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‘Communism is a failed system’: Cuba cracks down on social media access amid protests

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Cuba has restricted access to social media including Facebook and Whatsapp in the wake of unprecedented anti-government protests

Dozens of people have been arrested in Cuba after thousands joined the biggest protests for decades against the island’s Communist government.

Images on social media showed what appeared to be security forces detaining, beating and pepper-spraying some of the protesters. 

Unauthorised public gatherings are illegal in Cuba and protests are rare.

The White House has offered support to the cuban people calling for freedom, meanwhile Senator Ted Cruz described the protestors as brave.

Cuba is striking back against protesters by barring access to several major social media sites, including Facebook at Whatsapp

The government enacted the ban after huge anti-government demonstrations protesting an economic crisis that’s led to mass power outages and food shortages.

Mobile internet has only been available in Cuba for two years. Many activists agree that the new access to social media in the country has been a major contributing factor to the protests. In Cuba’s capital city, atypical power outages have become increasingly common.

“The pattern of restrictions observed in Cuba indicate an ongoing crackdown on messaging platforms used to organize and share news of protests in real-time,” NetBlocks director Alp Toker told Reuters.

However, the government is yet to confirm or deny whether they are intentionally causing the outages. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the situation is “complicated”.

“Our weapon is the internet. If they take away the internet we are unarmed”

“The government does not want people to see the truth,” said one protester, Gino Ocumares.

Dissident has also been rising in the country over the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and increasing restrictions on civil liberties in the country. However, the Cuban government rejects these claims. Rather, they say the US orchestrated and funded by the demonstrations.

Hundreds took part in these protests, chanting ‘down with communism’ and ‘freedom for the people of Cuba’. One resident said that the protesters were met with gunfire. The activist say the government is using ‘rapid reaction brigades’ to counter the protests. The government organises these groups of civilian fighters.

“I think the Communists have lost control, they won’t have a solution to this situation,” said one of the protesters. “The people are tired of so much humiliation, so much repression.”

Counter pro-government rallies

Protests such as these are rare in a country such as Cuba, which has a tight handle on expression of public dissent. State-run media report that at least one man died at the protests. Several people also sustained serious injuries. Although the state has confirmed no other deaths, the number is likely higher.

However, many counter-rallies have also been taking place across the country. Around 100 supporters carrying the Cuban flag gathered in one of these demonstrations yesterday.

Authors

  • Keira is the front-page editor at Ticker NEWS. She's previously worked at Reuters in Jakarta, and ABC in Australia. She has a Bachelor of Journalism, specialising in international politics. Keira is particularly interested in writing about politics, technology and human rights.

Keira is the front-page editor at Ticker NEWS. She's previously worked at Reuters in Jakarta, and ABC in Australia. She has a Bachelor of Journalism, specialising in international politics. Keira is particularly interested in writing about politics, technology and human rights.

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Global Politics

Melbourne enters sixth lockdown as new cases emerge

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Melbourne has entered a snap- lockdown for the sixth time amid three new cases of community transmission

Melbourne entered lockdown number six as authorities continue to scramble to contact trace three new cases of community transmission.

Authorities are considering a three-day snap lockdown to throw a ring around Victoria’s latest Covid outbreak.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley says he expects more than 10,000 primary close contacts linked to new outbreak.

The government and health authorities are locked in discussions about whether a lockdown is required in Melbourne.

This comes less than two weeks since Melbourne’s last lockdown came to an end

There are seven people with Covid-19 in Victorian hospitals. This includes two people in intensive care, who are both on ventilators.

Victorian Covid-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar says authorities have identified two more cases linked to a Hobsons Bay couple in Melbourne’s west.

This brings the state’s daily total to seven cases.

Al-Taqwa College cluster

Health officials are concerned that a teacher at Al-Taqwa College may have infected several people in the community.

The teacher, a woman in her 20s, lives in the Hobsons Bay local government area.

Authorities believe was was infectious in the community for three days last week.

One of her household contacts has also tested positive.

