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What does the term “fake news” really mean?

What does the term "fake news" really mean?

January 17, 2018
US President Donald Trump’s favourite phrase is being adopted and weaponised by a growing number of leaders around the world – many of them authoritarian.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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“Fake news”. If you tweet, watch TV or talk politics with your friends, it’s a phrase you can’t escape.

 

Though its first uses can be traced back more than 100 years, its current popularity is down to one man: US President Donald Trump. He first started using it as a cudgel with which to beat his critics while campaigning and, since his election, he has forced it into the popular lexicon. Not only in the US, but internationally.

 

Trump has said he plans on Wednesday to hand out awards for “fake news”. The announcement prompted ridicule from many, with several comedians actively campaigning to be nominated.

 

But is the growing popularity of the term not funny, but sinister? A Politico tally at the end of 2017 found that Trump’s preferred insult has become a favourite of authoritarian governments around the world, with leaders or state media in at least 15 countries using it to attack the media.

 

So, what does “fake news” really mean? Is its use as a slur here to stay? And is it even a useful description?

 

The Stream discusses with a panel of experts.

 

Read more:

Trump’s ‘fake news’ mantra a hit with despots – Politico

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online – Pew Research Center

 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Has the US given Israel a green light for settlement homes?

Has the US given Israel a green light for settlement homes?

January 16, 2018
In this episode we also look at Costa Rica’s exploding murder rate and the continuing #JusticeforZainab campaign in Pakistan.

Credit: AP/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER

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On Tuesday’s episode of the Stream we’ll check in on some of the latest news AJE correspondents are covering around the world.
 
Costa Rica  
Costa Rica closed out 2017 with its highest ever murder rate. According to preliminary data, the Central American nation of five million people saw about 603 homicides last year, up from 578 in 2016. Authorities blame drug trafficking and score-settling between gangs. 
"In recent years we do not remember a situation similar to what we are experiencing now," said Walter Espinoza, director of the Costa Rican Judicial Investigative Unit — Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ).
 

Costa Rica’s murder rate works out to 12.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The World Health Organization considers a murder rate of more than 10 per 100,000 to be an "epidemic." Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher is in the capital San Jose covering the story and speaking to people on the ground.
 
West Bank settlement homes
So far this year, Israel has approved the construction of more than 1,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank, according to Peace Now, an NGO that tracks and analyses developments in the settlements. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki criticised the plan, blaming the United States for "giving the green light" to Israel to do "whatever it wants with Palestinian land". In December US president Donald Trump announced the US would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that caused international outcry and condemnation from the United Nations.
 

Settlements are illegal under Resolution 242 and international law and are considered to be an obstacle to the resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan is reporting on the story.
 
#JusticeForZainab
Zainab was just seven-years-old when she was kidnapped, raped and murdered, her body dumped in a garbage heap in her hometown of Kasur, in northeastern Pakistan. Her parents had reported her missing a few days earlier, and her family believes police had failed to act adequately. The city has faced a spate of abduction, sexual assault and murders. There have been several protests across Pakistan and online Zainab’s death has caught the attention of thousands and the hashtag #JusticeForZainab is trending.
 

We speak to aljazeera.com correspondent Asad Hashim and political activist and lawyer Mohammad Jibran Nasir.

 

Read more:

More than 1,000 settlement homes approved in West Bank – Al Jazeera 

Parents of raped and murdered girl, 7, seek justice – Al Jazeera 

 

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What future do US immigrants have under Trump?

What future do US immigrants have under Trump?

January 15, 2018
The Stream explores recent debates about immigration policy in the United States, including changes to the TPS and DACA residency programmes.

(REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)

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Tens of thousands of US residents could be soon affected by changes to immigration policy. From the potential end of a programme that protects young people brought to the country illegally, to President Donald Trump’s opposition to so-called "chain migration", many risk having to leave.

In this episode, The Stream speaks to just some of them to learn about what they’re doing to fight the proposals and prepare for an uncertain future. Here are the three topics we will cover:

Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans

About 200,000 Salvadorans could face deportation after the Trump administration announced a plan to revoke legal status they had under the Temporary Protected Status humanitarian programme (TPS). 

TPS was designed as a temporary fix for immigrants already in the United States who don’t have legal status but cannot return to their home countries due to natural disaster, conflict or other extraordinary conditions.

Salvadorans were awarded TPS protection in 2001 after a pair of earthquakes killed more than 1,500 people. The US government, though, says El Salvador is now capable of reabsorbing those citizens. These TPS recipients now have until September 2019 to secure legal residency or leave.

After 20 years in the US, how are some of these Salvadorans responding to the the decision and the possibility that they may have to leave?

