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Europe’s clash with Trump over Iran nuclear deal is a durability test

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Europe’s clash with Trump over Iran nuclear deal is a durability test
Tone struck by Britain, France and Germany will be critical to future transatlantic relations

European leaders are determined to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal even though this potentially puts them on a collision course with an uncompromising US president determined to confront Iran as the “leading state sponsor of terror”.

The clash represents a huge test of the durability of the surprisingly concerted alliance that Germany, France and the UK have managed to maintain in their humiliatingly fruitless bid to prevent Donald Tump from explicitly withdrawing from the deal signed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

The risk is that the unity forged by the European trio over the need to preserve the deal now falters as disagreements surface on how far they are prepared to antagonise a determined US president, not to mention Israel and Saudi Arabia, to keep the deal alive.

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Sandra Maribel Sánchez shrugs off blackmail as easily as she would an online troll.

Threats against your life are all in a day’s work, says the 55-year-old Honduran journalist, when you report on feminism, politics and human rights in a country rife with corruption and organized crime and ruled by men.

“It’s not a matter of how afraid or brave you are, critical journalism has to do with your convictions,” says Honduran journalist and feminist Sandra Maribel Sánchez.

“Once you’ve realized that threats are going to be a part of it, you don’t feel fear when they materialize,” Sánchez says breezily. “It’s not a matter of how afraid or brave you are, critical journalism has to do with your convictions.”

We’re seated on a jostling bus bound for Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. It’s a winding four-hour road trip from rural Río Blanco, through lush green forest, coffee and corn plantations.

“As you may have noticed, I’m pretty strong-willed, so I defend my freedom of expression,” she adds. “I don’t go before hand to ask for permission… and if someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to listen.”

Over three decades, Sánchez has risen as a respected, progressive broadcaster in Honduras — known for staring down the authorities time and again in the name of freedom of the press. As a woman, she has endured numerous indignities along the way, ranging from sexist comments to police arrest and a physical attack.

But Sánchez vows she will never be silenced, because “journalism is my life.”

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Tegucigalpa is the capital city of Honduras, and widely considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world to be a woman, journalist or activist. It is seen here on Oct. 20, 2017 from the Hotel Honduras Maya. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Conquering congress in the 1980s

An indefatigable reporter, Sánchez launched her career more than 30 years ago, at a time when women were unpopular in the workforce, let alone a newsroom.

She also did it in Tegucigalpa, which is widely recognized as the most dangerous capital on Earth with no declared war. Honduras is a troubled Central American state where a woman is killed every 16 hours, and at least 69 journalists have been murdered since 2001.

Sánchez rose to prominence as the second female reporter to cover national politics in Honduran history. But her success didn’t come easily — at her very first job, she was told that women should not be covering politics at all.

It was around 1985, and she had been hired as a political correspondent by Radio América Honduras, only to be assigned to cover health and education. She pushed back against newsroom management and wound up covering the National Congress.

Her next challenge came in the halls of government itself, where no one — not even her reporting colleagues — would take her seriously. In group interviews with politicians, known as scrums, she was constantly overlooked.

“When I would ask a question, my colleagues would turn off their tape recorders,” she remembers, her bitterness discernible. “They assumed I wouldn’t ask anything that could be considered important.”

They were wrong; Sánchez quickly started scooping the male reporters. They paid attention and started deferring to her, having her ask the first questions in a scrum.

“That’s when they considered me competition and somebody not to be dismissed,” she says. “But as women, it’s really hard to win those spaces.”

Sánchez stayed with Radio América for 18 years. In addition to reporting, she hosted her very own talk show, whose air time she used to cover controversial topics, such as feminism, Indigenous rights and environmental protection.

Yet despite earning her chops as a political correspondent, eventually she realized she would never be promoted to newsroom management because she was a woman.

So she quit.

Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Sandra Maribel Sánchez, journalism, Radio

Honduran journalists film a press conference with Nobel Peace Prize laureates Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkol Karman in Tegucigalpa on Oct. 24, 2017. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Always the rebel

Before she was a journalist, Sánchez was a primary school teacher. But it never sparked her passion, and after completing her qualifications, she moved on.

