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Ed Webb

Study finds evidence that films can activate authoritarian tendencies - 0 views

  • People are more likely to endorse authoritarian values after watching the movie 300, according to new findings published in the journal American Politics Research.
  • The students who watched 300 were more likely to endorse authoritarian views, the researchers found, while the opposite was true of students who watched V for Vendetta.
  • we should always be prepared to think critically about the messages we get in media.”

    “This is particularly the case with entertainment media because we engage with these films and television shows in a relatively passive way, which is to say we do not have our normal psychological defenses up as we might with news media.”

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  • we did not test for a decay effect. We do not know how long these effects last
  • “Are more entertaining films more likely to elicit these responses than films that are boring? What other latent personality dispositions can be activated by films and television programs? These are questions that we are considering for our future research on entertainment media.”
Ed Webb

An Arab world first: LGBT radio goes online in Tunisia despite threats | The Japan Times - 0 views

  • An online radio station catering for the LGBT community, believed to be the first of its kind in the Arab world, started broadcasting in Tunisia on Monday
  • homosexuality is officially illegal
  • It intends “to sensitize the people of Tunisia, ordinary citizens and political decision makers about homophobia in society and to defend individual liberties,”
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  • Gay rights activists have emerged from the shadows in Tunisia since the revolution in 2011, but their position remains precarious in Tunisia’s conservative Muslim society.

    Article 230 of the penal code includes a punishment of up to three years in prison for homosexuality and young men are regularly detained and prosecuted.

Ed Webb

IRGC media producers open new front against Rouhani - 0 views

  • The Avant TV video, released on social media five days after protests erupted in Iran, which have thus far spread to dozens of cities and almost every province, carefully stitches together an emotional array of interviews of people unhappy with the economic situation and President Hassan Rouhani’s policies. With scarce public information available about Avant TV, and with the great pains its producers have taken to present it as an independent station, the video is intended to appear to be transparent, a true representation of the will of the Iranian people. Glaringly absent from the video are any criticism of the political establishment as a whole, which has been one of the main themes of the current demonstrations.

    Avant TV is in fact not independent at all. Al-Monitor has not been able to contact it, but two pro-regime media producers confirmed that it is only the latest example of a new media outlet backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seeking to reinforce the narrative of the supreme leader above the politics of Iran.

  • Avant TV stems from the media wars at the heart of political factionalism both inside and outside Iran
  • In revealing new details of his budget bill, Rouhani named, for the first time, the variety of state institutions, including cultural centers, that have received enormous funds and unconditional support from the regime. He attributed the move to a desire for transparency and an attempt to curtail corrupt use of state funds. The reaction on Iranian social media and in the local press was quick and harsh. People began attacking conservative and hard-line centers and clerics for taking so much from government coffers.

    “We couldn’t allow him to cut off our lifeline,” a producer at the regime production studios said after Rouhani revealed his new budget. “He and his supporters want to silence us by taking away our funding. But we will not be silenced. We will show him that people don’t agree with him.”

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  • The tactic that producers developed was to move away from content solely made for state television — which potential audiences almost automatically consider regime propaganda — to creating small production studios that develop content not easily identifiable as pro-regime. These ad hoc production studios receive funding from the IRGC and the government's cultural budget, but they remain small and unidentifiable on purpose.
  • The protests that began on Dec. 28 in Mashhad were a response to Rouhani from hard-liners for his remarks on the budget as well as his other attempts to curtail hard-line forces. Much of the analysis on the reasons behind the sudden outpouring of protests points to its origin in hard-liners' attempts to organize anti-Rouhani rallies in the lead-up to the annual pro-regime 9 Dey rally, established by the supreme leader in 2009 to celebrate the suppression of the Green Movement. Indeed, Mashhad is notably home to two of Rouhani’s main rivals in the 2017 presidential elections, Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. The intent was for the protests to culminate in a large 9 Dey rally, but despite the hard-liners’ intentions, once people went into the streets, they eventually began to chant slogans against the supreme leader and the regime as a whole.
  • Regime production studios have thus begun to create videos that highlight economic anxieties and attack Rouhani’s handling of the government. These slick new productions are meant to look critical, but in the end, they reinforce a belief in the virtues and the leadership of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Avant TV is only the latest example of the ways in which factionalism within the Islamic Republic and opposition to the regime play out in the media landscape.
Ed Webb

