Quake-hit Italian town sues Charlie Hebdo for ‘defamation’
Rome: The Italian town of Amatrice, hit by a deadly earthquake last month, is pursuing legal action against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for defamation over a series of cartoons about the tragedy.
An earthquake last month killed at least 292 people in Amatrice, home to a famous tomato sauce “amatriciana”. The complaint was based on cartoons published by the magazine after the quake.
One cartoon, titled “Earthquake, Italian Style”, depicted quake victims as sauce-splattered survivors, and layers of Lasagna with blood and feet emerging from it. (right top)
The cartoon immediately sparked outcry among Italians and prompted the French embassy in Rome to issue a statement saying the drawing “in no way represents France’s position”.
The publication then replied with a follow-up toon suggesting the mafia was to blame, saying, “it’s not Charlie Hebdo who built your homes, it’s the mafia!” (right bottom)
Former Fairfax journalist Natalie O’Brien loses defamation case against ABC
Former Fairfax journalist Natalie O’Brien has lost a defamation case against the ABC over a Media Watch broadcast criticising her articles on the alleged discovery of toxic substances near a playground in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
O’Brien took legal action against the ABC in 2013 after Media Watch criticised two articles she wrote for the Sun-Herald about the alleged discovery of toxic substances “well above” health limits near the Orica industrial site in Hillsdale in Sydney.
Host Paul Barry alleged in the July 2013 broadcast that “the central claims of Natalie O’Brien’s story are just wrong” and took aim at two commercial TV outlets for picking up the reports.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday, Justice Lucy McCallum found for the ABC on the basis the broadcast was defensible as fair comment on a matter of public interest or honest opinion.
She said the broadcast provided “a textbook illustration of the operation of the defence of fair comment”.
“The tone of the programme is the tone of critique,” Justice McCallum said.
“With great respect to Mr Barry, his manner of presentation is, dare I say, opinionated.”
Justice McCallum said she was “persuaded to the unhappy conclusion” that O’Brien had acted irresponsibly in failing to consult independent and qualified experts before making the claims in the reports.
“I reach that conclusion with some regret because I have little doubt that Ms O’Brien believed she was being given reliable information by a person experienced in this field,” Justice McCallum said.
Defamation lawsuit against Tom Gordon to move forward
A portion of the lawsuit against New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon (D) filed by his former deputy will continue through the courts.
Superior Court Judge Scott Bradley dismissed the majority of the lawsuit from David Grimaldi this week, but will allow a jury to decide whether or not Gordon defamed his former deputy after firing him.
The allegations stem from Grimaldi’s dismissal last October.
To the media, Gordon says he fired Grimaldi because he tried to use his position to get out of a traffic ticket.
Instead, Grimaldi claims he was fired for speaking up about nepotism and corrupt hiring practices under Gordon, saying his boss’s statements ruined his reputation.
Grimaldi hasn’t denied telling the patrol officer who pulled him over “You know, your mayor works for me,” but Judge Bradley says a jury must decide his motivations for doing so.
Officer accused of sexual harassment to file defamation case
BELAGAVI: A senior officer, who was under a cloud due to a false sexual harassment complaint lodged by a junior officer, is gaining sympathy and support from various social organizations in Belagavi. With the complaint now proved false, the officer, TB Majjagi, says he suffered mental torture and social stigma for two years, and is contemplating filing a criminal defamation case.
Majjagi, 58, superintendent engineer (project and maintenance cell), Hubballi Electricity Supply Company (Hescom) was jailed and suspended from his job one-and-half years ago due to the sexual harassment complaint registered by junior engineer (technical) BV Sindhu, when he was serving as executive engineer in Belagavi.
In all, Sindhu registered four complaints against Majjagi — including sexual harassment, intimidation, mental torture and abetting suicide – from December 2014 to February 2015, as part of a larger conspiracy by a group of 10 junior employees to get Majjagi transferred. Several women’s organizations had staged a protest to pressure the government, and the case had attracted curiosity in Belagavi district. The sexual harassment complaint was investigated by the department and police. When agencies checked cell phone locations of the accused and complainant, they did not match either the place or timing mentioned in the complaint. Besides, locations of two other employees who were said to be supporters of Majjagi, were also found at different locations.
