Papua New Guinea’s new media rules could undermine the work of journalists

Local and foreign reporters told not to directly contact the Prime Minister

The office of the prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has enforced new media rules which could affect not just the work of journalists but also undermine press freedom.

On August 31, the office of Prime Minister James Marape published a full-page public notice in two newspapers, National and Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, informing journalists that they can no longer directly contact the leader, and instead they should direct their questions to appropriate government ministries.

This circular is to advise all members of the media fraternity, both national and international, that the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape MP will no longer accept direct press enquiries from the date of this correspondence onwards.

The prime minister has been accommodating and has responded openly to our media ever since he took office in 2019. We would like to continue this partnership by streamlining your queries to our relevant ministries.

We are all in this game. It's our country and we need you. Media, you make or break leaders and paint either a good or bad image of your and our children's nation. We all work for the good of our country. Let's not get that wrong … support the PM. Take back PNG for us all.

…the requirements appear to be ludicrous and an affront to media freedom in PNG.

We ask the simple question, what have we got to hide from public scrutiny?

Our foreign friends should not be turned away on some ridiculous belief that they may stumble on some hidden secret that will unplug the government.

If the government is serious, it should allow its ministers to be interviewed regularly by foreign and PNG media on a weekly basis on issues of interest to the nation including why corruption remains the biggest stumbling block to development in PNG.

We cannot be seen as a nation that is suddenly turning against the most powerful source of information in the world – journalism!

It is in no way, in its message disseminated yesterday to the mainstream media, implying a recent intention to restrict foreign media from traveling to PNG.

A long-time blogger in PNG has a reminder for authorities who want to restrict the work of foreign journalists:

And Mr Marape should know that journalists will write stories about PNG whether they visit there or not.

As press freedom continues to decline across the Pacific, any restriction on journalists is a concerning development. The IFJ urges Prime Minister Marape and Papua New Guinea’s government to maintain press freedom and due consultation with the media, and allow journalists full and unfettered access to government proceedings.


‘Heist’: Ginni Thomas Tells J6 Committee Election Was Stolen, Says She Never Discussed Efforts to Overturn With Spouse

And yet to reporters Thomas’ attorney called her actions merely “minimal and mainstream activity focused on ensuring that reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated.”

“Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results,” he added, despite press reports that Thomas held a months-long text message exchange with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, urging him to find a way to overture the election.

“As she wrote in a text to Mark Meadows at the time, she also condemned the violence on Jan. 6, as she abhors violence on any side of the aisle.”

“Ms. Thomas,” The Times adds, “exchanged text messages with Mr. Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in which she urged him to challenge Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election, which she called a ‘heist,’ and indicated that she had reached out to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, about Mr. Trump’s efforts to use the courts to keep himself in power. She even suggested the lawyer who should be put in charge of that effort.”

Despite earlier reports Thomas did appear in person, but refused to answer reporters’ questions.


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Why fear of a coup attempt is on the horizon in Brazil's elections

Behind in the polls, incumbent Bolsonaro seems to feed fraud narratives

Jair Bolsonaro during Brazil's independence bicentennial | Image: Alan Santos/Brazil's Presidency/CC 2.0

In the early hours of this Sept. 29, three days away from the elections, Bolsonaro published a thread with a picture of Lula surrounded by political figures from different parties, who are now supporting the former president, and made a case of how they were all part of a system that felt threatened by Bolsonaro himself, concluding:

– Quem insiste em falsas memórias do passado ainda não entendeu que vivemos numa nova era. Aqueles que desprezam o povo e seus valores que se acostumem com a falta de sossego. Deus não me deu uma nova vida em 06/09/2018 para ser um gestor, mas para mudar de vez o nosso Brasil!

Who insists in fake memories from the past hasn't understood yet that we live in a new era. Those who despise the people and their values should get used to the lack of peace. God did not give me a new life in September, 6, 2018 [when he was stabbed, during a campaign act] to be a manager, but to change our Brazil once and for all!

Global Voices has been asking the Federal Police for access to the investigation that the president affirmed more than once to be public, but the department responsible has yet to respond.

With Lula leading the polls for months, a tendency seems to have already emerged. But there is a wave of misinformation running on different social media platforms trying to challenge this reality.

