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Nikola’s Trevor Milton charged with misleading investors


Nikola Corp. founder and former chairman Trevor Milton has been charged by prosecutors with making false statements to investors in the electric-vehicle startup. The company’s shares fell the most in almost five months.

Milton, who stepped down from the company last year, is in federal custody after voluntarily surrendering. He’s charged with misleading investors from November 2019 until around September 2020 about the development of Nikola’s products and technology, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday by federal prosecutors in N.Y.

“Milton sold a version of Nikola not as it was — an early-stage company with a novel idea to commercialize yet-to-be proven products and technology — but rather as a trail-blazing company that had already achieved many groundbreaking and game-changing milestones,” according to a separate complaint filed Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lawyers for Milton didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Nikola said in a statement that it has cooperated with the investigation and reiterated its commitment to start vehicle production. “Today’s government actions are against Mr. Milton individually, and not against the company,” it said.

Shares of the electric vehicle startup fell as much as 11% on Thursday, the biggest intraday drop since March 5, and touching the lowest level since May 26. The stock was down 8.1% to $13.01 as of 11:47 a.m. in New York.

Nikola’s sudden rise and dramatic fall started a trend. Electric-vehicle startups including Lordstown Motors Corp. and Canoo Inc. have gone down similar tracks, merging with special purpose acquisition companies and then struggling to hold up to scrutiny after going public.

Nikola’s market capitalization has plunged from almost $29 billion in June last year to about $5 billion currently. Milton is the company’s largest shareholder with about a 20% stake in Nikola, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Nikola went public through a reverse merger with a blank-check company in June 2020, a deal that made Milton into an overnight billionaire. At one point, the company’s shares ballooned to almost $80 apiece, giving it a market capitalization greater than Ford Motor Co. despite not generating any meaningful revenue.

Days after the startup’s shares debuted, Bloomberg News reported that Milton had exaggerated the capability of the company’s debut truck, the Nikola One. That story got the attention of an activist investor at Hindenburg Research, which published a detailed report in September accusing Milton and Nikola of deceiving investors.

Hindenburg congratulated investigators for holding Milton accountable for his statements in a tweet posted after he was charged.

The fallout from the accusations has forced Nikola to curtail its ambitions after setbacks such as a much-diminished deal with General Motors Co. and the cancellation of an electric-powered garbage truck program with Republic Services Inc.

Nikola initially denied the claims by Hindenburg, which was betting against its shares. But Milton resigned later that month, and in February the company said an internal review of claims about its technology concluded the startup and its founder made several inaccurate statements.

The SEC says Milton was “intensely focused” on the company’s stock price, calling and texting senior executives to “do something” on days when the shares were falling. He also “tracked the daily number of new Robinhood users who held Nikola stock,” according to the complaint.

Around the time of the merger, he hyped up a battery-powered pickup called the Badger — a truck the company had said in regulatory filings may not make it to production because it lacked a manufacturing partner.

Milton used his social media presence and appearances in interviews to announce new initiatives and changes, before informing the company, the SEC alleges.

“For example, on June 25, 2020, Milton sent a series of tweets from his personal account in which he claimed that Nikola would offer a drinking fountain in the Badger. This information came as a complete surprise to Nikola’s designers, engineers, and marketing personnel. When informed of the tweets, one engineer questioned whether ‘this [is] a joke,’ a marketing employee wrote that his ‘head is fuzzy,’ and a designer texted, ‘[u]hhhhh what.’”

Among the false and misleading statements Milton made, according to the federal indictment:

  • That the company had a “fully functioning” semi-truck prototype known as the Nikola One, despite the fact that Milton knew that the prototype was inoperable
  • That Nikola had engineered and built an electric- and hydrogen-powered pickup truck known as the Badger from the “ground up” using Nikola’s parts and technology, which he knew was not true
  • That Nikola was producing hydrogen and was doing so at a reduced cost, when “no hydrogen was being produced at all by Nikola, at any cost”
  • That Nikola had developed batteries and other important components in-house, when they were buying them from third parties
  • That reservations for Nikola’s semi-trucks were binding orders representing billions in revenue, when they were actually able to be canceled at any time “and were for a truck Nikola had no intent to produce in the near-term”

Nikola was among the first EV startups that attracted attention from investors last year as a possible rivals to market leader Tesla Inc., but which have fallen out of favor in recent months as questions are raised about their business models.

