HONG KONG: A veteran Hong Kong journalist was arrested by national security police on Monday for allegedly conspiring to publish “seditious materials,” police said.
The arrest is the latest blow to the local press in Hong Kong, which has seen its media freedom rating plummet as Beijing cracks down on dissent.
Allan Au, a 54-year-old reporter and journalism lecturer, was arrested in a dawn raid by Hong Kong’s national security police unit, multiple local media outlets reported.
A senior police source confirmed Au’s arrest to AFP on a charge of “conspiracy to publish seditious materials.”
Police later confirmed the arrest of a 54-year-old male on the same charge in a statement that did not name Au, which is local practice.
“Further arrests may be made,” the statement warned.
Au is a former columnist for Stand News, an online news platform that was shuttered last December after authorities froze the company’s assets using a national security law.
Two other senior employees of Stand News have already been charged with sedition.
National security charges have also been brought against jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai and six former senior executives of Apple Daily.
Once Hong Kong’s most popular tabloid, Apple Daily collapsed last year when its newsroom was raided and assets were frozen under the security law.
Soon after Stand News was shut down, Au began to write “good morning” each day on his Facebook page to confirm his safety.
One of the city’s most experienced local columnists, he was a Knight fellow at Stanford University in 2005 and earned a doctorate from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
In 2017 Au published a book about censorship in Hong Kong titled “Freedom Under 20 Shades of Shadow.”
Au spent more than a decade working for RTHK, Hong Kong’s government broadcaster, running a current affairs show.
But he was axed last year after the authorities declared a shake-up that began transforming the once editorially independent broadcaster into something more resembling Chinese state media.
First penned by colonial ruler Britain in 1938, sedition was long criticized as an anti-free speech law, including by many of the pro-Beijing local newspapers now praising its use.
By the time of the 1997 handover, it had not been used for decades but remained on the books.
It was dusted off by police and prosecutors in the wake of massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Over the last two years sedition has been wielded against journalists, unionists, activists, a former pop star and ordinary citizens.
Sedition is currently separate from the sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.
But the courts treat it as a national security offense, which means that bail is often denied for those charged.
Next month Hong Kong is expected to install a new Beijing-anointed leader, former security chief John Lee, who oversaw the police response to the 2019 democracy protests and subsequent crackdown.
Asked on Monday whether Au’s arrest would worsen press freedom, Lee declined to comment, only saying all investigations should be carried out independently.
Outgoing leader Carrie Lam also declined to comment on Au’s arrest.
SAN FRANCISCO: Elon Musk is no longer joining the board of Twitter, the CEO of the social media company said late Sunday, in a reversal less than a week after announcing the Tesla chief would be appointed.
Musk was named to join the Twitter board after buying a major stake in the firm and becoming its largest shareholder.
“Elon has decided not to join our board,” Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted.
“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning he will no longer be joining the board,” Agrawal said.
“I believe this is for the best.”
Currently the world’s richest man and with more than 80 million followers on the microblogging platform, Musk last week disclosed a purchase of 73.5 million shares — or 9.2 percent — of Twitter’s common stock.
“Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input,” Agrawal added.
Billionaire tech entrepreneur Musk is a frequent Twitter user, regularly mixing in inflammatory and controversial statements about issues or other public figures with remarks that are whimsical or business-focused.
He has also sparred repeatedly with federal securities regulators, who cracked down on his social media use after a purported effort to take Tesla private in 2018 fell apart.
LONDON: UAE billionaire real estate tycoon Khalaf Al-Habtoor slammed Forbes Middle East following its publication of a list of the top 10 richest Arab billionaires.
“We see global newspapers competing to publish lists of the wealthiest Arabs based on their personal fortunes,” Habtoor tweeted.
“The question here is, what did these newspapers rely on for their conclusion? Note that most of the names mentioned are owners of private companies and institutions that do not report their profits or budgets, and it is known that their businesses are much larger than what is advertised,” he added.
نرى الصحف العالمية تتسابق لإصدار لوائح أغنياء العالم العربي مقيمة ثرواتهم بطرقها الخاصة.
والسؤال هنا، علام اعتمدت هذه الصحف في هذه التحاليل؟ علماً أن غالبية الأسماء المذكورة هي لأصحاب شركات ومؤسسات خاصة لا تبلّغ عن أرباحها أو ميزانياتها، ومعروف أن أعمالها أكبر بكثير مما يُعلن.
Topping the Forbes list was Egyptian billionaire businessman Nassif Sawiris with $7.7 billion, followed by Algerian Yassaad Rabab and family at $5.1 billion, Nassif’s brother Naguib at $3.4 billion and the Lebanese Mikati brothers — Najib and Taha — each at $3.2 billion.
The bottom five included UAE real estate magnate Hussein Al-Sajwani with $2.7 billion and banker Abdullah bin Ahmad Al-Ghurair and family at $2.6 billion. Egypt’s Mohammed Mansour, Oman’s Suhail Bahwan and Emirati Abdullah Al-Futtaim and family came in at $2.5 billion each.