The future of DACA "dreamers"

The lives of thousands of young people are under scrutiny as officials scramble to craft legislation that would allow them to continue living in the US.

DACA – or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – is a Barack Obama-era programme that awarded a renewable, two-year deferment on deportation to people brought illegally to the US as children. In September 2017, President Trump announced that he would rescind the programme, giving lawmakers six months to find a legislative solution for the DACA beneficiaries. 

So, how are DACA recipients responding? And what is the likely outcome?

President Trump vows to end "chain migration"

The US president has frequently voiced his opposition to family-based migration, which allows US citizens and green card holders to sponsor relatives for permanent residence. Although the process is intensive, subject to annual quotas, and sometimes costly, critics of the current system say petitions should be limited only to the "nuclear family" – parents and their children.

The Trump administration has now endorsed legislation that restricts family-based immigration by introducing a points-based system, which would prioritise English-speakers. Trump says the new system would benefit the US economy. 

But pro-immigration groups say the proposed reforms are less about the economy or national security, and more about the government being able to pick and choose what sort of immigrants can come to the US. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that cuts to family-based migration would mostly affect US residents sponsoring relatives from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, China, India, and Vietnam.

So, what does the future of immigration look like for people hoping to build new lives – and communities – in the US?

Join us for these discussions on Monday at 1930 GMT.

Read more:
When deportation is a death sentence – The New Yorker
The DACA deal hiding in plain sight – Politico
What "chain migration" really means – and why Donald Trump hates it so much – Vox

What do you think? Record your thoughts here, or leave a comment below.

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Why is Israel jailing Palestinian minors?

Why is Israel jailing Palestinian minors?

January 11, 2018
The case of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi has caught world attention but there have been thousands before her and many are still behind bars.

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi (R) enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli Prison Service personnel at Ofer Prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

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Ahed Tamimi has made international headlines. The 16-year-old Palestinian’s defiant slapping of an Israeli soldier was heard across the world as footage of the incident went viral. Tamimi, an already prominent activist, was later detained and she remains behind bars, charged with 12 different offences

But Ahed Tamimi is not alone. There are hundreds of Ahed Tamimis and there have been thousands before her. According to the latest official figures, 331 Palestinian minors are currently held in Israeli prisons. 
 

And since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian minors have been arrested and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system, according to advocacy group Defence for Children International Palestine. 
 

The most common conviction? Stone throwing.
 

Critics of the system say minors should not be processed through what they call kangaroo courts and that the real goal is to discourage resistance to occupation.
 

Israel says the minors have committed serious crimes and often threatened State security.
 

So where does the truth lie? The Stream discusses with experts on Thursday.

 

Read more
Detained, Arrested and Harassed – Haaretz

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi arrested by Israeli forces – Al Jazeera 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below

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Who’s behind the attacks on migrants in Greece?

Who’s behind the attacks on migrants in Greece?

January 10, 2018
The recent surge of violence is forcing the country to address its issue of racism.
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On Wednesday, January 10 at 19:30 GMT: 
 

A recent rise in anti-migrant attacks is shining the spotlight on racism in Greece and calling on the country to examine the growing popularity of a right-wing political party.

Since December 25, more than 30 homes of migrant labourers have been the target of violence in the port city of Piraeus. “It’s been happening at least three times per week,” says Petros Constantinou, the national director for Keerfa, an anti-racist activist group. “They are targeting homes where it is obvious migrants are living,” Constantinou told Al Jazeera ahead of his appearance on The Stream.

The “they” is believed to be members of Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-fascist party. The group has grown in popularity over the years thanks to their anti-establishment rhetoric and their use of the national resentment over Greece’s financial crisis.

This month, as part of a larger effort by Twitter to combat hate speech, Golden Dawn had their account suspended. The party denies being a neo-Nazi organization.

In 2016, the government established an official office for complaints of fascism and violence. But activists say it has been of little help because there are no translators working the phone lines and no one is actually calling.

So what can actually be done to address the issue? We’ll pose that question to activists and lawmakers on this episode of The Stream.

Read more: 

Anti-migrant attacks surge in Greece’s Piraeus – Al Jazeera
The persistence of Golden Dawn – The Stream 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Should the US crack down on marijuana?

Should the US crack down on marijuana?

January 9, 2018
Attorney general’s move to go after legal cannabis use sparks fierce debate.

AP PHOTO/MATTHEW SUMNER

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On Tuesday, January 9 at 19:30 GMT:

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week rescinded the Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era directive that discouraged enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalised cannabis. Eight states, and the District of Columbia, have so far legalised the drug for recreational use, starting with Colorado and Washington in 2012.

