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Trump urges Libya de-escalation on call with Erdogan: White House

Evan Lewis



Trump urges Libya de-escalation on call with Erdogan: White House

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a family photo at the NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump called for a “rapid de-escalation” of the Libyan conflict on a call with Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, the White House said, after recent gains by forces backed by Turkey prompted threats of retaliation.

Ankara said the NATO allies agreed to continue pursuing stability in the eastern Mediterranean region, including in Syria, while a spokesman for Erdogan said the international community must stand with Turkey in the Libyan conflict.

Turkey backs Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which has made significant military gains in recent weeks in battles with the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar.

With Turkish help, the GNA has seized a string of towns, captured a strategic airbase and destroyed several of the LNA’s Russian-made air defence systems.

The surge has put pressure Haftar’s 13-month campaign to seize the capital Tripoli and has squeezed his foreign backers Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement: “President Trump reiterated concern over worsening foreign interference in Libya and the need for rapid de-escalation.”

As the LNA has promised to respond with a massive air campaign, diplomats have warned of the risk of a new round of escalation with the warring sides’ external backers pouring in new weaponry.

Turkey “will not bow to threats by Haftar or anyone else,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said separately in an interview on NTV.

“The international community must take a stand against Hafter. We need to go back to the table for a political solution as soon as possible,” Kalin said.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Irem Koca in Istanbul, and Steve Holland and Lisa Lambert in Washington; Editing by John Stonestreet and David Holmes

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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General News

Twitter pulls Trump campaign video on George Floyd’s death

Evan Lewis



Twitter pulls Trump campaign video on George Floyd’s death

A video posted by Donald Trump’s 2020 election campaign — decrying civil unrest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd — was removed Thursday by Twitter, citing a copyright-infringement claim.

A June 3 tweet by the @TeamTrump account with the video now displays the message: “This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner.” Twitter confirmed it received a DMCA takedown request from the owner of one of the images included in the video but the company did not specify who that was.

The video, titled “Healing, Not Hatred,” remains available on YouTube.

The 3:45-minute video comprises a clip of a Trump speech in which he says Floyd’s death was a “grave tragedy” that “should never have happened.” The campaign video includes numerous images and video clips, showing memorials to Floyd and crowds of protesters, as well as rioters committing acts of vandalism. “The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists,” Trump says.

It’s not the first time Twitter has removed Trump videos over copyright complaints: The social network took down the president’s video that sampled Nickelback’s 2005 “Photograph” in October 2019 pursuant to a takedown request by Warner Music Group. And earlier last year, Twitter pulled down a Trump 2020 campaign video that used parts of the score for the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“This incident is yet another reminder that Twitter is making up the rules as they go along,” a Trump campaign spokesman told The Hill. Twitter “has repeatedly failed to explain why their rules seem to only apply to the Trump campaign but not to others. Censoring out the president’s important message of unity around the George Floyd protests is an unfortunate escalation of this double standard.”

Twitter increasingly has been in Trump’s crosshairs after the social network last week applied fact-check labels to his inaccurate tweets about mail-in voting — and then hid another Trump tweet suggesting Minneapolis protesters would be shot. Trump, upset over Twitter’s fact-checking action, issued an executive order aiming to remove Twitter’s legal protections for speech on its platform. That that prompted a lawsuit from a tech policy organization charging that Trump’s order violates the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg faces a backlash from employees for deciding to take no action on the same Trump posts. This week, Snap said it would no longer promote Trump’s Snapchat posts, with the company citing his rhetoric “incit[ing] racial violence and injustice.”

Twitter’s current policies carve out an exemption for political figures like Trump, under which tweets that would be violations for regular users may be left up if the company considers them to be in the “public interest.” Twitter amended that a year ago, saying that tweets by political figures that violate its regular policies would be displayed with a warning notice in front of tweets.

The first time Twitter applied that to one of Trump’s tweets was on the May 29 post in which the president said about protests in Minneapolis, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

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General News

Australia’s AAP news agency lives on after finding buyers

Evan Lewis



Australia's AAP news agency lives on after finding buyers

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Associated Press (AAP) said on Friday it expects to be sold to a group of philanthropic investors, a reprieve for the news agency that had been facing closure, and for the industry, after a run of layoffs as advertising dwindles.

AAP had planned to close this month after 85 years but said it now expected to stay in business, albeit with fewer staff, after it and a group of investors agreed on a sale for an undisclosed sum.

“After months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news,” AAP chief executive Bruce Davidson said in a statement.

AAP said the buyers included Peter Tonagh, a former chief executive of the Australian division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and unidentified philanthropists and “impact investors”.

The sale is good news for an industry hit by widespread layoffs in recent months as restrictions on movement to contain the novel coronavirus batter the retail sector, cutting advertising revenue that media companies rely on.

News Corp’s Australian arm said last week it would stop printing more than 100 newspapers, while the Australian edition of Buzzfeed News and ViacomCBS Inc owned free-to-air broadcaster Ten Network shut down their news sites.

AAP’s buyers said they wanted to ensure its long-term survival.

“We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever,” Tonagh said in the statement.

“AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future.”

Tonagh said the buyers would hire up to 90 AAP staff, including up to 75 editorial staff, about half its workforce.

Before it called in administrators in March, AAP’s major shareholders included News Corp and rival newspaper publisher Nine Entertainment Holdings Co Ltd.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Robert Birsel

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General News

Iran news agency head convicted for interviewee’s spy remark

Tori Holland



Iran news agency head convicted for interviewee's spy remark

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency has been convicted over publishing an article that quotes a former ambassador criticizing Tehran’s “arbitrary” intelligence operations in Europe, a journalism watchdog group said Friday.

It was unclear what sentence was handed down to ISNA CEO Ali Motaghian after his trial on charges of “publishing lies with the intention of disturbing the public,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The judiciary’s Mizan news agency said Motaghian could face penalties ranging from two months to two years in prison, 74 lashes and a cash fine.

The case originates from a complaint filed by the intelligence arm of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. It involved an extensive interview ISNA published in January 2019 with former Ambassador to Germany Ali Majedi.

During the interview, Majedi appeared to criticize some operations by Iran’s intelligence apparatus in Europe.

The comments came after Germany arrested Vienna-based Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who prosecutors said belonged to the country’s Intelligence Ministry. The prosecutors allege Assadi gave a couple explosives and was involved in a plot to bomb an annual rally of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, or MEK, in neighboring France.

Separately, around the same time, Danish officials accused Iran of planning to assassinate members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz living there. That group has claimed a series of attacks in Iran seeking to make the country’s oil-rich Khuzestan province its own country.

“We are facing an issue inside the country, such as arbitrary operations,” ISNA quoted Majedi as saying. “Can we deny that there are no examples of this happening outside the country? Such operations damage the trust.”

The reporter who wrote the story and Majedi were found not guilty by Tehran’s Media Court in a hearing in May, CPJ said.

The Iranian Students’ News Agency, or ISNA, opened in 1999 as reformist President Mohammad Khatami sought to change Iran’s Shiite theocracy. While independent, it — like other semiofficial news agencies — operates under a license from the government.

Journalists in Iran face harassment from security services, while others have been imprisoned for their work. While local journalists face the brunt of that treatment, foreign journalists in Tehran, especially those with Western ties, have been imprisoned as well.

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