Bangladeshi Writer, Detained Over Social Media Posts, Dies in Jail
A Bangladeshi writer who was detained for nearly a year over social media posts that were critical of the country’s government has died in jail, officials and family members said on Friday, raising alarms about the country’s crackdown on dissent.
Pic.1-Writer Mustaq Ahmed. Pic.2-Praying during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this month in support of Mushtaq Ahmed, a writer who died on Thursday in police custody.
The writer, Mushtaq Ahmed, was among 11 people charged early last year over the spread of social media content, including cartoons, that alleged mismanagement and corruption in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s response to the pandemic.
His case was brought under Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act, a 2018 law that gives the government wide-ranging powers to search, fine and arrest anyone who violates its vague tenets, including violating “the solidarity, financial activities, security, defense, religious values or public discipline of the country.”
Influencer posts nude pics with endangered elephant; later apologises
An influencer has been forced to apologise after she was slammed online for a nude photoshoot that involved an endangered elephant in Bali.
Alesya Kafelnikova posed naked sitting on the back of the elephant, sharing the image with her 554K followers online alongside the caption: "to love nature is human nature".
The 22-year-old daughter of Russian tennis great, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, also shared the a video from the shoot with the caption "natural vibes”.
While she explained she had made a donation to animals and locals in the Balinese village where she did the shoot, plenty of her followers slammed the shoot as "vulgar".
"Poor elephant. Aren't you ashamed to lie naked on an elephant? This is a living creature. Money overshadows everything," one person commented.
Even Bali Tourism Agency Chief Putu Astawa criticised the Russian, according to The Sun.
Over 7.9 million Texans still facing disrupted water supplies
Over 7.9 million people in Texas still had issues with their water supply as of Monday evening, authorities told Reuters, after a record-breaking freeze knocked out power station last week.
Officials in Houston, the biggest city in the state, said water there was safe to use without boiling as of Sunday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Millions of Texans were advised to boil water before using it, though all power plants were back online over the weekend and power had been restored to most homes as the weather returned to normal.
Officials in Houston, the biggest city in the state, said water there was safe to use without boiling as of Sunday.
“As of 6 PM Central Time Monday, more than 1,200 public water systems have reported disruptions in service due to the weather, many of them leading to Boil Water Notices. This is affecting more than 7.9 million people, in 202 Texas counties”, a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) spokesman said in an emailed statement.”
Protesters clash with Spanish police in fresh unrest over jailed rapper
Protesters threw bottles, stones and rubbish containers at police in Barcelona on Sunday in a sixth night of clashes after a rapper was jailed for glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in his songs.
Demonstrators carry a rubbish bin to throw it agains police officers protecting a national police station during clashes following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasél in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
The nine-month sentence of Pablo Hasel, known for his virulently anti-establishment raps, has prompted debate over freedom of expression in Spain and sparked protests that have at times turned violent.
“You have taught us that being peaceful is useless,” read a banner carried by protesters.
'You are not alone': Spanish rapper's arrest sparks free speech protests
Largely peaceful protests in several Spanish cities descended into chaos and clashes Wednesday after police arrested a popular rapper, Pablo Hasél, who had barricaded himself inside a university to avoid a prison sentence for glorifying terrorism and denigrating the monarchy in tweets and lyrics.
Demonstrators gather near a burning barricade during clashes with police following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasél in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Hasél, 32, was arrested Tuesday in his home city of Lleida, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, and the demonstrations opposing his incarceration swelled in size Wednesday night as protesters gathered in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities.
What started with people chanting for the rapper’s release turned violent as some protesters hurled bottles and set fires as officers rushed in with batons and fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
Myanmar coup: Thousands rally against military build up
Thousands of anti-coup protesters took to the streets of Myanmar on Wednesday in even larger demonstrations than seen in previous days.
Demonstrators rallied in Yangon, the nation’s biggest city, with protesters blockading roads with vehicles to stop troops from moving through the area.
Demonstrators block a road in Yangon (AP Photo/dpa/picture alliance)
Organizers took to social media to call for protests, despite ongoing internet blackouts. “Let’s march en masse. Let’s show our force against the coup government that has destroyed the future of youth and our country,” Kyi Toe, a spokesman for detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party wrote on his Facebook page late Tuesday.
The military additionally ordered an internet blackout for the third night in a row on Tuesday, almost entirely blocking online access from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. local time. It has also prepared a draft law that would cirminalize many online activities.