Racism defamation suit involving Ferial Haffajee is settled
A RACISM defamation lawsuit against Media24 and former City Press editor Ferial Haffajee has been settled, said Media24’s lawyer on Tuesday.
Four former City Press staff members, Mawande Mvumvu, Khanyiso Tshwaku, Muntu Vilakazi and Denvor de Wee, sued the company and Haffajee for R3m each, alleging that she had defamed them as she called them racist.
The case was set down to be heard on Thursday. But attorney Andrew Boerner told Business Day on Tuesday that it had since been settled.
“The action was withdrawn and the dispute has been settled,” he said. He would not be drawn on the details of the settlement.
Real-life ‘Pianist’ family wins defamation suit
The family of the late Jewish-Polish protagonist of Oscar-winning 2002 Holocaust movie “The Pianist” said Monday they had won an appeal against defamation over claims in a book that he was a Nazi collaborator.
Wladyslaw Szpilman’s widow and son brought the case in Warsaw’s appeals court after losing the initial complaint in September 2013.
The family took issue with certain quotes by Polish-Jewish singer Wiera Gran in a 2010 biography of her life, written by Agata Tuszynska.
The remarks see Gran accuse Szpilman of being part of the Jewish Police in the Warsaw ghetto.
The popular late ghetto songstress was herself suspected of collaborating with the Nazis. A court acquitted her of the charges after the war but continued criticism forced her to leave Poland.
In the original court case, ghetto survivors who knew Szpilman testified and rejected Gran’s claims, as did former foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, who helped Jews during World War II.
Judge Bozena Lasota said the author herself had expressed doubts over the allegations against Szpilman and “never shared Wiera Gran’s most serious view.”
But Lasota said a biographer has the right to quote opinions based on freedom of speech and added it would be impossible to pen a biography of the recently deceased without upsetting anyone.
The appeals court however found in favor of Szpilman, who died in 2000.
Being told to get off plane in front of passengers was “humiliating”, says Kameelah Rasheed, who alleges discrimination.
After passing through regular security checks at Newark Liberty International Airport on her way to a holiday in Istanbul, Kameelah Rasheed was called for further questioning by customs officers.
She was later allowed on the United Airlines flight, but eventually forced to leave the aircraft ahead of takeoff to be interrogated by an FBI agent.
The 30-year-old Muslim American told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the two-and-a-half-hour ordeal a day earlier has left her traumatised and unable to consider flying any more.
“It was an attempt to humiliate and ostracise me,” she said.
“I think this happened because I’m Muslim, because I’m travelling to Istanbul, because they have power with no checks and balances, because security means violating people’s rights, because there’s a general lack [of understanding of] what safety means, because people don’t understand basic geopolitical situations.”
Al Jazeera has contacted the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Newark Liberty airport, for comment.
Rasheed is one of a number of Muslims in the US, or people perceived to be Muslim, who say they have been on the receiving end of profiling since the attacks in Paris on November 13, which were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Rasheed said that she was the only passenger of about 200 who was asked to leave the flight on Tuesday, as the customs officers confiscated her passport and phone.
“I was the only visibly Muslim person,” said the New York resident, who wears a headscarf.
Rasheed, an artist, educator, Stanford University graduate, Fulbright scholar and contributing editor at The New Inquiry, added that while the airline had booked another ticket for her, she was scared of being targeted again on her onward journey and chose not to travel.
“I don’t think there is a resurgence of Islamophobia after the Paris attacks. I think it never went away. It’s becoming more legitimised.
“Right after 9/11, you could do it [commit hate crimes towards Muslims] for a couple of years and no one would blame you… And now after Paris, it’s like, ‘look at what they did, I can treat them how I want’. We didn’t make any progress.”
The customs officers asked her several of the same questions repeatedly, she said, including: “Why are you flying? Where are you going in Istanbul? How can you afford to go on holiday? How much was the ticket price?”
“The questions were circular and nonsensical,” she said. “I wasn’t going to the border with Syria. I was going to the tourist locations, to see the Hagia Sophia and take a ferry across the Bosphorus.”
Rasheed was accused of having booked a one-way ticket, even after showing evidence of return flight tickets to the officers on her phone.
“I honestly feel very traumatised and shaken. I don’t feel comfortable flying at all,” she said. “I’m still very angry and hurt, but I have to temper that with not having expectations for being treated better. I shouldn’t expect any better. This is the militarised state that we have decided to live in.