Sessions, though, said the previous policy “undermines the rule of law.” In his statement Sessions said he was giving federal prosecutors more discretion about enforcing federal law, even in states where marijuana use is legal.

Supporters of the move say Sessions is protecting public health and safety, and will stem the burgeoning and lucrative industry’s growing support from financial institutions and investors. But critics say the move could cause chaos and confusion and have adverse effects on people of colour.

According to an October 2017 Gallup Poll, 64% of approve of legalising marijuana for recreational use – the highest level of support the polling firm has found since it began asking the question in 1969.

But what effect will this legislative change have? We discuss on The Stream at 19:30 GMT. 

Read more:
Legal weed’s no. 1 enemy – The Daily Beast
Trump administration takes step that could threaten marijuana legalization movement – The New York Times

What do you think? Record a 30- second video comment or leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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What caused protests to flare up in Iran?

What caused protests to flare up in Iran?

January 7, 2018
Pro-government demonstrators march in Iran after protests against economic insecurity sparked unrest throughout the country.
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Thousands of people have flooded the streets of Iran’s second-largest city to show support for the nation’s leadership following a week of protests that sparked unrest throughout the country. The anti-government demonstrations, which began in the city of Mashhad on 28 December, were reportedly due to widespread dissatisfaction with Iran’s economic policy, including the high price of basic consumer goods like eggs.

Some Iranians blame reformist President Hassan Rouhani for Iran’s woes, saying he’s failed to deliver the jobs and foreign investment promised by the 2015 nuclear deal, which relaxed international sanctions. Rouhani’s critics have also lambasted his 2018 budget proposal, which calls for additional austerity measures. The president, meanwhile, has pointed the finger toward state-funded religious institutions, alleging that the substantial entitlements they receive have severely hurt Iran’s economy.

Iranian authorities have accused foreign powers of fomenting the protests, which resulted in hundreds of arrests and the deaths of at least 22 people, according to government statistics. Reporting in Tehran, Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi said the subsequent pro-government rallies were intended to show Iran’s rivals – both inside and outside the country – that there is considerable support for its political establishment.

So, what is the significance of these protests? How has Iran’s government responded to the concerns raised by the people? And what might happen if US President Donald Trump decides on 11 January that he will no longer waive the sanctions contributing to Iran’s stagnant economy?

On Monday, The Stream hosts a panel of Iranian commentators to answer these questions and more. Join us at 1930 GMT.

Read more
Five things you need to know about protests in Iran – Al Jazeera
The top 10 ways to discredit any uprising in Iran – Al Jazeera

What do you think? Record your thoughts here, or leave a comment in the section below.

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What lies ahead? The future of agriculture, aging and artificial intelligence

What lies ahead? The future of agriculture, aging and artificial intelligence

January 4, 2018
A look at how technology is solving some of the world’s biggest problems and the ethical questions that arise.

Catalan nanotechnology engineer Sergi Santos holds the head of Samantha, a robot packed with artificial intelligence providing her the capability to respond to different scenarios and verbal stimulus. (REUTERS/ALBERT GEA)

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On Thursday, January 4 at 19:30 GMT:

Lab-made meat, driverless cars, and robot caregivers were all once part of some futuristic fantasy, but they may be a part of reality sooner than we expected.  In the first episode of 2018, The Stream looks at what lies ahead for agriculture, aging, and artificial intelligence?

The future of agriculture? 

Many climatologists believe that our need for food is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. And as the population of the planet balloons, agriculture and farming poses an increasingly severe threat. Mark Post, Co-founder of Mosa Meat thinks he’s come up with one solution to the environmental challenge: lab-made meat.

“It’s is actually very simple,” says Post. “You take the stem cells from a cow, a small piece of muscle and then use those cells to grow more muscle tissue.”

Posts says it’s similar to bulking up in the gym, only it’s done in a petri dish. “If you provide places where they [muscle cells] can hold onto, that contraction translates into tension, and that tension translates into more protein. You put your muscles under tension and that creates bigger muscles.”

But is cultured meat the solution to feeding the growing population, while saving the environment?

The future of aging? 

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes as they age. Sadly independent living isn’t often the reality for the elderly because of health or mobility issues.

Alex Mihailidis thinks advances in technology could soon could change the culture of aging. “There’s new technology around sensors embedded into everyday objects like floor tiles and sofas and chairs that automatically measure heart rate and blood pressure,” Mihailidis says.

Mihailidis is the scientific director at Age-Well in Toronto, Canada where he and a team of biomedical engineers have been working on ways to keep seniors in their homes. What’s really fascinating, he says is the role of technology using artificial intelligence (AI).