Lordstown’s boasts about nonbinding orders gave way to another attack by Hindenburg Research, which leveled accusations similar to the ones aimed at Nikola — that Lordstown had misled investors. Its founder stepped down in June, and the company confirmed this month that it is being probed by the Justice Department and the SEC.

Canoo rattled the market in March by announcing a hard pivot in its business plans to de-emphasize pursuits that were part of its original pitch to investors. Its cofounder and CEO resigned in April, and in May the company disclosed an SEC investigation.

Bloomberg writers Esha Dey and Craig Trudell contributed to this report.

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Amazon fined €746M for violating privacy rules – POLITICO


Luxembourg’s data protection authority (CNPD) fined Amazon a record €746 million for not complying with EU’s privacy rules, according to the company’s latest filings

The decision was taken on July 16, and the regulator ruled that “Amazon’s processing of personal data did not comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.”

The data protection authority is also asking for “practice revisions,” which are not detailed in the document.

“We believe the CNPD’s decision to be without merit and intend to defend ourselves vigorously in this matter,” the company said in the filing. The CNPD did not respond to a request for comment and has previously said it is unable to comment on individual cases, or even confirm receipt of a complaint, according to local law.

The penalty is by far the highest sought under the 2018 GDPR and comes after a POLITICO investigation in February revealed that poor management practices could have placed the data of millions of people at risk.

Luxembourg’s data protection commission, which oversees Amazon because the retailer is based in the Grand Duchy, slapped the online retailer with the penalty following a 2018 complaint by French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net which targeted the way Amazon obtains consent to target adverts.

“It’s really good news,” said Bastien Le Querrec, of La Quadrature du Net. “This is a really huge number.”

A statement from the French NGO said it had not yet seen the decision, but that the size of the penalty indicated that it was “unambiguous” that Amazon’s advertising targeting system does not obtain users freely-given, in violation of the GDPR.

The previous highest GDPR penalty, a €50 million fine for Google, also originated from a complaint from the French group, whose members were included in the POLITICO Tech 28 list of the most influential figures on the European tech scene.

Asked about the ruling, an Amazon spokesperson said: “We strongly disagree with the CNPD’s ruling, and we intend to appeal. The decision relating to how we show customers relevant advertising relies on subjective and untested interpretations of European privacy law, and the proposed fine is entirely out of proportion with even that interpretation.”

The fine is significantly higher than the $425 million (around €357 million) previously reported.

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Simone Biles Explains What Happened During “Petrifying” Olympic Vault


“What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air I also have NO idea how I’m going to land. Or what I’m going to land on. Head/hands/feet/back…”

Posted on July 30, 2021, at 7:23 a.m. ET

Simone Biles is being open and honest about her reasons for withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics all-around final, explaining in terrifying detail what happened and why it was no longer safe for her to compete.

Loic Venance / AFP via Getty Images

Earlier this week, the 24-year-old pulled out of the team finals when a “petrifying” vault went wrong, leaving Biles lucky to escape without serious injury.

Jean Catuffe / Getty Images

In the first rotation of the competition on Tuesday, Biles went to do a vault with 2.5 twists but, appearing dazed and disorientated as she flipped in the air, seemed to bail on the skill midway through. Instead, she completed 1.5 twists and nearly fell upon landing. The vault received the lowest score of the rotation — 13.766 — a huge drop from her average score of 16.050 for the same event during the previous Olympics.

Soon after, Biles left the competition floor before it was officially announced that she had withdrawn from the event altogether. She only returned to the arena to cheer on her teammates from the sidelines, who eventually went on to win the silver medal. 

It was then later announced that Biles would be withdrawing from the individual all-around final, an event she’d qualified in first place for and had been favorite to win as the reigning Olympic champion.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health,” a statement posted by USA Gymnastics said. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals.”

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being,” the statement continued. “Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

However, the severity of Biles’ vault that saw her withdraw from two Olympic finals wasn’t initially clear to the untrained eye, and it was only later explained just how serious it was.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Biles later told reporters that she’d been “having a little bit of the twisties,”, a term used to explain a mental block that can appear out of nowhere and make a gymnast lose their sense of direction, where they are in the air, or perform an extra twist. Experiencing this block while flipping and twisting in the air leaves a gymnast blind to their surroundings, unable to figure out where the ground is and how to land safely.

Former gymnasts explained just how bad the vault could’ve ended, telling Deanna Hong, a producer for Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts, it could’ve lead to an injury, or something much worse.

