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Attack on Afghan reporter tests Taliban’s media freedom pledge – Al Jazeera English

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Kabul, Afghanistan – On Wednesday morning, Ziar Khan Yaad left the offices of TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster, and headed out to film a news report on the nation’s struggling economy in the wake of the Taliban takeover 12 days ago.

With his cameraman in tow, Yaad headed to the Haji Yaqub Mosque in the capital, Kabul, where dozens of daily-wage workers line up every day to procure construction, painting and other manual labouring jobs.

Yaad had just started his on-camera interview when an armoured white Land Cruiser pulled up to the side of the road and men started storming towards them. Suddenly, the men, claiming to be Taliban, confiscated their phones, camera, microphones and other equipment, while others started beating the two media workers.

“We’re journalists,” they said, struggling to take out their media cards. Yaad says when the Taliban saw their media cards, they started to insult both men. “You ingrate journalists!”

As quickly as they arrived, the supposed Taliban members disappeared into Kabul’s streets.

Yaad’s case, which TOLO reported to the Taliban leadership, is one of the most high-profile cases of alleged Taliban intimidation and violence against journalists in Afghanistan. The Taliban has promised to investigate the matter, TOLO’s news director said.

What I feared was being caged, not being able to go outside and continue my work

Photojournalist Roya Heydari, who fled to France

Last week, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said the Taliban killed and injured two family members of one of their Afghan journalists who is now based in Germany. Two journalists were also beaten, reportedly by the Taliban, while covering demonstrations in the eastern province of Nangarhar in the days leading to the August 19 independence day celebrations.

These early reports have prompted outrage from media freedom advocates.

“The Taliban need to live up to their promise of allowing independent media to operate freely. These wanton assaults on journalists by Taliban soldiers must stop immediately,” Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists Asia programme coordinator said.

Taliban promise on media freedom

At an August 17 press conference, Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman, had issued an assurance to the media, saying, “Private media can continue to be free and independent, they can continue their activities … Impartiality of the media is very important. They can critique our work so that we can improve.”

As part of that assurance, on August 16 the Taliban had entered TOLO TV’s compound and promised to ensure the safety of an organisation it had deliberately targeted in a deadly January 2016 bombing. In subsequent days, they also appeared on the network, where one of their officials was interviewed by female presenter, Beheshta Arghand.

After the run-in, however, Yaad said he has a hard time believing those promises.

“We can’t practise journalism with any confidence anymore,” says the 28 year old, who has worked with TOLO for the last four years. Yaad returned to work the next day, but is not sure how much longer he and other journalists will be able to continue to work.

Photojournalist Roya Heydari who fled Afghanistan last week says the Taliban can still turn things around, but the people need to see real action, not just words [Courtesy of Roya Heydari]

His unease is shared by many other Afghan media workers, especially women.

Last week, Shabnam Dawran, a female journalist working for the state broadcaster, RTA, said the Taliban posted a notice at the network’s entrance and would not allow her into the building, saying, “The system has changed.”

Again, Dawran’s experience does not align with what Mujahid has said in public. At the August 17 briefing, he said women, “are going to be working with us, shoulder to shoulder with us” and that under a Taliban leadership there won’t be “any discrimination against women”.

‘What I feared was being caged’

This contrast between the Taliban’s words and actions towards women and media workers is what led photojournalist Roya Heydari to flee the country four days ago. Heydari, who has documented her travels across 10 of the nation’s provinces for her 113,000 Instagram followers, says she feared being shackled by a Taliban system.

“Death only comes once, I’m not afraid of them killing me,” said Heydari, who is currently in France.

“What I feared was being caged, not being able to go outside and continue my work.”

The Taliban need to live up to their promise of allowing independent media to operate freely

Steven Butler from CPJ

Heydari says she is sadly not surprised by Yaad’s story, and fears that it could only get worse, especially for women if the group returns to its old ways. The Taliban’s first stint in power between 1996-2001 was marked by curbs on media freedoms while women were banned from education and work.

She points to Mujahid’s recent announcement that female government workers should stay at home until they can be assured that their fighters will not harm them.

To Heydari, such an unclear declaration is indicative of a slippery slope Afghan women find themselves on. “I couldn’t imagine them taking away my camera, telling me not to work. If I don’t have a camera, I don’t have a voice.”

When she fled Kabul, Heydari took only her camera with her.

Heydari says the Taliban can still turn things around, but the people need to see action, not just words, in order to start to building trust with the group they had long feared. She says if the Taliban can give her assurances that she can work, she will return to the nation and continue to tell the stories of her people.

“If they tell me to put on a hijab, I will. What’s a hijab? Just a piece of cloth. But I need to be sure that I can do my work and travel around. If I can do that, I’ll come back tomorrow,” she told Al Jazeera.

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Social Media Buzz: Meng Back in China, U.K. Gas Shortage, Huobi – Bloomberg

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What’s buzzing on social media this morning: 

Chinese social media users gave a hero’s welcome to Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., as she returned to the country three years after her arrest in Canada.

