EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation

EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation
Combo image showing the logos of Voice of Europe, Ria Novosti, Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta. (X/Wikipedia images)
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Updated 18 May 2024
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EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation

EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation
  • The EU has already suspended Russia Today and Sputnik among several other outlets since February 2022

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Friday banned four more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the 27-nation bloc for what it calls the spread of propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine and disinformation as the EU heads into parliamentary elections in three weeks.
The latest batch of broadcasters consists of Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which the EU claims are all under control of the Kremlin. It said in a statement that the four are in particular targeting “European political parties, especially during election periods.”
Belgium already last month opened an investigation into suspected Russian interference in June’s Europe-wide elections, saying its country’s intelligence service has confirmed the existence of a network trying to undermine support for Ukraine.
The Czech government has imposed sanctions on a number of people after a pro-Russian influence operation was uncovered there. They are alleged to have approached members of the European Parliament and offered them money to promote Russian propaganda.
Since the war started in February 2022, the EU has already suspended Russia Today and Sputnik among several other outlets.

 

 


Greece says BBC report does not prove coast guard threw migrants overboard

Greece says BBC report does not prove coast guard threw migrants overboard
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Greece says BBC report does not prove coast guard threw migrants overboard

Greece says BBC report does not prove coast guard threw migrants overboard
  • BBC investigation alleges that the Greek coastguard caused dozens of migrant deaths between 2020 and 2023
  • Survivors have filed a criminal complaint against the Greek coast guard, accusing it of a slow response despite multiple warnings
ATHENS: Greece rejected Monday a BBC investigation that alleged its coast guard caused the deaths of dozens of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, denying accusations it had broken international law.
In an investigation published on its website on Monday, the BBC counted 43 migrants it said had died in the Aegean Sea after being turned back by Greek coast guards between May 2020 and May 2023.
Nine of the dead were deliberately thrown overboard, the publicly funded British broadcaster added.
Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis denied the claims.
“We monitor every publication, every investigation, but I repeat: what has been reported is in no way proven,” he said, adding the coast guard “saves dozens of human lives each day.”
Greece has long been accused of carrying out illegal operations to force back migrants braving the perilous crossing from Turkiye’s western coast in the hope of reaching the European Union.
Though Athens has always denied the practice, numerous investigations by international media and rights groups have documented its existence, often with video evidence.
The BBC said its investigation examined 15 such pushback operations over a three-year period.
As well as basing its reporting on local media, NGOs and the Turkish coast guard, the BBC was able to interview eyewitnesses.
They include a Cameroonian national who said he and two other migrants were arrested after landing on the island of Samos in September 2021.
He said the police forced them onto a Greek coast guard boat, beating them as they went, before throwing them out into the water.
He was the only one to survive, with the bodies of his two companions — an Ivorian and another Cameroonian — washing up on the Turkish coast.
The eyewitness’s lawyers are calling for the Greek authorities to open a double murder case into the incident.
The EU said it was aware of the “terrible allegations.”
“Greek authorities, as in all EU member states, must fully respect obligations under the asylum and international law,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told journalists in Brussels.
Tens of thousands of migrants, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have entered Greece in recent years from the sea and land borders with Turkiye.
The International Organization for Migration has declared the Mediterranean passage the world’s most perilous migration route.
In 2023, a migrant trawler with hundreds of people on board sank off the Greek coast, killing more than 600 people in one of Europe’s deadliest shipwrecks.
The survivors have filed a criminal complaint against the Greek coast guard.
They allege that the coast guard took hours to mount a response to the sinking ship, despite warnings from EU border agency Frontex and the NGO Alarm Phone.

The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US

The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US
Updated 18 June 2024
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The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US

The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US
  • The coverage revealed Lewis’ sensitivity about questions involving his role in a phone hacking scandal in the UK

