Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Says Trump Ban Sets ‘Dangerous’ Precedent

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump’s Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

 

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey on Wednesday backed the messaging platform’s ban of US President Donald Trump but said it sets a “dangerous” precedent and represents a failure to promote healthy conversation on social networks.

“Having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey said in a string of tweets about his take on the company’s decision late last week to permanently bar the president.

“While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey said, inviting feedback from users.

Trump’s access to social media platforms that he used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington last week.

In addition to Twitter, bans have also been put in place by Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Snapchat, while YouTube temporarily suspended his channel.

However, Twitter was the Republican billionaire’s go-to tool, which he used to directly communicate on a daily basis with some 88 million followers, posting everything from proclamations to accusations and spreading misinformation via the platform.

Social media operators say the embittered leader could have used his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

On Monday, Twitter took things one step further, announcing it had also suspended “more than 70,000 accounts” linked to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that claims Trump is waging a secret war against a global liberal cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Overdue or overdone?

Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Trump is considered overdue by critics who argue he has gotten away with abuses but has worried free-speech advocates and drawn criticism from various NGOs and leaders.

The company said in a blog post explaining its decision that after close review of the president’s recent tweets it had “permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter also blocked efforts by Trump to sidestep the ban of his @realDonaldTrump account when he posted tweets from the official presidential account @POTUS and the @TeamTrump campaign account.

“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now,” ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said at the time.

“But, it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions.”

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in, stating Monday through her spokesman that she believed freedom of opinion should not be determined by “the management of social media platforms.”

Dorsey said Wednesday that while he believes Twitter made the right decision to ban Trump, it “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he said.

Dorsey rejected the notion that social media giants coordinated efforts, reasoning that it was more likely they each came to the same conclusion about the potential for violence.

Snipped by Snapchat

Image-centric social network Snapchat on Wednesday became the latest platform to permanently ban Trump.

“Last week we announced an indefinite suspension of president Trump’s Snapchat account,” the platform told AFP.

“In the interest of public safety, and based on his attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence, which are clear violations of our guidelines, we have made the decision to permanently terminate his account.”

The actions by social media companies angered ardent defenders of Trump, who was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday for inciting “insurrection.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a longtime Trump ally, demanded that major tech platforms explain why Trump is no longer welcome.

Removal of the president and others by multiple platforms, he said, “silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies.”

AFP

Olympic Swimming Medalist Keller Charged Over Capitol Riot

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2008 US swimmer Klete Keller smiles after winning the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay swimming heat at the National Aquatics Center in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. GREG WOOD / AFP

 

 

US Olympic swimming gold medalist Klete Keller was charged by the Justice Department Wednesday with participating in the January 6 attack on Congress by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Keller was filmed as part of the crowd that illegally entered the huge Rotunda hall of the Capitol after violent protesters broke through police lines and forced their way in.

A statement accompanying formal charges unveiled Wednesday said police identified the three-time Olympian first by what appears to be an official team jacket bearing the large logo “USA” on the back and an arm patch that read “United States Olympic team.”

He was charged with illegally entering the Capitol, violent or disorderly conduct, and obstructing law enforcement.

Keller, 38, competed in the Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2008, taking two golds and a silver in the 4×200 meter freestyle relays, and two bronzes in the individual 400-meter freestyle.

His 2004 relay gold in Athens was one of the most celebrated races in swimming, with a US star team that included Michael Phelps, against an Australian foursome led by the powerful champion Ian Thorpe.

In the anchor position, he was able to hold off a surging Thorpe for the win, ending years of Australian dominance in the event.

His life after the Olympics was rocky, with a divorce, multiple lost jobs, and plunge into homelessness and living out of his car for a time, he told The Olympic Channel in a 2018 podcast.

AFP

YouTube Suspends Trump Channel For A Week Over Violence Fears

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S.  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after last week’s Capitol riot.

Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week.

Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a ‘minimum’ of 7 days,” the statement read.

The video-sharing platform also said it will be “indefinitely disabling comments” on Trump’s channel because of safety concerns.

Facebook last week suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory.

In announcing the suspension last week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violent and was concerned he would continue to do so.

Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings.

The company also deleted more than 70,000 accounts linked to the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, without any evidence, that Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of satanist liberals.

Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch.

The president’s YouTube account has amassed 2.77 million subscribers.

The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting process in November’s presidential election, and had logged some 5.8 million views.