Jornal Nacional, the aforementioned news broadcast, had to clarify to viewers about a deep fake being shared that showed its anchors presenting a poll with Bolsonaro leading the numbers.

“Since Aug. 15, polls by Ipec and DataFolha, showed the Workers’ Party candidate, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as the one with the bigger percentage of voting intentions. In all of them, Bolsonaro shows up in second place,” explained news anchor William Bonner.

In these elections, the war waged on the internet gained another weapon: the deep fake, an instrument to alter sound and image using artificial intelligence (AI). One of these videos shows that Bolsonaro would be ahead in the voting polls, which is false.

When Ipec, one of the leading research institutes in Brazil, published its latest results this Sept. 19, Fábio Faria, Bolsonaro’s communication minister, tweeted:

TSE, anote esses números que o IPEC está dando, que no dia 02 de outubro a população vai cobrar o fechamento desse instituto.

Chega desses absurdos com pesquisas eleitorais!!!

A hora da verdade está chegando.

TSE, take note of these numbers that Ipec is presenting, because on Oct. 2 the people will ask for the closure of this institute.

Enough with the absurd of these electoral polls!!!

The time of truth is arriving.

Four years ago, when Bolsonaro was elected president, polls did indicate he could be defeated in the second round, although polls closer to Election Day got the numbers pretty close to the actual results and within the margin of error.

O então candidato Jair Bolsonaro (PL, na época PSL) encerrou o primeiro turno em 2018 com 46,03% dos votos válidos, na frente do petista Fernando Haddad, que teve 29,28%. A última pesquisa de intenção de voto divulgada pelo Datafolha mostrou Bolsonaro com 40% dos votos válidos, contra 25% de Haddad. Na do Ibope, Bolsonaro teve 41% das intenções de votos válidos e Haddad, 25%.

Then candidate Jair Bolsonaro ended the first round in 2018 with 46.03% of the valid votes, ahead of Workers’ Party Fernando Haddad, who had 29.28%. The last poll published by DataFolha showed Bolsonaro with 40% of the valid votes, against 25% for Haddad. At Ibope’s [now Ipec], Bolsonaro had 41% of the votes and Haddad, 25%.

[Bolsonaro] seems to be laying the rhetorical groundwork to cry ballot fraud and deny the voters’ verdict. Brazilians fear he could then incite an insurrection, perhaps like the one America suffered when a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021—or perhaps even worse.


He thus poses as great a threat to Latin America’s largest democracy as he does to the world’s largest rainforest. (On his watch, the slashing and burning of the Amazon has proceeded 70% faster than before, because he does almost nothing to stop it.) And whatever happens, he and his movement are not going away. He has learned from Mr. Trump how to snatch influence and power from the jaws of defeat.

The newspaper affirms that “opponents fear not only pre-election violence but also a Trump-style bid to hang on to power in defiance of the electorate,” but with the aggravation that the armed forces are part of Bolsonaro’s government and he claims to have their support:

Though few accept his sweeping assertion, there is real concern that he could find significant support within the armed forces. A clear, outright victory for Lula, ideally in the first round but more likely in a runoff, is the best result for Brazilian democracy and the planet. Other countries must make it clear that they will not tolerate any attempt by Mr Bolsonaro to cheat, bully or menace his way to a second term.


Extremist expert predicts political violence during the 2022 midterm elections

Andy Campbell, a senior editor at The Huffington Post who is the author of the book We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism has said that The Proud Boys and other far-right vigilante groups will likely commit violence during the next two upcoming elections.

Campbell also noted former President Donald Trump’s ominous command for the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his final September 2020 debate against now-President Joe Biden.

Several Proud Boys members are currently on trial for sedition for their involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“I think we might learn some bombshells about their connection to Trump’s inner circle,” Campbell said. “And the fact that several top-level Proud Boys have already agreed to testify against their own means we may learn a lot.”

Trump also recently said that the nation would face “problems … the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen” if he is indicted for taking classified documents after leaving office. His comment was widely seen as a call for his followers to commit violence if he’s ever criminally charged.

“I think Trump knows that everybody is going to react violently to this,” Campbell said. “The pipeline between the rhetoric and the violence in the street is so short now. How many hours was it between the time he was complaining about the FBI going through Mar-a-Lago and somebody showing up with a gun to an FBI field office? He knows he has people waiting to mobilize.”