“These are the consequences of me being Muslim and black and American – everything at the moment is organised around me being checked. This is what it is.”
She added that she has been stopped for extra security several times before.
“It’s frustrating to me that I can’t fly like a normal human being,” she said.
“My mum was saying to tie my scarf another way. I can’t be out in the world like other people without having to rearrange my entire life because someone else fears me for something I had nothing to do with?”
Last Tuesday, Spirit Airlines removed four passengers, reportedly of Middle Eastern descent, from a flight out of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Airport after a witness reported suspicious activity. Details of the “suspicious activity” emerged later; the Middle Eastern passenger had reportedly been watching a news report on the phone.
Last Wednesday, US citizens from Philadelphia Maher Khalil and Anas Ayyad were asked to step aside before boarding a Southwest flight at Chicago Midway airport. A fellow passenger had heard them speaking Arabic and complained to staff of being afraid to fly on the same aircraft. They were questioned by police.
Also last Wednesday, six Muslim passengers were removed from a second Southwest flight – also travelling from Chicago, reportedly because of a dispute over a seating arrangement.
“We’re witnessing an increase in these kinds of reports,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Relations (CAIR), told Al Jazeera. “It’s part of an overall rise in anti-Muslim sentiment following the Paris attacks.
“We’re getting a lot of reports from individuals who say they are fearful of travelling. Some Muslims are even concerned about leaving their homes.”
A report released by CAIR on Tuesday listed alleged hate crimes towards members of the US’ Muslim minority since November 13 – or those perceived to be Muslim. It cited at least 12 instances of intimidation, threats and violence against places of worship, and six examples of violence against individuals – including shots fired into a couple’s home, and an assault on a pregnant woman.
“Our nation’s leaders need to speak out against this type of anti-Muslim hate. The American Muslim community is a small minority and we by ourselves, we can’t push back against the tide of anti-Muslim sentiment,” said Hooper.
“What we’re seeing is the end result of the mainstreaming of Islamophobia by leading public officials, such as Ben Carson and Donald Trump. They have given some form of legitimacy to those who would carry out anti-Muslim attacks or profiling.
“It has taken us back almost to the dark ages of the 1930s.”
He added that, unlike former US President George W Bush, the country’s current leader Barack Obama has never publicly visited a US mosque, a move that would give some reassurance to the community that it is protected against such attacks.
“We always anticipated a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric in the presidential campaign,” he said. “Where from here? I don’t think Islamophobia is going to go down. It’s going to go up.”
Source: Anealla Safdar, Al Jazeera
Bill Cosby deposition in Janice Dickinson lawsuit delayed
Dickinson’s defamation suit is one of four filed against the comedian in the past year. By late Thursday, the depositions were off – or “temporarily stayed pending further order of this court”, according to the order from Judge Debra Katz Weintraub. The statement said, “We are confident that once the court of appeals hears full argument on the issues it will allow the deposition of Mr. Cosby and his attorney to go forward”. Bloom professed to be unconcerned by the development. Cosby has denied a few of the allegations and has never been charged with a crime. Most of the accusations are too old to pursue in criminal court. As a result, Dickinson has sued Cosby for defamation, claiming Cosby criticized her account “with the intent and effect of re-victimizing her and destroying the professional reputation she’s spent decades building”. But during the course of the mentorship, Bowman claims she was the victim of multiple nonconsensual sexual encounters by Cosby, including walking up half-dressed and trying to rape her in a hotel room. He’s already given one deposition in another civil suit but it has not been made public and won’t be until at least December 22.
Bill Cosby – Bill Cosby – Bill Cosby – Bill Cosby – Bill Cosby
At a campaign rally in New Hampshire Wednesday night, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump declined to correct a supporter who declared that “Muslims” are “a problem in this country” and urged the candidate to “get rid of ‘em.” Voicing the beliefs of nearly half of U.S. Republicans, the speaker also asserted that President Obama is a Muslim — another point Trump allowed to stand as he promised to “look at” the issue.
Now, civil rights groups in the area say they’re concerned that such a high profile figure like Trump condoning hate speech against Muslims will lead to something worse.