“One former US elite gymnast I talked to said that if it was someone other than Simone Biles who had made that same error, they would have certainly blown a knee, at minimum,” Hong tweeted. “Another said if it had happened to her instead of Simone, ‘I probably would have ended up paralyzed.'”

Other gymnasts tried to explain “twisties” with videos, showing how the mental block can affect skills they’ve been perfecting for years.

Here’s an example of a mental block for anybody who has no idea. This one was safe and quite honestly funny to watch, but that’s because I didn’t land head first

Another gymnast, who said they’d experienced the mental block since they were 11, explained how the sudden instinct to twist can affect even the most basic of moves, writing: “There was a point in time where I couldn’t even do a back roll without wanting to turn my head to twist.”

Another said: “I couldn’t and still can barely do a straight jump on a trampoline.”

Biles herself opened up about what had happened during the vault and her current state of mind, revealing that she’s still experiencing the twisties but is practising ahead of the four Olympic finals she’s currently scheduled to compete in.

Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a Q&A on Instagram, Biles said that the mental block ” randomly started happening” the morning after her prelim event. Explaining why she didn’t let an alternate gymnast take her place in the team event, she revealed that it wasn’t within the rules to replace an athlete after prelims and qualifications had already been completed, leaving her with no choice.

She said: “I warmed up in the back gym ‘ok-ish’. I was fighting demons but I did it. Petrified too.”

“I didn’t have a bad performance and quit. I’ve had plenty of bad performances throughout my career and finished the competition,” Biles went on. “I simply got so lost my safety was at risk as well as a team medal.”

Martin Bureau / AFP via Getty Images

“I also have no idea how I landed on my feet on that vault because if you look at the pictures and my eyes you can see how confused I am as to where I am in the air,” she continued. “Thankfully I landed safe enough but I also don’t think some of you realize I was supposed to do a 2 ½ and I only completed 1 ½ twists before it looks like I got shot out of the air.”

“I have experienced [the twisties] before,” she added. “They’re not fun to deal with. It’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind and body in sync.”

Explaining how the twisties can make a gymnast feel in the moment, Biles revealed that it’s impossible to tell where you are in the air or how you’re going to land.

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

“Literally can not tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever,” she explained. “Not having an inch of control over your body. What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air I also have NO idea how I’m going to land. Or what I’m going to land on. Head/hands/feet/back…”

Biles went on to post videos of herself in practise after the withdrawal, showing that she was still experiencing the mental block and had yet to fully regain the skills she’d planned on performing in the coming events.

.@Simone_Biles shared footage of herself at practice in #Tokyo this morning via Instagram, still struggling to find herself in the air.

The also took the time to further communicate the severity of her condition to the world.

Biles qualified for the finals in all four individual events, the first of which just so happens to be vault. It’s still unconfirmed if the 24-year-old will compete in all, some or none of the finals.

All of this comes after a resurfaced video appeared online showing Biles explaining how the flips that she performs could have dire consequences if they go wrong.

oop I found it. “don’t bail, or you will literally die” she made the right choice for herself and for her team #SimoneBiles

In the interview, she says: “Sometimes going into [a skill], I’m like, ‘Don’t bail — you’ll literally die. Like, you will break something.'”

But Biles isn’t letting her situation stop her from supporting her fellow gymnasts, appearing in the crowd to cheer them on during the all-around final and celebrating the eventual win of teammate Sunisa Lee.

“CONGRATS PRINCESS!” Biles wrote on Instagram. “Absolutely killed it!!! OLYMPIC CHAMPION RIGHT HERE!!! So so so beyond proud of you!!!!”


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Pros and Cons of Working From Home: Is It Better for You and Your Wallet?


Remote work became the new normal for many employees given the COVID-19 pandemic, but as many slowly return to the office, you may be considering whether or not working from home is best for your future. There are seemingly endless reasons to work from home, like the lack of a commute to decreased spending on childcare. However, remote work has its costs too, whether money comes out of your salary for a new ergonomic desk setup or you’re shouldering a more expensive utility bill.

We surveyed 1,006 workers to see their opinions on whether employers should cover remote work costs and found that approximately 70 percent agreed that employers should cover some or all of the costs associated with working from home. See the breakdown of results below:

  • 37.5% agreed employers should cover all remote work expenses
  • 32.8% believed a partial budget should be provided for remote work expenses
  • 29.7% said that employers shouldn’t pay for remote work expenses

Regardless of what your work model looks like, there are several pros and cons to working from home. Read on to evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs for you and your career or jump to our infographic.