On Tuesday, an activist group called on YouTube to join other platforms in dumping Trump’s accounts, threatening an advertising boycott campaign.

AFP

At Least Six DR Congo Park Rangers Killed In Attack

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

At least six rangers in DR Congo’s Virunga national park, famous for its mountain gorillas, were killed Sunday in an attack officials blamed on a militia group.

The UNESCO World Heritage site is caught up in persistent unrest in the eastern North Kivu province, where a plethora of armed groups are battling for control of rich mineral deposits.

“Mai-Mai (militia) carried out an ambush at Nyamitwitwi. The provisional toll is six park rangers killed along with two Mai-Mai,” local government delegate Alphonse Kambale told AFP.

Provincial lawmaker Elie Nzaghani confirmed the tally from Nyamitwitwi in Rutshuru province.

“We confirm that a group of armed men attacked our positions in the region of Nyamitwitwi, a central sector of the park in the territory of Rutshuru” in North Kivu province, the park’s spokesman Olivier Mukisya told AFP by email.

Mukisya said six rangers were killed and another was seriously injured in the attack around 9:30 am.

Virunga park, created in 1925, covers some 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 square miles) and is home to about a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Nearly 700 armed rangers work in Virunga where sources say at least 200 have paid with their lives in attacks going back more than a decade.

Various rival armed groups have repeatedly clashed over land and resources and stoked tensions in North Kivu, which like the rest of eastern DR Congo has been riven by decades of conflict.

Mai-Mai militia groups have been accused of killing hundreds of civilians over the years.

Mai-Mai (the word comes from the Swahili for water) sprinkle themselves with water before going into combat in the belief it affords them protection.

AFP

Schwarzenegger Compares Capitol Attack To Nazi Violence

 

 

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appealed for unity Sunday after the violent attack on the US Capitol, which he described as an attempted coup by President Donald Trump, drawing comparisons to Nazi Germany.

In a video posted on Twitter that quickly went viral, the Hollywood star compared the attack by Trump supporters to Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass,” when Nazis carried out pogroms in Germany in 1938 that included breaking the windows of Jewish-owned stores.

“Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States,” said Schwarzenegger gravely, sitting at his desk between the US and California state flags.

“The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol.

“Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men, drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history,” continued Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria in 1947.

“I have never shared this so publicly because it is a painful memory, but my father would come home drunk once or twice a week and he would scream and hit us and scare my mother.”

The actor, known for his roles in the “Terminator” franchise and “Conan the Barbarian,” did not explicitly say his father had been a Nazi, but said, “my father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead.”

“President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election and of a fair election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies,” Schwarzenegger said.

“President Trump is a failed leader. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is that he soon will be as irrelevant as an old tweet.

“No matter what your political affiliation is, I ask you to join me in saying to President-elect Biden, ‘President-elect Biden, we wish you great success as our President. If you succeed, our nation succeeds,'” Schwarzenegger concluded.

“And to those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: you will never win.”

AFP

15 Indicted By US Justice Department Over Capitol Violence

Police detain a person as supporters of US President Donald Trump’s protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

 

The US Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has indicted 15 people involved in the assault on Congress, including one man accused of possessing bombs made to act like “homemade napalm.”

The department said it had arrested several suspects, including Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump who invaded the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and another man found with 11 styrofoam-enhanced Molotov cocktails in his truck.

Others whose charges were unsealed include a man alleged to have entered the US Capitol with a loaded handgun, another who is accused of punching an officer, and a West Virginia state legislator who took part in storming the Congress, said Ken Cole, a federal prosecutor with the Washington US attorney’s office.

Cole said that not all the charges over Wednesday’s violence had been unsealed and that more were in the pipeline as the FBI investigates.

“This investigation has the highest priority,” he said, with “hundreds” of Justice Department investigators working the case.

More charges and arrests were expected.

Dozens of people were arrested and charged by local Washington police, but the charges announced by Cole Friday were on the federal level, and potentially carry heftier punishment.

But he said the FBI was not investigating anyone on possible “incitement” or “insurrection” charges.

Some people have called for Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and others to be charged with incitement for openly encouraging the president’s supporters to take action just hours before the mob stormed the Capitol.

“We don’t expect any charges of that nature,” Cole said.