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Authors

  • Keira is the front-page editor at Ticker NEWS. She's previously worked at Reuters in Jakarta, and ABC in Australia. She has a Bachelor of Journalism, specialising in international politics. Keira is particularly interested in writing about politics, technology and human rights.

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Global Politics

Researchers reveal China’s huge network of fake social media profiles

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A new study has revealed that China is using a network of fake social media profiles to push pro-China rhetoric and discredit opponents

Researchers have uncovered a sprawling network of over 350 fake social media profiles China’s using to push a pro-China rhetoric.

According to the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) report, the network’s goal is to delegitimise the West and improve China’s international perception.

Fake users in the network shared large amounts of content about issues like gun laws and race politics. The fake users also used the accounts to criticise opponents to the regime.

The study found a network of fake profiles circulating political cartoons

The cartoons negatively depict critics such as exiled Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, whistleblower scientist Li-Meng Yang, and Steve Bannon, former political strategist for Donald Trump.

China has accused all of them for spreading disinformation including incorrect information about Covid-19.

The network also used the accounts to highlight human rights concerns in the US. Some of the posts cited the murder of George Floyd and hate crimes against Asians.

Cartoon depicting Steve Bannon as a demon, 'Yan Limeng' with a forked tongue and Guo Wengui with a tail and holding an American flag.

China’s multi-platform fake social network

The accounts are across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

Some of the accounts use entirely fake AI-generated profile pictures, whereas bots appear to have hijacked some other accounts.

There’s not concrete evidence that links the network to the Chinese government other than speculation from experts. The CIR says the network resembles other networks Twitter and Facebook have taken down previously.

Who are the fake users?

The researchers found most of the fake profiles use AI-generated faces. A reverse image source cannot search for these images.

The CIR says fake profile pictures in disinformation campaigns are becoming more common. It was able to identify fake images by lining up the position of their eyes.

They say that fake images always tend to put eyes in the same location of an image. Other signs of a synthetic image include blurred hair edges, strangely-angled teeth, and blurred objects around the face.

China responds with campaign against misinformation

This comes as China launches a campaign against fake news to ‘cleanse the cyberspace’ of ‘fake or harmful’ information and unlicensed citizen journalists.

The campaign is a joint effort with ten regulatory agencies, which plan on hitting Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Douyin.

Some of the accounts denied human right abuses in Xinjiang

Some of the fake profiles also denied any human rights abuses against Muslim people in the Xinjiang region. One post called the allegations, “lies fabricated by the United States and the West”.

Many of the Facebook accounts appear to have Turkish names. The researchers believe these accounts once belonged to real people before being hijacked or sold.

The network also appears to have hijacked some dormant accounts on Youtube which previously posted in English or German. After being dormant for years, these accounts suddenly started posting Chinese content from official state broadcasters.

Author

  • Keira is the front-page editor at Ticker NEWS. She's previously worked at Reuters in Jakarta, and ABC in Australia. She has a Bachelor of Journalism, specialising in international politics. Keira is particularly interested in writing about politics, technology and human rights.

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Global Politics

Why does the WHO think we shouldn’t be getting Covid-19 booster shots?

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The World Health Organisation has called for a suspension on COVID-19 booster shots until at least the end of September

The World Health Organisation has called for an end of Covid-19 vaccine booster shots. It is advising that all countries pause the rollout of booster shots until at least September. This would allow for at least 10 percent every country’s population to get a jab.

“We cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

This follows some countries announcing plans to administer a third dose. Both Israel and Germany have announced such plans amid growing concerns about the Delta variant.

The WHO believes poorer nations are falling behind

However, Dr Tedros believes poorer nations are falling behind. Many countries are struggling to administer their populations a first dose, while wealthier nations are able to dispense booster shots.

“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries,” he said.

This comes amid the release of new data showing that low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people due to a lack of supply.

The “sprint to September”

This comes as the WHO calls for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September.

In some countries like Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, none of the population has received two doses of any vaccine.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has only fully vaccinated 7.9 percent of its population. This comes as the Delta variant continues to run rampant across the nation.

Author

  • Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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