In 2024 elections, we have to act against AI-aggravated bias

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Journalists must give a voice to the underrepresented and underprivileged communities at the receiving end of much of the misinformation that drives polarising narratives and undermines trust in democracy itself, Meera Selva writes.


2024 is going to be the year of elections driven by AI-boosted campaigning, global conflict, and ever more pervasive AI tools.

Some 2 billion people will go to the polls in 65 elections to select leaders who will have campaigned, communicated, and fundraised online, and who know their terms in office will be defined by the digital space.

Voting will happen in some of the most densely populated countries in the world, where media has been upended by digital communications, including Indonesia, India, and Mexico. 

And these elections will be among the first to take place after the sudden popularisation of generative AI technologies — casting further uncertainty on how they will play out. 

There is an argument that fears of AI are overblown, and most people will not have their behaviour altered by exposure to AI-generated misinformation. 2024 will offer some evidence as to whether or not that’s true.

Small groups will play big roles. Elections are now often so closely contested that the final results can be turned by proportionately very few voters. 

Mistrust or hostility towards one small group can end up defining the whole national debate. Communities of colour and immigrant communities can be affected disproportionately by misinformation in election times, by both conspiracy theories undermining their trust in the process, and incorrect information on how to vote.

That is why the needs and voices of minority communities must be foregrounded in these elections. Whether AI tools will help or hinder that is still an open question.

No editorial checks will make things worse

Some of the biggest dangers widely accessible AI technologies will pose in global elections stem from a lack of diversity in design and leadership.

There is already a trend for misinformation to spread via mistranslations — words that have different, often more negative connotations when translated from one language, usually English, to another. 

This will only worsen with AI-powered translations done at speed without editorial checks or oversight from native language speakers.

Some AI tools also play on existing prejudices against minorities: in Slovakia’s elections this autumn, an alleged audio recording of one candidate telling a journalist about a plan to buy votes from the Roma minority, who are structurally discriminated against and often viewed with hostility, spread fast on Facebook. 

The truth that the recording had been altered came too late: the candidate in question, Michal Simecka, lost to former Prime Minister Robert Fico, who returned to power after having resigned in 2018 following outrage over the murder of an investigative journalist.

Using tech to keep discriminating against others

In India, there are fears that popular AI tools are entrenching existing discrimination on lines of caste, religion and ethnicity. 

During communal riots in Delhi in 2020, police used AI-powered facial recognition technology to arrest rioters. Critics point out the technology is more likely to be used against Muslims, indigenous communities, and those from the Dalit caste as the country’s elections draw near.

These fears are backed up by research from Queens University in Belfast, which showed other ways that the use of AI in election processes can harm minorities. 

If the technology is used for administering mailing lists or deciding where polling stations should be located, there is a real risk that this will result in minority groups being ignored or badly served.

Many of the problems of diversity in AI-generated content come from the data sets the technology is trained on, but the demographics of AI teams are also a factor. 


A McKinsey report on the state of AI in 2022 shows that women are significantly underrepresented, and a shocking 29% of respondents said they have no minority employees working on their AI solutions. 

As AI researcher Dr Sasha Luccioni recently pointed out, women are even excluded from the way AI is reported on.

There are benefits to AI, too

It’s clear AI will play a significant role in next year’s elections. Much of it will be beneficial: it can be used to power chatbots to engage citizens in political processes and can help candidates understand messages from the campaign trail more easily.

I see this first-hand in my daily work: Internews partners up with local, independent media outlets around the world that are creatively using AI tools to improve the public’s access to good information. 

In Zimbabwe, the Center for Innovation and Technology is using an AI-generated avatar as a real-time newsreader, which can have its speech tailored to local accents and dialects, reaching communities that are rarely represented in newsrooms. 


And elsewhere in Africa, newsrooms are using AI tools to detect bias and discrimination in their stories.

The same AI tools will almost certainly be used by malicious actors to generate deep fakes, fuel misinformation, and distort public debate at warp speed. 

The Philippines, for example, has had its political discourse upended by social media, to the extent that its most famous editor, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maria Ressa, warned that the Philippines is the canary in a coal mine on the interface of technology, communications, and democracy; anything that happens there will happen in the rest of the world within a few years. 

