Amal Clooney attends press freedom conference

Robie de Guzman   •   July 11, 2019   •   979

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)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

U.S. judge orders WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning released from prison

UNTV News   •   March 13, 2020

A U.S. federal judge on Thursday (March 12) ordered that former U.S. Army soldier and WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning should be immediately released from prison, where she was being held for refusing to testify in an ongoing U.S. investigation of WikiLeaks.

An entry in the U.S. District Court docket in Alexandria, Virginia, signed by Judge Anthony Trenga, also rejected a request by Manning to cancel fines which he had imposed for her refusal to testify and ordered her to pay fines totaling $256,000.

A detention hearing for Manning scheduled for Friday was canceled.

“Needless to say we are relieved and ask that you respect her privacy while she gets on her feet,” Manning’s defense team said in an emailed statement.

On Wednesday (March 11), a spokesman for Manning’s defense team said Manning had attempted to commit suicide and had been taken to hospital, where she was recovering.

Spokesman Andy Stepanian said that in spite of her imprisonment and the imposition of financial sanctions, Manning remained “unwavering in her refusal to participate in a secret grand jury process that she sees as highly susceptible to abuse.”

Prior to her recent incarceration for refusing to testify, Manning had served seven years in a military prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of U.S. military messages and cables to WikiLeaks, before being released on the order of President Barack Obama.

WikiLeaks, an internet-based “dead letter drop” for leakers of classified or sensitive information, was founded by Australian citizen Julian Assange in 2006.

Assange is being held in a London prison as British courts consider a request from U.S. prosecutors for his extradition to the United States. He is wanted on charges of conspiring with Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer system containing classified materials. (Reuters)

(Production: Njuwa Maina)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

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