“I had 40 children in my classroom and I was paid the equivalent of $40 a month,” Sánchez explains. “… I wanted to study journalism because I had been organized politically since high school and thought as a journalist, I could contribute to the changes our country needed.”

Sánchez grew up during the Cold War, after a series of military coups and a war with El Salvador that returned Honduras to civilian rule. At the urging of the U.S. government — which had established a continuing military presence there to train local troops and support El Salvador — Honduras adopted a national security regime that targeted internal subversion and dissent.

Sánchez was undeterred by the risks of being a young female activist. She joined Honduras’ Federation of Secondary Students, and travelled the country to attend “underground” meetings on such dangerous topics as feminism, Indigenous sovereignty and systemic state corruption.

It was at these meetings that she came to know another female Honduran trailblazer — beloved Indigenous activist and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Cáceres. Cáceres was murdered in March 2016 after leading a 20-year campaign against the Honduran state selling ancestral Indigenous lands to foreign companies. The assassination, still under investigation today, sent shock waves through the country.

Sánchez remembers her fondly.

“We learned from her that when you have a dream you have to go after it and work for it, regardless of the risks… We also learned that you have to have an international forum to make (the issues) known.”

This is why the weight of social change in Honduras falls so heavily on journalists, Sánchez explains — they have a direct line of communication with the outside world. But that “great responsibility” often comes at great risk, as she learned in the latter half of her career.

Berta Cáceres, women's rights, Honduras, environmental activists, killings, murder, impunity

Lenca environmental activists set up a humble tribute to slain environmentalist Berta Cáceres in their traditional territory of Río Blanco, Honduras on Oct. 21, 2017. Cáceres was murdered in March 2016 for her advocacy against a hydroelectric dam slated for construction on a sacred Lenca river in Río Blanco. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Awarded, attacked, arrested

In December 2007, Sánchez was awarded the Argentina-based Fundación Democracía sin Fronteras Prize for Journalistic Integrity. It is given to those who, against great odds, uphold freedom of expression, objectivity and the fight against corruption.

At the time, she was the news director for Radio Globo — a station that did not refuse her a promotion based on sex. One of her first moves in management was to ensure her reporting team was at least 50 per cent female.

“The female journalists were actually better than the men, and our audience knew that too,” she says with a grin.

The recognition was a major accomplishment, she adds, given that in Honduras, “all women are perceived to be less skilled and capable than men in every field, regardless of how well the person is doing the work.”

“The patriarchy is the underlying theme everywhere, even of course, within women’s perceptions,” Sánchez explains. “Although there’s been a great deal of effort within women’s and feminist organizations, it has not been enough to deconstruct a culture that was built over centuries.”

Sánchez stayed at Radio Globo nearly five years, steadfast in her commitment to coverage of environmental defence, Indigenous rights, social welfare, freedom of expression and “critical analysis of what (politicians) aren’t doing.” During that time, life in Honduras took a turn for the worst — especially for journalists.

In 2008, Sánchez and her family received numerous threats and were repeatedly followed by unmarked vehicles due to her support for a hunger strike undertaken by a handful of public prosecutors who wanted proceedings initiated in the country’s most notorious, unpunished corruption cases. Her family was unharmed, but shaken.

It was the calm before the storm. A year later, there was a a constitutional crisis and coup d’état in Honduras. The president was ousted and exiled and constitutional rights were suspended for 45 days. By August 2009, as civil unrest and conflict escalated, the interim government had shut down a number local broadcasters — including Sánchez’s Radio Globo, whose offices were raided by masked soldiers.

The following years were among the deadliest for journalists in Honduras. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, at least 22 journalists were murdered. Only one case resulted in sentencing.

At the time, Frank La Rue, a United Nations special freedom of expression rapporteur, called these statistics “unacceptable and inhuman,” and called on the new Honduran president to create measures to protect journalists and their families.

Sánchez says those dark times strengthened her resolve.