There is pushback however and Filipino society is taking action — ahead of next year’s elections, media organizations and civil society have come together to create ethical AI frameworks as a starting point for how journalists can use this new technology responsibly.

Giving voice to those on the receiving end remains vital

But these kinds of initiatives are only part of the solution. Journalism alone cannot solve the problems posed by generative and program AI in elections, in the same way, it cannot solve the problems of mis and disinformation. 


This is an issue regulators, technology companies, and electoral commissions must work on alongside civil society groups — but that alone also won’t suffice. 

It is vital that journalists give a voice to the underrepresented and underprivileged communities at the receiving end of much of the misinformation that drives polarising narratives and undermines trust in elections, and ultimately in democracy itself.

We didn’t pay enough attention to underserved communities and minority groups when social media first upended electoral processes worldwide, contributing to the democratic backsliding and division we see today. Let us not make the same mistake twice.

Meera Selva is the Europe CEO of Internews, a global nonprofit supporting independent media in 100+ countries.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.


Source link

#elections #act #AIaggravated #bias

Will the European Parliament walk the talk and protect journalists?

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

In a democratic society, where we rely on journalists to act as public watchdogs, we cannot have them worried about becoming a target of government-sanctioned spying, Sebastian Becker, Chloé Berthélémy and Shubham Kaushik write.


The European Union considers itself a bastion of democracy and fundamental rights. Journalists and media freedom are the bedrock of these principles. 

But a new regulation — that seeks to protect these very values — might fall short of its goal if the European Parliament refuses to walk the talk.

The European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) was proposed in 2022 to protect journalists and media providers and serve as a push for strengthening EU democracy. 

It will become the first-ever law with binding rules on the use of surveillance technologies by European governments against journalists.

This week, the European Parliament will take a decisive vote on this regulation.

Spyware harms journalists and our democracy

The harms of spyware are well-known and documented. In 2021, we found out about the over 180 journalists in 20 countries, including Hungary, Spain and France, whose phones were infected by the Pegasus spyware, often by their own countries’ governments.

It became immensely clear that spyware lets governments get unchecked and unlimited access to a person’s communications, intimate photos, personal contacts and online behaviour data — everything without the knowledge of the victim. 

What’s worse, spyware can bypass all digital security features that journalists rely on — including encryption — and turn a phone into a real-time spying device.

In a world where such dangerous hacking tools can be so easily acquired on the market and deployed by governments with little to no scrutiny, there are almost no online spaces left where journalists can feel safe and ensure source confidentiality. 

The need for a full ban on spyware in any law that seeks to protect journalists is inarguable.

EU governments use ‘national security’ as a carte blanche

But this isn’t sitting right with some EU member states who want to continue to be able to abuse spyware. 

During the legislative debates, France demanded that EU countries should be allowed to force the disclosure of sources, arrest, detain, put under surveillance and even deploy spyware against journalists for reasons of “national security”.

It has been shown time and again how EU countries abuse this notion of national security to impose mass surveillance or other exceptional repressive measures on their citizens. 

Just ask Ariane Lavrilleux, a French journalist who was arrested in France in September 2023. 

She revealed the responsibility of France for crimes committed by the dictatorship of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt through her investigation in 2021. 

In the name of “national security”, Ariane was detained while her apartment was searched and all her electronic devices seized.

Her experience will have a severe chilling effect on investigative journalism.

We need the EU to guarantee a surveillance-free media environment

In a democratic society, where we rely on journalists to act as public watchdogs, we cannot have them worried about becoming a target of government-sanctioned spying. 


Journalists also need to be able to guarantee their sources’ full confidentiality to secure the reporting of trustworthy and public interest information.

They rely on tools like encryption to ensure safe and private communications. Beatriz Ramalho Da Silva, an investigative journalist at Lighthouse Reports, told European Digital Rights that end-to-end encryption guarantees the safety of journalists’ sources, contributors and partners whose work places them under threat by their governments. If their communications were intercepted people’s lives would be at risk.

All of this is hampered when governments or other malicious actors invade journalists’ phones and devices to get access to their sources and editorial strategy. 

