Mix of hope and resignation about the return of independent press

first_img News Follow the news on Zimbabwe to go further The Zimbabwean press was still one of the most vigorous in Africa at the start of the past decade. The public read the newspapers avidly every day, especially The Daily News. Privately-owned and run by experienced journalists, it was known for its independence and its serious, reliable reporting. “It was a vibrant newspaper and when it came on the market, it was a sell-out almost every day,” said Annie Musemburi-Musodza, who used to be former editor Geoffrey Nyarota’s assistant. “It sold more copies than The Herald, the state-owned daily.”But President Robert Mugabe, who has been on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Predators of Press Freedom” for years, had the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) passed in 2002. It banned foreign investment in Zimbabwe’s media with the sole aim of killing off The Daily News, one of whose shareholders was Scottish. It was followed on 6 August 2007 by the Interception of Communications Act, which made it easier for the political and police apparatus to give free rein to its paranoia by allowing the authorities to monitor email messages and mobile phone calls without having to seek court permission.This repressive legislation, enabling close surveillance of journalists and constant control of the press, is one of the biggest obstacles to media development in Zimbabwe, an obstacle that the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) is determined to combat. By means of its Media Law Reform Project, this NGO coalition is trying to get parliamentarians to completely overhaul the press laws. It also wants to get “freedom of the media” added to freedom of information in the Zimbabwean constitution.When Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reiterated his government’s priorities at the end of March, the presentation of a Freedom of Information Bill (to replace the AIPPA) and a Media Practitioners Bill to parliament were mentioned prominently. The 21 March issue of The Standard, an independent weekly, said the government hoped to complete these reforms by the end of the year. Zimbabwe Media Council and return of independent pressThe Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC), which has replaced the Media and Information Commission (MIC), is supposed to issue newspapers with licences and thereby open the way for the independent press to re-emerge. The promise has hung in the air for months without materialising. “Let’s be clear about this,” said lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. “The ZMC is there to save the media. It should be doing its job”Created in 2009, the ZMC did not officially get under way until its inaugural meeting on 18 March 2010. It was only after months of prevarication and negotiations between Zanu-PF, President Mugabe’s party, and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s party, that the ZMC’s nine commissioners were named. They are Godfrey Majonga (chairman), Nqobile Nyathi (deputy chairperson), Chris Mutsvangwa, Matthew Takaona, Chris Mhike, Henry Muradzikwa, Lawton Hikwa, Miriam Madziwa and Millicent Mombeshora.They are the ones whose job it is to receive and examine the applications submitted by news media. At a meeting with the editors of all of Zimbabwe’s newspapers at the start of March, no less a person than the president asked the ZMC to begin to work, fulfil its role and create a space for the media. The prime minister, for his part, insisted that nothing is tying the hands of the ZMC’s commissioners. Nonetheless, nothing is happening and it looks as though the ZMC is playing for time.Reporters Without Borders hoped to meet with the ZMC’s chairman, Godfrey Majonga, during its visit. Several requests for an interview were made, but without success. At first, Majonga insisted that he had nothing to add to what was said at the 18 March inaugural meeting. Then he said he could not give an interview on his own as the ZMC was a collective commission. “He has held the position for only seven days,” the deputy media and information minister, Timba, said. “Give him a bit of time.”Jethro Goko, the head of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, pointed out that it obtained favourable high court ruling in 2006. “We are ready,” he said. “We are just waiting for the ZMC to give us our licence but we will not reapply because a ruling confirmed four years ago shows we have everything in order. The ANZ does not have a lot of resources but we are dedicated to providing the Zimbabwean people with credible quality newspapers.”Another privately-owned daily, NewsDay, decided not to wait for its licence in order to start working. When the newspaper threatened to begin publishing without a licence in 2009, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of media and information, George Charamba, warned that its journalists would be