At Least 20 Massacred During Mozambique Initiation Ceremony

 

Suspected militants beheaded over a dozen men and teenagers participating in a male initiation ceremony in northern Mozambique, local sources said Wednesday, in the latest violent incident in the country’s insurgency-hit northeast.

The dismembered bodies of at least five adults and 15 boys were found on Monday, scattered across a forest clearing in Muidumbe district.

Islamist militants operating in the area had attacked several nearby villages over the weekend, looting and burning down homes before retreating into surrounding thicket.

“Police learnt of the massacre committed by the insurgents through reports of people who found corpses in the woods,” said an officer in the neighbouring Mueda district who asked not to be named.

“It was possible to count 20 bodies spread over an area of about 500 meters,” he added.

“These were young people who were at an initiation rite ceremony accompanied by their advisers.”

An aid worker in Mueda, who also declined to be named, confirmed the massacre had taken place, saying some of the boys had come from that area.

She said body parts had been sent to their families for burial on Tuesday.

“Funerals were held in an environment of great pain,” said the worker, hired by the World Food Programme to assist citizens displaced by the unrest.

“The bodies were already decomposing and couldn’t be shown to those present.”

Mozambican authorities have not yet commented on the deaths, and provincial police did not respond to multiple telephone calls from AFP outside office hours.

Jihadists have caused havoc in Mozambique’s northeastern Cabo Delgado province over the past three years, ravaging villages and towns as part of a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

The militants have stepped up their offensive in recent months and violently seized swathes of territory, terrorising citizens in the process.

In April, jihadists shot dead and beheaded more than 50 youths for allegedly refusing to join their ranks.

The unrest has killed over 2,000 people since 2017, more than half of them civilians, according to the US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data group.

Over 400,000 others have been displaced by the conflict and sought refuge in nearby towns and cities.

Around 100,000 people fled to the provincial capital Pemba via boat over the past week alone, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday, raising concerns over access to clean water and sanitation.

Little is known about Mozambique’s jihadists, who call themselves Al-Shabab — although they have no known links to the group of that name operating in Somalia.

Last year the militants pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group.

UN Condemns Violence In North Darfur

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The joint United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) condemned Tuesday “violent incidents” in North Darfur state which left nine dead and 20 wounded.

“UNAMID is deeply concerned about the violent incidents that erupted in Kutum town on 12 July and the attack by unidentified armed men on the Fata Borno IDP (internally displaced people) camp on the morning of 13 July 2020 which left 9 IDPs dead and 20 injured,” the peacekeeping mission said in a statement.

“It is regrettable that these incidents have taken place while the transitional government of Sudan and the armed movements are close to concluding negotiations expected to bring peace and stability… to the Darfur region and the whole of Sudan,” it added.

Darfur has long been plagued by poor security and armed groups.

North Darfur (Shamal Darfur is the largest of the five states that make up Sudan’s Darfur region

 

 

In 2003, a deadly ethnic conflict broke out in Darfur between African minority rebels and forces backed by the government of ex-president Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019.

Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court over charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The United Nations says the conflict killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.

Sudan’s current transitional government, comprised of military and civilian figures led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok since last year, has engaged in talks with three key rebel groups to reach a peace deal to end the wars in Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

A signing ceremony with various rebel factions slated for Tuesday was delayed once again.

In the wake of the recent unrest, North Darfur’s governor announced a state of emergency on Monday.

AFP

Aid Group Says Five Nigerian Workers Abducted By ISWAP

 

Five humanitarian workers have been abducted by Islamist insurgents in the restive northeastern region, aid group Action Against Hunger said.

The Paris-based organisation said in a statement Tuesday that one of its employees was among those kidnapped last month.

“Action Against Hunger condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the abduction of our employee, Ishaiku Yakubu, and we urgently call for his release,” it said.

It said Yakubu was abducted in June by a non-state armed group along with four other humanitarian workers from different organisations.

The five, all Nigerians, have appeared in a video that surfaced this week on the Telegram messaging app.

In the footage — apparently shot on June 21 — they said they had been kidnapped by fighters aligned to the Islamic State group at different times last month and appealed to be released.

Aid workers have been repeatedly targeted by jihadists waging a decade-long insurgency in northeastern Nigeria.

Last year fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction abducted a group of six humanitarian workers — including a female ACF employee — in the region.

Five of the hostages were later executed and the ACF worker remains in captivity.