Responsible, public-interest journalism cannot exist in an environment where the threat of the government spying on you through your phone looms large.

The European Parliament has an opportunity next week to ensure that journalists don’t have to go through this any more. But will the MEPs seize this opportunity?


Will the EU’s ‘pragmatism’ stand in the way of protecting our journalists?

With such clarity on the grave consequences that can ensue when spyware is weaponised against journalists, one has to wonder why the European Parliament is shying away from taking a strong stance.

There’s a possibility that the MEPs are pre-emptively softening their stance because they’re concerned about the tough battle ahead for EMFA in the inter-institutional negotiations. 

The Council of the European Union, comprising all EU member states, will fight tooth and nail against any limitation — no matter how reasonable — on their “national security” competence. 

The Council of the EU have already agreed to give a “free pass” to national police and law enforcement agencies for spyware use when it comes to this issue.

The European Parliament is the only EU institution that is directly elected by citizens. Instead of worrying about how their position will be perceived by the member states, they should reflect on their responsibility to us. 


Pragmatism as an excuse?

We, the people, deserve trustworthy journalism, and journalists — who will be adversely affected when spyware invades their phones and puts their lives and livelihoods at risk — deserve to be able to do their jobs.

Journalists, civil society and media associations have united several times to raise alarm about this issue. But we’ve been told that a total ban on this nefarious technology is not pragmatic.

We hope that being “pragmatic” does not become an excuse for the European Parliament for not doing everything possible to prevent real, grievous harm to journalists. 

They have the opportunity next week to stick up for their own beliefs, for journalists, and for the health of the EU’s democracy. 

Their failure to do so will be a death knell for the rights of journalists risking their lives to speak truth to power.


Sebastian Becker serves as Policy Advisor, Chloé Berthélémy is a Senior Policy Advisor, and Shubham Kaushik is a Communications and Media Officer at European Digital Rights (EDRi).

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

Source link

#European #Parliament #walk #talk #protect #journalists

Having AI present the news might be exactly what journalism needs

As opposed to the infamous “deep fake” phenomenon, AI avatar news — known as Deep Real — can represent a commitment to truth, transparency, and the pursuit of journalistic integrity, Miri Michaeli writes.

In the ever-evolving world of journalism, a seismic shift is underway—one that challenges conventions, disrupts traditional practices, and, if used correctly, could herald the dawn of a new era. 


The adoption of artificial intelligence stands at the forefront of this transformative wave. Its impact on the future of journalism is undeniable, potentially threatening to erode the very essence of journalism, while at the same time revolutionising the way journalists connect with audiences and deliver news with enhanced clarity and global reach.

As we witness the emergence of the world’s first fully AI automated news edition with digital avatar presenters, concerns about the implications of this technology must be addressed in order to unlock its true potential. 

As opposed to the infamous “deep fake” phenomenon, AI avatar news — known as Deep Real — can represent a commitment to truth, transparency, and the pursuit of journalistic integrity. 

While deep fakes epitomise deception and trickery, Deep Real can be the antithesis — a manifestation of genuine journalism leveraging the power of technology.

Building trust through transparency

The rise of AI-generated avatars and the use of actors’ or journalists’ images without consent or compensation raise legitimate fears about the exploitation of their identities. 

The recent Black Mirror episode “Joan Is Awful,” which saw Selma Hayek embarrassing herself in a church, serves as an explosive reminder of the dystopian consequences that could ensue if these concerns are left unaddressed.

One of the primary criticisms levelled against the tech is that it will lead to the destruction of trust in journalism. 

Detractors argue that the use of AI-generated avatars and automated scripts will create a sense of artificiality and detachment from reality. 

However, if implemented with journalistic and intellectual rigour, it has the potential to enhance transparency and build trust in unprecedented ways. 

AI news is a chance to break with traditional boundaries

By leveraging AI technology, we can provide audiences with a deeper understanding of the news-making process, showcasing the data sources and algorithms used to generate content.

Rather than weakening the role of human input, AI avatar reporters represent a groundbreaking leap forward — a fusion of human innovation and integrity that holds immense potential for journalism. 


The technology allows news to break traditional boundaries, delivering reporting with enhanced clarity and a global reach that was previously unimaginable.