“I knew this was a profession subject to ongoing censorship — that we would have to struggle for freedom of expression, and that when you want to practice the kind of journalism I practice, you are always at risk. But journalism is my life.”

Sandra Maribel Sanchez, Radio Progreso, Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Shirin Ebadi, Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize, Yemen, Iran

Honduran journalist Sandra Maribel Sanchez (centre) poses for a photo with Nobel Peace Prize laureates Tawakkol Karman of Yemen (left) and Shirin Ebadi of Iran, who visited Tegucigalpa in October 2017 to hear from women human rights defenders. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

In 2014, Sánchez received an unprecedented apology from a Honduran police officer who disrupted her coverage of a 2011 protest, during which he and his team had teargassed a bus full of innocent passengers. Sánchez’s camera was broken during the incident, which was characterized by the local paper El Heraldo as an “aggression” limiting a journalist’s “right to work freely.” The policer officer voluntarily submitted to freedom of expression sensitivity training, and at the time, Sánchez deemed his actions “courageous” and precedent-setting.

Two years later, in November 2016 — several months after the murder of her dear friend Berta Cáceres — Sánchez was beaten, dragged and arrested by police at tollbooth near Tegucigalpa, where she was covering a protest supporting the right to free movement (without tolls) in the country. She was later released without charge, and her news station filed a complaint with the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights in Honduras.

Asked whether she has been targeted more than other journalists in the country, she responds:

“There’s really not a robust, critical press in our country so it’s very easy to be singled out by those who do not tolerate freedom of expression.”

A dream for true democracy

After a brief stint with Radio Gualcho, Sánchez moved on to Radio Progreso — a proudly independent broadcaster run by the Catholic Order of Jesuits, dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices and advancing human rights. She works there today, and has made a name for herself as an outspoken feminist, political and social commentator — particularly during the recent election.

It was a tumultuous and controversial election, wrought with accusations of fraud, protests andviolence that left than 30 people dead on the streets, and launched Honduras into its worst political crisis in a decade.

Yet amid such troubled times, Sánchez says she sees glimmers of hope, particularly for women. Over the years, the country has enacted a domestic violence law, recognized ‘femicide’ (the sex-based murder of women) in the criminal code, and increased punishments for offenders. It has also launched a new Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders, which outlines a number of government safety measures to protect journalists and their families.

More women have access to education now than when she was a little girl, she adds, and increasingly, women are asserting themselves in politics and society at large.

“I see young women with fewer fears. I see them negotiating,” she tells me, our ride to Tegucigalpa nearing its end. “They can end relations when they’re not satisfactory. That makes me think that there has been progress even though there have been a number of issues.”

I ask her what her dream is — what she hopes her struggle will amount to in her lifetime. The answer is surprisingly simple.

“That Honduras could become a true democracy, because if it were a true democracy it would ensure that all the other changes I would like to see would take place,” Sánchez responds.

“There would be equal participation of men and women, youth and adults, and black and Indigenous people in decision-making processes.”

Lenca people, Honduras, Berta Cáceres, Río Blanco, COPINH

Indigenous Lenca girls smile during a memorial ceremony for a murdered community leader, Berta Cáceres, on Oct. 21, 2017 in Río Blanco, Honduras. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth McSheffrey travelled to Honduras with the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Just Associates, which provided translation services for this interview.

FBI offers $1M reward for info on American journalist Austin Tice, missing in Syria

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FBI offers $1M reward for info on American journalist Austin Tice, missing in Syria

A picture shows freelance journalist Austin Tice in Cairo in March 2012. CHRISTY WILCOX/AFP/GETTYIMAGES
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The FBI is offering a $1 million reward “for information leading directly to the safe location, recovery, and return of Austin Bennett Tice ” CBS News’ Andres Triay reports. Tice, a former Marine and an American journalist from Houston, Texas, disappeared in August 2012 while covering Syria’s civil war. A video released a month later showed him blindfolded and held by armed men saying “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.

Tice, a freelance reporter, was working for McClatchy at the time he was kidnapped. He had done work for CBS News as well as other outlets. He disappeared shortly after his 31st birthday.

