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Bolivia Hired US Lobbying Firm Linked By Facebook To 'Fake News'

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 04 September 2020

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Facebook has linked CLS Strategies to what it claims is 'fake news' campaigns.

Political, Security // BLUF: Bolivia's interim presidency has reportedly hired a lobbying firm that Facebook has linked to fake news.

The firm, CLS Strategies, is a Washington-based company that Facebook has accused of launching fake news campaigns that skew democratic debate, according to Reuters.

Facebook said on Tuesday that it had removed CLS-linked accounts that had posted in support of the Bolivian interim presidency and the political opposition of Venezuelan president Maduro; along with negative content on Mexico's president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

(See Point 1 Below for Further Information)

The Daily Quick-Look for 04 September 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.

1. BOLIVIA - Security, Political: Bolivia says it hired U.S. lobbying firm linked by Facebook to fake news

FYSA: Bolivia’s interim presidency said on Thursday it had hired a Washington-based lobbying firm that Facebook Inc accuses of launching fake news campaigns to skew democratic debate. Bolivia’s interim government, which assumed power in a vacuum after the resignation of longtime leftist leader Evo Morales late last year, said it hired CLS Strategies in December in an effort to shore up its international support. In a statement, the government said CLS’ mandate was to “carry out lobbying in search of backing for Bolivian democracy after fraudulent elections and in support of the holding of new presidential polls.” CLS introduced Bolivian officials to members of the U.S. executive branch and legislature, the government said, adding that it had not asked CLS to conduct any other service or activity. Facebook said in a report here on Tuesday that it had removed fake social media accounts linked to CLS that had posted content in support of caretaker Bolivia's President Jeanine Anez and the political opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The company had also posted negative content about the party of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, Facebook said. In the same report, Facebook said it has also dismantled a Russian influence operation posing as an independent news outlet to target left-wing voters in the United States and Britain. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

2. HONG KONG - Security, Political: U.N. experts decry Hong Kong security law in letter to China

FYSA: U.N. human rights experts have told China a new security law for Hong Kong “infringes on certain fundamental rights” and voiced concerns that it could be used to prosecute political activists in the former British colony. In a rare joint letter made public on Friday, 48 hours after it was sent to the Chinese government, they also said provisions of the new law appear to undermine the independence of Hong Kong’s judges and lawyers, and the right to freedom of expression. The “open letter” reflected a detailed legal analysis of the national security law imposed in Hong Kong on June 30, which had already drawn U.N. criticism before its adoption. The law allows for anything China views as subversive, secessionist, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces to be punished with up to life in prison. Authorities in Beijing and the financial centre have said the law is necessary to ensure Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. Critics say the legislation further erodes the wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong on its return to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

3. THAILAND - Political, Security: Thailand jails two activists for bail terms' breach

FYSA: A court in Thailand on Thursday revoked the bail of two Thai political activists for breaching the terms of their bail in earlier arrests over anti-government rallies. The Bangkok Criminal Court revoked the bail of human rights lawyer, Anon Nampa, 35, and student activist Panupong Jadnok, 24, and were sent to Bangkok Remand Prison at 5.20 pm (local time) on Thursday. They can be held for up to 48 days. The court said the duo, who were first arrested on Aug 7 and granted bail the next day, continued their political activities and violated the terms of their release. The court allowed them to post new bail, but both declined. Anon and Panupong have participated in a series of student-led anti-government protests that have taken place almost daily since July 18 that called for the dissolution of parliament, ending of harassment against government critics, and rewriting of the constitution. (The Star. See link in heading for further reading)

4. NEW ZEALAND - Security (Health): Man dies from Covid-19 in Middlemore Hospital

FYSA: A man in his 50s linked to the Auckland cluster has died at Middlemore Hospital today, the Ministry of Health has confirmed. The death toll from Covid-19 in New Zealand is now 23. The man was a confirmed case of Covid-19 and was being cared for in intensive care at Middlemore. The ministry said his family were regularly updated, and his wife and son were able to visit him, using full PPE. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said he acknowledged the anxiety New Zealanders "may be feeling about today's news, both in the wider community and also for the family and whanau grieving over this death". "Our thoughts are with his family and community at this time of loss and grief. "We have always recognised that further deaths linked to Covid-19 were possible. Although the health system has done and will continue to do everything we can to prevent them, this can be a very challenging virus to treat and for some people to recover from. "Today's news reinforces the importance of our shared vigilance against Covid-19, the very serious consequences the virus can carry with it, and the measures we all need to take to stop the spread, break any chain of transmission and prevent deaths." The last death from Covid-19 in New Zealand was on Sunday 24 May, and was added to New Zealand's official death tally the following Friday 29 May. (RNZ. See link in heading for further reading)

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