ISWAP splintered from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016 and swore allegiance to then IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The 10-year conflict in northeastern Nigeria has killed 36,000 people and displaced about two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

Aid groups provide a vital lifeline for some 7.9 million people who the United Nations says are in need of urgent assistance in the region.

Al-Shabaab Militants Attack Two Somali Military Bases

al shabaab
Al Shabaab soldiers patrol in formation along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012. REUTERS/Feisal Omar.

 

Al-Shabaab Islamists on Wednesday carried out attacks on two Somali military bases, using a suicide vehicle bombing and dozens of heavily armed militants, a military official said.

African Union troops stepped in to help repel the second, larger attack after a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives onto a bridge leading to the Qoryoley army base some 95 kilometres (59 miles) west of Mogadishu and detonated it.

Earlier they had attacked the Ceel-Salini military base some 30 kilometres away.

“The terrorists carried out an … attack on the military bases at Qoryoley and Ceel-salini but our brave boys repelled them, they (Shabaab) have suffered heavy casualties this morning and the army is in full control in both areas now,” said Mohamed Adan, a Somali military commander in a nearby town.

“They have destroyed part of the bridge across the entrance to Qoryoley where the Somali military base is located using a vehicle loaded with explosives.”

READ ALSO: Suspected Boko Haram Insurgents Attack Chibok Village, Burn Houses

He said the AU peacekeeping force AMISOM had helped fight the Al-Qaeda linked militants.

It was not yet known how many casualties there were.

Witnesses said dozens of heavily armed Shabaab militants entered Qoryoley town and addressed a gathering of residents before retreating.

“The Shabaab fighters entered the town and one of their commanders spoke with a gathering before they made their way out of the town, the situation is quiet now and the Somali forces backed by AMISOM soldiers are patrolling the streets,” Ali Moalim, a resident in Qoryoley said by phone.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying they had “captured a sizeable amount of military supplies”.

The group has fought for over a decade to topple the internationally-backed Somali government, and carries out regular attacks against civilian and government targets, despite losing much of the territory they once controlled.

Twelve More Bodies Found After DR Congo Militia Massacre

 

Another 12 bodies have been discovered in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo region of Beni, two days after a militia attack left eight people dead and around 20 missing, police said on Sunday.

On Friday fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces militia slit the throats of eight people in Mangina commune, prompting hundreds of villagers to flee the area.

The attack was the latest massacre blamed on the ADF which has carried out reprisal attacks on civilians in response to a military crackdown on their fighters since October.

Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by militia violence for years, a legacy of its two Congo wars in the 1990s, but the ADF has been blamed for most of the recent attacks.

“The twelve bodies found today were victims of Friday’s ADF attack,” local Mangina police chief Major Losendjola Morisho told AFP.

He said the army were currently chasing militia fighters om Makiki village, two kilometres (1.2 miles) east of Mangina.

The Beni region is the epicentre of the ADF campaign where activists say more than 300 people have been killed since October when the army began its offensive.

On January 28, 36 civilians were killed in an attack in Oicha, also in Beni, part of the ADF’s revenge attacks on civilians.

The ADF, blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians in Beni since October 2014, began as an Islamist-rooted rebel group in Uganda that opposed President Yoweri Museveni.

It fell back into eastern DRC in 1995 during the Congo Wars and appears to have halted raids inside Uganda. Its recruits today are people of various nationalities.

14 Injured In Possible Jerusalem Car Attack

 

Fourteen people were injured in central Jerusalem on Thursday, including one critically, in a possible car-ramming at a popular nightspot, emergency responders and the military said.

Israel’s Magen David emergency medical service said it had “treated and evacuated” 14 people to hospitals following the incident at Jerusalem’s First Station, an area that includes several bars and restaurants.

A military spokesperson told AFP that the army was aware of a possible attack perpetrated by someone driving a vehicle in the area and would have more information later on Thursday.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper quoted police as saying that a manhunt was underway for the suspected attacker.

The United Hatzalah medical emergency volunteers said their team had treated “people for injuries at the First Station in Jerusalem.

“Due to the nature of the incident, United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit were dispatched to the scene and treated eight people who were suffering from emotional or psychological shock,” it said in a statement.

There was no immediate indication as to the motivation of the possible attack, but it comes amid heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians following the release of US President Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East Plan.

Palestinians have angrily rejected the plan, which they describe as blatantly pro-Israeli, and launched protests against Trump’s proposal in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.