The circumstances surrounding Tice’s disappearance remain a mystery. It’s not clear what entity is holding him and no ransom demand has ever been made.

Many believe he is being held by the Syrian government or its affiliated groups, although that has not been proven, CBS News’ Triay reports.

The FBI did not say why it was offering the reward money now, only that it was unrelated to any specific event or new piece of information. An FBI spokeswoman would not say how officials settled on the $1 million sum, stating that reward payment amounts are based on a number of factors including “the severity of the danger or injury” to a U.S. citizen and the risk to the source providing the information.

Tice’s parents have said they believe he is still alive and the U.S. and Syrian governments have assured them they are working to secure his safe release.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Don’t scrap Iran deal,500 MPs from UK, France and Germany urge US

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Don’t scrap Iran deal, MPs from UK, France and Germany urge US

Joint statement published in Guardian calls for rethink before 12 May deadline set by Trump

Donald Trump
 Donald Trump is concerned that Iran could obtain nuclear capability at the end of the 10-year deal. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

More than 500 parliamentarians from France, Germany and the UK have written to their US counterparts urging them to persuade Donald Trump not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.

In a joint statement published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel, the New York Times and Le Monde, they urged a White House rethink before the 12 May deadline set by Trump to pull out of the deal, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), unless Europe can come up with a new policy that will meet his concerns.

“The US government threatens to abandon the JCPOA, although Iran fulfils its obligations under the agreement,” the letter said. They warn that “an exit from the US would have fatal consequences”.

France, Germany and the UK negotiated the landmark deal in 2015 that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limits on its nuclear programme, and are using all their leverage to try to persuade Trump that the deal is salvageable.

“The short-term impact of this move would put an end to Iran’s nuclear programme controls, which could provide a new source of devastating conflict in the Middle East and beyond,” it said.

But it said even more serious were the long-term risks: damage to the credibility of the signatories as partners in international negotiations and more generally to diplomacy as a tool to secure lasting peace and security.

“Leaving the agreement would diminish the value of all the promises and threats our countries make,” the parliamentarians said.

They added that if the deal broke down it would be nigh on impossible to assemble another grand coalition built around sanctions against Iran.

DHS: Fears over journalist database ‘fit for tin foil hat wearing … conspiracy theorists’

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DHS: Fears over journalist database ‘fit for tin foil hat wearing … conspiracy theorists’

(CNN)The Department of Homeland Security is pushing back on reaction to reports that it’s seeking access to a database of journalists and bloggers, arguing that the move is “standard practice.”

A solicitation posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website, the main contracting website used by the federal government, outlines a number of requests from DHS related to media monitoring — including 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week access to a “media influencer” database that would be made up of reporters, editors and bloggers.
In a Friday column that was tweeted out by the Committee to Protect JournalistsForbes writer Michelle Fabio referred to the move as “today’s installment of ‘I’m Not Terrified, You Are,'” and said the details of the plan “are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.”
A DHS spokesperson took to Twitter on Friday to emphasize that the request is nothing out of the ordinary.
“Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media,” DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton tweeted after the Committee to Protect Journalists tweeted out a link to a Forbes article about the request. “Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”
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DHS is seeking a contractor that can provide “traditional and social media monitoring,” which will help its national protection and programs directorate track reporting and media coverage about the department, according to the solicitation.
“Given this administration’s denigration of most media outlets, I understand why the timing of this bid might look suspicious,” John Kirby, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst, said in an e-mail. “But from what I can tell, this is nothing more than an attempt at media analysis. It’s not at all different from what I have seen other agencies undertake to better understand the communication landscape. In fact, it would be PR malpractice not to put something like this together.”
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52 Brazilian women sports journalists launch their #MeToo campaign against seuxal harrasment #deixaelatrabalhar

brazilian sport journalsit

Association of North American ( Canada – USA ) Ethnic Journalists and writers support Brazilian women journalist campaign against Sexual misconduct and harassment

wwww.anaj.org support #deixaelatrabalhar
March 31 -2018

 52 Brazilian  women sports journalists launch  their #MeToo moment

A man gave Bruna Dealtry an unwanted kiss as she was reporting on live television. She and other female sports journalists in Brazil made a video about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault on the job.

