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Iranian journalist stabbed near his home in London

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Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati
Pouria Zeraati is a journalist and TV presenter at London-based broadcaster Iran International.

Iran International presenter Pouria Zeraati, 36, was attacked by a group outside his home in Wimbledon, south London, on Friday night.

On March 30th he updated his social media with a picture from his hospital bed as he recovers in London. UK.

Counter-terrorism officers are leading the investigation; while the Iranian regime has denied any involvement.

London-based Iran International, a channel broadcasting in Persian since 2017, has been under “threat, heavy threats” for 18 months, according to its spokesman, Adam Baillie.

During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Braillie said the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been targeting journalists and their families.

“The IRGC “get in touch through proxies, they don’t leave a paper trail”, he said.

“No one’s going to call up from the IRGC and go ‘hey, it’s us’, but families have been taken in for questioning and threatened,” Mr Baillie added.

The broadcaster spokesperson also said that Mr. Zeraati had received death threats before and that the threats against Iran International’s staff had “escalated dramatically” over time.

Since 2022, several plots to either kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime have been disrupted by police, it is understood.

The Metropolitan Police said the motivation for the attack on Friday was not yet clear, but Mr Zeraati’s occupation and recent threats towards UK-based Iranian journalists meant the investigation was being led by specialist counter-terrorism officers in the country.

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Bloomberg New Voices Launches Initiative in Brazil

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Bloomberg New Voices Launches Initiative in Brazil
Banco do Brasil CEO Tarciana Medeiros in conversation with Julia Leite, Bloomberg Managing Editor for Emerging Markets in Latin America.

Bloomberg announced the expansion of its New Voices program to São Paulo with a celebration and networking reception held at Instituto Tomie Ohtake. This marks the program’s first expansion into South America, and São Paulo now joins New York, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Dubai, Singapore, and more as the initiative’s 16th city. The New Voices program began in 2018 with the goal of increasing the representation of women as expert sources across media platforms. Bloomberg sponsors intensive media training for women and other under-represented executives in business and finance to prepare them for broadcast appearances on Bloomberg TV and other media outlets.

During the event Banco do Brasil CEO Tarciana Medeiros spoke with Julia Leite, Bloomberg Managing Editor for Emerging Markets in Latin America, about her growth outlook for 2024 and the legacy she hopes to leave as the bank’s first woman CEO. The event also featured a conversation with Nubank Brazil CEO Livia Chanes moderated by Bloomberg TV anchor Annmarie Hordern, where she discussed the fintech sector, Nubank’s expansion into other Latin America markets, and more.

Laura Zelenko, Senior Executive Editor and Founder of New Voices at Bloomberg, and Vanessa Dezem, Bloomberg’s Bureau Chief for Brazil also delivered remarks at the launch about the importance of amplifying diverse voices through the New Voices program.

Speaking at the event, Zelenko said, “We decide every day who gets to speak on our platforms, whose views inform our coverage, who gets to tell our audiences what is the outlook for the economy, for markets, for a particular industry.” She continued, “Standing here in São Paulo, I should add that even beyond gender, it’s important that we are bringing more voices from this country, from this region, to our global financial reporting.”

Since the inception of the New Voices Program, Bloomberg has more than tripled the number of on-air female guests to 36%. The initiative expanded in 2020 to include a cohort of Black executives of all gender identities, and in 2021, Latinx executives across the U.S. More than 600 executives in more than 15 cities have participated in the program.

To apply or nominate someone for the program, please click here.

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NASA welcomes Greece as newest Artemis Accords Signatory

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NASA Welcomes Greece as Newest Artemis Accords Signatory
(From left) Ioannis Daglis, president of the Hellenic Space Center, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, watch as Giorgos Gerapetritis, Greek foreign minister, signs the Artemis Accords on the margins of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue at the Department of State in Washington | Photo: Chuck Kennedy

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson participated in a signing ceremony Friday with Greece’s foreign minister, Giorgos Gerapetritis, as his country became the 35th country to sign the Artemis Accords.

The accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations.

Also participating in the event at the U.S. Department of State were NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Dr. Ioannis Daglis, president of the Hellenic Space Center. The signing occurred during the fifth United States-Greece Strategic Dialogue in Washington.

“Congratulations to Greece on becoming the 35th country to join the Artemis Accords family,” said Nelson. “The U.S. and Greece are long-time partners and friends, and we are excited to expand this partnership in the cosmos. Together, we are shaping the future of cooperation in space for the Artemis Generation.”

The Artemis Accords were established in 2020 by the United States together with seven other original signatories. Since then, the Accords signatories have held focused discussions on how best to implement the Artemis Accords principles.

“As humanity embarks on a great adventure, returning to the Moon and preparing for traveling beyond the Moon, the Artemis Accords serve as a beacon of collaboration and cooperation among nations, paving the way for a sustainable and peaceful exploration of space,” said Gerapetritis.