Campbell added, “There will absolutely be Proud Boys violence in 2024 and I think in the 2022 election, too,” noting that Arizona Republicans have called for vigilante justice around ballot boxes.

“I think they are absolutely going to show up in force for Trump’s election regardless of what happens. I think we have to realize that the violence has trickled out to everyday Americans. It’s not just extremist groups anymore. Trump pointing to the back and calling the press the enemy, Trump glorifying Jan. 6 rioters,… that has come full circle.”

He concluded, “I think the spirit of January 6 is still here. All of the groups involved are still here, and everyday Americans have joined them… It’s going to be scary.”

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‘Tarnished Image’: Gallup Releases Devastating SCOTUS Poll – as Conservative Justices Snipe at Kagan’s Warning

The highlights:

“47% trust the judicial branch; previous low was 53%,” “40% job approval of U.S. Supreme Court is tied for record low,” and “Record-high 42% say Supreme Court is too conservative.”

“This represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago,” Gallup’s own report reveals, “including seven points since last year, and is now the lowest in Gallup’s trend by six points. The judicial branch’s current tarnished image contrasts with trust levels exceeding two-thirds in most years in Gallup’s trend that began in 1972.”

Respect for the Supreme Court was such a non-question that from 1976, when Americans’ “trust and confidence” in the nation’s highest court stood at 63%, Gallup, it appears, did not even ask the question again in polls again until 1997, when the answer came back at 71%.

Today, under Chief Justice Roberts, it is a mere 47%.

So did the Chief Justice, just weeks earlier.

“Judges create legitimacy problems for themselves when they don’t act like courts,” she also said, and “when they instead stray into places that looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences.”

“If, over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy,” Kagan warned.

Chief Justice Roberts later delivered a terse retort.

“Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”

“Having had both John Roberts and Elena Kagan as my brilliant students in constitutional law, and having watched each of their careers unfold, I can’t help thinking that one of them, Justice Kagan, has grown into her role as a wise jurist,” Tribe told Chen in response to the Roberts-Kagan flap.

“Chief Justice Roberts has dwindled in stature as his cliches have lost their power and even their relevance,” Tribe added.

It was a clear swipe at Justice Kagan.

“It’s embarrassingly obvious that recent decisions rendered by the conservative supermajority hew to a certain political agenda,” Bloomberg’s Chen noted, asking: “where does one start? I guess Dobbs was a biggie because it destroyed almost 50 years of reproductive rights for women.”

“Then,” she added, “there’s the decision that crippled New York’s gun-control law and the one that severely cut back climate change regulations. And let’s not forget how the court keeps siding with religion, as if the separation of church and state is an optional part of the Constitution.”

“That the Supreme Court lurched so far to the right in less than a year is breathtaking,” Chen observes. “It’s like we’re suddenly transported to a country where Wayne LaPierre, Christian fundamentalists, corporate polluters, and the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly are calling the shots.”

All this turmoil, turbulence, and trouble comes days before the Court begins its new term.

“This term, the high court will cement its grip on political life in America, overturning affirmative action and other critical protections along the way,” he says.

“The conservative Supreme Court has been willing to suppress the vote or let Republican-controlled state legislatures gerrymander district maps to the point where the popular vote is all but meaningless, but so far, the court has been unwilling to throw away enough votes after the fact to change the outcome of an election. We’ll see if there’s a first time for everything.”

How bad could it be?

A picture’s worth a thousand words.


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My journey to learning Ukrainian and the online language tools that took me there

‘I wanted to feel connected to my Ukrainian friends and colleagues’

Image courtesy of Giovana Fleck.

In this post, I want to share the resources that I found helpful in my language learning journey. Perhaps other learners will find them useful. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it is heavily influenced by the languages I already speak (English and Russian), as well as my personal preferences. 

Most language learners find speaking the most challenging part of learning a language. This is also true for me, especially when it comes to making mistakes in front of others. I still remember how, when I went to the United States as a teenager, I refused to speak English at school for the first three months, passing notes to my (very patient) classroom teacher instead. 

