This week’s Monday Briefing turns the spotlight on the Fox News v Dominion settlement. Some Bocconi students share with us how they celebrate Eid al-Fitr in their respective countries, and Milano Design Week, along with some ducks, makes an appearance in our latest cartoon. In other news, fighting continues in Sudan, a SpaceX rocket explodes before reaching orbit, and much, much more in our latest issue.
Spotlight: The wider implications of the Fox News v Dominion settlement
On Tuesday afternoon, anticipation grew in a Delaware courtroom, already overflowing with hundreds of journalists and reporters. Almost unbelievably, Fox News, the powerful network that feeds news to America’s conservatives, was on the brink of being put on trial for defamation. The opposing party: Dominion Voting Systems. Following the 2020 election results, Fox News had repeatedly aired some conspiracy theories about Dominion. Among these was the claim that Dominion machines had rigged the election and were flipping votes. The lies broadcasted by Fox amplified Trump’s dangerous narrative on voter fraud in the lead up to the January 6 attack on Congress. Even more incriminating, were the findings that news anchors, producers, and top executives at Fox, even Fox News owner Mr. Murdoch himself, knew the claims to be false and allowed them to be spread regardless, as revealed in a stunning collection of internal communications that Dominion obtained as part of its suit. The defamation case was an uncharted attempt to finally hold Fox accountable for the reckless disregard of truth in its news coverage. However, what was forecasted to be a six-weeks long blockbuster trial, that would have seen top Fox talent along with the likes of Mr. Murdoch himself being called in to testify under oath, became instead a highly reported last-minute settlement deal. Indeed, briefly after the jurors had been sworn in, it was announced that Fox News had reached an agreement with Dominion to settle the case for $787.5m, less than half of the $1.6bn Dominion had demanded in its lawsuit.
It seemed inevitable from the start that such a high-profile case would proceed any differently. The reality, that left many hoping the trial would go on, was that Dominion had an exceptionally strong case. Nonetheless, a settlement was deemed highly necessary by Fox to minimize the damages that would have otherwise been caused by the mix of media frenzy and juicy under-oath revelations of top Fox executives. Still, the case has thrown a spotlight on the importance of truth-telling in media. It has a set a precedent for future efforts that will try to tackle the broadcasting of fake news by large media conglomerates. However, one thing is purposely missing from Fox’s agreement: an on-air apology and acknowledgement of having spread lies about Dominion, as congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out. This calls for one last question, will the next lawsuit tackling the perpetuation of fake-news break past the settlement stage and create a real legislative precedent? Only time will tell.
Around the World
Sudan ceasefire fails as gunfire and shelling continues in Khartoum. The RSF (Sudanese paramilitary forces) had promised to respect a 72-hours ceasefire in occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Ramadan fast, on humanitarian grounds. It seems that the message did not arrive in time to the armed troops meaning intense gunfights and bombings continued in Khartoum. In the meantime, the US and the UK are moving their troops closer to Sudan for what is expected to be the implementation of an evacuation plan to rescue their thousands of citizens who are trapped in the country. Since there are no official declarations yet, there is speculation on the fact that rescuing all US citizens would be too dangerous and that this operation will involve only embassy personnel. The UK, on the other side, has started asking for the names and locations of British citizens who are willing to leave the country.
All Nato members have agreed Ukraine will eventually join the military alliance. During a visit to Kyiv last week, the Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that there is common consensus across the alliance that Ukraine will take part in NATO once the war with Russia is over. Additionally, he stated that the alliance must ensure that Ukraine will “prevail” in the fighting. Zelensky is expected to attend the annual NATO summit in July, but officials say that Ukraine might condition his presence on agreeing to a roadmap for the country’s accession.
SpaceX rocket explodes before reaching orbit. On Thursday, the company’s rocket was destroyed four minutes after taking off from a launch pad in Texas, with its remains plunging into the Gulf of Mexico. The experiment had aimed at sending the object on a round-the-world trip, and it carried no people or satellites. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter where he called the company’s attempt”an exciting test launch” and claimed tht the next launch will take place in only a few months.