At the same time, rather than diminishing the role of human journalists, digital clones empower them to delve deeper into their craft. 

By automating certain aspects of news production, Deep Real can liberate journalists, allowing them to focus on investigations and analysis, and cultivating meaningful connections with their sources. 

It is a tool that enhances the storytelling abilities of journalists, amplifying their voices and unleashing their creativity.

What about ethics and integrity in AI journalism?

In the realm of digital avatar journalists, ethical considerations take on paramount importance. 


To effectively harness the potential of AI-driven journalism while upholding principles of transparency and accountability, robust guidelines and industry-wide standards must be established. 

Transparency should be a guiding principle, ensuring audiences are aware of the use of AI-generated avatars and distinguishing them from human journalists.

News organisations must also maintain accountability, taking responsibility for the content produced by digital avatars and adhering to rigorous fact-checking and quality control measures. 

Preserving journalistic integrity necessitates a commitment to high ethical standards, exercising critical judgment, and recognizing the limitations of AI technology as a tool that complements, but does not replace, human journalists.

The responsible use of AI technology in journalism demands ongoing critical engagement. While AI presents exciting opportunities to push the boundaries of journalism, its adoption should be approached thoughtfully. 


Regular assessments of its impact on society, democracy, and the profession are essential to maintain a healthy balance between the benefits of AI and the core principles of journalism. 

By embracing AI with a strong ethical framework, we can shape a future where technology and journalism converge harmoniously, enriching storytelling, expanding reach, and enhancing democratic discourse.

A new era for journalism

In the face of these advancements, the future of journalism is not dark but brighter than ever. AI presents an unparalleled opportunity to democratize news, personalize storytelling, and amplify the impact of journalists. 

It is a tool that empowers journalists to connect with global audiences, transcend boundaries, and navigate the complexities of our world with greater efficiency and precision.

As we embrace this new technology, let us fully seize the immense potential it offers. Let us champion the timeless values of truth, accuracy, and transparency in this new era of journalism. 

Deep Real represents the remarkable convergence of human ingenuity and technological innovation — a powerful force that propels us toward a future where storytelling knows no bounds.

By integrating Deep Real into the fabric of journalism, we can usher in an era of heightened connectivity, inclusivity, and impact. 

It is a call to journalists, news organisations, and society as a whole to harness this transformative tool responsibly, with an unwavering commitment to the principles that have guided journalism throughout history.

Miri Michaeli, a veteran Israeli journalist, is the co-founder and chief news anchor of ACT News, a pioneer in the field of AI-powered news broadcasts using digital avatar presenters.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

Source link

#present #news #journalism

Slovak tycoon acquitted again over murder of journalist

Slovak tycoon Marián Kočner has been acquitted for his role in conspiring to murder journalist Ján Kuciak. Alena Zsuzsová, his associate, was found guilty of planning and ordering the crime.

A court in Slovakia has acquitted tycoon Marián Kočner for the second time on charges he conspired to murder journalist Ján Kuciak.

However, the District Court in Pezinok convicted co-defendant Alena Zsuzsavá of ordering and planning Kuciak’s murder in February 2018. She received a 25-year prison sentence.

The pair were originally both acquitted in the original trial which began in 2019, and Friday’s decision comes after an appeal was launched in 2021. 

Parties can appeal Friday’s decision to the country’s Supreme Court.

What was this case about?

There is no doubt that the murder of Kuciak is among the most shocking murders of journalists in recent European history, along with that of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Both were targeted for investigating ties between government officials and criminal groups.

Kuciak was the younger of the two. He and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were both 27 years old when they were killed in their home in Veľká Mača on 21 February 2018. The police found their bodies bearing gunshot wounds to the head and chest – injuries pointing to a possible assassination – after Kušnírová’s mother alerted them to the fact that she could not contact her daughter.

The outrage in Slovakia was immediate and resounding, with the president at the time saying that he was “shocked and horrified” that such a thing had happened in the country and calling for either a cabinet reshuffle or an early election.

A number of ministers, members of parliament, police officers, and even Prime Minister Robert Fico — whose business ties were investigated by Kuciak — resigned in the wake of his death.

