London: Britain said it had barred Russia’s RT and Sputnik news organisations from a global conference on media freedom in London because of their “active role in spreading disinformation.”
Some 60 ministers and 1,000 journalists and members of civil society are expected to attend the meeting on Wednesday and Thursday co-hosted with Canada. “We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
“While it’s not possible to accommodate all requests for accreditation, journalists from across the world’s media are attending the conference, including from Russia.” On Friday, the Russian embassy condemned the decision relating to RT as “direct politically motivated discrimination.”
It said RT had been told there was no space for its journalists at the conference, adding that the embassy had contacted the Foreign Office to complain. The move followed a “months-long smear campaign” against RT by British authorities, it added, citing among other things a ruling by media watchdog, Ofcom.
In December, Ofcom found RT had broken impartiality rules with several programmes broadcast after the nerve agent attack in the English city of Salisbury.
Moscow has denied claims by London that it approved the attack on a former Russian double agent in March last year. Organisers of the London conference say it is intended to increase international discussion and cooperation on the issue of media freedom, including fake news.
International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney will attend in her capacity as Britain’s special envoy on media freedom. She will convene the first meeting of an independent panel of experts to look at how to strengthen national legislation to protect journalists.
The final guest list is yet to be published but officials said the only countries not invited to the conference are North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.
Ahead of the conference, Britain announced 18 million pounds to counter disinformation across eastern Europe and to strengthen independent media in the western Balkans. It is part of a 100 million pounds, five-year commitment aimed at eastern Europe and central Asia.
Iran ready to hold talks with US if sanctions lifted: Rouhani
Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that his country was ready to hold talks with the US if Washington lifts sanctions imposed on Tehran.
“We are always ready for negotiations. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready,” the Iranian Mehr News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying on Sunday.
Leaders of France, Germany and Britain, European signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement said on Sunday that they were “extremely concerned” about the escalating tension in the Gulf region, which they said is likely to put the accord at risk unless the concerned parties join the same table of talks.
In May 2018, Washington unilaterally abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and restarted imposing sanctions on Iran.
On May 8, Iran stopped implementing some of its commitments under the deal and set a 60-day deadline for the Europeans to help Tehran reap the economic benefits of the deal.
On July 7, as the deadline expired, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced that Tehran was ready to begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 per cent level set in the Iran nuclear deal, adding that Tehran would go on gradually abandoning its nuclear commitments every 60 days.
On July 8, Iran announced that it had raised the concentration of its enriched uranium to 4.5 per cent from 3.67 purity.
Following Tehran’s announcement, US Vice President Mike Pence, along with other senior administration officials, vowed to continue to pile up economic pressure on Iran.
Nepal flooding and landslides: Death toll reaches 65
New Delhi: Authorities are battling against time and elements as the death toll in Nepal has reached 65 after widespread flooding and landslides hit the country’s Terai region.
Flooding and landslides have hit the Terai region of the country after incessant rainfall over the past several days. While many villages have been evacuated here, many people were either injured or killed due to nature’s fury. The most affected districts include Lalitpur, Khotang, Bhojpur, Kavre, Makwanpur, Sindhuli and Dhading.
Nepal Police, according to news agency ANI, has said that as many as 30 people are missing.
A total of 1146 people have been rescued from areas at maximum risk from flooding and landslides, as on Monday morning, from 22 districts. Authorities here have said that all the injured are being given medical assistance at local hospitals while people are being advised to get to safer grounds because the threat from swelling rivers remains. More rainfall here could complicate rescue efforts.
Incessant rainfall and the consequent flooding here has also put several districts in Bihar at risk. News agency IANS reported that water level in Koshi, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Ganga and Bagmati rivers are on the rise. The state government, along with National Disaster Response Force, is helping locals in areas like Supaul, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Araria and Kishanganj move to safer locations.
Leave the US, Trump tells liberal Democratic congresswomen
Washington: United States President Donald Trump assailed a group of Democratic congresswomen of colour as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came”, ignoring the fact that the women are American citizens and all but one was born in the US.
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he said in tweets.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Trump was almost certainly referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies in what’s become known as the squad. The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.
With his remarks, Trump again inserted himself into a rift between Pelosi and the liberal congresswomen, after offering an unsolicited defence of the Democratic speaker days earlier. Pelosi has been seeking to minimise Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalise women of color.
“She is not a racist,” Trump had said on Friday.
Today, Trump’s tone changed.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.
Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.
Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the US at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.
Tlaib was born in Detroit.
Trump’s tweets drew a sharp rebuke from Pelosi, who said the president wants to “make America white again”.
Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently took steps to leave his party, called the remarks “racist and disgusting”.
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