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World News: More journalists killed in Syria and Somalia

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Two Syrian journalists killed as TV crew goes missing
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Two Syrian journalists were killed near Damascus on Saturday while covering the ongoing civil war, state-run media and an Arab satellite television station reported yesterday. And a crew member of a pro-government television station has gone missing.

Ali Abbas, head of the Internal News Department at the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), was killed late Saturday evening when gunmen attacked his residence in the Jdeidet Artouz area near Damascus. The news agency blamed the attack on an “armed terrorist group”, the term it uses to describe all Syrian government opponents.

Abbas, who was 37, was buried in the port city of Latakia yesterday. His brother, identified as Captain Hussam Abbas, condemned the journalist’s death as “another desperate attempt to silence the free and resistant voice” of those who reveal the “false and misleading news broadcast by satellite channels.”

Also yesterday, the pan-Arab satellite television station Al Arabiya said 24-year-old Yusuf al-Bushi, an army defector who worked as a journalist for the station and several other international news organizations, was killed Saturday while covering a story in Al-Tal, on the outskirts of Damascus. The station said al-Bushi died when he was caught in a bombardment.

The deaths on Saturday came just a day after a crew member from the pro-government television station al-Ikhbariya was abducted in Al-Tal. The station said reporter Yarah Saleh, cameraman Abboud Tabarah, assistant Hatem Abu Yehiah, and driver Housam Imad were accompanying an army unit when they were abducted by an “armed terrorist group.”

“If it emerges that the journalists have been taken prisoner by an opposition group, the latter will be answerable for their safety,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement on Saturday. “We urge them to identify themselves and to show evidence that their captives are alive and in good health, and to release them immediately.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 20 local and international journalists have been killed on duty in Syria since November 2011, making it by far the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. The organization believes at least fifteen of the deaths were work-related, but the deaths on Saturday have not yet been investigated by the agency.

The crisis in Syria began in March 2011 as a pro-democracy protest movement, similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa. The Syrian government violently cracked down on the protests, setting off an armed conflict between pro-Assad forces and anti-government forces.

The United Nations estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria, and that tens of thousands have been displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began nearly 18 months ago. The opposition believes the number of deaths has already surpassed 20,000.

UN: Syrian refugees continue to increase amid growing violence
Phuket Gazette / News Wires


PHUKET: The United Nations (UN) on Friday reported an increase in Syrian refugees, as the country continues to face heavy violence.

A spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, spoke at a press conference, stating that the agency’s data shows a total population of 146,667 people in the refugee community.

However, Edwards added that in several countries, the agency has knowledge of substantial refugee populations who have not yet registered, as offices in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have reported increases this week in the number of refugees from Syria.

According to the UN, an estimated 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 18 months ago in Syria.

The UNHCR said in Turkey, the refugee population now stands at 50,227, with more than 6,000 new arrivals recorded this week alone. Many of these are from Aleppo and surrounding villages, but others are from Idlib and Latakia.

While the main flow is into Turkey, around 8,000 people returned home voluntarily during July, mainly to villages in Syria’s Idlib area, the UNHCR noted.

On Monday, the Turkish government opened a new camp at Akcakale, a district in the country’s south-east. According to the refugee agency, it has also announced its intention to double its overall reception capacity from the current 50,000 people to 100,000 people, with the construction of as many as thirteen additional sites. Currently, refugees are hosted in nine camps, with women and children accounting for 72 percent of the population.
Well-known Somali journalist shot dead in Mogadishu
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Unidentified gunmen dressed as high school students shot dead a well-known journalist in the Somali capital of Mogadishu yesterday, officials said. It raises the number of journalists killed in the line of duty so far this year to at least eight.

Yusuf Ali Osman, who was better known as Yusuf-Farey, was killed when unidentified men wearing high school uniforms shot him with pistols in the Dharkenley District of Mogadishu. Osman, who is a past director of Radio Mogadishu and currently worked as Media Relations Director for Somalia’s Information Ministry, was buried several hours later.

“We consider the assassination of Yusuf Ali Osman a big tragedy and we strongly condemn this unmitigated and senseless killing. It is a tragedy for the Somali media community,” said Somali Exiled Journalists Association (SEJASS) chairman Mohamed Osman Hussein. He said Osman was also a lecturer at the Somalia Journalist Club (SJC).

Hussein added: “It is painful and heartbreaking to lose a great journalist every month. The Somali government must demonstrate and carry out tireless investigations to identify the conspiracy behind these killings and bring to justice those responsible for this and previous crimes.”

“It is simply unacceptable that over the course of the year justice has not been served for any of the victims of these crimes,” said Augustine Mahiga, the United Nations (UN) Special Representative for Somalia.