(CNN)It’s Tuesday night in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Januario stadium is packed with people. The host football club, Vasco, is making its debut in the prestigious Libertadores soccer tournament against visitor Universidad de Chile.

Fans in black and white jerseys pour into the stadium, cheering and pounding cans of beer. Reporter Bruna Dealtry positions herself in the middle of the action for her upcoming live shot. She’s on the air describing the atmosphere for Esporte Interativo’s viewers, when a shirtless man kisses her on the lips mid-sentence. Dealtry shrieks for a second and says on camera “That wasn’t cool. I didn’t really need that, but it happened.”
“I felt humiliated,” Dealtry told CNN. “If this can happen to me with the camera rolling, imagine what other women go through. I couldn’t just stay silent.”
That night, Dealtry wrote about the incident on her professional Facebook page, and posted an excerpt of the video.
“I’ve always been a reporter who loves to celebrate with the fans. I don’t get bothered by people soaking me in beer, jumping around me or stepping on my foot,” Dealtry wrote. “But today, I experienced first-hand the impotence so many women feel in the stadium, on the subway, even walking in the street. I was kissed on the lips, without my permission, while I was doing my job. I didn’t know how to react and couldn’t understand how someone could think they have the right to act that way.”
Dealtry’s post generated an immediate response — especially among other female journalist who cover sports.
“Somebody had to take that first step,” sports producer Paula Pereira Ab told CNN. “We knew we had something in common that went beyond being female journalists. We had all been victims of harassment, mansplaining and sexism in general, as minorities in the sports world.”
For Ab, the issue went beyond what the journalists face from the fans in the stadium. A veteran sports producer, Ab said she was fired from one of her previous employers after speaking out against a superior who she accused of harassment.
“It’s been years since this happened and I still shake when I think about it,” Ab told CNN. “I was at the height of my career and had just come back from an international assignment when I presented my claim against my harasser. I was fired almost instantly and told I wasn’t the right fit anymore.”

#LetHerDoHerJob

Eight women who connected over Dealtry’s Facebook post banded together and formed a messaging group on WhatsApp.
Two weeks later, the group had 52 members. They began discussing strategies to take action, and, inspired in part by the #MeToo movement, decided to use social media to spread their message.
They agreed to make a one-minute video about their experiences with harassment — many of which had been caught on camera — and the hashtag #deixaelatrabalhar (Portuguese for #LetHerDoHerJob).
They published the video on Sunday, March 25; since then, local media reported that it’s been viewed millions of times across different platforms, citing the social media data aggregator CrowdTangle.
Interspersed with clips of harassment and assault — including Dealtry’s unwanted kiss — the women speak to the camera about their experiences, demanding respect and saying they’ve had enough.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the response we got,” Mayra Siqueira, a freelance journalist and commentator, told CNN. “A lot of people retweeted our post, including some of the football clubs and male fans.”
Vasco, the team Dealtry was covering the night a fan kissed her, was among those who shared the video, along with Brazilian character artist Renato Peters and soccer legend Zico.

What’s next

Siqueira said the Whatsapp group has now grown to nearly 100 women, who work in sports journalism all over Brazil. The women have received messages of support from people all over the world and hope to broaden the campaign to include international journalists as well.
“We are part of a global movement,” Siqueira told CNN. “Our fight can be any woman’s fight. We’ve shown that when a group of us come together, our voices become louder and we cannot be ignored.”
Siqueira said the group has no definite plans for a follow-up to the video, but they are discussing their next steps.
Nearly a week after the women posted their video, Brazil’s Sports Ministry and the National Secretariat for Women’s Policies launched a campaign featuring female athletes speaking out against sexual harassment in sport and denouncing it as a crime. It also included a call for action for women to report the incidents to an emergency hotline.
“We’ve been experiencing sexism and harassment in our society for a long time and tolerating it because it was considered normal,” Dealtry said. “I think my experience caused an impact because it happened live, on camera and in the context of football. … I’m hoping this example will leave an impact and make men think twice before doing something like that again.”
www.anaj.org support #metoo campaign 