Strong earthquake shakes Japan's northeastern coast
The Japan Meteorological Agency says a strong earthquake has hit off the coast of northeastern Japan, shaking Fukushima, Miyagi and other areas.
An ambulance is seen in front of a hotel following a strong earthquake in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 13, 2021. (Source: Reuters)
Japanese public broadcaster NHK TV said the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was still checking if there were any problems, and there were no immediate reports of irregularities from other nuclear plants in the area following Saturday night’s magnitude 7.1 quake.
There is no danger of a tsunami, according to NHK TV.
Biden talked with Xi about concerns over China's coercive unfair economic practices: WH official
US President Joe Biden in his maiden phone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping talked about the fundamental concerns he has with Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday, a day after the two-hour-long conversation between the two leaders.
Joe Biden with Xi Jinping in Beijing, 2013. (File Photo)
Biden wants to lead with a clear and compelling affirmative US policy agenda and take steps to strengthen the US economy, she said.
“He wants to work with our partners and allies, as you’ve seen from the readouts we’ve done from the President’s engagement. He wants to take steps across government…,” Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
Prominent Saudi women's rights activist released from prison
One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent political activists was released from prison Wednesday, her family tweeted, after serving nearly three years on charges that have sparked an international uproar over the kingdom’s human rights record.
She was accused of crimes that rights groups describe as politically motivated, including agitating for change and pursuing a foreign agenda.
Loujain al-Hathloul, who pushed to end a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to almost six years in prison last December under a broad counterterrorism law. She was accused of crimes that rights groups describe as politically motivated, including agitating for change and pursuing a foreign agenda.
Her sister Lina al-Hathloul posted a screenshot from FaceTime of a smiling Loujain on Twitter, declaring that she was finally home.
Myanmar coup opponents vow to continue protest action
Opponents of Myanmar’s military coup vowed to continue non-violent action on Tuesday in the face of bans on big gatherings, night curfews and road closures after the biggest demonstrations in more than a decade.
Protesters are sprayed with water fired from a police truck's water cannon in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (AP Photo)
The Feb. 1 coup and detention of elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi brought three days of protests across the Southeast Asian country of 53 million and a growing civil disobedience movement affecting hospitals, schools and government offices.
Promises on Monday from junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to eventually hold a new election in his first address since seizing power drew scorn.
Indonesian village turns red as floods hit batik-manufacturing hub
A surreal, blood-red river inundated the Indonesian village of Jenggot after floods hit a nearby batik factory on Saturday, causing a frenzy on social media.
People ride motorbikes through a flooded road with red water due to the dye-waste from cloth factories, in Pekalongan, Central Java province, Indonesia, February 6, 2021. (Reuters)
Thousands of users on Twitter shared photos and videos of the village south of Pekalongan city in Central Java being flooded by crimson-coloured water, which some social media users said reminded them of blood.
After Rihanna, Susan Sarandon lends support to farmers' protest
Hollywood star Susan Sarandon on Saturday shared a tweet supporting the ongoing farmers’ protest in India.
“Standing in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India. Read about who they are and why they’re protesting below,” Sarandon wrote alongside a link to the New York Times report titled, “Why Are Farmers Protesting in India?”
Myanmar: Junta blocks Facebook, UN says world must 'mobilize'
Myanmar’s junta blocked Facebook on Thursday, just days after the army seized power, as the United Nations warned the world must rally to ensure the coup does not succeed.
People have flocked to social media to voice opposition to the coup, as well as share ideas to rise up against the actions of the military, with Facebook a popular option to galvanize support.
The junta has disrupted access to social media as it attempts to muzzle dissent among Myanmar's population. (AP/via DW)
However, the junta took steps on Thursday to silence the people.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Communications and Information said Facebook, used by half of the country’s 54 million population, would be blocked until at least February 7.
“Currently, the people, who are troubling the country’s stability, are spreading fake news and misinformation, and causing misunderstanding among people by using Facebook,” the ministry said in a statement.
Facebook confirmed that access was “currently disrupted for some people,” also saying that the restrictions had hit its instant messaging service, WhatsApp, as well as Instagram and all communication platforms owned by the social media giant.
INDIA: Police file FIR over Greta Thunberg's 'toolkit' tweet; activist says 'still stand with farmers'
The Cyber Cell of Delhi Police Thursday registered an FIR based on a tweet by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg where she had supported the ongoing farmers’ agitation in India.
Greta Thunberg (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Shortly after the FIR was registered, Thunberg tweeted, “I still stand with farmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that.”