Does Working From Home Save You Money?

Working from home allows you to pocket the money you would spend on transportation, child or pet care, and work expenses like wardrobe or parking. Transportation is one of the most expensive parts of in-person work — Americans can spend up to $5,000 on transportation each year.

Another opportunity to save money with remote work is that you’re less inclined to spend money on coffee, lunch, and other food-related expenses with coworkers. Commuting can also impact how willing you are to cook since more of your energy will be expended via transportation.

The Pros of Working From Home

As we briefly mentioned above, there are several benefits to remote work that can save you money and increase your productivity. So much so that many remote employees want to keep it that way; in fact, 65 percent of remote workers surveyed said they wanted to remain remote. Luckily, the pandemic has increased the amount of work-from-home remote jobs on the market. Below, we listed some of the benefits of working from home and why it’s definitely worth considering.

1. Save Gas Money

One of the most common costs when it comes to transportation is gasoline since commuters can travel from far and wide to get to work. The average commuter can travel between 5 and 13 miles each way to get to work, which requires frequent trips to the gas station.

Working from home allows you to save money on gas by reducing the amount of trips to the gas station and ultimately saving you hundreds of dollars in the process.

  • Pro tip: If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are you can use a rideshare app or a short-term rental car service to get from place to place. This is another great way to save money instead of constantly refilling your gas tank.

2. Tax Break Eligibility

Remote employees, freelancers, and self-employed individuals are more likely to be eligible for tax breaks like a home office deduction or a depreciation of equipment deduction.

  • Pro tip: Taxes can be complicated, so make sure you meet the criteria outlined by the IRS to avoid unnecessary fees or penalties.

3. Eating at Home

Working in an office can increase your likelihood of eating at restaurants or stopping by coffee shops around town. Over time, this can amount to thousands of dollars.

As we mentioned before, commuting can deplete energy levels to the point where commuters don’t have the energy to cook and, consequently, order out instead. Not only is eating at home cheaper, but it’s generally better for your overall health.

  • Pro tip: Meal order programs like HelloFresh ship your ingredients and recipes right to your door so you don’t have to worry about grocery shopping and finding what to eat.

4. Save on Clothing

In-person work often requires a dress code that can range from business casual to formal attire. Clothing items like suits, ties, dresses, and other work-appropriate items are required for certain professions and they can have a hefty price tag. This can also become increasingly expensive with dry cleaning and other laundry expenses.

Remote work still requires appropriate clothing and professionalism, but it drastically reduces the need for formal work attire. You can save hundreds of dollars on clothing and laundry services by working from home.

  • Pro tip: Buying clothing items that can be worn for work and leisure are a great option for remote workers. Clothing items such as jumpsuits, polo shirts, and other business casual attire can help save you money in the long run.

5. Increased Productivity

Many remote workers in the past year reported increased productivity due to working from home. In a survey of remote teams, 65 percent of workers said they felt more productive at home than they did in the office.

  • Pro tip: Setting limits on your phone for social media, games, and other activities can help you stay focused while working from home. You can also turn off notifications during the workday to stay productive and keep focused.

6. More Family Time

Long hours in the office can reduce the amount of time you’re able to spend at home with your loved ones, especially if you work night shifts or long days. Working from home allows for more quality time with family since you’re more likely to be in the same place at the same time.

  • Pro tip: It’s important to make time for important people in your life. To do so, set boundaries and stick to a hard stop when your workday ends so that you can spend quality time with loved ones.

7. Environmentally Friendly

Commuting has an effect on the entire ecosystem we live in, given the pollution that comes from transportation. In fact, 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions came from transportation alone in 2019. Most people don’t have electric cars, so exhaust and other car emissions contribute to the carbon footprint on Earth.

A daily 30-mile commute to work can result in hundreds of thousands of miles on your car and significantly impact the environment throughout your career. This makes a remote work environment a healthy option for you and the planet.

  • Pro tip: To increase your positive impact on the environment, consider sustainable office furniture that is made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled wood, glass, and iron.

8. Increased Work-Life Balance

Working in-office full-time can fill up most of your day and leave you with little time to yourself after commuting. In-person work can also be so draining that by the time you do get home, you may not have the energy to meet friends and family.

Remote work can allow for more mental and physical energy, which ultimately improves your work-life balance and overall mental health.