Mexican police officers found guilty of murdering journalist

Moises_Sanchez_Cerezo-periodista_desaparecido_Veracruz_MILIMA20150103_0090_8

Mexican police officers found guilty of murdering journalist in rare conviction
Two officers sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in the killing of newspaper owner Moisés Sánchez in Veracruz

March 28-2018
Association of North American Ethnic Journalists and Writers welcoming news on conviction of Newspaper owner Journalist in Mexico .

Two police officers have been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a Mexican journalist, marking a rare conviction in a country where crimes committed against media members almost always remain in the realm of impunity.

The police officers, identified as Luigui Heriberto N and José Francisco N, were convicted of killing newspaper owner Moisés Sánchez in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, the most lethal jurisdiction for journalists in the hemisphere.

They were also ordered to pay $18,000 (£12,900) in compensation, according to a statement from the Veracruz prosecutor’s office.

Mexican town’s entire police force detained over journalist disappearance
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Press freedom advocates and members of Sánchez’s own family say the convictions fall short as the local mayor – who is accused of ordering the murder – remains a fugitive, and six other police officers – accused of forming a drug-dealing gang and acting on the mayor’s orders – have not been prosecuted.

During the initial murder investigation, state prosecutors detained 36 officers – the entire police force of the town of Medellín de Bravo – for questioning.

“Two convictions of former police officers for breach of their legal duties is progress, but it is not justice,” Sánchez’s son Jorge wrote in Plumas Libres, an online news organisation.

Sánchez was kidnapped 2 January 2015 outside his home in the municipality of Medellín de Bravo in Veracruz state. His lifeless body was found three weeks later.

As he was pulled from his home, Sánchez pleaded with the assailants, “Please don’t hurt my family,” CPJ reported.

Veracruz officials originally said that Sánchez was not a journalist – a common practice by the authorities in states with atrocious records of infringing on press freedoms.

Sánchez moonlighted as a taxi driver to sustain his weekly newspaper, La Unión, and had reportedly angered the mayor by highlighting the poor state of municipal services and revealing the existence of citizen vigilante groups forming as a response to rampant insecurity.

Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters and media workers.

Three journalists have been murdered in Mexico so far in 2015. Leobardo Vázquez was shot dead on 21 March in northern Veracruz as he worked at a taco stand next to his home. Like Sánchez, he worked in his taco business to subsidise a news venture.

Another Journalist shot dead Mexico journalist shot dead in Gulf state of Veracruz Leobardo Vázquez, 48, killed in town of Gutiérrez Zamora Vázquez ran news website in area known for drug cartel activity

Leobardo Vázquez

Association of North American Ethnic Journalists and Writers ( Canada – USA ) condolences death of Leobardo Vázquez Mexican journalist . We call on Mexico police and Government to bring those responsible before court of law.
Another Journalist shot dead Mexico journalist shot dead in Gulf state of Veracruz Leobardo Vázquez, 48, killed in town of Gutiérrez Zamora Vázquez ran news website in area known for drug cartel activity

A Mexican journalist has been shot dead in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, becoming the latest victim in a relentless string of attacks on the country’s press.

Leobardo Vázquez ran an online news outlet called Enlace Informative Regional and previously reported for other media in the region.

He was shot dead on Monday night at the taco stand he operated next to his home in the vanilla-producing municipality of Gutiérrez Zamora, according to a statement by Veracruz state officials.

‘We work under siege’: the journalists who risk death for doing their jobs
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Officials have offered no motive for the slaying, though Mexican media reported he has received threats over his reporting on an illegal land “invasion” by squatters.

Vázquez moonlighted at his fast-food stand to make ends meet, while also covering crime and the police in northern Veracruz, an area rife with underworld activity.