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Media Release – September 25, 2021 – Guelph Police – guelphpolice.ca

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Residential Break In

On September 3rd, 2021, between 4pm and 4:49pm, three males with a white SUV were involved in a break in at a residence located near the intersection of Kortright Road East and Gordon Street in the City of Guelph. Entry was gained through an unlocked basement window.

Numerous items were taken including:
-Nikon D90 Camera With 18-200mm Lens (Valued at $1,500)

-Sony A6000 Camera In Black Rectangular Foam Case With Orange Accents (Valued at $1,300)

-99% Pure 312.5g Gold Bar With Chinese Stamped Engraving On The Back (Valued at $22,800)

-Various Chinese Silver Coins (Each valued at $150)
 
-Louis Vuitton Bag In Azure-Beige-Blue Colour And 25x14x4cm In Dimension (Valued at $900)

-Various Ancient Bronze Chinese Coin Collectables

-Cash In Canadian, American, European And Chinese Currencies
-Various Pieces Of Jewelry
-Various Electronics

The first male is described as:
-Caucasian
-Tall
-Wearing a grey/green shirt, light pants, white shoes and baseball cap
-Carrying a back pack

The second male is described as:
-Caucasian
-Short
-Wearing a blue sweater, dark grey pants, and white and black shoes
-Carrying a back pack

The third male is described as:
-Caucasian
-Wearing black shorts, black hat, white shirt and a reflective vest

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Constable Paul Hinchliffe at 519-824-1212 ext. 7408, email him at phinchliffe@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

The Guelph Police Service would like to encourage the public to always ensure that all the doors and windows of your residences are locked.

Stolen Vehicle Investigation

On September 4th, 2021, at 7:23pm, members of the Guelph Police Service High Enforcement Action Team observed an adult female driving a motor vehicle near the intersection of Willow Road and Edinburgh Road North in the City of Guelph without a front licence plate. A traffic stop was initiated.

Further investigation revealed that the licence plate attached to the rear of the vehicle was registered to another vehicle.

At the time of the traffic stop, police were unable to reach the registered owner of the vehicle in order to confirm whether or not the female had permission to be driving it. Ultimately the female was sent on her way and the vehicle was seized.

Prior to the vehicle being towed, an inventory was taken and several items believed to be stolen were located including:
-Financial cards
-Vehicle ownerships
-Various pieces of mail

None of the above mentioned items were in the name of either the female or the registered owner.

Police later made contact with the registered owner who confirmed that the vehicle was stolen.

On September 24th, at 10:32am, police found the female outside a residence located near the intersection of Fife Road and Wellington Street West. She was subsequently arrested.

A 37 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Possession Of Stolen Property Over $5,000
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000
-Occupant Of A Stolen Vehicle
-Unlawfully Possess Credit Card
-Use Plate Not Authorized For Motor Vehicle
-Driver Fail To Surrender Licence

She will appear in court on January 7th, 2022.

Update Regarding Home Invasion Investigation

On the morning of September 16th, 2021, three adult males and an adult female forced their way into an apartment in a residential building located near the intersection of Speedvale Avenue East and Stevenson Street North in the City of Guelph.

An adult male resident was struck with a firearm, and other weapons were brandished during this incident. The male resident and an adult female resident were ultimately able to lock themselves in a room and contact the Guelph Police Service for assistance. The three males and female fled on foot.

The male resident was transported to hospital, treated for his injuries and released.     

Police later located the three males inside another apartment in the building and they were subsequently arrested.

Through investigation, police identified the female involved and a warrant was issued.

This was a targeted incident and there is no concern for public safety. 

A 26 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

A 27 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Use Firearm While Committing Offence
-Possession Of A Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose x2
-Breach Probation
-Fail To Comply With Judicial Release Order

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

A 33 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Possession Of Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose
-Fail To Comply With Judicial Release Order

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 29th.

On September 23rd, just before 9:46am, police observed the female as a passenger in a motor vehicle driven by an adult male near the intersection of Wellington Street West and Fife Road. As police began following the vehicle, the male began driving at a high rate of speed, passing vehicles by crossing over the centre line and proceeded to run a red light at a nearby intersection. Shortly after proceeding through the intersection, the vehicle came to a stop due to mechanical issues. A traffic stop was initiated, and the male fled the area on foot.

The female was subsequently arrested.

A search incident to arrest revealed 1.18 grams of Fentanyl.

Further investigation revealed that both the vehicle and the vehicle plates were stolen.

A 30 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Use Firearm While Committing Offence
-Possession Of Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose
-Assault With A Weapon x2
-Breach Probation
-Fail To Comply With OIC Undertaking
-Possession Of A Controlled Substance – Schedule I
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2

She was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

Please note that police located a second adult female in the vehicle during the traffic stop. She was also subsequently arrested.

A 23 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2

She will appear in court on January 14th, 2022.

Police conducted a search for the male, however he was not located at that time.

On September 24th, at 11:10am police located the male at a nearby residence. He was subsequently arrested.

