December 28, 2020 Find out more Iraq : Wave of arrests of journalists covering protests in Iraqi Kurdistan News February 15, 2021 Find out more RSF’s 2020 Round-up: 50 journalists killed, two-thirds in countries “at peace” Organisation Follow the news on Iraq IraqMiddle East – North Africa to go further News IraqMiddle East – North Africa Help by sharing this information RSF_en Reporters Without Borders is disturbed by the way the Iraqi authorities prevented the news media from covering bombings in Baghdad and the southern province of Babil on 19 and 20 August and an ensuing emergency parliamentary debate, in what appears to have been deliberate security policy.“We wonder why the Iraqi authorities forbade journalists to approach the scenes of the bombings and interview victims” Reporters Without Borders said. “Was it to reduce the broadcasting of shocking images? Was it to conceal successful terrorist operations? Was it to cover up the ineffectiveness of those in charge of internal security? More transparency is needed from the Iraqi authorities, who should allow journalists to work freely.”Many journalists were obstructed and manhandled by security forces when they tried to cover the two truck bombs that exploded on 19 August in Baghdad, one outside the foreign ministry and the other outside the finance ministry, exposing the inadequacies of the new internal security plan drawn up by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is also head of the security forces, following the withdrawal of US forces from the cities.The next day, three journalists were prevented from photographing and filming the funerals of victims near Baghdad’s Al Tab Al ‘Adli hospital. Although they showed a permit issued by the Baghdad operational command and the health ministry, they were physically attacked by an interior ministry official accompanied by plain-clothes police.Reuters photographer Tha’ir Al Sudani, cameraman Haydar Kadhim Noor and Shehab Ahmed, a photographer with the European Pressphoto Agency, were also detained for several hours by hospital security guards.In Al Hillah, 100 km south of Baghdad, print and broadcast media personnel, including the correspondents of the satellite TV stations Al Hurra, Al Sumariya and Al Rasheed and Radio Sawa were denied entry to the main hospital after a series of bombings in the city and the surrounding province of Babil on 20 August that killed more than 65 people.The security forces prevented them from talking to hospitalised survivors or other witnesses of the bombing on the orders of the hospital administration, which was acting on instructions received from the health ministry in Baghdad, one of the reporters said.The same hostile policy towards the press was pursued the next day, 21 August, when only 60 of Iraq’s 440 parliamentarians turned up for an emergency meeting of parliament to discuss the adoption of new security measures following the failure of the security forces to prevent the wave of bombings of the past two days.First deputy chairman of the parliament, Khalid Al Attiyah demanded the expulsion of all the journalists present in the parliament building and issued a formal ban on any press coverage of the meeting and its content for security reasons. Al Ittijah TV reporter Mufid Hamid was manhandled by the first deputy chairman’s bodyguards as the media were being expelled from parliament. The expulsion and the accompanying use of violence against journalists were filmed and broadcast by local TV stations.The Iraqi Union of Journalists and several parliamentarians including Maha Al Dawri, Fawzi Akram and Hassan Al Rabi’i have condemned the decisions to exclude the media from the parliamentary debate and impede coverage of the wave of bombings, its consequences and, in general, the government’s anti-terrorism policies. Three jailed reporters charged with “undermining national security” Receive email alerts News News August 26, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Internal security threats suddenly off-limits for news media December 16, 2020 Find out more
Really? Man Utd yet to approach anyone over technical director jobby Paul Vegas14 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United are still to hold talks with any potential new technical director.Indeed, they’re yet to approach a candidate over the vacant technical director job.The Telegraph says United’s search is continuing but there is an expectation it will be one of the club’s former players.It is believed the club want someone who can quickly understand the club.Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar has been heavily linked with a return. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
No Big Ten men’s basketball team has been playing better of late than Ohio State. The Buckeyes (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) have won three straight games, including back-to-back comfortable wins against two ranked foes in Indiana and Maryland. We now know why Thad Matta’s team has been performing at such a high level. The Ohio State coach promised his team an NBA Jam arcade game for their players’ lounge in exchange for a win streak. The Buckeyes are on a winning streak, so Matta delivered the game Friday. Is there a better arcade game than NBA Jam?Nope. Ohio State faces Purdue at Mackey Arena next Wednesday.