The list of the richest Arabs released by #Forbes for this year includes 21 billionaires with a combined fortune of $52.9 billion. Although Nassef Sawiris’ fortune dropped by $600 million last year, he is still the wealthiest Arab.
At the bottom of the Forbes list was a disclaimer that said: “Forbes stopped following the wealth of Saudi billionaires since 2018.” However, while there was no reason for this exclusion, other notable absences from the list included Qatari individuals. The country is the wealthiest Arab state by GDP per capita, according to the World Bank.
Forbes Middle East Editor-in-Chief Khuloud Al-Omian responded to Habtoor’s tweet, noting that the “Forbes wealth scale relies on public disclosure and the market value of the value of shares owned by individuals, and not companies without debt.
“Undisclosed private wealth is not approved out of respect for privacy unless the businessman submits financial reports approved by a financial auditor,” she said.
سعادتك، تسمحي الرد على سؤالك، تعتمد فوربس مقياس الثروات على الإفصاح العام والقيمة السوقية لقيمة الاسهم المملكومة من الافراد وليس الشركات من غير الديون، لا يتم اعتماد الثروات الخاصة غير مصرح عنها احتراما للخصوصية الا في حال قام رجل الأعمال بتقديم تقارير مالية معتمدة من مدقق مال
However, Habtoor responded further, claiming that the findings were inaccurate because Forbes “does not calculate the private wealth or the value of the private companies owned by these people, which often represents more than 90 percent of their wealth.”
سيدة @KhuloudAlOmian المحترمة،
شكراً على الرد.
إن كنتم لا تحتسبون الثروات الخاصة أو قيمة الشركات الخاصة المملوكة من هؤلاء، وهي في الغالب تمثل فوق ال90% من ثرواتهم، فمعنى ذلك أن المقياس المعتمد في هذه اللوائح غير دقيق. وهذا ما أعنيه بتغريدتي. https://t.co/fhhaL8pKTJ
Following that, Al-Omian said that to avoid legal accountability if a businessman does not submit an approved financial report — especially in the Arab world because of the lack of disclosure — the law requires that only publicly declared wealth be tracked.
شكرا لسعادتك، ابتعادا عن المسائلة القانونية اذا لم يقم رجل الأعمال بتقديم تقرير مالي معتمد
خصوصا في المنطقة العربية بسبب عدم الإفصاح
يلزم القانون اتباع فقط الثروات العامة المصرح عنها فقط، مؤشر الثروات هذا فردي وليس عائلي. كما ترى وفي الأغلب الشركات العربية شركات عائلية.
Agreeing with Habtoor, she added that “they are all discretionary fortunes, and it is always indicated and noted that they are discretionary fortunes according to what has been disclosed only. With the exception of the value of palaces, yachts, jewelry, private islands and lands unless they are approved by a financial auditor, businessmen often do not want to declare them.”
صحيح سعادتك ، ما تفضلت فيه صحيح، جميعها ثروات تقديرية ودائما يتم الإشارة والتنويه انها ثروات تقديرية حسب ما تم الإفصاح عنه فقط.
مع استثناء قيمة القصور واليخوت و المجوهرات والجزر الخاصة والأراضي ما لم يتم اعتمادها من مدقق مالي ، في الأغلب لا يرغب رجال الأعمال بالتصريح عنها.
The list itself also drew controversy online for featuring Lebanese Prime Minister Mikati and his brother — at a time when the country is enduring one of the worst financial and economic crises in its history — and the growth of their wealth by about $700 million.
“The prime minister of a bankrupt government who wants the Lebanese to endure bankruptcy, austerity and deprivation continues to remain on the list of the wealthy,” one Twitter user said.
رئيس الحكومة المفلسة اللي بدو اللبنانيين يتحملو الافلاس والتقشف والحرمان ما بيترك لائحة الأثرياء. وثروت زايدة 700 مليون دولار https://t.co/ONVX2yejJ4
Another user tweeted: “And they wonder how Lebanon went broke.”
ويقولون ليش لبنان افلست . https://t.co/zf41IomrdZ
Elon Musk, Twitter’s biggest shareholder, on Saturday suggested a raft of changes to the social media giant’s Twitter Blue premium subscription service, including slashing its price, banning advertising and giving an option to pay in the cryptocurrency dogecoin.
Musk, who disclosed a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter just days ago, was offered a seat on its board of directors, a move which made some Twitter employees panic over the future of its ability to moderate content.
Twitter Blue, launched in June 2021, is Twitter’s first subscription service and offers “exclusive access to premium features” on a monthly subscription basis, Twitter says. It is available in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In a Twitter post, the head of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. suggested that users who sign up for Twitter Blue should pay significantly less than the current $2.99 a month, and should get an authentication checkmark as well as an option to pay in local currency.
“Price should probably be ~$2/month, but paid 12 months up front & account doesn’t get checkmark for 60 days (watch for credit card chargebacks) & suspended with no refund if used for scam/spam,” Musk said in a tweet.