On Wednesday, the teen activist had tweeted, “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” She had also shared a toolkit on her Twitter handle, which had information on the farmers’ protest and an action plan to support their agitation. A host of other international celebrities, including pop singer Rihanna, have also tweeted in support of Indian farmers.
Rihanna expressed her outrage at the internet shutdown in INDIA aimed to cut off protesting farmers
WHO-led COVID-19 probe team in China visits animal health facility
A team of investigators led by the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived on Tuesday at an animal health facility in China’s central city of Wuhan in search for clues about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chinese scientists and officials in lab coats wait at the Hubei Animal Epidemic Disease Prevention and Control Center during a visit of a team of the World Health Organization (WHO). (Picture credit: Reuters)
The independent team has already visited key hospitals, the regional disease control centre and the city’s Huanan seafood market, where the first cluster of infections was believed to have originated late in 2019.
The trip was going “really well, excellent,” one of its members, Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, told Reuters on Tuesday, responding to a query just before entering the animal health centre.
Israeli police use water cannon to disperse anti-PM crowd
Israeli police sprayed a crowd of protesters with a water cannon Saturday night as they tried to disperse demonstrators calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation over corruption charges.
Protesters gather under a bridge on their way to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Temperatures were about 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) on a raw winter evening when the crowd was sprayed. The protesters have been gathering every week near Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem for over seven months, but the use of water cannons is rare.
In a statement, police said hundreds of protesters took part in the demonstration. They accused some protesters of unruly behavior, including throwing objects and trying to break through a police barricade. It said one officer was lightly hurt, and several protesters were arrested.
Poland: Thousands protest against abortion law for third straight night
Protesters took to the streets of Warsaw, Gdansk and other Polish cities for the third straight night on Friday, days after Poland’s near-total abortion ban came into effect.
People protest against new anti-abortion laws in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
People shouted pro-choice slogans like “You’ve messed with women,” “Hey, hey, hey, abortion is ok,” and “Liberty, equality, abortion on demand.” Multiple anti-government chants were also heard.
Some demonstrators also wore green bandanas, inspired by the pro-choice protests in Argentina. The Latin American country recently legalized abortion through to the 14th week of pregnancy.
In Poland’s capital, Warsaw, authorities blocked the protesters at multiple junctions, redirecting crowds on many occasions. Tear gas was also used against the demonstrators.
WHO team leaves Wuhan quarantine to start COVID probe
A World Health Organization (WHO) team emerged Thursday from a Wuhan hotel used for 14 days quarantine and boarded a bus to begin its probe into the first known coronavirus cases.
Workers wave to the team of experts from the World Health Organization who ended their quarantine and left the quarantine hotel in a bus in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Outside the hotel, reporters were kept distant by yellow entrance barriers.
It was not immediately clear where the team’s masked members were headed in the central Chinese city. Despite a tough early lockdown, nearly 3,900 people died from the virus in the city, according to Chinese figures.
A so-called wet market where wild animals were sold as food is the speculative source of the pandemic. It has killed more than 2 million people worldwide, infected more than 95 million, and gutted the global economy.
On Live TV, Kamala Harris Takes Second Dose Of Covid Vaccine
US Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday took her second dose of the coronavirus vaccine in a televised setting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and urged Americans to get vaccinated.
Vice President Kamala Harris reacts after receiving her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Bethesda, Maryland. | Photo Credit: AP
"I want to urge everyone to take the vaccine when it is your turn," Harris told C-SPAN viewers on Tuesday. "It will save your life."
Harris received her first vaccine dose on December 29.
Following a slow roll-out, after two coronavirus vaccines received emergency approval in December, the United States administered more than 1 million shots daily for the past week.
President Joe Biden has said the goal of his administration is to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency.
Australia approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use
Australia’s medical regulator has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use under a formal process, one of the first countries to complete a comprehensive approval, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.
The vaccine had been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) for Australians aged 16 years and over, Morrison told reporters, noting it was a year since the first coronavirus case was detected in the country.
Vaccination of priority groups is expected to begin in late February, at 80,000 doses per week, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.
New Zealand confirms first coronavirus case in months
New Zealand on Monday confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in the community in months in a 56-year-old woman, but said close contacts of the recently returned traveller had so far tested negative.
At a testing centre in New Zealand (AP/File)
The woman, who returned to New Zealand on Dec. 30, had tested positive for the South African strain of the virus after leaving a two-week mandatory quarantine where she had twice tested negative, COVID-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said.