ESPN.Alabama is the favorite to win it all this season, according to nearly every sportsbook out there. Nick Saban disagrees with the oddsmakers. Who does the five-time national champion head coach think should be favored to win the national championship? The team his program defeated in last season’s College Football Playoff title game: Clemson. “How can they not pick Clemson?” Saban said during his appearance at ESPN today. “Deshaun Watson is most dominant player in college football since Cam Newton.”Bama 5/1 fav to win nat’l title. Nick Saban: “How can they not pick Clemson? Deshaun Watson is most dominant player in CFB since Cam Newton”— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 19, 2016Coach Saban starting the morning off in Bristol on @SportsCenter #RollTide pic.twitter.com/taAVky2Ohs— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) July 19, 2016This is just Saban trying to lessen the expectations for his team, but Clemson’s path to the national championship game is clearer than Alabama’s. The Crimson Tide are probably a more-talented team, but their quarterback situation is unclear and the schedule is pretty brutal. The Tigers, meanwhile, have a Heisman Trophy contender behind center and a more manageable schedule. Who are you betting on to win it all this year?
New Zealand authorities have seized the country’s largest cocaine shipment which arrived to the port of Tauranga hidden in a compartment attached to the underwater hull of Maersk Antares container vessel.A spokesperson from Maersk Line confirmed that the shipment was discovered on October 31, when the boxship arrived to Tauranga from Chile in the late evening hours.New Zealand’s Customs Service informed that members of a trans-national drug syndicate approached the ship and retrieved the cocaine, with a street value of around NZD 20 million (USD 13.8 million), from the compartment.The authorities executed search warrants in Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and residential addresses in Auckland on November 1 related to the shipment, which culminated in arrests of four foreign nationals. The arrested people are believed to be in no relation to the ship’s crew members.The Maersk Antares, which is deployed on Maersk Line’s AC3/Triple Star service, linking Latin America, New Zealand and Asia, departed the Port of Tauranga “as per the schedule with no delay to the service,” the spokesperson said.“Maersk is fully committed to abiding by the local laws of every jurisdiction we operate in. As such Maersk Line is cooperating fully with the New Zealand authorities,” Maersk Line informed.Assistant Commissioner Chambers said that this is the largest single seizure of cocaine in New Zealand, and that the shipment was destined for New Zealand.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Facebook is shutting down its ill-fated “trending” news section after four years, a company executive told The Associated Press.The company claims the tool is outdated and wasn’t popular. But the trending section also proved problematic in ways that would presage Facebook’s later problems with fake news, political balance and the limitations of artificial intelligence in managing the messy human world.When Facebook launched “trending” in 2014 as a list of headlines to the side of the main news feed, it was a straightforward move to steal users from Twitter by giving them a quick look at the most popular news of the moment. It fit nicely into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s pledge just a year earlier to make Facebook its users’ “personal newspaper.”But that was then. “Fake news” wasn’t yet a popular term, and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the U.S. elections through social media, as Russia later would be. Trending news that year included the death of Robin Williams, Ebola and the World Cup.Facebook is now testing new features, including a “breaking news” label that publishers can add to stories to distinguish them from other chatter. Facebook also wants to make local news more prominent.“It’s very good to get rid of ‘trending,’” said Frank Pasquale, a law professor at the University of Maryland and expert on algorithms and society. He said algorithms are good for very narrow, well-defined tasks. By contrast, he said, deciding what news stories should go in “trending” requires broad thinking, quick judgments about context and decisions about whether someone is trying to game the system.In an interview ahead of Friday’s announcement, Facebook’s head of news products, Alex Hardiman, said the company is still committed to breaking and real-time news. But instead of having Facebook’s moderators, human or otherwise, make editorial decisions, there’s been a subtle shift to let news organizations do so.According to the Pew Research Center, 44 per cent of U.S. adults get some or all of their news through Facebook.Troubles with the trending section began to emerge in 2016, when the company was accused of bias against conservatives, based on the words of an anonymous former contractor who said Facebook downplayed conservative issues in that feature and promoted liberal causes. Zuckerberg met with prominent right-wing leaders at the company’s headquarters in an attempt at damage control. Yet two years later, Facebook