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James Murdoch blasts US media for unleashing ‘insidious forces’ – Financial Times

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James Murdoch has castigated the US media for the “toxic politics” threatening American democracy, saying proprietors are as culpable as politicians who “know the truth but choose instead to propagate lies”.

The remarks by Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, made in an interview with the Financial Times and a further joint statement with his wife Kathryn, are his strongest public rebuke of America’s news industry since he parted ways with the family business built by his father.

Asked whether America’s dominant conservative news network Fox News had played a role in the riot that rocked Washington last week, James Murdoch said media groups had amplified election disinformation, leaving “a substantial portion” of the public believing “a falsehood”.

“The damage is profound,” Mr Murdoch said. “The sacking of the Capitol is proof positive that what we thought was dangerous is indeed very, very much so. Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years.”

“I hope that those people who didn’t think it was that dangerous now understand, and that they stop,” he added, while noting he had not “seen any evidence of that yet”.

During the interview set up to discuss his latest digital venture in India, Mr Murdoch did not directly mention Fox News, his father, who founded it, or his brother Lachlan, the chief executive of the Fox Corporation.

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The network has long stressed the divide between its opinion programming and news coverage.

While many Fox News hosts have championed the policy agenda of Donald Trump, the network’s journalists have often broken stories critical of the president.

James Murdoch, who was chief executive of 21st Century Fox from 2015 to 2019, said he was also speaking on behalf of his wife Kathryn, with whom he has charted an independent path from the conservative politics of the Murdoch empire. The couple were big donors to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and have backed organisations fighting climate change and fake news.

Rupert Murdoch with James (right) and Lachlan Murdoch, © Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Rupert Murdoch’s six children each received up to $2bn from the break-up of his media empire and the sale of his entertainment businesses to Walt Disney in 2019. Overlooked in the family succession battle, James went on to use the funds to establish Lupa Systems, an investment vehicle to build a media portfolio.

In August he withdrew completely from the family’s news operations, resigning from the board of News Corp — which owns a stable of titles ranging from the Wall Street Journal to The Sun — because of “disagreements over certain editorial content”.

While his objections are well known, until now he has been relatively guarded with public criticism. James, along with his siblings, still owns a significant share of the family trust, which people close to the Murdochs have speculated might be used to influence the direction of the empire after Rupert relinquishes control.

“Spreading disinformation — whether about the election, public health or climate change — has real world consequences,” James and Kathryn Murdoch said in a joint statement following the FT interview.

“Many media property owners have as much responsibility for this as the elected officials who know the truth but choose instead to propagate lies. We hope the awful scenes we have all been seeing will finally convince those enablers to repudiate the toxic politics they have promoted once and forever.”

When asked whether he saw signs of change, Mr Murdoch replied that he prayed people would “come to their senses” and said there was bound to be “a reckoning” for media.

Owners of news organisations, he said, were “being co-opted by forces that only want to stay in power, or are manipulating our discourse from abroad and are only too happy to make a mess and burn things down”.

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Myanmar police launch most extensive crackdown; one woman dead, media say – The Guardian

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(Reuters) – Police in Myanmar launched their most sweeping crackdown in three weeks of nationwide protests against military rule on Saturday, arresting hundreds of people and shooting and wounding at least one person.

State television announced that Myanmar’s U.N. envoy had been fired for betraying the country, a day after he urged the United Nations to use “any means necessary” to reverse the Feb. 1 coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.

The coup, which stalled Myanmar’s progress toward democracy, has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets and drawn condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.

Police were out in force early on Saturday, taking up positions at usual protest sites in the main city of Yangon.

Confrontations developed as people came out despite the police operation, chanting and singing. They scattered into side streets and buildings as police advanced, firing tear gas, setting off stun grenades and shooting guns into the air. Police set upon some people with clubs, witnesses said.

State-run MRTV television said more than 470 people had been arrested across the country. It said police had given warnings before dispersing people with stun grenades.

“People blocked the roads without reason. Among those arrested, we will scrutinize those who organize the protests and take tough action,” it said.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners rights group said it believed the number of arrests was higher, with at least 10 prison buses carrying 40 to 50 people each taken to the Insein Prison in Yangon.

Several journalists were among those detained, their media organisations and colleagues said.

“People are protesting peacefully but they’re threatening us with weapons,” youth activist Shar Yamone told Reuters.

“We’re fighting to end to this military bullying which has been going on for generation after generation.”