Protests and concerts demanding an end to corruption in the country were held for a month after the event.

Kuciak worked as an investigative reporter and data journalist for the Slovak news outlet Aktuality. The outlet’s editor in chief Petr Bárdy described him as someone with a knack for open source investigations and “connecting known things” to uncover tax fraud and corruption within the country’s leadership.

At the time of his death, Kuciak was writing an article — published posthumously as a collaboration between his colleagues — about the fraudulent activities of Italian businessmen operating in eastern Slovakia and their connections to the Italian ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan, as well as their cooperation with representatives of SMER-SD party and PM Fico.

It was suspected that the murder involved cross-border crimes, so investigators from the Czech Republic, Italy, the FBI, Scotland Yard and Europol joined their Slovak counterparts in uncovering the perpetrators.

Slovakia’s trial of the century

In the early stages of the investigation, there were strong suspicions that controversial Slovak tycoon Marián Kočner, whom Kuciak also reported on, had something to do with the murder.

Despite being on several police mafia lists going back as far as 2005, Kočner had fashioned himself into a celebrity and often appeared on the country’s talk shows to bolster or promote his business activities.

The Kuciak murder exposed Kočner’s obsession with surveilling and following journalists in the country, in an attempt to control and discredit them or influence narratives in his favour. Even as late as 2021, the International Press Institute warned journalists from Dennik N that they were being followed.

According to the prosecution’s indictment, Kočner tasked his associate and failed furniture business owner Alena Zsuzsová with arranging Kuciak’s murder and she, in turn, tasked businessman Zoltán Andruskó, who ordered former soldier Miroslav Marček and his cousin Tomáš Szabó to carry out the murder.

Andruskó entered a plea agreement with the prosecution in December 2018 and was sentenced to 15 years — but also named Kočner as the individual who had ordered the murder. Marček received a 25-year sentence for killing the two, and Szabó received the same sentence for co-conspiring and assisting Marček.

Kočner and Zsuzsová were acquitted of charges related to the murders of Kuciak and Kušnírová at the time, with the court stating that their involvement in the murders could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

There were widespread negative reactions to the verdict both in Slovakia and internationally, with President Zuzana Čaputová saying that she believed “the trial would not end here” and should be taken to the Supreme Court. Igor Matovič, a leading opposition politician at the time, said that the instigators of the murder had slipped out of the clutches of justice.”

The Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case in 2021 and it was taken on by the Special Criminal Court.

Kočner and Zsuzsová were found guilty for other crimes in the meantime, the latter for her involvement in the 2010 murder of Laszlo Basternak, the mayor of a small town in Slovakia. They are currently serving sentences for those crimes.

When time came around for the appeals trial, the secret conversations between Kočner and Zsuzsová on the Threema — an encrypted messaging app developed by for the Swiss military and thought to be impenetrable — became public after a judge ordered them to be released.

Besides including incriminating messages sent by Kočner, including Kuciak’s private address, it also unveiled the extent of the tycoon’s inflated sense of self. His message to Zsuzsová were signed “Ave ja” in Slovak or “Hail me”, which is a direct reference to the Roman phrase “Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant” or “Hail, Caesar, those about to die salute you,” addressed to the Roman emperor by gladiators before games.

It also unveiled that Kočner referred to his political opponents in antisemitic terms, including a message that said “I’ll probably have to cut down some Jews…” in May of 2018.

Kuciak as a symbol

Kuciak, his work, and his tragic demise have become the central European country’s most powerful symbol for change.

Civil society groups and grassroots movements often refer to Kuciak in their statements and carry photographs of him and Kušnírová at protests and marches.

The Jan Kuciak Investigative Centre was established in his honour by journalists who worked with him, who said his murder inspired them to work more closely together in the future.

The landslide victory of opposition parties in the 2020 elections is also attributed to the widespread disgust felt among Slovak voters with the SMER-SD party that was in power at the time of his death.

So powerful is his image that former PM Fico, who lost power in 2020, has also tried to abuse his death for political gain and claims that one day he will reveal the true killers of Jan Kuciak. Fico’s party is currently gaining in support after a months-long political crisis in the country, buoyed by his embrace of conspiracy theories and far-right talking points.