NEW YORK: New leaders of The Washington Post are being haunted by their pasts, with ethical questions raised about their actions as journalists in London that illustrate very different press traditions in the United States and England.
An extraordinary trio of stories over the weekend by The New York Times, NPR and the Post itself outline alleged involvement by Post publisher Will Lewis and Robert Winnett, his choice as a new editor, in wrongdoing involving London publications as much as two decades ago.
The Post said on Monday that it had brought back its former senior managing editor to oversee the newspaper’s coverage of the matter.
Lewis took over as publisher earlier this year, with a mandate to turn around the financially-troubled newspaper. He announced a reorganization earlier this month where the Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, stepped down rather than accept a demotion.
The coverage revealed Lewis’ sensitivity about questions involving his role in a phone hacking scandal that rocked the British press while he was working there. Lewis has maintained that he was brought in by Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers to cooperate with authorities to clean up after the scandal. Plaintiffs in a civil case have charged him with destroying evidence, which he has denied.
Differences between US and British journalism — some of them big
The public revelation of phone hacking in 2011 led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid and sparked a public inquiry into press practices that curbed some of the worst excesses.
The British press has long been considered freewheeling in its pursuit of scoops, willing to tolerate behavior frowned upon by its American counterparts. For example, when Lewis and Winnett worked at The Daily Telegraph in 2009, they cooperated on stories about politicians’ extravagant expense-account spending. They paid for data that revealed the spending, a reporting practice that would be considered a substantial ethical breach in the US
The Times reported on Saturday that both Lewis and Winnett worked on stories in the 2000s that appeared to be based on fraudulently obtained phone and business records.
Both the Times and Post reported on a 2002 story article about British politicians who had sought to buy a Mercedes-Benz vehicle described as the “Nazi’s favorite limousine,” based on information obtained by an actor who had faked a German accent to call a manufacturer who gave it to him.
The Post story delved into Winnett’s relationship with John Ford, the actor whose “clandestine efforts” helped uncover stories that included private financial dealings by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was allegedly adept in “blagging,” in which a person misrepresents themselves to persuade others to reveal confidential information. That’s illegal under British law unless it can be shown the actions benefit the public.
Headlined “Incoming Post editor tied to self-described ‘thief’ who claimed role in his reporting,” it was among the newspaper’s most popular stories on Monday. Winnett was chosen by Lewis to take over the Post’s main newsroom after the presidential election.
It was an unusually harsh story for a news organization to write about its own leadership. In announcing that Cameron Barr, who left his position last year, would supervise the reporting, the Post said that “the publisher has no involvement or influence on our reporting.” Other editors, including Buzbee’s temporary replacement Matt Murray, will also look over stories produced by the media team.
NPR’s story details several of these issues, along with Winnett’s supervision — when he worked at the Sunday Times in London — of a reporter, Claire Newell, who was hired as a temporary secretary in the UK Cabinet office, giving her access to sensitive documents that made their way back to the newspaper.
Is this an ‘unrecoverable’ situation for Post leadership?
The Post said Lewis declined comment on the stories. Winnett, a deputy editor at the Telegraph in London, did not comment on the three most recent stories, and a message to the newspaper by The Associated Press was not immediately returned on Monday.
Similarly silent: Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of the Post, who will ultimately decide whether this is a public relations and internal morale storm that he and the institution can weather.
Not everyone is sure that he can, or should.
“The Washington Post is a great, great, great paper, and its greatness pushes the rest of us in the media world to do a better job,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on X Monday. “Yet its leadership is now tainted in ways that are unrecoverable; time won’t heal the injury but let it fester.”
Lewis, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal who is also vice chairman of the board at The Associated Press, has spent the past week trying to assure Post staff members that he understands and will live up to the ethical standards of American journalism.


Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country

Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country
Updated 17 June 2024
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Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country

Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country
  • Organization’s CEO, Fahd Hamidaddin highlights potential for the creative sector to be a key driver of tourism in the Kingdom
  • He issues open invitation for international collaborators to work with authorities to create award-worthy work

LONDON: The Saudi Tourism Authority on Monday made its debut at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where it is promoting the Kingdom’s burgeoning creative sector as a key driver of tourism.

Fahd Hamidaddin, the organization’s CEO, said authorities in the country are committed to placing creativity and innovation at the forefront of their plans for diversification of the national economy. He also emphasized the role the industry can play in shaping global perceptions of Saudi Arabia and promoting recent dramatic changes in the Kingdom.

“Storytelling is something that Arabia has always cherished and creativity is the beacon of our future; it’s the beauty of imagination meeting innovation,” Hamidaddin said during his keynote speech on the opening day of the five-day event in France.

“We are experiencing a transformation which takes Saudi (Arabia) from being oil-dependent to becoming a fully diversified, hyper-growth economy that sits at the center of the world, economically, socially and creatively as well.”

He highlighted various cultural developments and advances that have taken place in the Kingdom over the past few years as testaments to the country’s growing ambitions on the world stage, including art exhibitions and a burgeoning entertainment scene, with the country submitting entries to the Oscars and the Cannes Film Festival.

Hamidaddin noted the growing number of creators, home-grown and from other countries, who are contributing to the development of the sector in the Kingdom and extended an open invitation for more collaborators to explore opportunities to work with Saudi authorities and create award-winning work worthy of recognition by the Cannes Lions festival.

“If you think you know Saudi, think again,” he said. “Even Saudis don’t recognize it amid the changes and transformations happening every day.”