Police confronted protesters across the country. Among those detained in the second city of Mandalay was Win Mya Mya, one of two Muslim members of parliament for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), media said.

WOUNDED

One woman was shot and wounded in the central town of Monwya, local media 7Day News and an emergency worker said. 7Day and two other media organisations had earlier reported that she was dead.

Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing has said authorities have been using minimal force. Nevertheless, at least three protesters have died over the days of turmoil. The army says a policeman has been killed in the unrest.

Activists called for another day of protests on Sunday.

Saturday’s violence came a day after Myanmar’s Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun told the U.N. General Assembly he was speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi’s government and appealed for help to end the military coup.

MRTV television said he had been fired in accordance with civil service rules because he had “betrayed the country” and “abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador”.

However, the United Nations has not officially recognised the junta as Myanmar’s new government.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said he was overwhelmed by the ambassador’s “act of courage”, adding on Twitter “It’s time for the world to answer that courageous call with action”.

China’s envoy did not criticise the coup and said the situation was an internal Myanmar affair, adding that China supported a diplomatic effort by Southeast Asian countries to find a solution.

The Myanmar generals have traditionally shrugged off diplomatic pressure. Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd said it was cutting its presence in Myanmar over concern about rights violations and violence.

Suu Kyi, 75, spent nearly 15 years under house arrest during military rule. She faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Robert Birsel and Matthew Tostevin; Editing by William Mallard, Clarence Fernandez and Frances Kerry)

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CPAC Stage Compared To Nazi Symbol On Social Media – Forbes

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Comparisons of law makers to fascists and Nazis isn’t uncommon these days, but on Saturday the hashtag #Nazi was trending alongside mentions of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where former President Trump is set to speak on Sunday. This time it wasn’t Republican lawmakers who were compared to Nazis however, but rather the similarity of the stage to an ancient Norse symbol used by Nazis was noted by thousands of users on Twitter.

By Saturday afternoon there had been nearly 100,000 tweets that compared the CPAC stage to the ODAL Rune, which was used by a unit of the insidious Waffen SS, the initially named the SS-Volunteer Division Prinz Eugen (SS-Freiwilligen-Division “Prinz Eugen”) – later the 7th Volunteer Mountain Division. That unit was formed in 1941 and took part exclusively in action against the communist-led Yugoslavian partisans during the Second World War.

Many on Twitter shared images of the symbol along with photos of the CPAC stage:

However, it is important to note that the Odal rune, also known as the Othala rune, predates the Nazi movement and the Third Reich by centuries and it first appeared between the 3rd and 8th centuries. While it was adopted by Nazi Germany, and has been used by various neo-Nazi groups, it seems dubious to think that the design was intention.

As of Saturday afternoon the fact check website Snopes.com could only suggest it was “unproven” that the stage at CPAC 2021 was intentionally designed to look like an early European rune.

One user, Jack Andrew Giddes (@JackGiddes), even took the time to share a photo of his kitchen floor, adding, ” Here is part of my kitchen floor during the day, lit by natural light (L). If you stand in one spot with the ceiling lights on you get this (R), but I stress it’s undetectable unless you’re in a specific spot. My kitchen floor is a coincidence. CPAC’s stage? I have my doubts.”

However, many users responded to the claims on social media that too much was being read into the apparent symbolism.

Author Jim C. Hines (@jimchines) was among those who suggested that the choice of stage design likely didn’t mean to copy the infamous symbol, “Out of curiosity, has there been any pattern of Democrats ‘accidentally’ using Nazi symbolism and iconography? If that sort of thing is an innocent and unavoidable mistake, you’d expect it to happen regardless of political party, right?”

Another user, @Rasta1619, also questioned how commonly known this symbol actually is in the mainstream.

Past Symbols

The Odal rune is now in the spotlight, just weeks after other eagle eyed users on Twitter noted that during President Joe Biden’s inauguration the “Betsy Ross” flag was seen. Former Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was among those who took notice of the flag. He addressed the issue directly from his Twitter account:

It was also a dozen years ago, in August 6, 2008 that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh compared the new healthcare logo used by the Obama administration to that of the Nazi eagle. While that could be seen as a stretch, any visitor to Washington, D.C. is likely going to see a number of fascist symbols – and not those carried by protestors – but rather on the buildings.

At the Lincoln Memorial there are literally fasces, the bundle of rods bound by a leather thong. As The Washington Post previously reported, the very same symbol can also be seen in federal buildings throughout the nation’s capitol including the Justice Department. That particular symbol dates back even further than the Odal rune, and was used during the Roman Republic as a symbol of power and authority.

