaster “contacted the lyricists of the two selected songs, ‘October Rain’ which was chosen in first place, and ‘Dance Forever’ which came in second place, and asked them to readapt the texts, while preserving their artistic freedom,” the statement said.
“Among the new texts that will be proposed, Kan will choose the song that will be sent to the Eurovision supervisory committee, so that it approves Israel’s participation in the competition.”
The selected song, to be performed by 20-year-old Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan, will be revealed on March 10, the statement said.
One line from the original lyrics of “October Rain” read: “They were all good children, every one of them.”
“There is no air left to breathe, There is no place for me,” the song ends, according to Kan, which has published the lyrics in full on its website.
Israel in 1973 became the first non-European country to enter Eurovision, and its participation and hosting of the event have regularly run into controversy.
In 2019, Icelandic band Hatari, who previously challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Nordic folk wrestling match, made pro-Palestinian statements during the vote count in Tel Aviv.
Organizers also gave US pop icon Madonna a ticking off after her dancers flouted political neutrality rules by wearing Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes.
This year’s competition comes against the backdrop of the war, sparked by the Hamas attack which resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people in Israel, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Militants also took about 250 hostages, with 130 still held in Gaza although 31 are believed to be dead, Israeli officials said.
Israel’s military response has killed at least 30,410 people in Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
Kan late last month said it had “no intention to replace the song,” threatening to withdraw unless the European Broadcasting Union which oversees the song contest approves its entry.
But Herzog “emphasized that it is precisely at a time when those who hate us are seeking to repress and boycott the State of Israel” that the country “must raise its voice... loud and clear in every world forum,” Sunday’s Kan statement said.


Heinz Arabia insures ketchup fans against spills and splotches

Heinz Arabia insures ketchup fans against spills and splotches
Updated 28 February 2024
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Heinz Arabia insures ketchup fans against spills and splotches

Heinz Arabia insures ketchup fans against spills and splotches
  • With almost 48 percent of Heinz customers facing ketchup accidents regularly, Heinz Arabia has partnered with employee benefits app to introduce the world's first ketchup insurance policy

DUBAI: A barrage of social media posts about ketchup-related accidents has prompted Heinz Arabia to “right the wrongs” by offering a solution to those who get a little carried away with their favorite condiment.

On Wednesday, the food manufacturer announced a new insurance policy covering 57 different types of ketchup incident, from stains on carpets to spills on clothing and splatters on pets, ceilings or sofas.

Currently, the quirky policy only covers the UAE, but Heinz Arabia told Arab News it would be launched in Saudia Arabia later in the week.

The company has promised to provide swift, hassle-free compensation to those who need it. Customers can claim through the MyBenefits app, with rewards including home cleaning services, laundry assistance, handyman services and spa treatments.

“Here at Heinz, we know our fans’ love for our ketchup can sometimes be — well, a bit over the top,” said Passant El Ghannam, head of marketing at Kraft Heinz MEA. “Our research tells us that 48 percent of them have ketchup accidents all the time, but 91 percent swear their love for Heinz makes it worth it.

“That’s why we’re rolling out ketchup insurance — to turn messy moments into joy and convenience for our die-hard fans, letting them enjoy their ketchup incidents worry-free.”

Urging ketchup consumers to “know their rights,” Heinz is encouraging individuals who experience ketchup-related incidents matching any of the 57 claims to share them on social media using the hashtag #HeinzKetchupInsurance.