  • Pro tip: Burnout from remote work can also happen. Be sure to do the necessary self-care to conquer burnout such as therapy, meditation, yoga, and other acts of self-love.

9. More Schedule Flexibility

The typical 9-to-5 work shift takes up most of the day so it can be difficult to schedule appointments, attend your child’s events, or other important happenings in life. Working from home allows for more flexibility in your schedule where you can fit in important events and appointments without having to take time off.

  • Pro tip: Once you’ve booked appointments or blocked off certain times on your schedule, make sure to let your coworkers or manager know not to schedule meetings at those times to avoid overlapping events.

10. Work From Anywhere

Many remote workers took the opportunity to work from anywhere, whether it be another country or a family member’s home. The flexibility of working remotely allows you to work in different locations, like a local coffee shop, for a change of scenery.

  • Pro tip: If you do plan to work from a place other than your home, make sure the location has access to secure, high-speed internet for video conferencing and other work that requires you to be online.

The Cons of Working From Home

While there are plenty of advantages that come with remote working, it has also posed new challenges that we didn’t think about a year or so prior. Lack of movement, reduced social interaction, and other changes were some negative consequences of working from home. Below, we’ve listed some disadvantages of remote work to consider before making a decision.

1. Lack of Social Interaction

Communicating with managers and coworkers isn’t the same when conducted through a screen. Although video conferencing can help bridge the gap between social isolation and interaction, in-person interactions are few and far between when working from home.

  • Pro tip: If you do decide to work from home, make sure you have scheduled outings with family and friends in-person to make up for interactions you can’t get from work alone.

2. Increased Likelihood of Overworking

Since working from home can take out in-office distraction, there is such a thing as being too focused on work. Overworking and burnout are common results of work-related stress that comes from remote work. Getting used to spending most of your day sitting in front of your computer is a hard habit to break.

  • Pro tip: Overworking and burnout can be reduced by setting work-life boundaries like clocking on and off at certain times of the day. This ensures you aren’t working late into the night or starting so late that you’re forced to work later.

3. Distractions at Home

For some, working from home means peace and quiet as well as freedom from distractions. However, some remote workers may have children, dogs, and other things to cater to at home that can make remote work a lot more difficult.

  • Pro tip: Should you choose to work from home, having set times where you request not to be disturbed can help decrease the number of distractions at home. You can even book a baby or dog sitter for important meetings or conferences to make sure you’re focused on the task at hand.

4. No Set Routine

In-person jobs require you to clock in and out at specific times, whereas remote workers can clock in and out with more flexibility. The lack of a set routine when working from home can result in an unpredictable schedule.

  • Pro tip: Make sure you have a list of things you plan to accomplish for the day or a simple routine to follow to give yourself a sense of normalcy.

5. Increased Need for Self-Discipline

Similar to not having a set routine, remote work requires self-discipline given the independent nature of the work model. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re not on social media for hours when you have a project that needs to get done.

  • Pro tip: We mentioned in the pros section that increased productivity at home can be achieved through setting limits for social media and games on your phone. Another way to achieve self-discipline is creating a schedule for each day that you can hold yourself to.

6. Home Office Costs

Setting up your office at home requires space and materials that you may not have access to. This also means that your electricity bill might be higher if you work on a computer with multiple monitors. Although there are sometimes home office tax deductions, they’re not guaranteed for everyone.

  • Pro tip: There are plenty of innovative ways to incorporate an office into your home, like the closet office. Make sure not to make your bedroom your office space if you can help it so you can maintain work-life boundaries.

Home office materials can be costly, especially if you need special technology like a computer or software. We conducted a survey to determine whether American workers felt that employers should cover the costs of working from home, and about 70 percent said employers should cover some or all remote-work related expenses.

7.  Less Office Perks

Being in the office has its benefits: free lunch, access to the office gym, and other amenities that aren’t available to you if you work from home. There are also perks like office holiday celebrations or a simple chat with a coworker that make an in-person job more rewarding or enjoyable.

  • Pro tip: Working at a company with a positive and engaging company culture can make remote work more enjoyable. If you have ideas on how to make your workplace more remote-friendly, try pitching them to human resources or a culture committee at your company.

Home office materials can be costly, especially if you need special technology like a computer or software. We conducted a survey to determine whether American workers felt that employers should cover the costs of working from home, and about 70 percent said employers should cover some or all remote-work related expenses.