The idea is that a single stick may be weak, but bound together in unity there is strength. It is also is meant to evoke power, strength, authority and justice. The symbol was used throughout Washington, D.C. and a pair literally flanks the speaker’s podium in the House of Representatives. They are thus present during a presidential state of the union as well – but never is that symbol called out.

Likewise, the most infamous of Nazi icons, the swastika, was once a symbol of good luck and can be seen on countless buildings. Over the years some buildings have been also been called out for inadvertently resembling a swastika or other Nazi-esque symbol from above. In most cases it was a coincidence, and in the case of CPAC it should likely be chalked up to another unfortunate coincidence.

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Hashtags #BidenBombs And #BidenRemorse Trending On Social Media – Forbes

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President Joe Biden has come under fire this week, not just from Republican lawmakers and conservative critics, but from many progressives following his orders to bomb Syria. On Friday, the President and White House Press Secretary Jen Pasaki were called out for past comments each had posted to social media criticizing former President Donald Trump for similar actions in the Middle East.

By Saturday morning several hashtags and memes related to the bombings on Syria had been trending across social media according to website Trendsmap.com. The hashtags #BidenBombs was among the top global trends yet it wasn’t just tagged to the missile attack on Syria.

#BidenBombs appeared alongside a number of other hashtags including #BidenRemorse, #MinimumWage and #StudentDebt.

The wave of anti-Biden hashtags could suggest that the so-called “honeymoon” period is already over, especially as the harshest critics and loudest voices seemingly came from Biden supporters.

@MartinWilliams95 was among many who quoted Biden for calling former President Trump:

Another user, @Willie_jackson_ , also suggested there is strong disappointment in the new president’s actions, “I voted for @JoeBiden to not see this. #BidenBombs #Syria without any congressional approval. that might be right action to take, but the change we were looking for comes here. Don’t be a new Trump

Making It Visual

A number of memes trended on late Friday and Saturday that called out President Biden’s actions – some humorous and some far more blunt.

Several groups including Arabs For Bernie (@ArabsForBernie) were quite direct following Thursday’s attacks, “STOP BOMBING THE MIDDLE EAST. THANK YOU. #BidenBombs”

Comedian Preet Singh (@comedypreet) was among a few who attempted to find humor in the situation while he mocked the administration’s actions with a short video that was also posted to social media, “This is how I imagine Biden’s Democrats think Syria has reacted to his bombs”

The issue wasn’t limited to the United States either. Irish Republican Socialist Senator Paul Gavan (@pau_gavan) was among those on the international stage to call out President Biden, “Yesterday Joe Biden bombed Syria and dropped the proposal for a $15 minimum wage from his Covid relief package. Business as usual then. #Biden #BidenBombs #AmericaIsBack”

The Pundits Join The Fray

Some political commentators also called out the president, and surprisingly it wasn’t just those on the right this week. Progressive commentator Krystal Ball (@krystalball), tweeted, “So when they said $2k checks immediately, what they actually meant was $1400 checks, whenever we get to it, after bombing Syria and abandoning the minimum wage hike. Good luck in the midterms!”

Alt Right activist Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) shared reported photos from the aftermath of the Thursday’s attack. “New photos reportedly show aftermath of Biden’s Syria strike. 22 Syrians killed.”

Journalist Richard Medhurst (@richimedhurst) called out now only President Biden, but many of his progressive supporters, “Hey @AOC does Biden bombing Syria also count as violence? You and your colleagues seem awfully quiet today.”

The sentiment was shared by political pundit Matt Couch (@RaealMattCouch), “So now the Biden Administration is trying to start issues with the Saudis on top of Syria in a span of 24 hours…. Amazing work Dems…”

However, as Vox reported via its official Twitter account (@voxdotcom) some progressive lawmakers have been vocal about the attacks.

No Easy Decision

However, President Biden’s actions in launching the attack at Iranian-back militants in Syria was likely not a decision that he made on the whim.

“I’m not sure he had much choice,” explained technology industry analyst Rob Enderle, principal at the Enderle Group.

“That was the joint chief’s recommendation, and U.S. soldiers had been attacked with one injured,” added Enderle. “It was a test of his resolve, and had he not defended his troops, he’d have been crucified, and rightly so.”

What is notable is how quickly critics can become so vocal thanks to the power of social media. And these recent tweets and reactions across social media are a reminder that the nation isn’t just divided, it could be seriously fractured, and the hopes for healing could be soon dashed.

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