Nabi Saleh is where I lost my Zionism | +972 Magazine - 0 views

  • the Achilles heel of the Israeli media — i.e., its willingness to report communiqués issued by the army as straight news, without any fact checking. Even though the Israeli security establishment has been caught lying on countless occasions, journalists who report for mainstream media outlets continue to accept without question the information they are given about events they neither witnessed nor verified independently
  • I’ve seen soldiers grab crying children and shoving them into military vehicles, pushing aside their screaming mothers.

    I’ve seen soldiers grab a young woman by her arms and drag her like a sack of potatoes for several meters along an asphalt road so hot that it melted the rubber soles of my running shoes, before tossing her into a military vehicle and driving away.

    I’ve had my ankles singed black when a security officer looked me straight in the eyes and threw a stun grenade at my legs.

    Israeli army sharp-shooters regularly shoot unarmed demonstrators in Nabi Saleh with both rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. They break into houses and drag people out, arresting them on the claim that they allowed demonstrators to hide in their garden.

    And then I would go back to Tel Aviv and be told by my friends that I could not have seen what I saw, because “our soldiers” do not behave that way. Soon, I had to distance myself from those friends in order to keep my own emotions in check.

  • By the time I began going to Nabi Saleh, I had spent about four years reporting on what I saw in Gaza and the West Bank, and watching detachedly as my politics moved ever leftward from the liberal place in which they started, as a consequence of what I saw on the ground. But it was in Nabi Saleh that I lost the last remnants of what I would call — for lack of a word to describe my nostalgia for the idea of a state for the Jews — my Zionism.

    My radicalization was not only a consequence of witnessing brutal violence perpetrated right in front of my eyes, by soldiers of the army that was supposed to protect me. It was also a result of my seeing the Tamimi family endure that violence week after week, seeing their relatives injured, arrested and killed, and still not coming to the conclusion that the price of resistance is too high. They simply refuse to submit.

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  • The Tamimis clearly understand the power of social media. But they don’t manufacture those confrontations. In fact, I have never seen a video that comes remotely close to conveying the true brutality I saw in Nabi Saleh. Maybe you need to smell the tear gas and feel the smallness of the place to see how outrageous it is for soldiers to act as they do there: to, with a sense of entitlement, enter a village and break up a gathering of unarmed demonstrators; to kick open the doors of homes and drag off to jail unarmed people who pose no threat; to break into a house at 4 a.m., to roust a teenage girl from her bed and drag her off to jail, denying her even the right to be accompanied by a guardian.
  • Is Israel, with all the money and manpower it pours into sophisticated advocacy campaigns via social media, really in a position to criticize the Tamimis for understanding how to publicize their own cause? As Jonathan Pollak says to Yaron London, the reason those Nabi Saleh videos make Israel look bad is because Israel is doing bad things.
Ed Webb