8. More Effort in Changing Scenery

Although remote work allows you to work from virtually anywhere, it does take more effort to get out of your comfort zone. If you use your computer for work, you may not have access to a laptop to bring to a local cafe or coffee shop.

  • Pro tip: If you don’t have access to a portable computer, see if your company has some to spare. A technology stipend may be in their best interest if they want increased employee satisfaction.

9. Telecommunication Difficulties

The increased telecommunication that became apparent during the pandemic was a challenge for many. Some may argue that it is more difficult to communicate via messaging platforms like Slack or email, so those who don’t prefer telecommunication may experience challenges.

  • Pro tip: It might be in your best interest to communicate with a manager or coworkers that you prefer hopping on a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Skype to talk through projects and assignments.

10. Motivational Challenges

Having the motivation to succeed in your career goes hand in hand with self-discipline — it’s much more difficult to discipline yourself when you don’t have the motivation to. Especially for those who work remotely in the long term, it can be difficult to get up and do the same thing every day.

  • Pro tip: While having a routine is important, make sure to mix up your workday. Try to start with different tasks or take breaks at different times to add variety and novelty to your schedule.

Deciding whether to work from home or in-person is a life-altering decision for which you must weigh the pros and cons. Remote work is not for everyone — introverts may thrive in remote work environments while extroverts struggle to get their needs met. Employees with children or noisy households might consider in-person work more advantageous, while independent young professionals may prefer the cost-effectiveness of remote work.

Regardless of your situation, there are plenty of telecommuting pros and cons to consider before making such a big decision. If you have the choice to work remotely or in-person, remember that no work model is perfect but each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Just know that whatever work environment you choose, you’re not alone.

Source: Investopedia


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MOSCOW, JULY 30, 2021RT is now accepting entries for the 2021 Khaled Alkhateb International Memorial Awards, an annual competition that recognizes the best journalism from conflict zones. The awards, now in their fourth year, were established in honor of RT Arabic freelancer, Khaled Alkhateb, who died on July 30, 2017 while reporting from the frontlines in Syria.

The Khaled Alkhateb International Memorial Awards are granted in the following categories:

– Best Written Journalism From A Conflict Zone;

– Best Video Journalism From A Conflict Zone;

– Best Humanitarian Journalism: After the War — a new category being introduced in 2021. It will highlight both video and written reporting on post-conflict recovery, ranging from individual human stories to efforts of entire communities.

Winners of the 2021 Khaled Alkhateb International Memorial Awards will receive a monetary prize of 200 thousand Rubles (or foreign currency equivalent).

Find out more and submit your entry at The winners will be announced on November 30, 2021.

The first recipients of the Khaled Alkhateb International Memorial Awards in the inaugural year of the competition in 2018 were from Iraq, Ireland and Singapure. Judging was conducted by an international jury of news media professionals and experts on the subject of war and armed conflicts, including former CBS correspondent Philip Ittner and the Association for International Broadcasting’s Tom Wragg.

2019 saw entries from 25 countries. Journalists from Russia, the United States, Italy, and India took top honors for their reports about conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. In 2020, the competition awards were claimed by reporters from Russia, Syria and India.

The Khaled Alkhateb International Memorial Awards were established by RT in memory of 25-year-old RT Arabic stringer Khaled Alkhateb who was killed by ISIS shelling in Homs, Syria, in 2017. Khaled had been covering the fighting between Syrian government forces and terrorists. In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin posthumously honored Khaled Alkhateb with the Medal for Courage.


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Brianna Hamblin opens up about being sexually harassed before TV shot


ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Spectrum News 1 reporter Brianna Hamblin never expected that a social media post about being sexually harassed would gain international attention.

Hamblin, 25, a broadcast journalist in Rochester, New York, said she shared her thoughts about an uncomfortable encounter as she reported in the field last week on her Twitter account and put her phone away. While getting a manicure that afternoon, her phone started to explode with alerts. 

Before she even mentioned the incident to her family, her parents called to make sure she was OK. The response to her tweet, she said, has been “overwhelming.”

The minute-long video went viral, now with more than 5.3 million views, 6,300 comments and 40,000 retweets. The video shows Hamblin politely and professionally deflecting a man offering comments as she prepared to film a live report from Magnolia Street in southwest Rochester. It also shows her discomfort grow as the passerby repeatedly objectified her. 

