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Twitter bans Trump permanently over risk of violent incitement

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Twitter banned US President Donald Trump’s account on Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence”.

The social media platform has been under growing pressure to take further action against Mr Trump following Wednesday’s deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

Twitter initially suspended Mr Trump’s account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated false claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

A statement posted on Twitter’s blog said it had “made it clear” previously that the President’s account was “not above our rules”, and said it took action “in the context of horrific events” earlier this week.

Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviours. But in its lengthy statement the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In those tweets, Mr Trump stated that he would not be attending the inauguration and referred to his supporters as “American Patriots”, saying they will have “a GIANT VOICE long into the future”.

Twitter said these statements “are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so”.

The company said “plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021”.

Twitter’s statement said: “After close review of recent tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.

Trump supporters participate in Wednesday’s rally (John Minchillo/AP)

“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter rules would potentially result in this very course of action.

“Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.

“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things.”

Twitter’s move deprives Mr Trump of a potent tool he has used to communicate directly with the American people for more than a decade. With some 89 million followers, he has tweeted to announce policy changes, challenge opponents, insult enemies, praise his allies and himself, and to spread misinformation.

In the wake of Wednesday’s insurrection, calls were mounting for Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms to suspend the president’s access to social media permanently.

Contrasted Twitter’s initial 12-hour suspension, Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, on Thursday suspended Mr Trump’s account for at least two weeks, and possibly indefinitely.

Donald Trump at his rally before the riots on Wednesday ((Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

On Friday, the company permanently banned two Trump loyalists — former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell — as part of a broader purge of accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory. Twitter vowed to take action on behaviour that has the potential to lead to offline harm.

“Given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behaviour in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” Twitter said in an emailed statement.

The company also said Trump attorney Lin Wood was permanently suspended on Tuesday for violating its rules, but provided no additional details.

The company says that when it determines a group or campaign is engaged in “coordinated harmful activity” it may suspend accounts that it finds primarily encourages that behaviour.

Social media companies have been under intensified pressure to crack down on hate speech since Wednesday, when a violent mob egged on by Mr Trump stormed the Capitol. Dozens of QAnon social media accounts were hyping Mr Trump’s rally earlier in the day in the heart of Washington, expressing hope that it could lead to the overturn of the election results.

On Friday, the advocacy coalition Stop Hate for Profit launched a campaign to pressure the major platforms, including YouTube owner Google, to kick Mr Trump off their services for good.

The organisation, which includes the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Free Press and Colour of Change, said it would call for an advertiser boycott if the platforms did not take action by January 20, the date of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Some federal politicians and celebrities likewise called on the tech companies to extend suspensions or ban Mr Trump altogether. Frank Pallone, a powerful Democratic congressman from New Jersey, tweeted that it was “time for (Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey) and Mark Zuckerberg to remove Trump from their platforms”.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted on Thursday that Silicon Valley companies should stop enabling Mr Trump’s “monstrous behavior” and called for them to permanently ban Mr Trump and enact policies to prevent their technology from being used by national leaders to “fuel insurrection”.

After his 12-hour suspension, Mr Trump resumed tweeting on Thursday. Twitter had said it could take further action as it kept track of “activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter”.

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Iran

Envoy urges setting up a joint bank between Iran, Kazakhstan

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Envoy urges setting up a joint bank between Iran, Kazakhstan

Speaking in a Conference of Economic Diplomacy between Iran and EAEU on Wed., Askhat Orazbay stated that unjust and unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran should be lifted.

Setting up a joint bank between Iran and Kazakhstan as well as launching a bartering system between the two countries is mandatory, he added.

As long as sanctions are not lifted, the two countries should focus on the products that are not subject to sanctions, the envoy stipulated.

Turning to the adverse effects of sanctions, he said that sanctions have reduced volume of trade and business between the two countries extremely, he said, adding, “Under such circumstances, customs duties o the products that are not subject to sanctions should first be reduced and secondly, a bilateral trade agreement should be inked between the two countries regarding free trade zone, so that Kazakhstan welcomes the two options wholeheartedly.”

He lashed out at the lack of a banking system between Iran and Kazakhstan and reiterated, “Lack of an integrated banking system was one of the main problems between the two countries, so that it is proposed to set up a joint bank between Iran and Kazakhstan.”

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European aviation agency clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again

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A modified version of the Boeing 737 Max, incorporating multiple safety upgrades, has been approved to resume flights in Europe, the European aviation safety agency said.

The decision follows nearly two years of reviews after the aircraft was involved in two deadly crashes that saw the planes grounded worldwide.

Changes mandated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) include a package of software upgrades, a reworking of the electrical system, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and new crew training.

“We have reached a significant milestone on a long road,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky.

“Following extensive analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 MAX can safely return to service. This assessment was carried out in full independence of Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure – we asked difficult questions until we got answers and pushed for solutions which satisfied our exacting safety requirements.

“We carried out our own flight tests and simulator sessions and did not rely on others to do this for us.”

The planes were grounded in March 2019 following the crashes of a Lion Air flight near Jakarta on October 29 2018, and an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10 2019, killing a total of 346 people.

Investigators determined that the cause of the crashes was a faulty computer system that pushed the plane’s nose downward in flight and could not be overridden by pilots.

Changes mandated by the EASA, based in Cologne, Germany, include a recertification of the plane’s flight-control system, which was not a part of previous 737 models.

Mr Ky said the EASA will continue to monitor 737 Max operations closely as the aircraft resumes service.

“Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here,” he said.

The planes were grounded in March 2019 (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Despite the green-light from the EASA, the actual return of the aircraft to the skies of Europe may still take some time.

Airlines will still need to ensure their pilots have received the training needed to fly the plane, and that the maintenance and changes necessary have been carried out after the long grounding.

Some EU states will have to lift their own individual grounding notices as well.

The pandemic, meanwhile, has caused severe travel restrictions. Many airlines are flying a fraction of their usual routes, which the EASA said could affect the pace of the aircraft’s return to commercial operations.

The 737 Max returned to the skies in the United States last month, after the Federal Aviation Administration approved changes that Boeing made to the automated flight control system.

It has also been allowed by Brazil to resume flights, and has been cleared by Transport Canada.

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Iran

Zarif stresses respecting intl. law, minorities rights

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Zarif stresses respecting intl. law, minorities rights

Mohammad Javad Zarif, who arrived in Yerevan for the third destination of his trip to the region today, met and held talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

“Armenia is a very good neighbor of the Islamic Republic of Iran and our relations are very close. You are highly respected in Iran,” Zarif said.

“We have common regional concerns with your country, and we have been in contact with you and other countries in the region since the recent conflict, and we are interested in continuing the contacts for the future of cooperation and peace in the region,” he added.

Iranian foreign minister highlighted, “Respecting international law and the protection of the people, respecting the rights of minorities and territorial integrity, and not resorting to force are the main and strategic positions of our foreign policy.”

“Iranian Leader stressed the need for a dignified life with security for all Armenians in the region,” he added, saying, “We also host a large number of Armenian compatriots and we have a long-standing relationship with them and we insist on this principle.”

Iranian Foreign Minister had previously met with his Armenian counterpart Ara Aivazian.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed the latest regional issues, as well as bilateral cooperation.

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