Artificial intelligence

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The Telegraph

BBC director general warns of ‘global threat’ to media freedom after China bans British broadcaster

The BBC’s director general has warned of the “growing global threat to the free media” after the corporation was banned from broadcasting in China and Hong Kong. In his first intervention since Beijing announced the ban, Tim Davie said that countries such as China were now trying to expand their “control of information”. Mr Davie, who took up the post of director general in the autumn, said it was of “deep concern” that China was preventing the BBC from doing its job. But he stressed the wider concern that China – and by implication other countries such as Russia – were trying to peddle their own state-controlled news operations abroad while attacking the free press within their borders. Mr Davie last night told The Telegraph: “Media freedom matters. The latest developments in China, including the banning of the World Service in Hong Kong, are deeply worrying developments. The BBC should be able to do its reporting without fear or favour. “It is of deep concern when our journalists are restricted and their work curtailed. Importantly, in these difficult times when misinformation is rife, we have seen growing audiences for trusted news sources – including hundreds of millions coming to the BBC. “This is not just about stopping the BBC from broadcasting news in China, there are significant and growing global threats to the free media as some seek to increase their control of information. Now, more than ever, it is important that we speak out to defend free and fair journalism.” Senior BBC sources said there was now three-fold threat from states such as China and Russia, through manipulation of social media, funding their own biased news operations and shutting down trusted international broadcasters. “These states are actively manipulating social media to undermine legal democracies while at the same time flexing their muscles by pumping millions of rubles or whatever currency into global news services that distort the truth. And now they are preventing the likes of the BBC from broadcasting.” China banned the BBC World News Channel on Thursday in apparent retaliation for Ofcom’s decision to revoke the UK broadcasting license of Chinese state broadcaster CGTN after finding the organisation is “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party”

Associated Press

2 killed, 2 injured when car plunges off Chicago expressway

Two people were killed and two more were seriously injured early Friday when their vehicle hit a concrete wall and plunged off a Chicago expressway onto a street about 43 feet (13 meters) below, police said. The vehicle “was traveling too fast for road conditions” on Interstate 55 — also known as the Stevenson Expressway — when the accident happened at around 4 a.m., Illinois State Police said. The vehicle tumbled off the highway, struck a light pole and landed on the street in the McKinley Park neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side, Illinois State Police Trooper Omoayena Williams said.

The Week

Prominent evangelical leader Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, his ministry reports

Ravi Zacharias, a prominent evangelical Christian leader and author who died of cancer last May at age 74, led a double life of coerced sexual gratification from massage therapists, his organization, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), said Thursday. RZIM released an independent report by the Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin detailing Zacharias’ transgressions, including sexual misconduct and rape allegations from more than a dozen massage therapists and the discovery of about 200 photos of young women on his phones, some of them nude selfies. The board of RZIM, which is led by Zacharias’ daughter, said it was “shocked and grieved by Ravi’s actions,” and apologized to his victims: “Words cannot come close to expressing the sorrow that we feel for what you have been through or the gratitude we feel for the bravery with which you have responded.” RZIM denied any sexual misconduct by its founder last fall, and Zacharias had sued one accuser for extortion before he died. Most of the women Miller & Martin interviewed said that during massages, Zacharias would grab their breasts or genitals and ask for sexual gratification. Investigators found more than 200 other massage therapists listed in his phones, many of them in Asia. He spent months at a pair of apartments he owned in Bangkok, and the investigators found 2016 texts showing that Zacharias “spent his days writing and his nights receiving massages” there. The woman who accused Zacharias of rape said that after he “arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her,” then “made her pray with him to thank God for the ‘opportunity’ they both received.” The woman told investigators that Zacharias “called her his ‘reward’ for living a life of service to God,” and “said he warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the ‘millions of souls’ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.” Zacharias, born in India and raised in Canada, first rose to prominence preaching at a 1983 conference organized by Rev. Billy Graham. He went on to write about two dozen books and had a radio show. His funeral in August was attended by then-Vice President Mike Pence, NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, and other boldface names. “In Ravi Zacharias, God gave us the greatest Christian apologist of this century,” Pence said at the funeral. “He was the C.S. Lewis of our day.” More stories from theweek.comImpeachment isn’t what will hurt Trump mostTrump impeachment lawyer dodges question about whether Trump lost the electionTrump will be convicted by history, right?

