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US government ‘SEIZES’ website of Iran’s Press TV, multiple other media outlets

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US authorities have apparently seized the web domains of Iran’s international media outlets Press TV and Al-Alam, along with the Yemeni TV channel Al Masirah, run by the Houthi faction, an Iraqi Shia satellite channel, and others.

Visitors to the PressTV.com and a number of other websites were greeted on Tuesday with a notice that they were seized under US laws that allow civil and criminal forfeiture of property involved in “trafficking in nuclear, chemical, biological, or radiological weapons technology or material, or the manufacture, importation, sale, or distribution of a controlled substance.”

The seizure notice by the US Department of Justice also invokes a law governing presidential authority in dealing with “unusual and extraordinary threat; declaration of national emergency,” which includes the Iran Nonproliferation Amendments Act of 2005 and the ironically named Iran Freedom Support Act of 2006.

Launched in July 2007, Press TV is the international English-language service of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Tehran’s state media agency. Al-Alam goes back to 2003 and is broadcast in Arabic, Farsi and English to audiences in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Al-Masirah is not owned by Iran, but by Ansarullah – the movement of the Houthis in Yemen, a faction the US has accused of being “proxies” of Iran on account of them being Shia Muslims and resisting the invasion of Yemen by Saudi Arabia since 2015. The TV channel is headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon.

Neither the US nor the Iranian authorities have commented on the seizures just yet. Meanwhile, the NGO Yemen Solidarity Council (YSC) condemned “the deliberate silencing of the Yemeni voice by the American regime.”

In a statement released through the YSC, Al Masirah said it was “not surprised” by the apparent seizure, as it “comes from those that have supervised the most heinous crimes against our people.”

The“banon the website “reveals, once again, the falsehood of the slogans of freedom of expression and all the other headlines promoted by the United States of America, including its inability to confront the truth,” the outlet said.

PressTV only said that a seizure message has appeared “on the websites of a series of Iranian and regional television networks” in “what seems to be a coordinated action.”

Another site that displayed the seizure notice on Tuesday was that of Al Forat Network, an Iraqi satellite TV outlet owned by a Shia Muslim cleric and politician Ammar al-Hakim.

Several other Shia Muslim media outlets, in places as far as Azerbaijan and Nigeria, also displayed the seizure notice on Tuesday, prompting observers to speculate the crackdown could be an attack on Shia sites, “both religious and political.”

In the absence of any official word, there has been speculation that the domains may have been hacked instead. Furthermore, the seizures appear to have affected only the .com and .net domains that are under US jurisdiction. PressTV remains available at the .ir domain.

Washington’s apparent move comes just a day after the newly elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi urged the US to lift all sanctions on Tehran and rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama administration but unilaterally repudiated by President Donald Trump in 2018.

Raisi called on the US to “live up to your commitments” in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He also said the Iranian ballistic missile program was “not up for negotiation.”

While the Trump administration took a hard-line approach to Iran, imposing unprecedented sanctions and even assassinating a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) general – resulting in Iranian missile strikes against US bases in Iraq – it never moved against legitimate media outlets.

Back in October 2020, the Trump administration seized 92 domains accused of being “fake news” outlets waging a “disinformation campaign” on behalf of the IRGC. The seizure was overshadowed by sanctions against the Iranian banking sector announced the same day, however.

The Biden administration was thought to be open for relaxing tensions. Just last week, Iranian negotiators said they had reached a deal with their US counterparts to lift the Trump-era sanctions.

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Original Article: rt.com

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Tokyo governor taking a week off, suffering from ‘excess fatigue’ as Olympics loom and Covid-19 lingers

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The Tokyo government has announced that its governor will be taking a break due to “excess fatigue” with the Olympics just one month away and the metropolis battling persistent Covid as vaccinations remain low.

“A deputy governor will serve official duties on her behalf this week as Governor Koike needs a rest due to excess fatigue,” a metropolitan government spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.

The announcement of Koike’s break comes as the Japanese capital is due to host the delayed Olympic Games in just one month while the city fights Covid-19.