Rahul Gandhi could face jail and loss of seat after Indian court rejects plea. Last week, a court rejected his request for a stay of execution following his conviction in a criminal defamation case, where he was accused of mocking two Indian businessmen, both surnamed Modi. Now, Gandhi risks not being eligible to run in elections for the next eight years if the court does not overturn his conviction.
Stampede in Yemen kills at least 85 people gathering to receive holiday donations. Part of the Muslims religious obligations is the payment of 2.5% of their wealth to poor people each year. This practice, called zatar consists in the distribution of charity in the streets and is usually done during Ramadam. On Thursday, in Sana, the capital of Yemen, during the charity handout, at least 85 people died in the crowd after it rushed towards the school at the end of the street after hearing an explosion. Sana is governed by Houthis, an Islamic State militant group that took over the government with a coup d’ètat around the end of 2014. Apparently, the explosion heard by the crowd was caused by a shot in the sky by Houthis, that struck an electric wire. Houthi authorities blamed the businessman who organized the distribution for not coordinating with them first. He replied that they were trying to sabotage the distributions, pretending to run them on their own, to let the population think that they are the generous ones, while they leave people starving and the overcrowding was a demonstration of this.
Uganda’s president refuses to sign new hardline anti-LGBTQ+ bill. The meeting between Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, and Parliament members of the ruling party has concluded with the rejection on the president’s side to sign a bill that would have imposed even stricter punishments for LGBTQ+ citizens. The bill was highly criticized by Western countries as it proposed to impose death sentence and life-imprisonment for gay sex, up to 14 years for “attempted” homosexuality, and in an earlier version it had been rejected by Uganda’s constitutional court. It is not clear what Museveni’s requests were and in what direction he proposed to modify the bill. The Parliament had voted it almost unanimously and, according to Uganda’s constitution, if it returns to Parliament twice, it would be approved also without the president’s assent.
Russia accidentally bombs own city near Ukrainian border. On Thursday evening, a Russian fighter jet accidentally hit the city of Belgorod, 40km away from the Ukranian border. Several people were injured, and multiple buildings were damaged, but there were no reported deaths. In a press-statement, the Russian defense ministry admitted to the mistake. Russian jets often pass above Belgorod on their way to Ukraine, and the city often comes under attack following the start of Russia’s “full-scale military operation”.
Migranti, dl Cutro: Senato approva nuovo reato anti-scafisti. Il Senato ha approvato senza modifiche l’articolo 8 al dl Cutro che ha, tra le altre cose, introdotto un nuovo reato nel Codice penale, vale a dire quello di morte o lesioni procurate da parte di chi organizza il traffico illegale di migranti. L’articolo del decreto prevede che “chiunque, in violazione delle disposizioni” del testo unico sull’immigrazione “promuove, dirige, organizza, finanzia o effettua il trasporto di stranieri nel territorio dello Stato” in modo irregolare, e in modo pericoloso per la vita dei migranti, è punito con pene da 20 a 30 anni, se da tale azione deriva la morte.
Lollobrigida: “Bisogna incentivare le nascite, non arrendiamoci alla sostituzione etnica.” Schlein: “Parole dal sapore suprematista”. Scoppia la polemica per le parole del ministro Francesco Lollobrigida sulla necessità di incentivare la natalità in Italia. “Non possiamo arrenderci all’idea della sostituzione etnica: gli italiani fanno meno figli, quindi li sostituiamo con qualcun altro. Non è quella la strada”, ha affermato il deputato di Fratelli d’Italia. Immediata la reazione della segretaria del Pd, Elly Schlein, che definisce le dichiarazioni del ministro “disgustose e inaccettabili da chi ricopre il suo ruolo. Ci riportano agli anni ’30 del secolo scorso, sono parole che hanno il sapore del suprematismo bianco”. La leader dem si augura poi che “Giorgia Meloni e il governo prendano le distanze da queste dichiarazioni.”