“Anti-Muslim rhetoric isn’t just ugly, it’s dangerous. It is almost always followed by an uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes and violence,” said Farhana Khera with the organization Muslim Advocates. The group is demanding Trump clarify his comments and publicly answer whether he believes the country needs to “get rid of” Muslims.
Khera also compared Trump’s actions — unfavorably — to how Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) faced a similar situation on the campaign trail in 2008, when a supporter called then-Senator Barack Obama an “Arab.”
McCain and other “people of good conscience stood up” to such hate speech then, said Khera. “So we urge all candidates for public office, including those running for president in both parties, to reject anti-Muslim bigotry — or any rhetoric that seeks to divide Americans based on how we look or how we pray.”
This change has come with an increase in incidents of Islamophobia. A local gun shop, Granite State Guns & Survival Gear, declared themselves a “Muslim-free zone.” Earlier this summer, Trump and many other Republicans running for president attended a New Hampshire conference sponsored by a group that believes American Muslims are infiltrating the U.S. government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group’s staffers have also advocated outlawing the practice of Islam in America.
Just a few years ago in nearby Boston, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was violently attacked by a stranger who accused her of a connection to the Boston marathon bombing.
Civil rights groups are concerned that Trump’s tacit support for anti-Muslim speech will echo what has happened with his rhetoric against Latin American immigrants: that it will evolve into violence.
Since Trump infamously characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” supporters of his have verbally and physically attacked Latino protesters and openly advocated for white supremacy. Two brothers who beat and urinated on a homeless Latino man in Boston in August cited Trump as the inspiration for their crime.
“In failing to challenge the questioner’s anti-Muslim bigotry and his apparent call for the ethnic cleansing of American Muslims, Donald Trump sent the message that Islamophobia is acceptable,” said Robert McCaw with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Mr. Trump needs to follow the example of Senator McCain by rejecting bigotry and by speaking out against the growing Islamophobia in American society.”
Another civil rights group, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, released a statement slamming Trump for “promoting Islamophobia by validating anti-Muslim comments.”
“These bigoted comments incite violence and hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, including Arab-Americans,” the group warned.
Following Wednesday night’s incident, some of Trump’s rivals for the White House across the political spectrum are also denouncing his actions. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who held a competing town hall in Concord, New Hampshire, tweeted: “Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is famous for his rowdy town halls, told NBC’s Matt Lauerthat he “wouldn’t have permitted” such remarks to stand.
“If someone brought that up at a town hall meeting of mine, I would’ve said, ‘No, listen. Before we answer, let’s clear some things up for the rest of the audience.’ And I think you have an obligation as a leader to do that,” he said.
Read more: Think Progress
Islamic State militants in Syria committed an “intolerable crime against civilization” by destroying the Temple of Bel, one of the ancient world’s most iconic monuments, the head of the U.N. cultural agency said Tuesday.
The militants used explosives to destroy the two-millennia-old temple in the ancient city of Palmyra on Sunday. Witnesses described a huge blast and the destruction was later confirmed by U.N. satellite images.
The militants claim ancient relics and sites of worship promote idolatry. They have blown up several ancient treasures in Iraq and destroyed a smaller Palmyra temple, Baalshamin, in late August.
Dr. Nedal Haj Darwish at the Department of Archaeology at Iraq’s University of Sulaimani told VOA’s Kurdish service that militants of the self-claimed Islamic State group use religion as a pretext to destroy statues. “But in reality, they want to eliminate the cultural heritage of the area.”
UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said Tuesday 4,500 years of history will never be erased. “The power of culture is greater than that of all forms of extremism and nothing can stop it,” she added.
She said her agency will try to protect “all that can be saved” from destruction by IS.
The Temple of Bel, dating back to 32 AD, displayed a unique merging of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman architecture. Dedicated to the Semitic god Bel, it was considered one of the most important religious buildings of the first century. The temple consisted of a central shrine inside a colonnaded courtyard, with a large gateway within a complex that has other ruins, including an amphitheater and some tombs.
Dr. Darwish says the world should act more aggressively to stop IS from destroying cultural treasures as the group will try to destroy all historical sites that it deems represent non-Islamic icons or values.
Palmyra was an important caravan city of the Roman Empire, linking it to India, China, and Persia. Before the outbreak of Syria’s conflict in March 2011, the UNESCO site was one of the top tourist attractions in the Middle East.
Kokab Farshori , Voanews