Posts tagged with "Reuters"

Right-wing conspiracy network OAN receives 90% of its funding from AT&T

October 8, 2021

AT&T, the world’s largest communications company, has been bankrolling a right-wing conspiracy network, an investigation by Reuters has revealed.

According to HuffPost, the damning Reuters report, published on Wednesday, October 6, shows that AT&T helped fund and create One America News Network (OAN)―a right-wing network famous for its fawning coverage of former President Donald Trump; and for spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election that Trump lost.

Without AT&T’s $250 million offering, OAN’s value “would be zero,” according to an accountant’s court testimony obtained by Reuters.

More from the publication:

  • OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring, Sr., has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.
  • “They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”
  • Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.
  • Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value “would be zero.”
  • Dallas-based AT&T, a mobile-phone and Internet provider, also owns entertainment giant Warner Media, which includes CNNand HBO. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 and in August spun off the satellite service, retaining a 70% share in the new, independently managed company. AT&T’s total U.S. television subscriber base, including satellite and streaming services, fell from 26 million in 2015 to 15.4 million as of August.

Court filings obtained by Reuters show that Herring cited monthly fees in a five-year deal with AT&T as costing approximately $57 million.

In the last two years of his presidency, Trump repeatedly urged his followers to watch OAN, a network that has been loyal to the former president even when facts have gotten in the way of praise. Last year, as the coronavirus swept through the United States, OAN saw a ratings boost as Trump and the network churned out lies about the virus.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Permission to Dance? BTS band members sing their way through United Nations

september 22, 2021

Fully vaccinated South Korean boy band BTS members danced their way through the United Nations in a broadcast on Monday, September 20—promoting global goals tackling poverty, inequality, injustice, and climate change ahead of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders, Reuters reports.

The seven-member group filmed a music video to its song, “’Permission to Dance,” in the world body’s New York headquarters, dancing through the General Assembly hall and out into the gardens. It was broadcast during an event promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

BTS—whose members declared they were all fully vaccinated against COVID-19 —also appeared in person at the event in the General Assembly, introduced by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They are the U.N.’s Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture.

They shared their thoughts and those of young people worldwide on the past two years and the future—expressing their frustration during the pandemic.

“I was saddened to hear that entrance and graduation ceremonies had to be canceled,” said Jeon Jung-Kook, known as Jungkook. “These are moments in life you want to celebrate and missing out on them must have been upsetting. We were heartbroken when our long planned concert tours were canceled.”

They praised the resilience of youth, saying they were not “COVID’s lost generation.”

“I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost, just because paths they tread can’t be seen by grown-up eyes,” said BTS group leader Kim Nam-Joon, known as RM.

Kim Seok-Jin, known as Jin, added: “Instead of the ‘lost generation’ a more appropriate name would be the ‘welcome generation’ because instead of fearing change, this generation says ‘welcome’ and keeps forging ahead.”

Breaking news: @Reuters

It’s a wrap! Arc de Triomphe is cloaked in fabric for posthumous Christo installation

September 16, 2021

Parisians were surprised on Sunday, September 12, to see more than 100 workers at the Arc de Triomphe monument—beginning to wrap the iconic landmark in a shimmering material, in an installation planned to be a posthumous homage to the artist Christo, reports Reuters.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” is expected to be completed and available for public viewing from September 18 through October 3, according to coverage by Veranda. When complete, the 50-meter high (55-yard), 19th century arch will diisplay 25,000 square meters (2,690,977 square feet) of silvery blue, recyclable plastic wrapping.

This project marks the culmination of the final two posthumous public works of art from Christo and his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude. In accordance with his wishes, the installation is being completed by his team, in partnership with the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN); and with the support of the Centre Pompidou and Ville de Paris.

Like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, it will receive no public funding and has been entirely supported by sales from the couple’s original works of art. And 30 years after the couple’s Pont Neuf wrapping, this temporary artwork represents an homage to the couple’s creative vision and desire to make art accessible for all.

Imagined decades ago in 1961 by the late Bulgarian-born artist and his wife, both of whom died in 2009, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavatchev at a cost of about $16.54 million.

“The biggest challenge for me is that Christo is not here. I miss his enthusiasm, his criticisms, his energy and all of these things. That, for me, really is the biggest challenge,” Yavatchev told Reuters.

Christo, who spent part of his life in Paris and part in New York, once rented a small room near the famed Champs-Elysees avenue after moving to Paris in 1958, when he experimented with wrapping discarded crates and barrels with fabric and rope, according to an official site about the artist.

Christo, whose full name was Christo Javacheff, was known for his larger-than-life installations. He wrapped up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, and strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado. He worked closely with Jeanne-Claude on the projects.