arrested. NewsDay has gone ahead and hired journalists, who are currently producing a four-page insert that is distributed inside the weeklies The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent. Government control of state media, persecution of independent mediaMeanwhile, until the ZMC starts issuing licences, the media landscape continues to be dormant and subject to heavy government control.In the state-owned media, for example, the hands of the journalists are tied by their editors, who take their orders from the government. Amid a constant fear of unfair dismissal, self-censorship is widespread. Six journalists employed by the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) were fired in 2008 for allegedly not giving President Mugabe enough coverage during the election campaign.ZBC’s management took radio presenter Godfrey Gweje off the air in March 2010 for making “subversive political comments” after he criticised the low pay (189 US dollars a month) received by civil servants, then on strike for better pay. The previous week, Wellington Toni was fired as the Sunday News sports editor for referring on a website to corrupt practices in the regional state-owned weekly The Chronicle.“We cannot express our opinions,” a state media representative told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity. “We are men, with weaknesses, and we are afraid.”Freelance journalists and those working for the privately-owned weeklies are often harassed or threatened. Constantine Chimakure and Vincent Kahiya of the Zimbabwe Independent, for example were arrested together in May 2009 and were subsequently the target of judicial proceedings for a year before charges were finally dropped.Freelance journalist Stanley Gama was summoned to Harare central police station on 30 March, just two days after communication minister Webster Shamu said the harassment of journalists should stop, and was questioned by Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge about his sources for a story in the Zimbabwe edition of South Africa’s Sunday Times about a cabinet minister’s alleged corrupt practices.Two months before that, on 15 January, Makedenge made a death threat against freelance journalist Stanley Kwenda over one of his articles for the privately-owned newspaper The Zimbabwean. Makedenge, who has been implicated in the abduction of journalists and MDC members, told Kwenda: “You are not going to last this weekend.” Kwenda fled the country.Nick Maunze, an official in the Zimbabwean government’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), publicly threatened Godfrey Mutimba, The Standard’s correspondent in the south-eastern province of Masvingo, in March. “You must be careful young man, very, very careful because I will reduce you to nothing,” he told Mutimba. “I do not care what your papers write about me; they are useless and will not change anything. What I need to tell you and your other reporters is that you should know that I have dealt with even bigger fish which had thick heads.” Referring to opposition activist Job Sikhala, Maunze added: “I am the one who forced Sikhala to drink urine when he was arrested and it is not hard for me at all to deal with an even smaller fish and useless reporters like you. What will you do to me?”These are just a few examples of the threats and harassment to which Zimbabwean journalists are routinely subjected.Hounded news photographer Shadreck Anderson ManyereKidnapped in December 2008, freelance news photographer Shadreck Anderson Manyere, was subjected to an ordeal comparable to what was inflicted on leading journalist and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko during his next four months in detention. Charged with banditry, sabotage and terrorism, he was held in appalling conditions, brutally interrogated and tortured.In the year since his release on 18 April 2009, he has had to report to a police station in the capital under pain of being arrested again. This is a major handicap for a freelancer as it means he cannot accept a job in the provinces.At the same time, Manyere is hounded whenever he works in the capital. He was arrested while covering a demonstration by members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) on 18 January 2010 and then released without charge. On 24 February, he was forced to delete his photos of a demonstration by pro-Zanu-PF activists against western government sanctions against party leaders including President Mugabe. He was arrested at a Harare court on 1 March for taking pictures of detainees as they arrived to face charges of plotting against the government. Told he did not have permission, he was taken to the central police station. He was released the next day after paying a 20-dollar fine but his camera was confiscated. Manyere told Reporters Without Borders: “Whenever I cover a demonstration or an event, the police ask me: ‘Are you working for The Herald or for ZBC?’ As soon as I reply that I am a freelancer, they try to confiscate my camera and they often take me to a police station.”“They are after him, that’s obvious,” lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said. “They want to push him to the limit and force him to give up his profession.”Three years of silence about cameraman Edward Chikomba’s deathOn 23 March, the last day of Reporters Without Borders’ visit, the police raided a Harare art gallery and removed more than 60 photos that had been put on display by the human rights group ZimRights. Most of the photos were taken in the run-up to the 2008 elections and showed the use of violence to disperse demonstrations. They also showed the current prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, with his face swollen from being beaten while in detention.Freelance cameraman Edward Chikomba, a former employee of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), was one of the people who took the photos of Tsvangirai. He was found dead in Darwendale (60 km west of Harare) on 31 March 2007, two days after being kidnapped by four men suspected of being intelligence officials. They went to his home in Glen View, a high density suburb of Harare, and forced him to get into their four-wheel-drive vehicle at gunpoint.Chikomba was accused of selling his footage of Tsvangirai to foreign news media. Since leaving the production team of “Vision 30,” broadcast by ZBC until 2001, Chikomba had been making documentaries independently for individuals or news media. According to his wife, who witnessed his abduction, Chikomba knew he was in danger. “I am dead,” he said, when he saw the four men arrive outside their house. No proper, independent investigation has ever been carried out into his death.Given the current state of the Zimbabwean media and the urgent need to restore press freedom, Reporters Without Borders makes the following recommendations:- To the Zimbabwean government: Put a stop to the frequent police violence against journalists, quickly foster a climate more favourable to free expression for privately-owned independent newspapers, and open up broadcasting, currently monopolised by ZBC. The two parties, Zanu-PF and MDC, must work in a more determined and concerted fashion. It is time to pass from words to action.- To the Zimbabwe Media Council: Immediately issue licences to newspapers that request them and conduct itself in a more transparent manner by ceasing to be uncommunicative about its activities, which are not known to the public.- To the international community (SADC, African Union, European Union, UN and bilateral aid agencies): Put more pressure on Zimbabwe to ensure that opening up the media sector is one of the reform timetable’s priorities.- To South African President Jacob Zuma (as the person mandated by the SADC to ensure full implementation of the Global Political Agreement, a power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and MDC): Be firmer with President Mugabe and Zanu-PF. By not cooperating fully with the MDC, President Mugabe and his party are the source of several obstacles to implementation of the power-sharing agreement and are thereby preventing Zimbabwe from advancing with determination down the road of democratisation.- To Zimbabwean journalists: Try to avoid the very marked polarisation of political life by not taking a pro-Zanu-PF or pro-MDC position and by respecting the principles of neutrality and objectivity in order to provide the Zimbabwean people with better reporting. RSF_en Help by sharing this information November 12, 2020 Find out more ZimbabweAfrica News May 11, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Mix of hope and resignation about the return of independent press Reports Receive email alertscenter_img ZimbabweAfrica November 27, 2020 Find out more Fed up with years of inactivity because of forced closures and still waiting for their newspapers to be given licences to start working again, Zimbabwe’s independent media journalists are drifting in limbo – between hope and resignation – Reporters Without Borders found during a fact-finding visit to Harare from 20 to 23 March, its first trip to Zimbabwe after years of being denied visas. “The Zimbabwean press has endured enough repression in recent years,” Reporters Without Borders said, pointing out that Zimbabwe is ranked 136th out of 175 countries in its press freedom index. “It is time for the government of national unity to demonstrate its will to reform press legislation and liberate the country’s media. There have been enough statements. We urge the Zimbabwe Media Council to quickly grant licences to the media that request them.”During the visit to Harare, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk met Jameson Timba, who is the deputy minister of media and information and an adviser to the prime minister, human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, photojournalist Shadreck Anderson Manyere and members of the management and staff of The Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard, NewsDay, The Financial Gazette and the defunct Daily News.Reporters Without Borders also met a foreign press correspondent, a state media representative, and representatives of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Zimbabwean Chapter (Misa-Zimbabwe), the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights (ZJHR) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). Reporters Without Borders regrets being unable to meet the head of the Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC), who did not want to give an interview. September 1, 2020 Find out more Organisation Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono denied bail The 2020 pandemic has challenged press freedom in Africa Iniquitous laws News Zimbabwean court must free imprisoned journalist who is unwelllast_img read more

Limerick punter wins big from 20 cent wager

first_img TAGSLimerick City and CountyNews Email NewsCommunityLimerick punter wins big from 20 cent wagerBy Staff Reporter – August 21, 2019 1649 RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Advertisement WhatsApp Limerick on Covid watch list Facebook Is Aer Lingus taking flight from Shannon? Printcenter_img A normal Tuesday evening turned out to be one to remember for a County Limerick punter after their €0.20 EuroMillions wager landed. The tiny bet defied huge odds of 33,000/1 to return a handsome four-figure amount to the customer.The anonymous Limerick native called into their local BoyleSports shop in the county on Tuesday afternoon and placed some of their loose change on four numbers to be drawn from the EuroMillions Plus draw that evening.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up The numbers selected were 5, 12, 15 and 18. In a matter of minutes, all four numbers rolled out of the machine meaning the ambitious bet had come in, resulting in the punter walking off with a stunning €6,600.20 from the €0.20 investment.Sarah Kinsella, spokesperson for BoyleSports said, “We must send huge congratulations down to our Limerick customer who only required a small €0.20 investment to take us for €6,600.20. Their ambition deserves all the rewards and we hope they have a good time spending the winnings.” Linkedin Previous articleImmigration rules are posing threat to Shannondoc serviceNext articleLimerick Junior Soccer fixtures Postponed in honour of Dave Weldrick Staff Reporterhttp://www.limerickpost.ie Local backlash over Aer Lingus threat TechPost | Episode 9 | Pay with Google, WAZE – the new Google Maps? and Speak don’t Type! Twitter Housing 37 Compulsory Purchase Orders issued as council takes action on derelict sites Shannon Airport braced for a devastating blow last_img read more

The giant in our stars

first_img Radcliffe quilting exhibit honors astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, whose pioneering work helped unlock the universe Related Stitching together the stars The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. ‘Seeing the unseeable’ Study outlines new proposal for probing the primordial universe Before the Big Bang Zucker played a key role in compiling the largest-ever catalog of accurate distances to local stellar nurseries — the basis for the 3D map used in the study. She has set herself the goal of painting a new picture of the Milky Way, near and far. “We pulled this team together so we could go beyond processing and tabulating the data to actively visualizing it — not just for ourselves but for everyone. Now, we can literally see the Milky Way with new eyes,” she said.“Studying stellar births is complicated by imperfect data. We risk getting the details wrong, because if you’re confused about distance, you’re confused about size,” said Finkbeiner.Goodman agreed, “All of the stars in the universe, including our sun, are formed in dynamic, collapsing, clouds of gas and dust. But determining how much mass the clouds have, how large they are, has been difficult, because these properties depend on how far away the cloud is.”According to Goodman, scientists have been studying dense clouds of gas and dust between the stars for more than 100 years, zooming in on these regions with ever-higher resolution. Before Gaia, there was no data set expansive enough to reveal the galaxy’s structure on large scales. Since its launch in 2013, the space observatory has enabled measurements of the distances to one billion stars in the Milky Way.,The flood of data from Gaia served as the perfect testbed for innovative, new statistical methods that reveal the shape of local stellar nurseries and their connection to the Milky Way’s galactic structure. Alves came to Radcliffe to work with Zucker and Goodman, as they anticipated the flood of data from Gaia would enhance the Finkbeiner group’s “3D Dust Mapping” technology enough to reveal the distances of local stellar nurseries. But they had no idea they would find the Radcliffe Wave.The Finkbeiner, Alves, and Goodman