 A search incident to arrest revealed a small amount of Cocaine.

A 34 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Operate Motor Vehicle While Prohibited x6
-Dangerous Operation Of A Motor Vehicle
-Flight From Police Officer
-Red Light – Fail To Stop
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2
-Possession Of A Controlled Substance – Schedule I
-Breach Probation x2

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 27th.

Bitcoin Scam

On September 24th, 2021, an adult female victim received a phone call and subsequent text messages from an adult female who pretended that she was a government employee. She advised the victim that there was a warrant out for her arrest, due to a parcel that was shipped into Canada in the victim’s name containing illegal items. The victim was told that the only way to have this matter resolved was to send in all her money via a Bitcoin machine.

The female followed the instructions, and between 5:30pm and 5:49pm, deposited $4,900 into a Bitcoin machine in a store located near the intersection of Woolwich Street and Speedvale Avenue West in the City of Guelph.

She contacted the Guelph Police Service when she realized that it was likely a scam.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Constable Mason Melitzer at 519-824-1212 ext. 7278, email him at mmelitzer@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

The Guelph Police Service would like to remind the public that no police officer or government official will ever instruct you to deposit money into a Bitcoin machine. Please be very vigilant and cautious whenever you are speaking with someone you don’t know, especially online or over the phone. Please also seek advice from a family member, coworker, trusted friend or the Guelph Police Service at 519-824-1212 before following through on instructions received from a person that you don’t know.

School Zone Traffic Enforcement

On September 24th, 2021, at 8:07am, a member of the Guelph Police Service began conducting school zone traffic enforcement in the area of elementary schools located near the intersection of Willow Road and Westwood Road in the City of Guelph. In just over an hour, a Provincial Offence Notice was issued for disobeying a sign.

The Guelph Police Service would like to encourage the public to slow down and follow all the rules of the road to help ensure everyone arrives to their destination safely.

Calls for Service in the last 24 hours: 256

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South River's SOUNDplay Festival celebrates 20 years of media art – BayToday.ca

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South River’s Annual SOUNDplay Festival will feature internationally acclaimed and innovative media art as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

It’s an experimental platform for encouraging new avenues of exploration between sound and new media says a news release.

“NAISA’s programming theme of Digital in Nature is explored and expanded upon by the artists in this year’s SOUNDplay Festival with works that examine relations between human and non-human worlds, perceived and invented reality, as well as human-made and organic phenomena,” says Darren Copeland, Artistic Director.

“Like last year, all of the works presented this year include an online element in one form or another, allowing for audiences to attend from wherever they happen to be.”

Featured this year is programming on this year’s theme Digital in Nature with an in-person exhibition by Julia White, as well as online screenings, performances and artist talks with Laurel MacDonald, Phil Strong, Véro Marengère, Tansy Xiao and Ben Donoghue.

WATER Shadows Exhibition by Julia White opens SOUNDplay Festival Sept 26th. It’s an in-person exhibition at the NAISA North Media Arts Centre of sound sculptures by Julia White that celebrates water.  White refers to the audience experience of her exhibitions, “as a ‘water temple’ complex of steel sculptures wrapped in discarded bicycle inner tubes that one moves through, while a unique sound mix is made blending water-recordings.” 

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to participate in WATER Shadows by recording a personal celebration of water that will be shared online as audio in the Web Water Portal.

Starting October 7 on NAISAtube, you can explore a new collection of videos from past NAISA performances from different periods of NAISA’s 20-year history.  A highlight among these is Laurel MacDonald’s and Phil Strong’s impassioned Videovoce performance from 2012, which is also featured on a November 6th online screening along with a new livestream performance by MacDonald called I Eat the Stars, inspired by poems by Rebecca Elson. 

The $10 admission fee is optional.

On November 20 a screening of new media artworks by Tansy Xiao from New York and Véro Marengère from Montréal explores relationships between humans and nature. Tansy Xiao’s Bone and Air is inspired by juxtaposing sounds of bone conduction within the human body and air conduction, receiving sounds via the ears.

The video also invites audience members to add vocal sounds conducted by specific images in the video. Roserade by Véro Marengère is a videomusic work that in Marengère’s words, “is sometimes frenetic and sometimes contemplative, and it proposes a world that deforms without ever completely destroying or building itself.”

From December 6 to 20th, SOUNDplay audiences will have exclusive access to a special online adaptation of the 16mm feature-length film from 2017 by Ben Donoghue called Pierre Radisson: Fjord and Gulf.

The slow observational style of Donoghue’s film places the viewer inside the daily activity and environment of a Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker, providing a window into the invisible labour underpinning the Canadian economy. As Donoghue describes it, “the film brings the deep winter landscapes of coastal Quebec into dialogue with the intensive industrial activity of ore shipments from the mines of the Saguenay – Lac Saint-Jean. The film embraces context, giving duration and breath to the images and sounds of the journey.”  

New Adventures in Sound Art is a non-profit sound art organization in South River that is funded in part by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage. 

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