The Artemis Accords reinforce and implement key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. They also strengthen the commitment by the United States and signatory nations to the Registration Convention, the Rescue and Return Agreement, as well as best practices NASA and its partners support, including the public release of scientific data.

More countries are expected to sign the accords in the months and years ahead, which are advancing safe, peaceful, and prosperous activities in space.

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Nearly 20,000 men have fled Ukraine to avoid being drafted

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A man with a Ukraine flag walking on the streets
A BBC Eye investigation highlights how Ukrainian men have escaped the war and claim asylum in its neighbouring countries | Photo: Jo Kassis

BBC World Service’s investigation unit, BBC Eye, has revealed that nearly 20,000 Ukrainian men have used various routes to flee their country to avoid being drafted, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The BBC Eye investigation, Ukraine’s Draft Dodgers, talks to some of the men who have escaped the war, as they explain their unique situations, their choices, and what they have gone through to get out of Ukraine and claim asylum in its neighbouring countries. BBC Eye’s covert reporting identifies smugglers whose paid services are advertised on a messaging app.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukrainian men aged 18-60 were banned from leaving the country unless they had an exemption. But BBC Eye has established – by requesting from Romania, Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia data on illegal border crossings – that 19,740 men illegally crossed Ukraine’s border into these neighbouring countries between February 2022 and 31 August 2023.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, out of the 21,113 individuals who were caught trying to escape the country, the majority – 14,313 – were attempting to walk or swim across the border, and the remaining 6,800 tried to use fraudulently obtained official paperwork stating exemptions.

Ukraine’s 1200km-long border with Moldova has become the most popular route out for these men: since the start of the war, over 11,000 have crossed illegally into this country. While some have simply walked across the border, other escapes have been dramatic. One video shows a man swimming across the Dniester river towards Moldova, with Moldovan border guards urging him across to safety.

In a refugee centre in Northern Moldova, BBC Eye met Erik, a 26-year-old musician from Kharkiv, who says he crossed over to Moldova by walking across the plains of Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region and then swimming across a river. Erik eventually made it to the US, where he was reunited with his wife and four-year-old daughter.

The BBC report also found attempts that had fatal outcomes – such as those who drowned while trying to cross the Tisa river between Ukraine and Romania. A video shows the bodies of men being pulled to shore by the Ukrainian guards.

For those with enough money, there is another route out of Ukraine conscription – paying for fake paperwork to grant them an exemption, such as men with medical issues, or with caring responsibilities, or fathers to three or more children.

Posing as a Ukrainian keen to leave the country, an undercover reporter working for the BBC Eye investigation spent a month corresponding with smugglers who are advertising their services on a messaging app. He found at least six groups on the Telegram messaging app, with membership ranging from a hundred to thousands of people. “It’s also easy to message the group administrator, who quickly responds and provides a list of services. […] the scale of this illegal business seems quite large.”

The various options to escape Ukraine offered to the BBC Eye undercover reporter included presenting himself as a volunteer; adding a number of children to his existing family (which would allow him to leave the country); sharing a route which would allow him to bypass the Ukraine border checks; and the most expensive of all – a medical exemption for joining the army (“white ticket”), which means he would have the freedom to come and go from the country as he pleases. “They explained that part of this money goes as a bribe to someone who will produce the ticket,” says the reporter.

In August 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called out the “corrupt decisions” made by the country’s medical military commissions, which he said had resulted in a ten-fold increase in exemptions since February 2022. He warned that bribery during war was “high treason” and announced that all regional officials in charge of military conscription had been removed, and more than 30 people faced criminal charges.

Talking to BBC Eye, Fedir Venislavskyi, member of parliament and the president’s parliamentary representative, acknowledged the seriousness of the problem: “The government realises that this phenomenon is not isolated and that it is widespread. But unfortunately, I would emphasise that corruption is very resilient. It is very difficult to eradicate it.” He added that Ukraine was doing “everything possible to keep the number of corruption cases to a minimum”.

Venislavskyi told BBC Eye that the number of men who have left or tried to leave was having no impact on the war effort: “I am convinced that the resilience and readiness of Ukrainians to defend their independence, sovereignty and freedom is 95-99%. Those who try to avoid mobilisation are about 1-5%. They are definitely not critical to the defence of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s Defence Minister, Rustem Umerov, said in September 2023 that of Ukraine’s 1-million-strong defence forces, more than 800,000 are in the country’s armed forces.

Ukraine’s Draft Dodgers, from the BBC World Service and produced by Helen Littleboy, is available for viewing in the UK – via BBC iPlayer – and internationally, on BBC World Service YouTube channel. The documentary will also be available in Ukrainian via the BBC News Ukraine YouTube channel.

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