groups collaborated closely on this data-science effort. The Finkbeiner group developed the statistical framework needed to infer the 3D distribution of the dust clouds; the Alves group contributed deep expertise on stars, star formation, and Gaia; and the Goodman group developed the 3D visualizations and analytic framework, called “glue,” that allowed the Radcliffe Wave to be seen, explored, and quantitatively described.The articles, analyzed data (on the Harvard Dataverse), statistical code, interactive figures, videos, and WorldWide Telescope tour are all freely available to everyone through a dedicated website.This study was supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (grant no. 1650114, AST-1614941), the Harvard Data Science Initiative, NASA through ADAP (grant no. NNH17AE75I), and a Hubble Fellowship (grant HST-HF2-51367.001-A) awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555.  Astronomers at Harvard University have discovered a monolithic, wave-shaped gaseous structure — the largest ever seen in our galaxy — made up of interconnected stellar nurseries. Dubbed the “Radcliffe Wave” in honor of the collaboration’s home base, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the discovery transforms a 150-year-old vision of nearby stellar nurseries as an expanding ring into one featuring an undulating, star-forming filament that reaches trillions of miles above and below the galactic disk.The work, published in Nature, was enabled by a new analysis of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, launched in 2013 with the mission of precisely measuring the position, distance, and motion of the stars. The research team’s innovative approach combined the super-accurate data from Gaia with other measurements to construct a detailed, 3D map of interstellar matter in the Milky Way, and noticed an unexpected pattern in the spiral arm closest to Earth.The researchers discovered a long, thin structure, about 9,000 light-years long and 400 light-years wide, with a wave-like shape, cresting 500 light-years above and below the mid-plane of our galaxy’s disk. The Wave includes many of the stellar nurseries that were thought to form part of “Gould’s Belt,” a band of star-forming regions believed to be oriented in a ring around the sun.“No astronomer expected that we live next to a giant, wave-like collection of gas — or that it forms the local arm of the Milky Way,” said Alyssa Goodman, the Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of Applied Astronomy, research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, and co-director of the Science Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. “We were completely shocked when we first realized how long and straight the Radcliffe Wave is, looking down on it from above in 3D — but how sinusoidal it is when viewed from Earth. The Wave’s very existence is forcing us to rethink our understanding of the Milky Way’s 3D structure.”“Gould and Herschel both observed bright stars forming in an arc projected on the sky, so for a long time, people have been trying to figure out if these molecular clouds actually form a ring in 3D,” said João Alves, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Vienna and 2018‒2019 Radcliffe Fellow. “Instead, what we’ve observed is the largest coherent gas structure we know of in the galaxy, organized not in a ring but in a massive, undulating filament. The sun lies only 500 light-years from the Wave at its closest point. It’s been right in front of our eyes all the time, but we couldn’t see it until now.”,The new, 3D map shows our galactic neighborhood in a new light, giving researchers a revised view of the Milky Way and opening the door to other major discoveries.“We don’t know what causes this shape, but it could be like a ripple in a pond, as if something extraordinarily massive landed in our galaxy,” said Alves. “What we do know is that our sun interacts with this structure. It passed by a festival of supernovae as it crossed Orion 13 million years ago, and in another 13 million years it will cross the structure again, sort of like we are ‘surfing the wave.’”Disentangling structures in the “dusty” galactic neighborhood within which we sit is a longstanding challenge in astronomy. In earlier studies, the research group of Douglas Finkbeiner, professor of astronomy and physics at Harvard, pioneered advanced statistical techniques to map the 3D distribution of dust using vast surveys of stars’ colors. Armed with new data from Gaia, Harvard graduate students Catherine Zucker and Joshua Speagle recently augmented these techniques, dramatically improving astronomers’ ability to measure distances to star-forming regions. That work, led by Zucker, is published in the Astrophysical Journal.“We suspected there might be larger structures that we just couldn’t put in context. So, to create an accurate map of our solar neighborhood, we combined observations from space telescopes like Gaia with astrostatistics, data visualization, and numerical simulations,” explained Zucker, a National Science Foundation graduate fellow and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “The sun lies only 500 light-years from the Wave at its closest point. It’s been right in front of our eyes all the time, but we couldn’t see it until now.” — João Alves, Radcliffe Fellow 2018-19 Event Horizon Telescope researchers reveal first-ever image of a black hole last_img read more

