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Major Prisoner Swap Begins: 2,130 Syrians For 48 Iranians



ISTANBUL– The Syrian government has announced it would free 2,130 civilian prisoners on Wednesday, in exchange for the release of 48 Iranians held by Syrian rebels.

Iranian state TV confirmed that the 48 hostages, captured by the Free Syrian Army back in August, had been freed. The Syrian rebels say the Iranians, who claimed to be religious pilgrims, were working for the Damascus regime.

Although there has been no confirmation from the Syrian government so far, Bulent Yildirim, head of the Turkish non-governmental organization Humanitarian Relief Foundation that helped broker the swap, told Reuters that the exchange was underway: "The 48 Iranians have been released and are being taken to Damascus, accompanied by Iranian and Syrian officials."

Biggest ever since uprising began prisoner swap taking place in #syria.2000+ prisoners in exchange for 48 Iranians

— Arwa Damon (@arwaCNN) January 9, 2013

Among the 2,130 civilians held captive by the Syrian regime there are at least four Turkish citizens, Yıldırım told Turkey’s Hürriyet, adding that the swap -- happening simultaneously in several cities including Damascus, Latakia, Homs, Idlib and Aleppo -- was being directed with mediation from Turkey, Qatar and Iran.

The news comes as the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned that it was unable to reach one million desperate and hungry Syrians because of the perilous security situation across the country after nearly two years of deadly conflict, France 24 reports.

The WFP is handing out food rations to about 1.5 million people in Syria each month, a spokeswoman for the organization said, but it still falls short of the 2.5 million to be reached.

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

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For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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