L’Aula del Senato approva definitivamente il dl Ucraina. Il Senato ha approvato in via definitiva il decreto che proroga per il 2023 le misure per l’accoglienza in Italia dei rifugiati giunti dall’Ucraina dopo l’invasione della Russia. L’unanimità registrata alla Camera si è ripetuta a Palazzo Madama con 143 voti.
Balneari, Ue chiede all’Italia una «soluzione urgente». La Commissione Ue aumenta la pressione affinché Roma si allinei con la direttiva Bolkestein nel campo delle concessioni balneari. Già a fine febbraio la Commissione aveva indicato l’insoddisfazione per la proroga decisa dal governo al 2024, considerata peraltro illegittima dal Consiglio di stato dopo soli cinque giorni dall’approvazione del decreto. Giovedì 20 è dunque attesa una nuova sentenza da parte della Corte di giustizia Ue che, viene sottolineato, «potrebbe avere conseguenze e dovrà essere pienamente presa in considerazione».
This week our campus was vibrating with the energy of the upcoming student representative elections: student bodies put up tents to promote their campaigns, debates were organized, and posters took over virtually every empty wall. But the big moment will come this week: on the 26th and 27th of April, every Bocconi student will be able to cast their vote and choose those who will represent us in the year to come. We encourage you to check the You@B notification bar in order to find more information about the voting procedure.
But don’t worry, this week will not only be marked by “political” tension on campus: on the 27th of April, the Bocconi Live Performance Student Association (BLPSA) has prepared a musical adaptation of ABBA’s famous “Mamma Mia”, directed and played by students, for students. Tickets are still available on the website evients.com. See you there!
In-Depth: Stories of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration ending Ramadan
Eid al-Fitr (festival of Breaking Fast) marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. This festivity lasts three days and is celebrated across many countries which are majority Muslim or have Muslim communities. This year Eid al-Fitr began last Friday the 21st of April and a few students have shared how they celebrate Eid al-Fitr in their respective countries.
Asya – Turkey
“For me Eid al-Fitr, also called Candy Bayram in Turkish, is mostly about culture and family more than religion. It is an occasion where you spend time with your family and have a nice meal with them. As kids, in preparation for the celebration we would buy nice clothes to wear on that day and to keep all year round. The festivity has nice values, as you must make amends if you have fought with family or friends. You not only pay visit to your family but also to your neighbours and bring sweets to them. Also, it is not as commercialised as Christmas as we don’t have a persona like Santa Claus and all that gift rush. However, lately, this holiday became an opportunity to travel for a few days with your close family rather than also visiting your extended one, and old traditions started to fade.”
Ali – Pakistan
“Firstly, in the morning we go for the Eid prayer. In many families only men go, however some places also have arrangements for women. Eid prayer is not always organized in the mosque. In many cases, it is organized in open spaces like parks or community centers. Then, we go to the graveyard to visit our ancestors and relatives who passed away to remember our family. After paying our respects we go home and cook sawaiyan, a traditional dessert made consisting of vermicelli pudding, and then you have dinner with some of your relatives.”
Sara – Algeria
“On Eid me and my family wake up early and perform Ghusl, a water purification ritual and then we wear our best outfit for the day. Before going to the mosque, my dad gives Zakat, which involves giving money for charity. Arriving at the mosque is truly a magical moment: everyone is hugging and telling you “Aid Mubarak”, wishing you happiness and health, you can hear the children play and the atmosphere is so lively. When the prayer begins, everybody goes quiet and prays together, and I feel like I am part of a big family. The prayer lasts for one or two hours, and the point is to celebrate love, forgiveness, and peace. Afterward, the whole family feasts together. On Eid, we usually eat barbecue and tajine zaitun, which has chicken and olives. We also have burek, a pastry made of dough and filling inside, shorba soup, with chicken and chickpeas, and harira soup, a must have of Algerian tradition. The best part of this day is that you stay hours and hours talking at the table and then you have tea and pastries, it is basically heaven all day!”
Cartoon of the Week: Via di qua qua quak
During the Milano Design Week students of Academia di Belle Arti di Brera used toy ducks in an act of protest against the use of Academia di Brera as a commercial site.
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