World Inside

Elon Musk says he would lift Twitter ban on Trump

Publish: 10:10 AM, 11 May, 2022


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Elon Musk on said Tuesday that as owner of Twitter he would lift the ban on Donald Trump, contending that kicking the former US president off the platform "alienated a large part of the country."

Musk's endorsement of a Trump return to the global messaging platform triggered fears among activists that Musk would "open the floodgates of hate."

"I would reverse the permanent ban," the billionaire said at a Financial Times conference, noting that he doesn't own Twitter yet, so "this is not like a thing that will definitely happen."

Trump has stated publicly that he would not come back to Twitter if permitted, opting instead to stick with his own social network, which has failed to gain traction.

The Tesla chief's $44-billion deal to buy Twitter must still get the backing of shareholders and regulators, but he has voiced enthusiasm for less content moderation and "time-outs" instead of bans.

Trump was booted from Twitter and other online platforms after supporters fired up by his tweets and speech alleging election fraud attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly bid to stop Joe Biden from being certified as the victor in the US presidential election.

"I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice," Musk said.

Musk maintained that permanent bans undermine trust in Twitter as an online town square where everyone can be heard.

"Elon Musk would open the floodgates of hate and disinformation on Twitter," said Media Matters for America president Angelo Carusone.
"Whether Elon Musk is a fully red-pilled right-wing radical or just someone very interested in enabling right-wing extremists, the result is the same."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, backed Musk's perspective.

"Elon Musk's decision to re-platform President Trump is the right call," said organization director Anthony Romero.

"Like it or not, president Trump is one of the most important political figures in this country, and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech."

Romero pointed out that some of Trump's controversy causing tweets have wound up being evidence in lawsuits against the former president by the ACLU and others.

Musk reasoned that permanent bans at Twitter should be rare, and reserved for accounts that are spam, scams or run by software "bots."
"That doesn't mean that somebody gets to say whatever they want to say," Musk said.

"If they say something that is illegal or otherwise just destructive to the world, then there should be a perhaps a timeout, a temporary suspension, or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited attraction."

- Ad boycott? -

Activist groups have called on Twitter advertisers to boycott the service if it opens the gates to abusive and misinformative posts with Musk as its owner.

"Under Musk's management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation, with your brand attached," said an open letter signed by more than two dozen groups including Media Matters, Access Now and Ultraviolet.

Twitter makes most of its revenue from ads, and that could be jeopardized by advertisers' reaction to content posted on the platform, the San Francisco-based tech firm said in a filing with US regulators.
"We believe that our long-term success depends on our ability to improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter," the company said in a regulatory filing.

Efforts toward that goal include fighting abuse, harassment, and spam, Twitter told regulators.

"Elon Musk owes the world a better explanation of how the platform will deal with the likes of Trump than an edict that his ouster was wrong because it proved unpopular in some places," said Suzanne Nossel, chief of human rights nonprofit PEN America.

The Knight Foundation said that a survey it commissioned found that only 41 percent of adults in the United States believe Trump was deprived of free expression rights by social media platforms that banned him.

"People died because of Donald Trump's Twitter account," said Muslim Advocates senior policy counsel Sumayyah Waheed.

"I'm terrified of what else would be allowed under Musk's watch."


Elon Musk   Donald Trump   Twitter  


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World Inside

Nearly 20 dead, 300 injured in Indonesia's 5.6 magnitude quake

Publish: 03:25 PM, 21 Nov, 2022


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More than a dozen people were killed in a 5.6-magnitude quake that rattled Indonesia's West Java province on Monday, a local official said.

Herman Suherman, a government official from Cianjur, the town in West Java where the epicentre of the quake was located, told news channel MetroTV that up to 20 people had died at one hospital in the area.

The epicentre was on land in Cianjur in West Java, about 75 km southeast of Jakarta, and at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), BMKG said, adding there was no potential for a tsunami.

Some people evacuated offices in the central business district of Jakarta, while others reported feeling buildings shake and seeing furniture move, Reuters witnesses said.

Muchlis, who was in Cianjur when the quake hit, said he felt "a huge tremor" and the walls and ceiling of his office building were damaged.

"I was very shocked. I worried there will be another quake," Muchlis told the Metro TV news channel, adding that people ran out of their houses, some fainting and vomiting because of the strong tremors.

BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati, speaking to reporters at parliamentary building, advised people to stay outdoors in case of aftershocks.

Suko Prayitno Adi of the BMKG said authorities were checking the extent of the damage caused by the quake.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded the earthquake at a magnitude of 5.4 on the Richter scale.

– Reuters



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World Inside

Turkey launches airstrikes over northern Syria

Publish: 12:21 PM, 20 Nov, 2022


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Turkey launched airstrikes over several towns in northern Syria on Saturday, U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces reported.

The airstrikes occurred a week after a bomb rocked a bustling avenue in the heart of Istanbul, killing six people and wounding over 80 others. Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as Syrian Kurdish groups affiliated with it. The Kurdish militant groups have, however, denied involvement.

Ankara and Washington both consider the PKK a terror group, but disagree on the status of the Syrian Kurdish groups, which have been allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Following the strikes, the Turkish ministry of defense posted a photo of a fighter plane with the phrase, “The treacherous attacks of the scoundrels are being held to account."

The airstrikes targeted Kobani, a strategic town near the Turkish border that Ankara had previously attempted to overtake in its plans to establish a “safe zone” along northern Syria. SDF spokesperson Farhad Shami in a tweet added that two villages heavily populated with displaced people were under Turkish bombardment. He said the strikes had resulted in “deaths and injuries.”

