Staff at Hungarian News Portal Quit en Masse, Harsh Regulations of Social Media Planned in Turkey

While Covid-19 takes all the headlines, deals are made and laws are passed, with hardly anyone noticing. Many will change our lives for years or forever. UnderCovid keeps track of these stories.

Europe

Hungary

The editor-in-chief of Hungary’s leading online news site, Index, has been abruptly fired. This comes a few weeks after the media outlet publicly stated that its independence was “in danger” from external forces, mostly oligarchs associated with he Fidesz party of the Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Today, all the staff at Index quit, leaving the newsroom empty.


France

French coach giant Eurolines was placed into compulsory liquidation by court after a history of 35 years. The long-distance coach company has ceased its activity this week. Eurolines was bought out by German group FlixBus last year.


Kosovo

Kosovo’s state-owned Telecom company is on the brink of collapse after a court ruling to withdraw €26m from its account in order to repay its debts to DardaPhone. The temporary board of Telecom resigned on Tuesday. Some 3,500 employees are on the risk of losing their wages.


Bulgaria

Bulgarian government remains in power after the fifth no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government (centre-right GERB party and far-right United Patriots) continues to stand despite two weeks of street protests over institutional corruption in the country.


Turkey

Turkish Justice and Development Party wants strict control of social media platforms and plans to impose harsh regulations on social media companies, a move designed to strengthen President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grip on the country. The new law will require social media companies to appoint an official representative in Turkey who will answer the government’s demands including the removal of “harmful content” in a timely manner. If an official representative is not appointed or the demands are not answered, there are a series of potential penalties from significant fines of up to €3.80m to being banned.


Ukraine

A Ukrainian gunman armed with an automatic rifle and grenades seized a bus and took 16 hostages in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk. The 44-year-old Maksym Kryvosh surrendered to police and released the hostages after the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy consented to his demand and recommended the 2005 film Earthlings starring Joaquin Phoenix on his Facebook page.


United Kingdom

British Airways (BA) announced that it plans to retire its entire fleet of 747 jumbo jets following the coronavirus pandemic that brought a steep fall into the number of potential passengers for the big air crafts. BA has been the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747s for decades.

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The Intelligence and Security Committee released a worrying report stating that Russia sees the UK as one of its “top targets” in the West. UK’s No 10 was accused of intentionally delaying the sensitive report’s publication ahead of the December’s election.

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Yorkshire museum initiated a campaign where museum curators around the world are challenged to display the best behinds in their collections in the hope of winning the “best museum bum” title. The battle will take place on Twitter grounds, with hopes to engage art lovers who couldn’t stroll the museums in the months of pandemic crisis.


Asia

India

Severe flooding in India’s Assam and in Nepal prompted the evacuation of millions of residents and hundreds were killed. Following the extreme meteorological contexts significant increase in coronavirus cases is expected among the affected.


China

China threatened the UK with “consequences” if it continues to go “down the wrong road” and “blatantly interfere” with Hong Kong after the new security law was introduced by Beijing. In a separate development, UK government announced that it would require the removal of Chinese technology from the UK’s 5G mobile network.

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“Virtually entire” fashion industry is complicit in Uighur forced labour, says a coalition of more than 180 human rights groups. The coalition claims that leading brands such as Gap, C&A, Adidas, Muji, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Muji, Uniqlo, H&M and Ikea and many others continue to source cotton and yarn products from the Xinjiang region despite the severe abuses taking place in the area, including torture, forced separation and the compulsory sterilisation of Uighur women.


United States 

New allegations of sexual misconduct at Fox News were brought up by two women during the ongoing federal lawsuit. Ed Henry, the former chief national correspondent of the cable channel, faces accusations of rape and sexual assault while the second woman, a former Fox News employee, Cathy Areu, accused some of the top personalities at the channel, including the star anchor Sean Hannity, controversial host Tucker Carlson and media commentator Howard Kurtz, of sexual harassment.


Latin America

Mexico

New archeological discoveries in central Mexico cave prove that humans lived on the continent at least 30,000 years ago. That is 15,000 years earlier than previously thought. The artefacts consist in tools that showed human occupation of Chiquihuite cave over a 20,000-year period.

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The National Network of Shelters, Mexico’s largest network of shelters for victims of violence, says that the number of calls and texts it had received about family or gender-based violence increased by 55% between March and June 2020 compared with the same period a year ago.


Venezuela

The American government says that it will offer a reward of US$ 5m for information that can help them arrest the chief justice of Venezuela, Maikel Moreno who is accused of participating in transnational organised crime.


Astronomy

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter (SolO) probe took the closest ever pictures of the Sun. The new pictures taken just 77 million km (48 million miles) from the its surface revealed the existence of mini-flares (dubbed “camp fires”) that are millionths of the size of the more commonly observed giant flares populating the Sun.

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Venus might not be a dormant planet after all, as a new discovery shows. Scientists have identified 37 volcanic structures on the planet that are likely to be active. Until now, Venus was believed to have been dormant geologically for the past half billion years.

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China launched its rocket to Mars on Thursday in the hope that it will successfully land on the red planet after a seven-month travel and will be able to look for underground water and evidence of possible ancient life. This is the second rocket sent from Earth to Mars this week, after a United Arab Emirates orbiter blasted off on a rocket from Japan on Monday. The US is also planning to launch Perseverance, its most sophisticated Mars rover, so far, from Florida, next week.


Nature

A somber study predicts that most polar bears will disappear by 2100 due to starvation and reproductive failure caused by the melting of the Arctic sea ice.

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Researchers discovered the first active leak of methane in the sea floor in Antarctica. They say that the potent climate-heating gas is almost certainly escaping into atmosphere.


Media

Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK! magazines have all been closed down due to a steep drop in revenues caused by the coronavirus crisis. The decision came just a few days after the former owners (family-owned Bauer Media Group) sold its Australian publishing business to Mercury Capital.


Misinformation

Twitter has announced it would permanently suspend thousands of accounts that violate its policies while tweeting about QAnon. It would also stop recommending content linked to QAnon and block URLs associated with it from being shared on the platform. QAnon is a sprawling conspiracy theory whose followers support US President Donald Trump.

Pictured: Index’s staff (photo: Index)