The pair covered Paris’s Pont Neuf bridge in yellow cloth in 1985.

The Arc de Triomphe project, involving the most visited monument in Paris–which looms over one end of the Champs-Elysees—will still allow tourists to visit the site and its panoramic terrace. The monument is also home to a tribute to the Unknown Soldier, in the form of a flame of remembrance that is rekindled every day.

Research contact: @Reuters

Vlad the vaccinator: Dracula’s Castle lures visitors with COVID-19 jabs

May 18, 2021

Visitors to Dracula’s Castle are more likely to find puncture marks in their arms than in their necks this month, after medics set up a COVID-19 vaccination center at the Transylvanian attraction, reports Yahoo News.

Doctors and nurses with fang stickers on their scrubs are offering free Pfizer shots to all-comers at 14th century Bran Castle, which is purported to be an inspiration for the vampire’s towering home in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”.

Castle staff hope that the service will bring more people to the site in Romania’s Carpathian mountains, where tourist numbers have plummeted since the start of the pandemic.

Anyone can turn up without an appointment every weekend in May. They also get free entry to the castle’s exhibit of 52 medieval torture instruments.

“The idea … was to show how people got jabbed 500-600 years ago in Europe,” the castle’s marketing director, Alexandru Priscu, told Reuters recently.

One of the visitors on Saturday was Fernando Orozco, a 37-year-old renewable energy market developer who usually is based in Berlin, but has been working remotely out of Romania.

“I was already planning to come to the castle and I just thought it was the two-for-one special,” he said.

The government has said it wants to vaccinate 10 million of its people by September, but a survey released in April by Bratislava-based think tank Globsec showed Romanians were the least inclined to get vaccinated among the EU’s eastern members.

Research contact: @YahooNews

Federal grand jury charges Proud Boys with conspiring to impede Congress on January 6

March 22, 2021

A federal grand jury has charged four members of the far-right Proud Boys group with conspiring to block the U.S. Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory, according to a new superseding indictment unsealed on Friday, March 19.

According to a report by Reuters, the indictment alleges that Ethan Nordean of Washington, Joseph Biggs of Florida, Zachary Rehl of Pennsylvania, and Charles Donohoe of North Carolina conspired to encourage members of the group to attend the Stop the Steal protest in Washington, D.C., on January 6. All four defendants are the leaders of Proud Boys chapters in their respective states, the indictment says.

It also says that the Proud Boy members:

  • Worked to obtain paramilitary equipment used for the attack on the U.S. Capitol;
  • Dismantled metal barriers set up to protect the building; and
  • Communicated using handheld radios and encrypted messaging applications.

Leading up to the insurrection, the indictment alleges that the Proud Boys made their intentions clear as far back as November—with Biggs declaring in a social media post on November 5 that war was the only option if the election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump, who lost the vote.

Later that month, on November 27, Nordean declared: “We tried playing nice and by the rules, now you will deal with the monster you created.”

Research contact: @Reuters

The water’s fine: Houseboats are in high demand as Germans book holidays close to home

Febuary 22, 2021

As arctic temperatures froze rivers and lakes in northern Germany this winter, workers at houseboat charter companies already had started gearing up for what they expect to be a busy summer season, Reuters reports.

Cross-border travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic last summer prompted a run on domestic tourism, including floating accommodations. Many expect that 2021 will be no different.

“I think that big trips abroad and flying will still not be the dominant type of vacation for people this summer,” Dagmar Kuhnle, spokeswoman at the Kuhnle Tour houseboat charter company in the northeastern Mecklenburg lake district between Berlin and the Baltic Sea, told Reuters.

Family-run Kuhnle expanded its fleet to 160 boats from 120 just before the pandemic reached Germany last sprin—and promptly lost two months of business due to a coronavirus lockdown in April and May.

Once travel became possible again, nearly all of its boats were booked out, and bookings are looking good for the coming season as well, Kuhnle said.

The big question for charter companies like Kuhnle remains when the season will start.

Aquare Charter, which offers bungalow boats in the eastern state of Brandenburg, told Reuters that it was fully booked for this summer and would start renting out boats from March 18 if restrictions on overnight stays for tourists are lifted.

“It is of course not clear if it will work out or not,” Philipp Sommer, a manager at Aquare Charter, said.

The government last week dampened hopes that the economy could reopen soon—targeting an infection rate of no more than 35 new cases per 100,000 people over seven days, down from 50 previously.

On Monday, that number was 59, having fallen from a high near 200 in late December. It was last below 50 in October.

Given the government’s caution, Kuhnle Tour is cutting the hours of ten employees starting next week. “We don’t see the end of pandemic in sight. We have somewhat corrected our optimism,” Kuhnle added.