“And no ads,” Musk suggested. “The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive.”
Musk also proposed an option to pay with dogecoin and asked Twitter users for their views.
Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s suggestions.
The company already lets people tip their favorite content creators using bitcoin. Twitter had said last year that it planned to support authentication for NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are digital assets such as images or videos that exist on a blockchain.
Musk also started a poll on his Twitter account — which has more than 81 million followers — asking whether the firm’s San Francisco headquarters should be converted to a homeless shelter as “no-one shows up (to work there).” The poll got more 300,000 votes in an hour, with 90 percent answering yes.
YouTube has blocked Duma TV which broadcasts from Russia’s lower house of parliament, drawing an angry response from officials who said the world’s most popular streaming service could face restrictions in response.
On Saturday, a message on YouTube said the Duma channel had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.”
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s, has been under pressure from Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor and officials were quick to respond.
“From the look of it, YouTube has signed its own warrant. Save content, transfer (it) to Russian platforms. And hurry up,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on the Telegram messaging service.
The communications watchdog said it had requested Google restore access to the Duma channel immediately.
“The American IT company adheres to a pronounced anti-Russian position in the information war unleashed by the West against our country,” Roskomnadzor said.
Google did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the Duma’s speaker, said YouTube’s move was further proof of rights and freedom violations by Washington.
“The USA wants to obtain a monopoly on promoting information. We cannot let it happen,” Volodin said on Telegram.
Russia has already restricted access to Twitter and Meta Platforms’ flagships Facebook and Instagram since sending thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russia had earlier tried to ban the Telegram messaging app, now widely used by officials, but lifted its ban in mid-2020.
Some Russian media cast the move as a capitulation, but Roskomnadzor said it had acted as it did because the app’s Russian founder, Pavel Durov, was prepared to cooperate in combating terrorism and extremism on the platform.
RIYADH: Over the past few days Arab News has won three new design awards – taking its total tally up to 76 since its relaunch in 2018.
The latest awards that have come through are the Digital Award of Excellence for the UNESCO Deep Dive and the Print Award of Excellence for the Opinion year end illustration at the 2022 Society for News Design (SND 43rd Edition); as well as an Award of Excellence for the UNESCO Spotlight at the 2022 Asian Newspaper Design Awards.
It also won Best in Newspaper Front Page Design for its ‘9/11 – 20 years later’ special coverage and Best in Newspaper Infographics for its ‘NEOM – Ocean X’ Spotlight at the 2021 WAN-IFRA Asian Media Awards.
The UNESCO Deep Dive and its complementary Spotlight take a look at Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage sites and their importance not just for the kingdom, but for the world. Through its interactive graphics and detailed structure, it transports the reader to the very sites themselves.
As for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Arab News asked journalists and editors from the Middle East or working there to recount their memory from one of the darkest days in modern history. With NEOM – Ocean X, a figurative dive into the deep aquatic layers of what lies beneath the sea where the futuristic megacity will lie.
Arab News relaunched in 2018 with a commitment to become digital-first and design-focused. The new brand identity was reflected in its cutting-edge editorial and fresh design approach.
Jad Bitar, Brand Manager of Arab News, said: “I am extremely proud of Arab News’ creative team, and the recognition we have received on the global stage.”
“It was our Editor in Chief’s vision to turn Arab News into a more globally recognized brand, and these awards are a testament to that and the hard work and creativity of the team,” he added.
Last year, the Society of Publication Designers (SPD) awarded Arab News with a silver medal for Video Animation – Arabic Calligraphy and a Merit award for Web Custom Feature Design – Arabic Calligraphy.
Arab News also won a record nine awards in SND’s News Design Competition, which honors journalistic, visual and technical excellence in news media. Among the awarded works were the Saudi Cup Front Cover of February 2020, the Japan Calligraphy Cover of January 2020, the Beirut Blast graphic of August 2020 and the timely History of Pandemics Graphic of April 2020.
It also won three awards at the WAN-IFRA Asian Media Awards 2021 including a Bronze in the Newspaper Front Page Design category for its “Kingdom vs COVID-19” cover.
Over the years, Arab News has been honored by multiple international awards programs including the Indigo Design Awards, the Newspaper Design Competition, the Creative Communication Awards, and the European Newspaper Awards.
The trophies are reflective of Arab News’ commitment to design and the creativity and leadership of its creative director, Simon Khalil.
Khalil said: “Receiving so much recognition for the design at Arab News is something we are all very proud of. Winning 76 design awards since relaunch is an incredible achievement and it reinforces the creative vision we have at Arab News.”
“Our mission is to inform and delight our readers around the world and these awards push the whole team to be innovative with the design we deliver.”
He added: “Design awards help raise the brand recognition of Arab News globally and each award inspires the creative team to raise the bar even higher and deliver even more creative work for our readers.”
Arab News’ winning work can be viewed by clicking here.