TASHKENT — Uzbekistan plans to liberalize its electoral and media laws, the government said on Friday, in a move that could make its tightly controlled political system more open and reduce Western criticism of its record on democracy and human rights.
The resource-rich Central Asian nation of 34 million has been opening up since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev took over in late 2016 following the death of veteran leader Islam Karimov, who had run Uzbekistan with an iron fist for 27 years.
In a draft decree published on Friday for public discussion, Mirziyoyev proposed constitutional amendments that would replace the current majoritarian, winner-takes-all system used in parliamentary elections with a mixed system that includes some proportional representation.
Uzbekistan is a presidential republic with key powers concentrated in the executive branch, although Mirziyoyev said last year he would seek some decentralization and boost the role of parliament in overseeing the work of the cabinet.
Under the proposed reforms, Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, would no longer imprison people convicted of libel and slander. Some journalists and bloggers critical of the authorities have been jailed in the past under these laws.
The reforms also involve easing campaign finance regulations by allowing private donations and moving all elections from December – one of the coldest months – to March.
It was unclear whether moving elections to March, if implemented, would slightly shorten or prolong Mirziyoyev’s current term, which is due to end in December 2021. Under the constitution, he may run for a second term.
Uzbekistan’s next parliamentary election is due in 2024. (Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov Writing by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Gareth Jones)
Media firms, celebrities join #BlackOutTuesday protests – The Globe and Mail
Major broadcasters, celebrities and music streaming companies including Apple Music and Spotify turned off or made changes to their services on Tuesday to mark their solidarity with protests against the killing of George Floyd.
ViacomCBS Inc said it will be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”
The company on Monday had its channels, including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central, transmit 8 minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked protests across America.
A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.
Celebrities including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death.
NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”
Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an 8 minute and 46 second long track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications.
Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.
Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread through U.S. cities.
Leading record labels said they would mark Tuesday by suspending business and working with communities to fight racial inequality.
“Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram.
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What is Blackout Tuesday? The social media trend and controversy around it, explained – For The Win
Welcome to FTW Explains: a guide to catching up on and better understanding stuff going on in the world.
You may have seen a hashtag at the top of social media trends —#BlackoutTuesday — this morning. You may have also seen some people criticizing the movement, and wondered exactly what is going on.
That’s what this post is for. We’re here to explain what’s going on with this movement, which started in the music industry but appears to have seeped into other businesses, but it’s also caused some controversy.
Let’s break it all down for you, starting with the first question you might have.
What is Blackout Tuesday?
As protests and unrest over the death of George Floyd continue around the United States, a movement was started by music execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who wrote on a site that Tuesday, June 2 would be a day to pause all business and take a stand against the “racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”
The movement would take the form of people posting all black pictures to Instagram and other social media platforms.
Who is participating?
Artists from Quincy Jones to Mick Jagger, with music companies and studios, all announced they would be participating ahead of June 2:
How do people join in?
They post a completely black square on social media, like these companies, sports teams and celebrities did, with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.
You said there were criticisms about the movement?
Part of the controversy stems with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Many people participating in the movement are using the hashtag along with their posts. But the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is normally used as a tool for protestors to communicate information through social media.
With the blackout, it’s being rendered useless as a hashtag. Now, when people click on the hashtag, they’re being confronted with a sea of black squares and not with anything about what’s going on with protests across the country.
But there are also larger complaints about the movement, saying this is a time to spread awareness, and not just literally “black out” social media feeds. There are arguments that now, more than ever, is when communication shouldn’t be “blacked out.”
Are there any proposed solutions?
To start, organizers are asking users to stop tagging those images with #BlackLivesMatter and stick with either #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.
Wuhan doctor at whistleblower's hospital dies from coronavirus, state media report – CTV News
BEIJING, CHINA —
A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus on Tuesday, state media reported, becoming China’s first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, passed away after being treated for COVID-19 and allied issues for more than four months, state broadcaster CCTV said.
He is the sixth doctor from Wuhan Central Hospital to have died from the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city late last year.
Cases have dwindled dramatically from the peak in mid-February as the country appears to have brought the outbreak largely under control.
The official death toll in the country of 1.4 billion people stands at 4,634 — well below the number of fatalities in less populous nations.
Wuhan Central Hospital has yet to give a formal statement on Hu’s death. In early February it said some 68 staff members had contracted coronavirus.
Hu’s condition became a national concern after Chinese media showed images of him with his skin turned black due to liver damage.
Fellow doctor Yi Fan showed similar symptoms, but recovered and has since been discharged from hospital.
The death of their colleague Li Wenliang in February triggered a national outpouring of grief and rage against the government as he documented his final days on social media.
The 34-year-old ophthalmologist was reprimanded by authorities after he warned colleagues about the virus in late December.
Beijing has since named him a national martyr, but suppressed much of the dissent and criticism sparked by his death.
Other medical whistleblowers at Wuhan Central Hospital — including emergency unit director Ai Fen — have told Chinese media they were punished by authorities for speaking out.
China has not released a complete figure of the number of medical worker deaths from COVID-19, but at least 34 medics have been awarded posthumous honours by health authorities.
In February the National Health Commission said about 3,387 health workers had been infected.
Media firms, celebrities join #BlackOutTuesday protests – The Globe and Mail
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