Press freedom groups consider the region a “zone of silence”, where the reporters practise self-censorship to stay safe and keep the details of crime and corruption cases vague.

Vázquez was the third Mexican reporter to be killed in 2018. Last year 12 media members were murdered in the country.

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2017 was Mexico’s deadliest year on record, and the murder rate has kept climbing in 2018: in the first two months of the year, Mexico recorded 4,937 homicides, an 18% increase the same period of 2017.

Violence against the media has been especially acute in the state of Veracruz. During the 2010-2016 administration of the governor Javier Duarte – currently in jail on corruption charges – at least 20 media workers were murdered and many more were forced to flee the state.

“The death of Leobardo Vázquez is a clear sign that the conditions for journalists in the state have not improved since Duarte left,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Reporters are still badly exposed to violence. Nearly all of the murders of journalists in Veracruz remain unpunished and the impunity incentivises more violence.”

Mexico has implemented some measures to prevent the bloodshed, including a mechanism for protecting journalists under threat and a special prosecutor’s office for investigating the crimes committed against them. But reporters and press freedom groups have complained that the official response has been half-hearted and ineffective.

Mario Vargas Llosa: murder of Mexican journalists is due to press freedom
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Earlier this week, the noble laureate Mario Vargas Llosa provoked outrage by asserting that the targeting of journalists was a reflection of improved press freedoms.

“The fact that more than 100 journalists were murdered is, in grand part, to be blamed on the freedom today, which allows journalists to say things that were not permitted previously. Narcotics trafficking plays an absolutely central part in all of this,” he said in a radio interview.

Many journalists rebuked Vargas Llosa, saying he had failed to consider Mexico’s rampant impunity – and the close connection between organised crime and the country’s politicians.

Article 19, a freedom of expression advocacy organisation, issued a report earlier in March noting that only 8% of the nearly 2,000 aggressions – threats, harassment or attacks – against journalists in Mexico last year could be attributed to organised crime.

Public officials, meanwhile, committed 48% of the aggressions against journalists.

big corporations mislead public on E-cigarette

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big corporations mislead public on E-cigarette

Teens using e-cigarettes show evidence of same toxic chemicals as smokers: Study

PHOTO: A man smokes an e-cigarette in this undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
A man smokes an e-cigarette in this undated stock photo.

Using e-cigarettes has been promoted as a way to help adult smokers cut back or quit smoking, or at least to minimize the health damage that smoking causes. Teens, even middle schoolers, have taken up e-cigarettes as well. But as researchers continue to study their safety, a new report in Pediatrics shows vaping could lead to the presence of concerning levels of toxic chemicals.

Almost 100 teens from the San Francisco Bay area were examined in the University of California-San Francisco study: 67 teens used e-cigarettes only, 16 used both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes and 20 didn’t smoke or vape at all.

Urine and salivary gland testing looked for breakdown products of toxic chemicals that have been associated with cancer — and found them in both smokers and vapers — but not those who didn’t smoke at all.

PHOTO: A variety of electronic cigarette flavors are displayed for sale at an electronic cigarette store, June 10, 2013, in New York City.Spencer Platt/Getty Images FILE
A variety of electronic cigarette flavors are displayed for sale at an electronic cigarette store, June 10, 2013, in New York City.

Those who smoked cigarettes and used e-cigarettes had urine samples that indicated a higher presence of benzene, ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile, acrolein and acrylamide (all associated with higher risks of cancer). Levels were three times as high as those who used just e-cigarettes.

In turn, the “e-cigarette only” group had three times more evidence of the presence of acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide, and crotonaldehyde as non-users. Those chemicals, as well, are associated with a higher cancer risk.

The researchers write, “The presence of harmful ingredients in e-cigarette vapor has been established; we can now say that these chemicals are found in the body of human adolescents who use these products.”

PHOTO: A cigarette and an e-cigarettes are displayed in this undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
A cigarette and an e-cigarettes are displayed in this undated stock photo.