still hasn’t been able to shake the notion of bias.In late 2016, Facebook fired the human editors who worked on the trending topics and replaced them with software that was supposed to be free of political bias. Instead, the software algorithm began to pick out posts that were getting the most attention, even if the information in them was bogus. In early 2017, Facebook made another attempt to fix the trending section, this time by including only topics covered by several news publishers. The thinking was that coverage by just one outlet could be a sign that the news is fake.The troubles underscore the difficulty of relying on computers, even artificial intelligence, to make sense of the messy human world without committing obvious, sometimes embarrassing and occasionally disastrous errors.Ultimately, Facebook appears to conclude that trying to fix the headaches around trending wasn’t worth the meagre benefit the company, users and news publishers saw in it.“There are other ways for us to better invest our resources,” Hardiman said.Pasquale said Facebook’s new efforts represent “very slow steps” toward an acknowledgement that the company is making editorial judgments when it decides what news should be shown to users — and that it needs to empower journalists and editors to do so.But what needs to happen now, he added, is a broad shift in the company’s corporate culture, recognizing the expertise involved in journalistic judgment. The changes and features Facebook is putting out, he said, are being treated as “bug fixes” — addressing single problems the way engineers do.“What they are not doing is giving an overall account of their mission on how these fixes fit together,” Pasquale said.The “breaking news” label that Facebook is testing with 80 news publishers around the world will let outlets such as The Washington Post add a red label to indicate that a story is breaking news, highlighting it for users who want accurate information as things are happening.“Breaking news has to look different than a recipe,” Hardiman said.Another feature, called “Today In,” shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organizations. It’s being tested out in 30 markets in the U.S. Hardiman says the goal is to help “elevate great local journalism.” The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by outside publishers it would not yet name. It plans to launch this feature in the next few months.Facebook says the trending section wasn’t a popular feature to begin with. It was available only in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of clicks to the websites of news publishers, according to the company.While Facebook got outsized attention for the problems the trending section had — perhaps because it seemed popular with journalists and editors — neither its existence nor its removal makes much of a difference when it comes with Facebook’s broader problems with news.Hardiman said ending the trending section feels like letting a child go. But she said Facebook’s focus now is prioritizing trustworthy, informative news that people find useful.
PARIS — French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters’ representatives in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago.The government’s move on Friday comes amid calls for a new actions Saturday across France, including on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, where a protest last weekend degenerated into violence.Motorists protesting against a fuel tax hike have been joined since by farmers, white-collar workers, retirees and others in the “yellow jackets” movement that now involves a broad range of demands related to the country’s high cost of living.Their list of demands include tax cuts, the creation of a citizens’ assembly, state-funded subsidies to help companies increase hiring, higher pensions and a higher national minimum salary.Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
Kolkata: As political parties gear up for Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, data released by the central government has shown that CPI(M) lawmaker Mohammed Salim has secured the top spot in terms of utilisation of MPLADS funds in the state, followed by TMC MPs. Besides Salim, the other five MPs who have performed well in terms of the MPLADS fund utilisation were all first-time MPs, involved in social service or the entertainment industry before becoming parliamentarians in 2014. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) enables MPs to recommend developmental work in their constituencies with an emphasis on creating durable community assets based on locally felt needs. West Bengal with 42 Lok Sabha seats had utilised around 93.42 per of the released MPLADS funds. Around Rs 803.39 crore was used in the last five years and Rs 124.47 crore still lies unused in the MPLADS from the state. Projects worth over Rs 1000 crore were recommended by MPs cutting across party lines and the amount sanctioned was Rs 902.44 crore. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja According to the data, Salim, a CPI(M) MP from Raiganj Lok Sabha seat had ensured 115.14 per cent utilisation of the released funds. The amount available with interest in MPLADS was Rs 20.98 crore. In the 16th Lok Sabha from 2014-2019, Salim had recommended around Rs 28.88 crore for developmental work of which Rs 21.51 crore was sanctioned by the Centre. Around Rs 20.05 crore was spent from the sanctioned amount. Salim alleged that the district administration had been “lethargic” in releasing the utilisation certificates thereby “blocking” the way for the release of funds for the subsequent year. Under MPLADS, the role of an MP is limited only up to recommendation of developmental works. Thereafter it is the responsibility of the district administration to sanction, execute and complete the works recommended by the MP within the stipulated time period. The second in the list of utilising the fund was first time TMC MP Mamata Bala Thakur, from Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency. The amount available with interest in MPLADS was around Rs 26.03 crore. Thakur had recommended around Rs 27.72 crore of which Rs 25.58 crore was sanctioned by the Centre. Of the sanctioned sum, around Rs 25.34 crore was spent and the percentage of utilisation of funds was 110.60 percent. Bengali actress and first time TMC MP Sandhya Roy from Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency ranked third. The amount available with interest in MPLADS was around Rs 26.92 crores and Roy had recommended around Rs 27.89 crore for developmental work of which the entire amount was sanctioned. Around Rs 26.50 crore was spent and the percentage of utilization was 104.40 percent. Bengali actor and first time TMC MP Deepak Adhikari, commonly know as Dev, from Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency ranked fourth. The amount available with interest in MPLADS was around Rs 18.91 crore and Adhikari had recommended around Rs 25.84 crore of which the entire amount was sanctioned. Around Rs 18.29 crore was spent and the percentage of utilisation is 102.51 percent. The fifth in the list was TMC MP Aparupa Poddar, another first time MP from Arambag Lok Sabha constituency. The amount available with interest in MPLAD was around Rs 28.55 crore and Poddar had recommended around Rs 35.88 crore of which Rs 28.25 crore was sanctioned. Around Rs 26.06 crore was spent and the percentage of utilization of released funds stood at 102.24 per cent. In the case of senior TMC leader and first time MP, Abhishek Banerjee, who also happens to be the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the percentage of utilisation of the released funds stand at 94.04 per cent. The amount available with interest in MPLADS was around Rs 26.87 crore. The MP had recommended projects around Rs 26.92 crore of which Rs 23.94 crores was sanctioned. Around Rs 21.56 crore was spent for various projects. The two BJP MPs from Bengal- Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia and Asansol MP Babul Supriyo – had recorded utilisation of released MPLADS funds at around 56.30 per cent and 72.68 per cent respectively. Ahluwalia alleged that he had submitted around 312 recommendations to the district administration for various developmental projects but 228 recommendations were yet to be processed. The amount available with interest in the MPLADS of Ahluwalia was around Rs 10.29 crore. Ahluwalia had recommended projects worth Rs 25.22 crores of which Rs 8.81 crore was sanctioned. Around Rs 5.83 crore was spent and the percentage of utilization of released funds was 56.30 per cent.
NEW DELHI: In Delhi the poll day witnessed higher voter turnout at the Muslim dominated areas. In this list Ballimaran legislative constituency witnessed the highest voter turnout of more than 68 per cent and this area of Chandni Chowk constituency is also a Muslim dominated area.In the Chandni Chowk constituency areas like Chandni Chowk, Matia Mahal also witnessed high voter turnout and these are the places which are Muslim dominated. Matia Mahal witnessed 66.94 per cent turnout of voters whereas Chandni Chowk had the voter turnout around 60 per cent. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehiclesOn the other hand in the North East Delhi, Muslim majority areas like Seemapuri witnessed 67 per cent voter turnout, followed by Mustafabad with 65 per cent turnout. Silampur also witnessed 65 per cent voter turnout. In East Delhi, Trilokpuri which is also Muslim and caste minority dominated area witnessed nearly 65 per cent voter turnout which is the highest among the other areas of East Delhi. However, Okhla legislative assembly which is one of the most Muslim dominated areas in Delhi witnessed the lowest voter turnout and it was nearly 54 per cent. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: JavadekarAccording to reports Muslim voters largely seemed to be favouring the Congress in Delhi. The AAP had tried hard to forge a poll alliance with the Congress, driven by the fear that the anti-BJP votes might shift to that party. Of the 1.36 crore voters across seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital, 13 percent are Muslims. In constituencies such as Chandni Chowk, Muslim voters comprise 20 per cent of the total electorate. A large section of the community had shifted their allegiance from the Congress to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a move that helped the fledgling outfit trounce the Congress and BJP to emerge victorious in 67 of the 70 seats in the 2015 assembly election.