“So many women from all over related to it,” she said. “I’m happy this was able to start a discussion so more men can realize how widespread this is, and to work on themselves, but also to call each other out.”

Around 6 a.m. Friday, Hamblin was memorizing her script as two men approached her and Spectrum News 1 photojournalist Scott Barstow.

The duo first complained about the brightness of the lights set up near the road, in preparation for the live shot. Barstow was already filming the encounter, since the live shot was just moments away.

Hamblin at first ignored the men to focus on her job.

‘Gross and perverted’:Female journalists speak out after reporter harassed in viral video

Both men commented on her appearance as they walked by. She thanked them both and attempted to deflect, as one man repeatedly objectified her, using profanity and speaking about her race.

“In that moment, I was trying to find the fine line of how do I not make this man angry or get him riled up?” she said. “We couldn’t just pack up and leave.”

Anyone watching Spectrum News that morning, never would have guessed what occurred seconds before she appeared on screen to share details about a summer meal program for families in need.

“At the end of the day, you have to do (your job) and remain unphased,” she said, adding that she often will compartmentalize to not become distracted.

The men eventually moved on and walked away.

Hamblin, a Virginia native and University of Virginia graduate, joined the Spectrum news team last August. She’s been a multimedia journalist for over 3 years, starting her career at a CBS station in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Friday’s encounter was an extreme example of being sexually harassed while working professionally in and around Rochester.

Hamblin said she is harassed several times each week while working. Typically, she said, she endures basic catcalling.

Friday’s encounter “was particularly vulgar because of the profanity and bringing race into it,” she said.

“Every woman working in the field knows how this feels,” she said. “As a reporter, unfortunately you do deal with this. I hope bringing this to light helps men realize just how disgusting this behavior is.”

Spectrum News issued a statement about the incident on Friday.

“We are glad that Brianna wasn’t alone in the face of such adversity and we’ve never been more proud of her,” the statement read. “She handled the situation impeccably, remaining calm and professional throughout. We want our employees to feel safe and are constantly working towards achieving that goal.”

Hamblin advised reporters to speak up when they feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

“It does take practice and courage to speak up, it’s something I personally am still working on,” she said. “But nothing is worth putting yourself in danger or compromising your mental health.”  

The Rochester Association of Black Journalists also issued a statement late Monday commending Hamblin “for her bravery in confronting the inappropriate behavior of male passersby during her news reporting Friday.”

“Unfortunately the harassment of women in public spaces is not uncommon,” the Rochester Association of Black Journalists said in a printed statement. “But women should not be forced to just ‘roll with it or ignore it,’ as emphasized in Hamblin’s tweet exposing the situation. In an industry that is still dominated by men, it is important that we all demand that women in the field be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, as a Black journalist, Hamblin is already faced with an uphill battle to obtain equity.”

Follow Victoria Freile on Twitter @vfreile.


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Saweetie Collabs With McDonald’s For New “Chaotic” Meal


“McDonald’s employees gonna be FED TF UP.”

Earlier today, McDonald’s announced that they’ll be teaming up with Saweetie for their new celebrity meal collaboration.

The fast-food chain said the Saweetie meal will consist of a “Big Mac, four-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, medium Sprite, Tangy BBQ Sauce and ‘Saweetie ‘N Sour’ Sauce,” which is basically Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce.

@XXL / Via Twitter: @XXL

And you’ll also get a chance to remix the meal in four different ways.

@XXL / Via Twitter: @XXL

But even though this sounds exciting, fans couldn’t help but express their disappointment about how complicated Saweetie’s new menu is.

@papipompis / Via Twitter: @papipompis

@XXL this shit is mad wild, the laziest combos i’ve ever seen, top bun missing? just nuggets over fries like they steak fries from the taco truck just patties with fries who eats like that?

@MyImmatureMind / Via Twitter: @MyImmatureMind

The limited-time meal also comes with “icy new packaging,” which is inspired by Saweetie’s 2018 breakout song, “Icy Grl.”

“McDonald’s and I run deep — from growing up back in Hayward, California, all through my college days — so I had to bring my icy gang in on my all-time favorites,” Saweetie said about her new meal in a statement.

“Depending on the mood I’m in, there are so many ways to enjoy my order. I like to keep things fresh,” she added along with her “Fast (Motion)” lyric, “I know that’s right.”

The “Saweetie Meal” will be available on August 9. If it’s anything like the BTS, Travis Scott, and J Balvin meal, then you know it’ll sell out fast.

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