Apparently, the “flavor” of the e-cigarette cartridge matters. Among e-cigarette-users, the levels of acrylonitrile were higher in those who preferred fruit flavors — compared to candy, tobacco or menthol flavors.

This is significant because 55 percent of e-cigarette users — and 67 percent of those who smoked and used e-cigs — preferred fruit flavors.

The study did not go on to see if any of these teens developed cancer.

This is the first study to assess the chemicals in e-cigarettes among adolescent use, highlighting the need to warn teenagers that there is not much known about the possible negative health risks associated with e-cigarettes.

Dr. Najibah Rehman is a third-year resident in preventative medicine at the University of Michigan, working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Ex-ESPN host sues network, claims it is ‘rife with misogyny’

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Ex-ESPN host sues network, claims it is ‘rife with misogyny’

Former ESPN host and legal analyst Adrienne Lawrence sued the network in federal court on Monday, claiming the company is “rife with misogyny” and asserting that she was fired after complaining about being sexual harassed by a senior anchor.

In the 84-page complaint, filed in United States District Court in Connecticut, Lawrence allegges that male employees kept scorecards for female colleagues and casually watched pornography and made sexually explicit comments.

Image: Adrienne Lawrence
Adrienne Lawrence Joe Faraoni / ESPN

In a statement, ESPN said it conducted a “thorough investigation” and found Lawrence’s allegations to be “entirely without merit.”

Lawrence was hired into a two-year talent development program and was told her contract wouldn’t be renewed, the statement said, adding that the network told the same thing to others with more experience.

“The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court,” the statement said.

The suit says Lawrence quit her job as a lawyer in 2015 to join the network as a fellow. Senior “SportsCenter” anchor John Buccigross, who has worked at the network since 1996, offered to mentor her, though he was soon making unwelcome advances and using “calculated grooming” tactics, the suit says.

In text messages, the suit says, 52-year-old Buccigross commented on Lawrence’s “#longlegs” and “pretty face,” and sent her shirtless photos of himself, saying: “I’m a white boy and I’m jacked.”

In another text, he asked for a photo of her and offered to oil himself up “like a flag bearer from Tonga.”


John Buccigross Courtesy ESPN

When Lawrence, who is nearly 20 years younger than Buccigross, rebuffed him during a visit to his home, the suit says, he told her something he said he’d never told anyone — not even his ex-wife: he was a sexual assault victim. The suit describes the move as a tactic designed to elicit sympathy.

Buccigross then did something the suit claims is a common practice at the network — he spread false rumors that Lawrence was “sleeping her way to the top.” When Lawrence reported this to the network’s human resources department, the suit says, she was asked “to give him a chance” and told to “get used” to Buccigross’ behavior.

Related: Since Weinstein, here’s a growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct

ESPN did not respond to a request for comment from Buccigross, but in a statement to the Boston Globe in December, he said he’d sent the photos to Lawrence but denied starting rumors.

“I considered Adrienne to be a friend,” he said. “I’m sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn’t my intent.”

When Lawrence complained to a supervisor about HR’s handling of her complaint, she was told to “let it go,” the suit says, adding that Lawrence’s contract was then not renewed — even though she’d won praise from the network in a 2016 profile and was asked by former ESPN president John Skipper to stay long term.

The suit, which does not specify damages, names four network executives as defendants and cites confidential sources to back up its claims of a widespread misogynistic and predatory culture, including former employees in security, corporate communications and production.

The suit attributed the witnesses’ request for anonymity to a fear of retaliation by ESPN or other media outlets.

The suit also alleges that longtime ESPN host Chris Berman left a “threatening and racially disparaging” voicemail for Jemelle Hill, The Undefeated columnist. But Hill, in a Twitter post on Monday, said he’d done no such thing.

“A few years ago, I had a personal conflict with Chris Berman, but the way this conflict has been characterized is dangerously inaccurate,” she wrote. “Chris never left any racially disparaging remarks on my voicemail and our conflict was handled swiftly and with the utmost professionalism.”

Hill said she was disappointed that “someone I considered to be a friend at one point would misrepresent and relay a private conversation without my knowledge.”

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