“A number of projects are underway now in Canada and internationally using robots to support older adults daily activities including health monitoring and cognitive support.”

What role will AI play in the care of the elderly?

The future of artificial intelligence? 

“We’re starting to see robots do amazing things”, says Alex Salkever co-author of “The Driver in the Driverless Car: How our technology choices can change the future”.  The futurist and technology leader is perhaps most excited about the idea of artificial intelligence and drones combined.

“It will let them do more easily and safely dirty and dangerous jobs – inspecting rooftops, going into tunnels and pipelines, hostage situations, all that kind of stuff.”

But what about the ethics? “The ethics are in some ways complicated and in other ways straightforward, you have to think through the rules” says Salkever. “Where it gets tricky is where A.I. gets a whole lot smarter and on par with humans. Then we ask questions like, is it human?”

So what are the ethical questions should we be asking around artificial intelligence?

Read more:

Behind the hype of ‘lab-grown’ meat – Gizmodo 
What happens when we let tech care for our aging parents – Wired
The future of AI: Is something different this time? – NPR 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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1,000 days of war: will the conflict in Yemen ever end?

1,000 days of war: will the conflict in Yemen ever end?

December 20, 2017
The Stream also explores the aftermath of mudslides in Sierra Leone, and the controversy surrounding Honduras’ presidential election.

A Yemeni malnourished child receives medical treatment amid a spread of malnutrition and risk of famine, at a hospital on November 15, 2017 in Sana’a, Yemen. (GETTY/MOHAMMED HAMOUD)

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Here are a few important stories from 2017 that The Stream will continue to keep tabs on next year:

Mudslides in Sierra Leone
Mudslides near Sierra Leone’s capital in August killed killed 1,000 people by some estimates and destroyed the homes of hundreds more. Although the government has promised to provide housing and relocate survivors, it’s moved to shutter temporary camps for people affected by the devastation. Sierra Leoneans now wonder when reconstruction of new housing will be complete, and if they’ll ever receive compensation the government promised.

Yemen’s humanitarian crisis
On 20 December, a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen marked 1,000 days at war. The ongoing conflict between the Saudi coalition and rebel groups allegedly supported by Iran has killed thousands and cultivated widespread hunger and disease. Although Saudi Arabia has eased a blockade of Yemen so some aid can flow into the country, millions of Yemenis are still unable to access healthcare and clean water. What can be down now so relief agencies can continue to help a nation brought to its knees by conflict?

Honduras’ presidential election
The Organization of American States is calling for new presidential elections in Honduras due to what it says were "irregularities" in the voting process. The election on 26 November sparked controversy when opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla accused President Juan Orlando Hernandez of election fraud. Hernandez’s apparent victory fomented unrest and spurred protests in the capital of Tegucigalpa, leading to deadly clashes between soldiers and Nasralla’s supporters.

Read more:

Camps shut down for Sierra Leone’s mudslide survivors – Al Jazeera
Yemen: 1,000 days of war – Al Jazeera
Protesters take to the streets amid calls for a new election in Honduras – Los Angeles Times

What stories do you want The Stream to cover in 2018? Record your suggestions here, or leave a comment below.

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Is Cape Town facing a future without water?

Is Cape Town facing a future without water?

December 20, 2017
South African city projected to run out of water by the middle of next year.

REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

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On Thursday, December 20th at 19:30 GMT

 

May 18, 2018 is being called "Day Zero" in South Africa. By that day, the country’s second largest city is projected to be without water and its dams at catastrophic levels. So how did Cape Town reach this point?

 

South Africa is experiencing a major drought. 2017 was the driest year in decades, and the third successive year of poor rainfall. Dams have gone unreplenished, underground aquifers are tapped out, springs and boreholes are running dry. Calls by the mayor’s office to the city’s more than 4 million residents to cut water use to less than 87 litres per person have gone unheeded. Fines have been flouted. And water has already been shut down for several hours a day in areas outside the city center.

 

Climatologists have pointed to climate change as a possible factor. And future projections show a shift towards a drier climate. Some activists even say the water crisis is political. They blame poor cooperation and coordination between the African National Congress ruling party, and the local and provincial government of the Western Cape run by the Democratic Alliance. Western Cape government officials say appeals to declare the province a disaster zone went unheeded by the ANC for months.

 

But a recent report by the South African Water Caucus found financial mismanagement and corruption in the local Department of Water and Sanitation, and that the city responded to warning signals too late.

 

On Wednesday we’ll take a look at the debate around the root of the crisis, and how Cape Town is planning for the near future. Join us at 1930GMT.

 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below

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