No other community cases had been reported since the woman’s case was disclosed on Sunday and authorities said the source of the infection was probably a fellow returnee at the quarantine facility.
Iran to begin COVID-19 vaccinations in coming weeks: President Rouhani
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East’s worst hit country.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. (AP)
“Foreign vaccines are a necessity until local vaccines are available,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, without giving details of what foreign vaccines would be used.
His remarks came as daily COVID-19 deaths fell to a low of more than seven months and officials announced that there were no more high-risk “red cities” in the country.
WHO: Poorer nations to get first 40 million vaccines next month
World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his UN agency’s COVAX scheme had reached a deal with vaccine maker Pfizer-BioNTech for 40 million doses for poorer countries.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (File)
Another 150 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine will come in the first quarter of 2021 under COVAX — assuming WHO safety clearance, said Seth Berkley, chief executive of the private-public vaccination fund GAVI.
Addressing a press conference in Geneva, UN agency head Tedros added that fresh US “commitment” under new President Joe Biden to join COVAX meant “that we are closer to fulfilling” the scheme’s promise.
Johnson says he looks forward to working with Biden on shared goals
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he looked forward to working with U.S. President Joe Biden on their shared goals, including tackling climate change.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to U.S. President Joe Biden from London, Britain in this social media image obtained on January 23, 2021. (Twitter @BorisJohnson via REUTERS)
Johnson used his first phone call with the U.S. president to welcome Biden’s announcements that the United States would rejoin the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate and the World Health Organization, and they discussed the prospects of a free trade deal.
“Great to speak to President Joe Biden this evening,” Johnson said on Twitter. “I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.”
Amid row over reports of WhatsApp users alleging leak of their private messages with family and friends on search engines, the Facebook-owned messaging service has issued yet another clarification.
WhatsApp has said the change in its recently revised policy "does not affect privacy of messages with friends or family". "Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp".
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South Korea expands ban on social gatherings nationwide
South Korea expanded a ban on private gatherings larger than four people to the whole country, and extended unprecedented social distancing rules in greater Seoul as the number of daily cases bounced back to more than 1,000 in four days.
People wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus walk by public sports facilities taped for social distancing rules at a park in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea has been experiencing a prolonged surge in infections during the latest wave, which has led to a sharp increase in deaths.
South Korea has been experiencing a prolonged surge in infections during the latest wave, which has led to a sharp increase in deaths.
The country reported 1,020 new coronavirus cases as of Sunday midnight, bringing the total to 64,264 infections, with 981 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Only 657 cases were reported over the weekend. A health official had said that the recent third wave of infections is being contained.
The extended social-distancing rules imposed on Seoul and neighbouring areas include curbs on churches, restaurants, cafes, ski resorts and other venues.
More than 60% of the cases are from Seoul, Gyeonggi province and city of Incheon, with mass cluster outbreaks centered around nursing homes and prisons.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for an all-out effort to prepare for the country’s vaccination programme.
“The KDCA should perfectly ready for the entire process the moment the vaccine arrives – the distribution, storage, inoculation and follow-ups,” Chung told a government meeting.
He also called on the related health, safety and transport ministries to help speed up the process so to not face the sorts of problems seen in the United States and some countries in Europe.
The country plans to start vaccinations in February, with health workers and vulnerable people first in line, but the government has been criticised for that schedule in light of vaccinations under way in the United States and European Union.
EU officials call for humane conditions for migrants at Bosnian camps
The EU Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Johann Sattler, along with the Austrian, Italian and German Ambassador to BiH met with Bosnia’s minister of security, Selmo Cikotic, on Saturday to discuss the living conditions of homeless migrants in Bosnia.
Migrants walk towards the forest after the Lipa camp closed.
The migrants were left homeless in freezing conditions since the Lipa camp near the northwestern town of Bihac burned down last month.
“The situation is completely unacceptable. Lives and basic human rights of many hundreds of people are seriously jeopardized. Bosnia and Herzegovina is party to international human rights instruments and needs to live up to its obligations, as an aspiring EU member,” said Sattler.
The ambassadors called for “humane living conditions” such as water and electricity at the provisional camp site. They also called for a fully equipped camp at the location and a long-term solution.
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The Seattle tech giant and four big European Union news industry groups unveiled their plan Monday to work together on a solution to “mandate payments" for use of news content from online “gatekeepers with dominant market power.”
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The plane was headed to Minna city, approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Abuja. Witnesses at the site said the crash was terrifying.