'Lone wolf' or 'terrorist'? How bias can shape news coverage | Poynter - 0 views

  • take a moment to remember U.S. history (or even a few seconds to do an internet search) and it’s easy to find many examples of far deadlier shootings. It’s a sad reality that most victims of the worst massacres that don’t rate a mention were people of color: Native Americans and African-Americans
  • there have been much worse atrocities and mass shootings committed against Native peoples going back to the beginnings of our country’s history
  • The unwelcome title of largest massacre might belong to Bear River, Utah, where at least 250 Native Americans were slaughtered in 1863; Native American historical accounts put the number at more than 450. In 1890, Native American men, women and children were massacred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, with estimates of the death toll ranging from 150 to 300.
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  • Just 100 years ago this June, armed whites rampaged through East St. Louis, slaughtering more than 100 African-Americans. In Tulsa in 1921, white mobs attacked a wealthy black neighborhood, killing as many as 300 people and leaving 8,000 homeless in what was wrongly labeled a “race riot” and left out of history texts until recently.
  • after mass attacks perpetrated by brown Muslim assailants, such as the Orlando Pulse massacre or the San Bernardino, California, killings, the media, authorities and politicians were quick to label them “terrorism” even before we had full information
  • Just because someone’s angry or even mentally ill doesn’t mean their actions aren’t those of a domestic terrorist (see U.S. Code definition above). As Joshua Keating points out in Slate, being distraught and a terrorist are “not mutually exclusive.” A 2013 study of violence by far-right extremists in America in Criminology and Public Policy found 40 percent of “lone wolf” domestic terrorists had a history of mental illness
  • Fox News dubiously described the shooter’s father’s life as “colorful,” as if it were entertaining that the man’s father robbed a string of banks, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and busted out of a federal penitentiary. Can you imagine a black, Muslim or Latino’s long criminal record being described in the same way?
  • Underlying this bias is the implication that Muslims or brown immigrants are more dangerous to Americans’ safety than white attackers. That is provably false, based on government statistics – yet it was the central narrative of President Trump’s campaign
  • according to an analysis by the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh of fatal terrorism on U.S. soil from 1975 through 2015 – including the staggeringly high toll of the 9/11 attacks – the chances of an American being killed in a terror attack on U.S. soil by a foreigner was a miniscule 1 in 3.6 million per year. The chances of being killed by an illegal immigrant in the same 41-year period was an infinitesimal 1 in 10.9 billion per year.
Ed Webb

Saudi filmmakers build audiences without cinemas - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • By using the internet to show films, Telfaz11 and other Saudi production houses have managed to circumvent traditional distribution channels and make do without cinemas. Even so, Saudi filmmakers have to contend with how to tell their stories within the bounds of the kingdom’s ultraconservative mores and its limits on free speech.
  • The emergence of a Saudi film scene is happening as the kingdom begins to loosen the reins on fun and entertainment after nearly two decades without cinemas or concerts.
  • The government has also backed a Saudi film festival that’s taken place for the past few years in the eastern city of Dhahran. This year, some 60 Saudi films were screened.
Ed Webb

Egyptian intelligence services extend control over media | RSF - 0 views

  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is worried about the way Egyptian media outlets are being taken over by businessmen linked to the government and intelligence services. The regime’s domination of the media continues to grow and is even affecting pro-government media.
  • Al Hayat was quietly taken over at the end of August.


    The new owner’s identity has not yet been officially announced but several Egyptian media outlets have reported that it was acquired by Falcon, a successful Egyptian security company whose CEO is a former senior military intelligence officer and a former head of the radio and TV regulatory agency.

  • the financial pressure came shortly after Al Wafd’s representatives in parliament expressed their opposition to the government’s controversial plan to hand over two strategic islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia
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  • A former military intelligence officer, who was also an armed forces spokesman, took charge of Al Asema TV in January.
  • ONTV, a popular TV channel that supported the government while occasionally broadcasting critical comments, was taken over in May 2016 by Ahmed Abu Hashima, a powerful multi-millionaire steel magnate said to be close to military intelligence and to President Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi.

    A month after the acquisition, the authorities expelled Liliane Daoud, a well-known ONTV programme presenter with a reputation for journalistic integrity. She was deportable because she has British and Lebanese dual nationality.

  • Hashima bought two other TV channels, Al Nahar and CBC, and four newspapers, Sout Al Omma, Ain, Dot Masr and Al Youm al Sabea, in 2016.
  • the editor had told that that “President Sisi is the newspaper’s new owner” and that it could therefore not continue to employ critical journalists
  • the government’s influence over the broadcast media landscape was also significantly enhanced in 2016 by the creation of a DMC, a major new TV network with a range of news, sports and entertainment channels.