For journalists in Slovakia, things continue to be difficult. On the anniversary of his death this year, the Jan Kuciak Center published a poll indicating that two out of three journalists in the country, or around 66%, continue to face threats on a regular basis.

Source link

#Slovak #tycoon #acquitted #murder #journalist

NPR bids farewell to Twitter, but not without flushing their credibility down the toilet some more

Last week, Twitter slapped a “state-affiliated media” label (and later a “government-funded media” label) on NPR’s Twitter page, and it was perfect. Not just because it was accurate, but also because it pissed off NPR. And we’re always here for that.

Well, fast-forward to today, and NPR is so pissed off that they’ve decided to take their ball and go home. Or at least leave Twitter:

More from NPR:

Twitter then revised its label on NPR’s account to “government-funded media.” The news organization says that is inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Yet by going silent on Twitter, NPR’s chief executive says the network is protecting its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without “a shadow of negativity.”

Even if Twitter were to drop the designation altogether, Lansing says the network will not immediately return to the platform.

“At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” he says. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.” Lansing says individual NPR journalists and staffers can decide for themselves whether to continue using Twitter.

In an email to staff explaining the decision, Lansing wrote, “It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards.”

NPR has editorial independence or standards? Since when?

Well, NPR is not editorially independent, so … we’re not seeing the issue here.

Truth hurts, NPR.

If NPR doesn’t want to be labeled as government-funded media, then they can just stop accepting government (i.e. taxpayer) funding. Seems pretty simple.

Or, you know, they could just keep lying about who they are:

That first sentence in NPR’s tweet contains multiple lies. “Consequential”? Nope, not really. “Independent”? Not even remotely. “In service to the public”? Puh-leeeze.

It doesn’t. Which just goes to show you how weak — or, rather, nonexistent — NPR’s credibility actually is.

As does this:

NPR is leaving Twitter but totally fine with the CCP, which just so happens to be a huge fan of … state-affiliated media. How ‘about that?


Absolutely insane, and also absolutely shameful:

Twitter doesn’t deserve the privilege of being a home for NPR’s credibility, but TikTok does? Yeah, we’re done here.

And conveniently, NPR is not intellectually honest. Not about journalism, and not about themselves.



NPR CEO’s statement on Twitter ‘state-affiliated media’ label only further solidifies NPR’s hackery

NPR TV critic says Chief Twit Elon Musk could have just spent five minutes listening to their content

Looks like NPR’s getting passive-aggressive after Twitter labeled them ‘state-affiliated media’


Editor’s Note: Do you enjoy Twitchy’s conservative reporting taking on the radical left and woke media? Support our work so that we can continue to bring you the truth.  Join Twitchy VIP and use the promo code SAVEAMERICA to get 40% off your VIP membership!

Source link

#NPR #bids #farewell #Twitter #flushing #credibility #toilet

Here Is Our Registration To Blog In Florida, Mister Knucklef*ck Sh*thead State Senator, Sir

Dear state Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Florida):

We are writing to inform you that we are writing about you, an elected member of the Florida Legislature, and your very interesting and facially unconstitutional bill, Florida SB 1316, which would require paid bloggers to register with the State of Florida, just like lobbyists would — at least if the blogger is paid for the posts they write. We would first off like to thank you for exempting newspapers and amateur bloggers from the legislation. That is right neighborly of you! Florida really is all about freedom, isn’t it? Unless you’re a wokey, and we all know about those wokies and their mobs.

We won’t go into the details of the bill too much, since its instructions are so clear and easy to follow: If someone is paid to write about Gov. Ron DeSantis, the lieutenant governor, any member of the cabinet, or any member of the Lege, then that blogger must register with the State Bloggerlobbyists Office within five days of publication, and then also submit monthly reports to the appropriate office by the 10th of each month, unless “the 10th day following the end of a calendar month occurs on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday,” in which case “the report must be filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.” Easy peasy!

You really thought that through! You don’t mention whether the bloggers must be resident to the great state of Florida, one of those oversights that can happen when a bunch of fucking idiots get elected to make “laws.” We’ll assume that it applies to everyone everywhere in the known universe, since you didn’t say it ain’t.