When it comes to multilingual resources, I find Global Voices stories in Ukrainian to be very helpful when learning a language. I usually read a story in Ukrainian and refer to the English text to check my understanding. This helps me build my reading ability without being overwhelmed by unknown words and phrases. 

Here are some other resources for learning Ukrainian that I collected in the course of my language learning journey. Some of these resources are available only in Ukrainian, while others are accessible to speakers of English or Russian.  

One star indicates that the resource is suitable for beginners, while three stars are for advanced learners.    

I’d love to know what resources and methods other learners of Ukrainian found helpful. Please let us know in the comments!

Online courses for Russian speakers, including courses for beginners and intermediate learners, and two courses on language use in professional contexts.

A course designed to help learners understand Ukrainian grammar, spelling, and phonetics (in Ukrainian).

A podcast in Ukrainian highlighting various topics of interest and useful phrases. Free, with an optional premium subscription that includes episode transcripts, additional explanations, and vocabulary flashcards.

Short podcast episodes by the author of the Ukrainian Language Podcast covering a range of everyday interactions with explanations in English. 

Many classics and contemporary fiction and non-fiction, as well as children’s books.

Compiled by the author of the Ukrainian Language Podcast. 

This YouTube channel about the outdoors and hiking (especially in the Carpathian Mountains) can be a great resource if, like me, you’re interested in hiking, camping, and the outdoors. The videos are clear and fairly easy to understand, in addition to being fun and informative. 

A YouTube playlist from UA:Перший TV that covers some common conversational situations in Ukrainian, as well as Ukrainian pronunciation.

All stories are also available in English and other languages, to help to check your understanding of the Ukrainian text.   

The books in Ukrainian are available for free on the publisher’s site

Knowing where to put the stress (наголос) in a word can be a particular challenge. This website allows you to enter a word or a phrase and see which syllables must be stressed. 

Ukrainian dictionaries, including Ukrainian-English, Ukrainian-Russian, word definitions (in Ukrainian), etymology, and more.

Includes grammatical and spelling resources, style guides, dictionaries, and school textbooks.

A Facebook page with words and expressions to help with Ukrainian fluency with a special focus on errors typically made by Russian speakers.

Ukrainian translations of loan words. Here you can find the best way to say how to “like” a social media post or how to say “deadline” in Ukrainian without “borrowing” words from English.

(Android/iOS/Web) An online translator that recently added Ukrainian to its languages, DeepL tends to be more accurate than Google translate and often offers more translation variants. 

(iOS/Mac/Windows/Web) An app that will check your Ukrainian grammar and punctuation, highlight any errors, and offer suggestions. The free version allows you to check text up to 20,000 characters in length. The app can also be installed as a browser extension.

(iOS) A fun word game that you can play against a bot or with other players.  

(Web) An app to test your Ukrainian spelling and orthography. 

(Android/iOS) Interesting Ukrainian words with examples and word etymology (Android and iOS).



Undertones: Anti-army hashtags gain rare visibility in Pakistan

This is an unprecedented trend on Pakistani Twitter

Khan supporters, journalists, lawyers, civil society actors, and the public at large are openly discussing the role of the military in politics. This is an unexpected occurrence in Pakistan, as any criticism of the country’s powerful military is met with censorship and arrests

Despite the state’s repression of this behavior, Khan supporters are generating thousands of tweets, calling for Army chief General Bajwa to resign after ostensibly meddling in politics and orchestrating Khan's ouster in April 2022. Popular hashtags are #باجوہ_استعفی_دو (“#Bajwa resign” in Urdu) and #GoBajwaGo.

Pakistan’s powerful military

For decades, top generals were blamed for meddling in politics. Imran Khan, a former cricket champion, was brought in as their latest prodigy in 2018 but their “same-page” politics eventually fell out of line.

In a nutshell

Criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military has always been voiced in hushed tones, but since the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan back in April, Pandora’s box has been flung open. Anti-army hashtags, with tens of thousands of tweets, run daily on social media platforms, defying the reprisal of state agencies.

Some media items are reflective and insightful op-eds, like this in-depth essay by lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed exploring the military’s role in Pakistani politics.

He explains how the military's protégé led to further polarization in Pakistan and also discusses how the courts and the military escape accountability for their political meddling by using the “neutral” card.