Mahiga added: “This culture of impunity must end. We must not allow the fundamental freedoms that a free press represents to be compromised by those willing to use violence to serve their personal agendas. This is a decisive time in the political process and the work of media needs to be protected so that the Somali people are fully informed.”

Late last month, famed Somali comedian and media worker Abdi Jeylani Marshale was shot dead at his home in Mogadishu. It remains unknown who was responsible for the killing, but Marshale was well-known for making fun of the Somali militant group al-Shabab. The group had earlier threatened to kill him, forcing him to go into hiding in neighboring Somaliland for several days.

Al-Shabab is the militant wing of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts which took over most of southern Somalia in the second half of 2006. Despite efforts from the

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Politics

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup

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Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup | The Thaiger

Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to the military coup, which has received major international backlash. As a major donor to Myanmar, Japan joins other advanced nations in condemning the coup which has seen security forces using violence against peaceful protesters.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying in a phone call that “Japan will strongly urge the Myanmar military to release Suu Kyi and other detained individuals, and to swiftly restore democratic government.”

But it may not impose sanctions like the rest of the other developed countries as its longtime ties with the armed forces, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy and investment promoting policy in the country may serve as a barrier in doing so. Britan and the United States have imposed sanctions in recent days which include the US freezing military funds.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official says stopping its support of building projects would give China a chance to move in, increasing its clout in Myanmar. Around 450 Japanese companies operate in Myanmar with Japan being the 5th largest investor in the Southeast nation. Singapore has the most companies, followed by China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry says Japan spent about US $1.8 billion in official development assistance in the fiscal year of 2019, making it the largest among the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But it is unknown what China has poured into it as it has refused to disclose its expenditures.

The Japanese government plans to continue coronavirus emergency assistance to Myanmar through international organisations and non-governmental organisations. The World Bank, however, has stopped payments to projects in the nation indefinitely, after the coup on February 1, which disrupted the democratic elections last November and saw the arrest of top leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, the National League for Democracy, won the elections in a landslide victory.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Law

Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants

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Australia sets worldwide precedent by passing pay‐to‐play legislation for social media giants | The Thaiger

In a landmark decision, Australia is now requiring global digital giants, such as Facebook and Google, to pay for using local news content on their websites. The move sets a precedent that many global companies have been anticipating.

The law passed yesterday after Facebook and Google reached an agreement to pay local Australian news organisations for using their stories on their websites. 1 week ago, Australians woke up to a blackout after Facebook temporarily banned local news, which included emergency notifications. The blackout was in response to the legislation being put forth for approval, with Facebook spokespeople saying it seemed to be their only choice at the time.

The new law sets the stage for other countries worldwide to gain more revenue for local media companies by making such social media giants pay to use content. Google’s “Showcase” product will now feature paid local news with Facebook showing such paid news under its “News” category.

Companies like Google and Facebook pushed back against the legislation, saying such a law could threaten their companies’ business models, with Google saying it could make their search engine website “unworkable.”

But local news organisations have rebuked the reasoning, citing that social media giants claim a large percentage of online advertisin, leaving local news companies out of the revenue game. Citing that news is gathered by reporting and fieldwork, the companies say it is unfair for social media companies to profit largely off of the work of local, smaller companies.

The law, called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, aims to protect such local companies and to sustain public interest journalism. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs over the past decade as local media outlets have seen the bulk of their advertising revenues flow to digital companies’ sites after using their content.

Australia’s competition watchdog says that for every $100 invested by Australian advertisers, $49 is sent to Google and $24 to Facebook. Now, both online businesses say they will each invest around US $1 billion in local news content globally in the next 3 years. Facebook and Google now have 2 more months to reach solid agreements before being subjected to binding arbritations.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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World

Lady Gaga offers US $500,000 reward for stolen bulldogs

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Lady Gaga offers US $500,000 reward for stolen bulldogs | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Instagram/Lady Gaga

Who knew that finding 2 french bulldogs would earn US $500,000? That is the case for the lucky person that finds Lady Gaga’s equally lucky stolen dogs. The dogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen in Los Angeles, California while out on a walk with their dog walker.

But that’s not all. The employee in charge of keeping the dogs healthy was shot and wounded by a gunman who left the scene in a car, but not before allegedly shooting another man in this 30s. That man was hospitalised according to LA police.

Asia, Gaga’s 3rd dog was luckily found by police at the scene and was taken home by the singer’s staff. It isn’t clear if the frenchies were targeted due to their owner’s famous status or if they were taken simply because they were an expensive pedigree breed that can be sold for thousands of dollars.

Gaga, however, has offered the hefty reward for their return with “no questions asked.”

SOURCE: CNN

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