Reuters Videos

‘Who asked that?’ Trump lawyer clashes with senator

“Who asked that?” said van der Veen. “My judgment’s irrelevant in this proceeding.”Sanders could be heard responding, “I did.”Trump’s lawyers on Friday said Democrats had provided no evidence the former president incited last month’s deadly U.S. Capitol riot and had used his second impeachment trial to settle political scores.Trump is on trial in the U.S. Senate on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection by his supporters who stormed the seat of Congress in Washington to stop lawmakers from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory, resulting in the deaths of five people including a police officer.

National Review

WH Official Threatened Reporter over Story on His Relationship, Accused Her of Sexual Jealousy

A White House official threatened Politico reporter Tara Palmeri after she pursued a story on the official’s relationship with a different reporter at Axios, Vanity Fair revealed on Friday. Palmeri reached out to Axios reporter Alexi McCammond on January 20 to ask for comment on McCammond’s relationship with incoming Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo. A male Politico reporter reached out to Ducklo for comment, but Ducklo subsequently called Palmeri and, in an off-the-record conversation, threatened to ruin her reputation if the story was published. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo told Palmeri, sources familiar with the incident reported to Vanity Fair. Ducklo then accused Palmeri of being “jealous” that an unidentified man “wanted to f***” McCammond “and not you,” and also alleged that Palmeri was “jealous” of his own relationship with McCammond. The altercation sparked conversations between senior Politico staff and White House officials, including Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, and adviser Anita Dunn. Senior White House officials acknowledged that Ducklo’s behavior was inappropriate, but also accused Palmeri of breaking her agreement with Ducklo to speak off the record. Ducklo sent Palmeri a general apology for losing his temper. Psaki announced on Friday, several hours after the Vanity Fair story broke, that Ducklo would be suspended without pay for one week. “In addition to his initial apology, [Ducklo] has sent [Palmeri] a personal note expressing his profound regret,” Psaki said in a statement. “He has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico.” On January 21, one day after Ducklo’s altercation with Palmeri, President Biden told political appointees at a virtual swearing-in ceremony, “If you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.” Ducklo’s and McCammond’s relationship was profiled in People magazine earlier this week. The People story dropped hours after Politico reached out to the White House for comment on the relationship — a chain of events that was subsequently noted in Politico‘s Playbook. The Biden administration has promised a change from the Trump administration’s frequently adversarial relationship with the media. Various reporters expressed disappointment after publication of the report on Ducklo’s comments. “I’ve taken a lot of flak from Donald Trump and his underlings for my reporting: legal threats, name-calling, physical removal from campaign events. I don’t recall personally encountering anything quite so vicious as the phone call described here,” Politico national correspondent Ben Schreckinger commented on Twitter.

The Telegraph

Scene-by-scene: Graphic new footage of Capitol siege shows Mike Pence’s narrow escape with the ‘nuclear football’

Donald Trump stands accused of being the “Inciter in Chief” who summoned a mob of violent insurrectionists to attack the Capitol building and try to overturn the result of the November election. In chilling new video footage played during his trial for impeachment, Senators were shown just how dangerous, violent and committed those rioters were on Jan 6. There are desperate calls for backup. Panicked Senators run through the building looking for escape routes. Brave police officers try to hold their lines and push the rioters back. Mitt Romney, a Republican senator who was steered away from trouble by police officer Eugene Goodman, said: “It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. “That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional”. This is how the day unfolded, according to Democrat prosecutors. 12:30pm – Trump’s speech

The Week

White House deputy press secretary reportedly threatened to ‘destroy’ reporter

TJ Ducklo, White House deputy press secretary, reportedly threatened to “destroy” a reporter pursuing a story about his relationship. After the Biden aide earlier this week was revealed to be dating Alexi McCammond, a political journalist for Axios, Vanity Fair reported that Ducklo tried to intimidate Politico reporter Tara Palmeri while she was pursuing a story about the relationship, threatening to ruin her reputation if she published it. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo reportedly threatened in a phone call with Palmeri. Ducklo also made “derogatory and misogynistic” comments toward Palmeri, Vanity Fair writes, such as by claiming she was only writing about the relationship because she’s “jealous” that another man “wanted to f—” McCammond “and not you.” The comments reportedly prompted “tense meetings” between Politico editors and the White House, and Ducklo subsequently told Palmeri he was “sorry he lost his cool,” the report says. But he also reportedly “did not delve into any specifics or apologize for threatening and sexually harassing the reporter.” Read more at Vanity Fair. More stories from theweek.comImpeachment isn’t what will hurt Trump mostTrump impeachment lawyer dodges question about whether Trump lost the electionTrump will be convicted by history, right?