Our researchers have positively ranked this media item’s impact on society by giving it the Observatory’s top score (+3) for its quality of information. 

Neutrality — a hot topic

The term “neutral” was popularised by Imran Khan after his ouster from office. He called out the military in his public speeches for not staying “neutral” and equated the establishment to animals. The military, on the other hand, has publicly denounced claims of meddling in politics and maintains its neutral stance. Today, a running joke in pro-Khan circles is to sarcastically call top generals “neutral.”

Yet, other media items have been negatively ranked by our researchers due to their nefarious impact on civic debate and society. For example, this widely-shared meme portrays Pakistani politics as an action movie and instigates online violence. 

The meme, posted by an anonymous account on Twitter, shows Army chief Bajwa and chief justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial as “criminals” starring in “the most terrifying” film since 1947, the date of the India-Pakistan Partition. “NRO-2” refers to the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a rule that granted amnesty to thousands of officials and politicians between 2007 and 2009. In this meme, the author insinuates that the army would like to continue benefitting from corruption.

The online trend of questioning Pakistan’s military is far from over – and might actually pick up even more as the date to replace the military’s chief of staff approaches. The current chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, will retire in November, and our researchers predict that we might see an uptick in Khan’s narratives.

Meanwhile, General Qamar Javed Bajwa does not appear to slow down his diplomatic activities. On the contrary, journalist Mosharraf Zaidi pointed out on Twitter that Bajwa had recently met with European Union leaders, and asked why Pakistan’s foreign and economies ministries were left out of these meetings.

Each item — such as a meme, a tweet, or a Facebook video — in the Observatory's data is analyzed and ranked according to our scorecard to evaluate its impact on civic discourse.


‘No Shame’: Trump Judge Overrules Special Master – Stuns Legal Experts

Specifically, Judge Cannon ruled Trump and his attorneys do not have to make any statements to support the former president’s baseless claims that the FBI “planted” documents or other evidence.

“Upon review of the matter,” Cannon writes in her order Thursday, “the Court determines as follows. There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff [Trump] at this stage, prior to the review of any of the Seized Materials, to lodge ex ante final objections to the accuracy of Defendant’s Inventory, its descriptions, or its contents. The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation.”

Legal experts are stunned by Cannon’s latest move.

“Aileen Cannon, without explaining why she was intervening, just rewrote Judge Raymond Dearie’s work plans regarding the Special Master review,” Wheeler says, calling it “an obvious power grab to ensure her own intervention doesn’t backfire on Trump.”

“With no justification (particularly given the way Dearie has ceded to multiple issues Trump has raised), and after having been scolded by the 11th Circuit for her improper claims of jurisdiction, she effectively just eliminated any claim that the Special Master Trump picked and she appointed is a neutral observer.”

“Oy- Judge Cannon tinkers badly with (and with typos) Judge Dearie’s scheduling order, relieving Trump of obligation to say whether docs were planted, even though she had wanted a clear inventory of what was found. She is such a disgrace.”

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Watchdog Reports Trump ‘Credibly Accused’ of ‘Staggering’ List of 55 Criminal Offenses – Urges DOJ to Prosecute

The lengthy list includes numerous allegations of campaign finance crimes and coverup, destruction of presidential records, obstruction of the Russia and Special Counsel Investigations, attempts to steal the 2020 election, false public financial disclosure reports, attempts to get Ukraine to interfere in 2020 election, profiting off of post-election lies, and unlawful post-presidency possession of government records.

CREW says its update includes “seven offenses we have added since we published the first version of this table in March 2022,” including “three criminal offenses relating to the investigation of election fraud and related crimes in Fulton County, Georgia; one offense relating to potential wire fraud stemming from fraudulent representations made to solicit PAC contributions after the 2020 election; and three offenses relating to Trump’s unlawful possession of government records at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office.”

“The updated tracker likely understates Trump’s legal exposure because the high volume of sensitive records discovered at Mar-A-Lago suggests that he could be indicted for multiple counts of willfully retaining without authorization government records containing national defense information, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793(e)), even though it is only listed once on CREW’s tracker.”

CREW is not the only one keeping track of Trump’s misdeeds, criminal civil, or ethical.


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