Amal Clooney attends press freedom conference

Robie de Guzman   •   July 11, 2019   •   761

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney speaking at Freedom of Media Conference, London, England, United Kingdom | Courtesy: Reuters

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney said on Wednesday (July 10) that nations including Australia, Britain and the U.S. set an example for other world leaders in their handling of media freedom cases.

Clooney was speaking in London at a conference for media freedom attended by delegations from more than 100 countries.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland joined Clooney on stage at the event which was hosted by Britain with the Canadian government.

During her speech, Clooney spoke of assaults on media freedom including Australian police raiding the offices of the national broadcaster in June over allegations it had published classified material.

Clooney also noted the ongoing case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the arrest of two Northern Ireland journalists in the U.K. The pair were arrested over the alleged theft of documents used in a documentary; however British police have since dropped their case.

The conference aimed to defend media freedom from restrictive practices by governments, encourage participants to develop plans to legislate for a free press, help improve journalists’ safety and counter disinformation. (REUTERS)

(Production: Soraya Ali)

Hundreds killed in Brazil’s Amazon over land, resources in past decade – report

UNTV News   •   September 18, 2019

 A Human Rights Watch report on Tuesday (September 17) found that more than 300 people have been killed over the past decade in conflicts over the use of land and resources in the Amazon, many by organized criminal networks profiting from illegal deforestation.

Of those cases, only 14 were tried in court, the non-profit said the report was based on 170 interviews.

“This really shows the level of impunity,” Cesar Munoz, a senior investigator at Human Rights Watch told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Sao Paulo to discuss the report.

About 60% of the Amazon rainforest, considered a crucial barrier against climate change, lies in Brazil. Destruction of the forest has surged this year, and the highest number of fires since 2010 has drawn worldwide condemnation of the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, who advocates opening the Amazon to development.

Human Rights Watch traveled to several Brazilian states between 2017 and the first half of this year to research the report, which showed that almost half of the murders linked to deforestation took place in the Northern state of Para.

Bolsonaro has weakened Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency Ibama, cut its budget by 25% and restricted the ability of field agents to torch the equipment of those found committing environmental crimes, Reuters has reported.

(Production: Pablo Garcia)

Malaysia carries out cloud seeding to tame haze in administrative capital Putrajaya

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

Malaysia carried out cloud seeding on Monday (September 16) to tame haze and control air pollution in its administrative capital Putrajaya.

Parts of Malaysia, including Putrajaya, have been reeling under an impact of heavy haze with air quality dropping to a “very unhealthy” 203 benchmark, on the Air Pollutant Index the country uses to calculate, as forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia continue to affect the air.

Malaysia carried out cloud seeding in the hope of inducing rain and also closed hundreds of schools and sent half a million face masks to Sarawak, on Borneo island, this week, as fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan provinces continued to burn.

Indonesia’s neighbours have regularly complained about smog caused by its forest blazes – often started by farmers trying to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations – though Jakarta has denied the accusation, saying forest fires had also started in other countries across the region. (Reuters)

(Production: Ebrahim Harris, Sunil Kataria)

Oil falls more than 1% as market awaits response to Saudi oil attacks

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

Oil shed some of its massive gains on Tuesday (September 17) as the United States flagged the possible release of crude reserves, but the threat of military action over the attacks on Saudi oil facilities kept prices elevated and stocks under pressure.

While equity market losses have not been large, shaky investor confidence continued to support safe-haven assets, with gold edging higher on Tuesday and Treasury prices rising.

Investors otherwise broadly remained on the sidelines ahead of an expected interest rate cut from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday (September 18) and the next round of U.S.-China trade talks on Thursday.

The benchmark Nikkei average added 0.2% to 22,021.86 in mid-morning trade to mark its highest level since May 7, as soaring oil prices triggered by attacks on Saudi oil facilities boosted oil and gas-related companies.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.6%. Chinese shares fell 0.85%, while Australian shares were down 0.27%.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 1.78% to $67.79 per barrel in Asia on Tuesday. On Monday Brent surged by 14.6% for its biggest one-day percentage gain since at least 1988.

Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities has halved the kingdom’s oil output, creating the biggest disruption to global oil supplies in absolute terms since the overthrow of the Iranian Shah in 1979, International Energy Agency data show.

In South Korea, stocks opened slightly lower with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) down 3.14 points or 0.15 percent to 2,059.08 points as of 0200 GMT.

China stocks fell on Tuesday as Beijing kept a key money rate unchanged even as recent readings pointed to further downward pressure on the world’s second-largest economy.

In Hong Kong, stocks extended falls after credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the island city’s outlook.

The Hang Seng index dropped 1.0%, to 26,849.72, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 1.0%, to 10,520.42. (Reuters)

(Production: Yasuteru Ueda, Dogyun Kim, Jiang Xihao, Zaw Naing Oo, Kwiyeon Ha, Hyunyoung Yi)

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