Welcome to Friday, where an Amnesty International report accuses China of "crimes against humanity," Israel's government makes PETA animal activists happy and the Euro 2020 soccer competition kicks off after a one-year delay. Business daily Les Echos also reports on how hackers manage to use fake news to threaten big businesses and influence the stock markets.
• Report alleges Uyghurs victims of "Crimes Against Humanity": Amnesty International has released a new, detailed report with personal accounts of systematic internment, torture and persecution of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in China's northwestern Xinjiang province. Over 50 former detainees provided testimony — all referenced torture and mistreatment in the camps set up by Beijing for the Muslim minorities.
• Over 350,000 suffering from famine in Ethiopia: The United Nations reports that at least 350,000 people in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region are experiencing famine, describing it as the worst since the 2011 Somali famine. As violence between the government and Tigrayan rebels continues, this famine is primarily attributable to man-made conflict.
• Pope rejects Cardinal's resignation over church's role in child sex abuse: Pope Francis has denied the request to resign of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in an effort to take personal responsiblity for the Catholic Church's mismanagement and failure to stop generations of child sex abuse. Francis explained his opposition to the attempt to resign by Germany's leading cardinal, stating that every bishop should take responsibility for the abuse crisis.
• Biden and Johnson sign new Atlantic Charter: President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have signed a revised "Atlantic Charter." The original document, signed 80 years ago by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, affirmed Western commitment to democracy.
• France ends Sahel military operation: President Emmanuel Macron announced that Operation Barkhane, France's counterterrorism military mission in the northwestern African region of the Sahel will be replaced by joint military efforts with international partners. The decision comes in light of a second Malian coup, which led the French to temporarily suspend French-Malian military operations.
• Japan to investigate China-funded Confucius institutes: Amid security alerts from allies, Japan will begin investigating Chinese-led Confucius institutes in 14 private universities across the country. Tokyo fears the hardly-regulated cultural centers could be hotbeds for propaganda and espionage, following similar warnings earlier this year in the U.S. and Europe.
• Israel bans sale of fur: Israel has become the first country in the world to ban the selling of fur in fashion commerce, citing concerns over animal rights. The decision was widely supported by the Israeli public, as well as animal rights groups like PETA.
"We are all blue!," titles Milan-based sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport as Italy's national soccer team, la squadra azzurra, faces Turkey in the first match of the Euro 2020 competition that kicks off today.
Fake news: a threat to democracy, but also to big business
Bogus press reports are a growing threat — not just for politicians, but also for top CEOs of major multinational companies. These big shots may dominate the stock market, but they're struggling to limit the spread of fake news that can swiftly undermine their entire businesses. Laurence Boisseau of French business daily Les Echos explains how and why these stories end up in otherwise legitimate press outlets:
On April 1 2021, a phony press release claimed that the Portuguese oil group Galp was giving up its involvement in northern Mozambique to pursue a "100% sustainable future." In 2019, BlackRock and its leader Larry Fink were also victims of identity fraud. A false letter, supposedly written by the asset manager, stated he would sell his shares to companies that would not meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. This simple email managed to fool several leading media outlets, including the Financial Times.
The hackers behind these scams are pursuing two different kinds of goals. The first is stock market gain: They seek to influence the stock markets after having positioned themselves to capitalize on the market fluctuations provoked by their fake news. The second goal is to undermine the company's reputation. In this scenario, the perpetrators are political activists, environmentalists and anti-liberals.
These operations are costly to companies, both in terms of stock market impact and reputation. In 2019, a study from the American University of Baltimore estimated the cost of these scams at $17 billion in the United States. French corporations are also taking the situation very seriously. For the past two years, a dozen listed companies from the CAC 40 — a French benchmark stock market index — such as AXA, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Engie, Air Liquide, Schneider, L'Oréal, Renault and Bouygues have purchased a tool that allows them to fight against fake news.
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