Last week, amid concerns that the games would lead to a further increase in infections, the government elected to cancel all public viewing events in Tokyo for its upcoming Olympics.

A poll published in May highlighted opposition to the event, with over 80% of the Japanese public saying they are against hosting the postponed Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics.

On Tuesday, Japan reported 435 new cases of Covid-19, substantially below the average in most other developed nations. Healthcare services have struggled under the pressure despite having one of the world’s highest numbers of hospital beds per capita.

Government data suggests that only 4.18% of Japan’s citizens have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In May, the head of a Japanese doctors union warned that the presence of people from all around the world in Tokyo for the games could lead to the emergence of an “Olympic” coronavirus strain.

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YouTube secures victory in copyright challenge at EU’s top court over publishing of unauthorized content

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The EU Court of Justice handed a win to Google’s YouTube on Tuesday in a case over the publishing of unauthorized content on its platform. But it warned that sites could be liable if they do not act swiftly to remove such content.

The court case was the latest challenge against the tech company over the publishing of copyrighted material on its platform and the level of culpability YouTube has when its users share unauthorized content.

“As currently stands, operators of online platforms do not, in principle, themselves make a communication to the public of copyright-protected content illegally posted online by users of those platforms,” the EU Court of Justice said in its ruling.

While the court did not hold the company responsible for unauthorized content being uploaded, it did warn that tech companies like YouTube could be held liable if they do not act quickly to remove or block such material when it’s flagged by the copyright holders.

The EU judges called on the company and similar platforms to ensure that they put relevant tools in place to tackle or prevent copyright breaches committed by users.

YouTube “is a leader in copyright and supports rights holders being paid their fair share,” a Google representative said in response to the ruling. “We’ve invested in state of the art copyright tools which have created an entirely new revenue stream for the industry.”

The case had been sparked by a lawsuit filed by a music producer, Frank Peterson, who was suing YouTube after several users uploaded phonograms that he is the copyright holder of. After a separate court case was launched in a German court against file-hosting platform Cyando over similar concerns, Berlin sought advice from the EU Court of Justice, leading to the ruling on Tuesday.

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Content-sharing platform Disclose.tv accuses Google and Apple of temporarily ‘censoring’ content on its Telegram group chat

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Disclose.tv, a Reddit-like service for people who seek “true insight into what is actually happening in the world” has accused Google and Apple of censoring its group chat on Telegram messenger.

The service blamed “Big Tech oligarchs at Google and Apple” for the apparent glitch in the display of its Telegram chat on devices running Android and iOS operating systems. On Android, all comments were replaced with a notice stating that they “cannot be displayed on Telegram apps downloaded from the Google Play Store.” The iOS version of the messenger simply refused to display the channel.

The web version of Telegram could still access the Disclose.tv channel as normal. The Android variant installed directly rather than through Google’s App Store worked fine as well, the platform said. About an hour after the warning was posted, the display of comments went back to normal.

It was not immediately clear whether the malfunction was indeed an act of censorship by the US tech giants, as claimed by Disclose.tv, or some bug in Telegram code. If the former is true, it would apparently mean that the owners of the stores have the power to selectively suspend content on apps that they distribute to users.

Unlike Google, Apple does not allow users to install apps it has not approved, so the ramifications of the censorship scenario are more profound for iPhone owners.

Disclose.tv is a German-based content sharing platform that has been operational since 2007. It caters for an audience that wants “to gain true insight into what is actually happening as the world becomes increasingly complex,” according to its own description. Its Telegram channel has more than 270,000 subscribers.

Some of the posts on the platform include an observation that four ‘progress pride’ flags with a triangle lapel can form a swastika if placed in a certain way, and a suggestion that the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games foreshadowed the Covid-19 pandemic. With Silicon Valley obsessed with rooting out what they consider misinformation, one can see how Disclose.tv could fall foul with Google and Apple.

After the chat was fixed, the platform called for “breaking up Big Tech.”

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