    Dubbed “the mouthpiece of the intelligence services” by some journalists and launched with a patriotic anthem and Koranic chants, DMC gets permission to film where other privately-owned TV channels are denied access. It is also known to broadcast interviews that are presented as exclusives but just reiterate the regime’s pro-security, anti-Muslim Brotherhood dogma

Ed Webb

Prison for dabbing: Saudi entertainer locked up for 'inciting drug abuse' | Middle East... - 0 views

  • The move is officially banned by the Saudi Interior Ministry’s National Drug Control Commission, which consider the move to be a reference to cannabis consumption.
  • “the move is a well-known move…known to represent smoking hashish which leads to addiction.”

    He added that there was “no doubt” that anyone taking part in the move would be subject to questioning and punishment.

    The move could warrant a prison sentence, a fine or both.

Ed Webb

Qatar's Gulf Allies Have Had Enough of Doha's Broken Promises - 0 views

  • Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states woke up on Monday morning to what is the most severe crisis in the regional block’s 38 year history to date. In a closely coordinated series of statements, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, along with Egypt, announced the severing of ties with the peninsular state of Qatar.
  • In what may be the most debilitating move, Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia—which is its only land border —has been shut and all flights over Saudi and UAE airspace has been closed off to Qatar bound flights and Qatar Airways. Qatari citizens have been given two weeks to leave Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE and all travel by these countries citizens to Qatar is now prohibited.
  • It is likely that this time the Gulf States will demand the complete shuttering of the Al Jazeera TV Network before any mediation can take place. Additionally, the plug will have to be pulled on networks funded by Qatar such as Al Araby Al Jadeed (The New Arab), originally set up to compete with Al Jazeera and headed by former Arab Israeli politician Azmi Bishara.
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  • Other Qatar backed networks that were accused of incitement on official Gulf TV channels include Al Quds Al Arabi (Arab Jerusalem) newspaper which was founded in London in 1989, online Arabic news portal Arabi 21, the London based website Middle East Eye, the Arabic version of Huffington Post which is headed by former Al Jazeera boss Waddah Khanfar and Al Khaleej Al Jadeed (the New Gulf).
  • will also demand the expulsion of all Muslim Brotherhood leaders and their Hamas affiliate figures from Qatar, along with Azmi Bishara and Islamist writer Yasser Al-Za'atra. Other demands will include the sacking of Al Arab newspaper editor Abdullah Al Athba
  • It seems though the initial pressure has already somewhat worked on Qatar. Last week Doha deported Saudi activist Mohammed Al-Otaibi who arrived in Qatar in March, while a number of Hamas officials have left Qatar at the country’s request.
  • Qatar imports over 90 percent of its food, and by one estimate about 40 percent of that comes from the its only land border, which is now closed. Within hours photos started circulating on social media of Qatari supermarket aisles that have been emptied by panicked shoppers. Furthermore Gulf media has hinted at an escalation of the dispute with Qatari commercial and trade ties being severed next.

Ed Webb

Omani authorities block access to online magazine "Mowatin" - IFEX - 0 views

  • Launched in June 2013, Mowatin is an independent Omani magazine that covers a variety of topics in Oman and the Arabian Gulf including politics, human rights and the economy. In January 2016, the magazine announced a suspension of its activities due to "circumstances beyond its control", in particular its desire to "guarantee the safety" of its journalists and writers. The magazine's journalists were subjected to pressures and harassment from Omani authorities, in particular the Internal Security Services (ISS), the country's national security intelligence agency.

    In a video published on 25 April, the magazine announced that it would resume publishing from London, on 3 May on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. However, hours after resuming publication, the magazine and human rights groups reported that the website was blocked inside Oman.
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