Philippines’ Duterte tells U.S. ‘you have to pay’ if it wants to keep troop deal

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday the United States must pay if it wants to keep a two-decade-old troop deployment agreement with his country that is central to U.S. strategy in Asia. Duterte, a firebrand nationalist who openly disapproves of the long-standing U.S. military alliance, unilaterally cancelled the Visiting Force Agreement last year in an angry response to an ally being denied a U.S. visa. The withdrawal period has been twice extended, however, to create what Philippine officials say is a window for better terms to be agreed.

National Review

Warnock Under Investigation for Role in Stacey Abrams’ Voter Registration Org

Senator Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.) is under investigation for his involvement in the New Georgia Project, a voter registration organization founded by Stacey Abrams, which officials say failed to follow state election deadlines in 2019. The Georgia State Election Board voted 3-0 Wednesday to launch an investigation into Warnock’s time as chairman of the board for the New Georgia Project in 2019, when officials say the group violated state election rules that require voting registration organizations to submit completed voter application within ten days after they are received from the voter. Officials say the New Georgia Project submitted 1,268 applications to the Gwinnett County elections office after the ten-day deadline in 2019. The board will refer the investigation to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican. The only Democrat on the board, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, abstained from the vote. Nse Ufot, the CEO of New Georgia Project, pushed back against the claims in a statement, saying the board meeting was “the first time we heard about the allegations regarding NGP’s important voter registration work from 2019.” “We have not received any information on this matter from the Secretary or any other Georgia official,” Ufot said. In December, Raffensperger announced an investigation into the New Georgia Project and other voter registration groups, alleging that they had “sought to register ineligible, out-of-state, or deceased voters.” Warnock resigned from the New Georgia Project on January 28, 2020. Abrams founded the organization in 2014 and later made an unsuccessful bid for Georgia governor, losing by roughly 55,000 votes to Governor Brian Kemp. She claimed that Kemp, who was then- Georgia secretary of state, had won thanks to voter suppression efforts he implemented during his time in office, such as purging voter roles.

The Week

Trump’s lawyers claim he never knew Pence was in danger. A Republican senator has said otherwise.

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump have contradicted a Republican senator’s account of what happened in the Senate chamber during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. After lawyers for Trump finished their defense of his impeachment for inciting the insurrection, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) questioned the timing of Trump’s “disparaging tweet” about Pence during the attack. At 2:24 p.m., 11 minutes after Pence was escorted from the chamber as Trump backers stormed the building, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what he should’ve done” and somehow object to the election results. Despite the implication of the certification process already being over (it wasn’t), Trump’s lawyers said he had not been informed Pence was in danger when it happened. Question from @SenatorRomney: “When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24pm regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the Vice President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?” Michael van der Veen: “The answer is no.” — CSPAN (@cspan) February 12, 2021 But Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) gave a different story Wednesday night. While he already disclosed that he was on the phone with Trump when the attackers started getting into the Capitol, Tuberville specified Wednesday that he was talking to Trump went Pence was escorted from the Senate. “I said ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go,'” Tuberville recalled, suggesting Trump knew Pence was in danger when he sent the tweet. More stories from theweek.comImpeachment isn’t what will hurt Trump mostTrump impeachment lawyer dodges question about whether Trump lost the electionTrump will be convicted by history, right?

The Telegraph

Kim Jong-un admits North Korea facing ‘worst ever’ crisis amid sanctions, Covid and natural disasters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered tougher legal supervision to support his development plans, state media said Thursday, as he works to salvage an economy battered by the pandemic and other challenges. Kim faces what appears to be the toughest crisis of his nine-year rule as the already-troubled economy is hit by pandemic-related border closings that have sharply reduced the North’s external trade, a spate of natural disasters last summer and persistent U.S.-led sanctions. During the party congress, Kim described the difficulties as the “worst-ever.” Kim spoke Wednesday during a ruling Workers’ Party meeting this week convened to follow up on decisions made at the ruling party’s congress in January, where he admitted previous economic plans had failed and announced a new five-year development plan. Kim “stressed the importance to strengthen legal supervision and control over the establishment and executive process of the national economic plan,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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