Syrian opposition media reported that Turkish airstrikes targeted Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces positions.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported that the strikes had also hit Syrian army positions and that at least 12 had been killed, including both SDF and Syrian army soldiers.

The observatory said about 25 air strikes were carried out by Turkish warplanes on sites in the countryside of Aleppo, Raqqa and Hasakah.

The Kurdish-led authority in northeast Syria said Saturday that if Turkey attacks, then fighters in the area would have “the right to resist and defend our areas in a major way that will take the region into a long war.”

Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and already controls some territories in the north.

– AP/UNB


Turkey   Airstrikes   Northern Syria  


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World Inside

Nord Stream leaks confirmed as sabotage, Sweden says

Publish: 10:10 AM, 19 Nov, 2022


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Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines, confirming sabotage had taken place, a Swedish prosecutor said on Friday.

Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating four holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines which link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and have become a flashpoint in the Ukraine crisis as gas supplies in Europe run short.

Denmark last month said a preliminary investigation had shown that the leaks were caused by powerful explosions.

"Analysis that has now been carried out shows traces of explosives on several of the objects that were recovered," the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement, adding that the findings establish the incident as "gross sabotage".

It said the continued probe would determine whether it would be possible to identify those responsible.

Cooperation with authorities in Sweden as well as in other countries was going very well, lead prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said.

The prosecutor's office declined to give further comment, including on which explosives were believed to have been used to damage the pipelines.

Russia will wait until a full damage assessment is done before deciding on repairs, if any, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

"The very fact that data has already begun to come in, in favour of confirming a subversive act or a terrorist act... once again confirms the information that the Russian side has," Peskov told his daily call with reporters.

"It is very important not to stop, it is very important to find the one behind this explosion."

Neither Gazprom, nor the Nord Stream 1 and 2 replied to Reuters requests for comment.

Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden previously said they had registered tremors in the immediate vicinity of the leaks and that the signals did not resemble those from earthquakes.

Danish police declined to comment on the Swedish findings.

The 26 Sept ruptures of the seabed pipelines, spewing gas into the ocean that bubbled to the surface in the week that followed, triggered warnings of public hazard and fears of environmental damage.

A section measuring at least 50 metres (164 feet) is missing from Nord Stream 1, Swedish daily Expressen reported on 18 Oct after filming what it said were the first publicly released images of the damage.

Russia's defence ministry last month said that British navy personnel blew up the pipelines, a claim that London said was false and designed to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine.

- Reuters



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World Inside

Four wounded in shooting near Canada college

Publish: 02:53 PM, 12 Nov, 2022


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A shooting that sent four people to hospital and another gun-related incident forced thousands of students at two Montreal area colleges to go into lockdown on Friday.

At 5:30 pm local time (2230 GMT), gunshots rang out at a park across the street from Montmorency College in the Montreal suburb of Laval, police spokeswoman Genevieve Major told AFP.

Four people who had been shot sought refuge at the college and were later taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The college, which is attended by nearly 10,000 students and faculty, remained locked down into the evening as police swarmed the area in search of the shooter.

Mayor Stephane Boyer tweeted that a police operation was "underway", while television footage showed parents of students crowding the roads around the college after they rushed to the scene.

Earlier, a 19-year-old man wearing a bulletproof vest was arrested at a junior college 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Montreal and charged with allegedly uttering threats.

Students and staff at the Cegep Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu told local media they were ordered to barricade themselves in classrooms and turn off the lights for most of the day, while a police operation unfolded outside.

"At the beginning we were very scared," student Alejandra Montequin told Canadian broadcaster Global News. "It was very tense; people were talking to their parents."

Quebec Public Security Minister Francois Bonnardel said in a Twitter post that the students in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu had "experienced a difficult situation today."

"I'm relieved at the turn of events," he said, adding that he would wait for the results of the police investigation "to fully understand what happened."

– BSS/AFP



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World Inside

Ukrainians celebrate retaking of Kherson

Publish: 02:42 PM, 12 Nov, 2022


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Jubilant residents welcomed Ukrainian troops arriving in the centre of the strategic city of Kherson after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since its invasion began in February.

KHERSON RETREAT

President Zelenskiy hailed "a historic day" in getting Kherson back. Special units of the military were inside with defending troops on the outskirts, he said.

Russia's defence ministry said it had withdrawn more than 30,000 soldiers across the Dnipro River in its retreat, without losing a soldier. But Ukrainians described a chaotic retreat, with Russian troops ditching their uniforms or drowning trying to escape.

The Kremlin said Russia's withdrawal from Kherson's capital would not change the region's status as annexed by Russia.

Significant new damage to the major Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine can be seen following Russia's withdrawal from nearby Kherson, US satellite imagery company Maxar said.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, at an Asian summit in Cambodia, on Saturday urged Southeast Asian countries to take all measures possible to stop Russia from playing "hunger games" over a Black Sea grain deal that could expire next week.

Ukraine says it is building a reinforced concrete wall and other fortifications on its border with Belarus, a Kremlin ally that Moscow used as a staging ground for its 24 Feb invasion.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog said an investigation of a research plant in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv found it was badly damaged, but there were no signs of a radiological release or diversion of nuclear material.

Senior UN officials met with a Russian delegation in Geneva to discuss Moscow's grievances about the Black Sea grains export initiative and address the need for unimpeded food and fertilizer exports, a UN spokesperson said.

Russian-based international ballet dancers from elite companies like the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky who fled the country, leaving behind their lives, jobs and belongings, are reuniting for one performance in California on Saturday.

– Reuters 



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