Research contact: @Reuters

Toyota invests $210M to expand W. Virginia engine production; plans to add 100 jobs

February 19, 2021

Toyota announced on February 18 that it is investing $210 million to expand engine production in West Virginia and add 100 new jobs, according to Reuters.

The Japanese automaker said it would boost capacity by 70,000 engines a year at the Buffalo, West Virginia plant—up from the nearly oneW million transmissions and engines it produces annually for vehicles assembled in North America.

The investment will increase assembly capacity of its four-cylinder engine line. The plant makes four- and six-cylinder engines for Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Lexus ES, Lexus RX350, RAV4, and Sienna.

Reuters notes that the investment comes as automakers around the world are shifting more focus to electric vehicles—and away from vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

Toyota says hybrid vehicles—which include internal combustion engines—will be a key part of its vehicle strategy in the coming decade; as other automakers focus more heavily on battery electric vehicles, which only run on electric power.

Toyota said last week that 16% of its U.S. sales were of hybrid vehicles in 2020, a figure that will jump to at least 20% in 2021.

Research contact: @Reuters

For runs in the snow, Finns say, ‘Sock it to me’

February 18, 2021

Finns who are keen to avoid gyms and other indoor sports venues this winter because of the coronavirus pandemic have found a new way to keep fit: They are running in the snow wearing absolutely no training shoes—just as many as three pairs of thick woolen socks at a time, Reuters reports.

Finland has seen particularly heavy snowfall this winter and running outside in just socks provides great exercise as well as a sense of freedom, said Pekka Parviainen, a helicopter pilot and an avid barefoot runner.

“This is traditional Finnish crazy stuff, I think we all agree,” said Parviainen while out running with a group in Nuuksio National Park, 35 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital Helsinki.

“And it’s really the happiness side. I mean it’s very good sport, strong exercise and everything, but it really is the happiness,” he added.

In Finland, where taking a sauna in winter and then running through snow to jump into an ice-cold lake is a traditional pastime, barefoot running has become popular in the past few years during the warmer months, Reuters notes.

Running in socks through heavy snow, now about half a metre (1.6 feet) deep in many places, takes this to the next level.

 “You can do it quite light or you can do it really heavy in the deep snow as we did now. But the feeling afterwards is just great. You have had a good foot massage,” Parviainen told Reuters, because your feet are not tightly “packaged” in trainers.

There is no shortage of warm woollen socks as many Finns have taken to knitting during long winter lockdowns.

Parviainen recommends wearing at least two, preferably three, pairs of woolen socks to get the most out of the run.

Research contact: @Reuters

Reuters: Proud Boys leader was ‘prolific’ informer for law enforcement

January 28, 2021

Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement—repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters.

Founded in 2016, the Proud Boys is known as a far-right, neo-fascist, and male-only political organization that promotes and engages in violence in the United States and Canada. Miami-based Tarrio, 36, is a high-profile figure who has organized the right-wing Proud Boys since 2018 in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa, short for “anti-fascism,” an amorphous and often violent leftist movement.

The records uncovered by Reuters are startling because they show that a leader of a far-right group now under intense scrutiny by law enforcement was previously an active collaborator with criminal investigators.

In the 2014 Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent, and Tarrio’s own lawyer described his undercover work and said he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling.

Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, when asked about the transcript. “I don’t recall any of this.”

Law-enforcement officials and the court transcript contradict Tarrio’s denial. In a statement to Reuters, the former federal prosecutor in Tarrio’s case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that “he cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes.”

That didn’t stop police from arresting Tarrio when he arrived in Washington, D.C., in early January, two days before the Capitol Hill riot—in which, Reuters says, the Proud Boys were involved on January 6. He was charged with possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines, and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a December demonstration by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The D.C. Superior Court ordered him to leave the city pending a court date in June.

Indeed, although Tarrio did not take part in the Capitol insurrection, at least five Proud Boys members have been charged in the riot. The FBI previously said Tarrio’s earlier arrest was an effort to preempt the events of January 6.

What’s  more, the news outlet says, in  November and December, Tarrio led the Proud Boys through the streets of D.C. after Trump’s loss. Video shows him on December 11 with a bullhorn in front of a large crowd. “To the parasites both in Congress, and in that stolen White House,” he said. “You want a war, you got one!” The crowd roared. The next day Tarrio burned the BLM banner.

Former prosecutor Johannes said she was surprised that the defendant she prosecuted for fraud is now a key player in the violent movement that sought to halt the certification of President Joe Biden.

“I knew that he was a fraudster— but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist,” she said.

Research contact: @Reuters