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity began on June 17 and continues until June 21.


German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions

German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions
Updated 17 June 2024
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German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions

German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions
  • Sabine Doring dismissed after trying to sanction scholars supporting protests

LONDON: German authorities have dismissed Sabine Doring, the undersecretary responsible for higher education, for attempting to impose financial sanctions on academics supporting students protesting against Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

The decision, announced on Sunday, follows days of pressure on Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger from thousands of academics.

“In May of this year, a group of university lecturers wrote an open letter regarding the protest camps at universities. This is a legitimate part of debate and freedom of thought. Having a different opinion is equally natural,” Stark-Watzinger said.

She affirmed that academic freedom was protected under constitutional law, adding: “I defend academic freedom in all its aspects. Funding for science is based on scientific criteria, not political ideology. This is a fundamental principle of academic freedom.”

Stark-Watzinger had faced intense criticism and calls for her resignation after media reports revealed that her office launched a legal review to explore sanctions against academics who supported protesting students, including the potential revocation of their funding.

“Academics in Germany are experiencing an unprecedented attack on their fundamental rights, on the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law,” more than 2,000 scholars said in an open letter on Friday.

The letter added: “Regardless of whether we agree with the specific demands of the protest camp, we stand up for our students, and defend their right to peaceful protest, which also includes the occupation of university grounds.”


Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act

Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act
Updated 17 June 2024
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Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act

Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people

WASHINGTON DC: The US surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes.
In a Monday opinion piece in the The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people.
“It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents. A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe,” Murthy said. “Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior.”
Murthy said that the use of just a warning label wouldn’t make social media safe for young people, but would be a part of the steps needed.
Social media use is prevalent among young people, with up to 95 percent of youth ages 13 to 17 saying that they use a social media platform, and more than a third saying that they use social media “almost constantly,” according to 2022 data from the Pew Research Center.
“Social media today is like tobacco decades ago: It’s a product whose business model depends on addicting kids. And as with cigarettes, a surgeon general’s warning label is a critical step toward mitigating the threat to children,” Josh Golin, executive director at Fairplay, an organization that is dedicated to ending marketing to children, said in a statement.
Last year Murthy warned that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that social media is safe for children and teens. He said at the time that policymakers needed to address the harms of social media the same way they regulate things like car seats, baby formula, medication and other products children use.
To comply with federal regulation, social media companies already ban kids under 13 from signing up for their platforms — but children have been shown to easily get around the bans, both with and without their parents’ consent.
Other measures social platforms have taken to address concerns about children’s mental health can also be easily circumvented. For instance, TikTok introduced a default 60-minute time limit for users under 18. But once the limit is reached, minors can simply enter a passcode to keep watching.
Murthy believes the impact of social media on young people should be a more pressing concern.
“Why is it that we have failed to respond to the harms of social media when they are no less urgent or widespread than those posed by unsafe cars, planes or food? These harms are not a failure of willpower and parenting; they are the consequence of unleashing powerful technology without adequate safety measures, transparency or accountability,” he wrote.
In January the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, X and other social media companies went before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify as parents worry that they’re not doing enough to protect young people. The executives touted existing safety tools on their platforms and the work they’ve done with nonprofits and law enforcement to protect minors.
Murthy said Monday that Congress needs to implement legislation that will protect young people from online harassment, abuse and exploitation and from exposure to extreme violence and sexual content.
“The measures should prevent platforms from collecting sensitive data from children and should restrict the use of features like push notifications, autoplay and infinite scroll, which prey on developing brains and contribute to excessive use,” Murthy wrote.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal supported Murthy’s message Monday.
“We are pleased that the Surgeon General — America’s top doctor — continues to bring attention to the harmful impact that social media has on our children,” the senators said in a prepared statement.
The surgeon general is also recommending that companies be required to share all their data on health effects with independent scientists and the public, which they currently don’t do, and allow independent safety audits.
Murthy said schools and parents also need to participate in providing phone-free times and that doctors, nurses and other clinicians should help guide families toward safer practices.
While Murthy pushes for more to be done about social media in the United States, the European Union enacted groundbreaking new digital rules last year. The Digital Services Act is part of a suite of tech-focused regulations crafted by the 27-nation bloc — long a global leader in cracking down on tech giants.
The DSA is designed to keep users safe online and make it much harder to spread content that’s either illegal, like hate speech or child sexual abuse, or violates a platform’s terms of service. It also looks to protect citizens’ fundamental rights such as privacy and free speech.
Officials have warned tech companies that violations could bring fines worth up to 6 percent of their global revenue — which could amount to billions — or even a ban from the EU.