The monthly reports must itemize each post that mentions any of said Florida officials, and must include a statement — rounded to the nearest 10 dollars — of how much the blogger was paid. And heck, if we go a month without mentioning any of Florida’s colorful elected officials, we can even skip filing for that month. Again, very generous!

It’s also very convenient of you to identify the appropriate offices where the reports must be filed, depending on whether we write about a member of the executive branch (the Florida Commission on Ethics) or the legislature (the Florida Office of Legislative Services). If we mention both — like this very piece, which mentions both the increasingly fascist Ron DeSantis and his increasingly fascist lickspittles in the Legislature like you, I assume we can simply file two copies of the same report. Or would they have to be separately written, to avoid confusion?

Also, it doesn’t appear that your bill explains how we should report our income if we’re on salary, rather than paid by the blog post. I write about national and international politics, as well as about education, entertainment, edutainment, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (both the show itself and the fandom). Would I just try to figure out how my annual income breaks down per post, or should I calculate it by the time I spend writing each post?

Like, it took me forever to round up all the shitty things red states like Florida are doing to trans people (although I didn’t mention Mr. DeSantis today), but I’m basically dashing this piece off while giving it the effort your stupid bill deserves, which is only slightly more than that involved in the average dump, and not even one of those messy ones where it takes forever to wipe, because for one reason or another it’s just kind of viscous. I just want to make sure I’m in compliance. And I need more fiber, most likely.

Also, I think it’s really smart of you to structure the fines for failure to report any blogging activity exactly like those for lobbyists — $25 per day the report is late, up to a maximum of $2,500, per blog post, to be paid to the appropriate office, depending on whether the non-reported blog post had been about a legislator or a member of the executive branch. Hey, if the post mentioned both, does half the fine go to each office, or is the fine doubled?

Maybe we should just write about county officials and school boards. They’re just as fucking crazy, but with less paperwork. HA! That’s what you WANT!

In any case, those fines would really pinch our income, which depends entirely on donations from our readers. They’re the best.

We see you explained to Florida Politics — a blog, we believe — that

Paid bloggers are lobbyists who write instead of talk. They both are professional electioneers. If lobbyists have to register and report, why shouldn’t paid bloggers?

We’re not so sure we agree with you 100 percent on your police work there, Senator.

You see, we’re mostly interested in making clear what an asshole you are, not necessarily in influencing legislation in the state of Florida, and we don’t represent any interest group other than our readers, who we may have mentioned are the only reason we’re able to do this anyway. Sure, we’d like to see your stupid fascist bill fail, and for you to be laughed out of office, but nobody’s paying us to advance that view on their behalf. A lot of those filthy fuckaducks are just here to post cat pictures, which we would add is a far better use of time than trying to threaten pissant non-newspaper independent opinion bloggers like Yours Truly.

In conclusion, we really look forward to your bill failing hard, either in the Florida Lege, or if Crom forbid it passes and Gov. Orban signs it, in the courts.

Also consider this our report of our mention of you in this blog, for which we were paid in Ameros and in cedar cheese anyway. Our Editrix has already filed her registration report, too, although it’s about pregnancy hemorrhoids, not cat pictures and difficult shits.

Hey, you know who else is a difficult shit? Yes, you’re right, it’s YOU.

Also, go fuck yourself. Did we mention that already? Just in case, go fuck right off the peninsula and keep fucking off all the way to the wide Sarcastro Sea.

See also the case of Flying Fuck v. Rolling Donut (1969) and the subsequent ruling in Flying Fuck v. Mooooooooooon (1976).

[Florida Politics / Daily Beast / Florida SB 1316]

Yr Wonkette, as you may have heard, is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can keep you up to date on all the petty pigfucking these petty pigfuckers keep coming up with.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

Source link

#Registration #Blog #Florida #Mister #Knucklefck #Shthead #State #Senator #Sir

Iran: ‘Sham’ courts hand out severe sentences for passive protest

Issued on: Modified:

After months of strikes and protests in Iran, thousands of people have been arrested and now face harsh sentences by the courts, including death. Activists, journalists and lawyers have received long prison terms for supporting the demonstrations or expressing their opposition to the regime, even passively. Activists and NGOs say that the Iranian judiciary is increasing the pressure on those arrested, handing out absurd charges, forcing confessions through extortion and torturing detainees. 