Italian banks under pressure following referendum result

first_imgInvestors have turned their attention to Italy’s struggling banking sector following the resignation of prime minister Matteo Renzi.Renzi quit after losing decisively a referendum on a proposed overhaul of the Italian constitution, with 60% voting against his measures.President Sergio Mattarella is expected to appoint Renzi’s successor this week, bringing in a “caretaker” government that will attempt to force through political reform.However, the setback has brought uncertainty over the recapitalisation of Italy’s banking sector. Banco Monte dei Paschi – one of the country’s biggest banks – requires €5bn of fresh capital to meet stringent European rules, and is in talks with private-sector backers today in an effort to hammer out a rescue deal.Azad Zangana, senior European economist and strategist at Schroders, said a “bail-in” of the predominantly retail Monte dei Paschi could be difficult, “especially if a lack of [political] leadership persists for too long”.Alberto Chiandetti, fund manager at Fidelity, said: “Monte dei Paschi last week obtained less Tier 2 debt conversion than expected (€1bn versus the expected €1.5bn-2bn), but now the focus is on whether an anchor investor will materialise or not. If not, Monte dei Paschi needs a plan B, and, in that scenario, bank shares are likely to suffer most.”UniCredit has also struggled to maintain the required capital buffers this year due to non-performing loans, and is due to raise more capital next week.Chiandetti said the post-referendum environment would “no doubt weigh on this upcoming deal and put pressure on UniCredit shares”.However, Roelof Salomons, senior strategist at Kempen Capital Management, said the banking sector’s problems were “only a matter of a fraction of the Italian economy and of the overall Italian government debt”.Darren Ruane, head of fixed interest at Investec Wealth & Investment, added: “In general, the major Italian banks are less threatened by the referendum result because they already hold reasonable levels of capital and have been working through their asset quality problems.”However, shares in UniCredit and Monte dei Paschi were down by 5.8% and 3.7%, respectively, at 1:40pm GMT versus their closing price on Friday.FTSE MIB, the main Italian stock market, was up by 0.36%, having initially spiked by more than 3% in the first hour of trading this morning.Italian government bonds have traded roughly flat today after an initial bout of volatility in early trading.The euro weakened slightly against the dollar and the pound, but most commentators pointed out that markets had already priced in a rejection of Renzi’s proposals.Away from the banking sector, investors voiced concern about Italy’s low growth, which would be exacerbated by political stagnation.“[Italy’s] gross debt is the highest in Europe at 133% of GDP, and the debt servicing stands at 4% of GDP per annum,” said Zangana.“Should interest rates rise in the future, the government will have little choice but to implement more austerity, hurting growth further.”Jon Jonsson, a fixed income manager at Neuberger Berman, said: “From a market perspective, the ‘No’ vote will reduce confidence in the recovery of the Italian economy. It will also likely increase uncertainty stemming from rising euroscepticism across the euro area. Indeed, it will likely negatively impact Italian government bonds and risky assets in Europe.”However, he added that markets “could fully price these developments sooner than expected and reach oversold levels”.He said: “Patience is key, and there may be opportunities to use any substantial sell-off to buy attractively priced assets.”In some corners, the referendum – which for many Italians had become a vote of confidence in Renzi rather than a vote on political reform – has been seen as the first of a string of important political events taking place over the next 12 months.In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US, commentators had warned of a wave of populism and anti-establishment voting across Europe.However, Eoin Fahy, chief economist and investment strategist at KBI Global Investors, said: “I do not believe this is the start of contagion in Europe. People wouldn’t normally be focused on this kind of referendum.”He added that the European Central Bank – expected to announce changes to its quantitative-easing programme on Thursday – would be able to step in as a buyer if bond markets were affected.last_img read more