Since the start of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests in Iran in mid-September 2022, at least 19,000 people have been arrested by the Islamic regime, according to human rights organisations. Thousands of them, indicted by the Attorney General’s Office, are now facing trials, which Amnesty International qualifies as “unfair” and “shams”. Some sentences have already been handed out by the courts.

More than five years of prison for dancing

Protesters have been sentenced to severe punishments for even the most absurd of crimes. One couple was even sentenced to five years in prison for posting a video of themselves dancing.

Astiyazh Haghighi and Amir Ahmadi, a couple in their early 20s, were arrested on November 1, 2022 and sentenced to five years in prison for “promoting immorality and prostitution”, “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state” after they shared a video of themselves dancing together near Azadi Square in Tehran. 

The couple was also accused of “inviting people to protest” on their social media accounts where they have more than one million followers. 

While many media outlets reported that the young couple had been sentenced to more than ten years in prison, Mizan, a website belonging to the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, denied the initial reports and claimed that Astiyazh and Amir had been sentenced to five years in prison.

The couple’s family members say they have since been detained without access to a lawyer. 

Journalists arrested and sentenced

Since the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody on September 16, 2022, which sparked this wave of protests, numerous journalists have been arrested in Iran. One of them is Vida Rabbani. She was arrested on September 23, 2022 and sentenced to 11 years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security”, “propaganda against the state”.  

The judge that sentenced her also referred to a poem she posted on social media which equated Islamic prayer to kissing. According to the judge, this was a “desecration”.

Rabbani is not the only journalist arrested and sentenced harshly after being accused of acting against the regime. Since the outbreak of the protests in Iran, at least 67 journalists have been arrested, according to Iranian human rights organisations.

Ehsan Pirbernash is a journalist and humourist. He was arrested on October 28, 2022 and sentenced to 18 years in prison, on January 10, 2023. He was charged with “insulting Islam in a manner deemed blasphemous”, “inciting aggression against the Islamic Republic’s government” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s system” for making a satirical criticisms of the government. His sentence is the harshest sentence given to a journalist since these protests began. 

Nazila Maroufian is another journalist, arrested on October 30, 2022 after interviewing Mahsa Amini’s father. Maroufian was sentenced to two years suspended imprisonment for “propaganda against the state” and “inciting public opinion”. She was released on bail January 12, 2023.

Photo of Nazila Maroufian right after her release from prison, she shows a victory sign and has refused to wear a headscarf

Marzieh Amiri, another Iranian journalist, is now also on trial. She was arrested on October 31, 2022 and charged in her first trial with “assembly and collusion against national security” and “promoting immorality and prostitution”, allegedly because she wore her hair short, according to an account her sister posted on social media.

Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, two journalists who publicised Mahsa Amini’s death, have been in detention since October 26, 2022. They are charged with “assembly and collusion against national security”, “propaganda against the state”, Iranian intelligence also accused them of spying for the United States and of having been trained by the CIA.

Among the arrested protesters, the names of 720 university students, 46 lawyers and 97 artists are also listed. Farahnaz Nazeri is one of the arrested artists who has already been sentenced. She was sentenced to ten years in prison for “incitement to war and murder”, “propaganda against the state” and “promoting immorality and prostitution”.

Tthere are also dozens of prisoners in Iran who face execution after being charged with crimes that carry the death penalty. So far, Iran has executed four protesters and 13 others are sentenced to death.

Most of these harsh sentences, especially the death penalties, have been issued based on no evidence other than confessions that are extorted under severe duress, according to Amnesty International.

On January 27, Amnesty International called on the Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of three young Iranians Arshia Takdastan, 18, Mehdi Mohammadifard, 19, and Javad Rouhi, 31. Amnesty International said: “The Iranian authorities must immediately quash the unjust convictions and death sentences of three young protesters, who were subjected to gruesome torture including floggings, electric shocks, being hung upside down and death threats at gunpoint.”

Source link

#Iran #Sham #courts #hand #severe #sentences #passive #protest