It was a scoop to make any journalist jealous: the revelation that three Italian hostages held in Iraq until recently were only freed thanks to their sheer luck at finding themselves in the company of a Polish intelligence agent. \nThe agent, via a bean-sized microchip tracking device implanted in his forearm, transmitted their position to coalition special forces, who rode to the rescue. \nFantastic stuff. But true? Nobody knows. \nThe story did not cite any sources and did not provide any evidence to back its claim. It did not appear in any reputable daily or magazine, nor was it broadcast on any mainstream radio station or television network. \nAnd yet, it was immediately picked up by at least two Italian news agencies and several influential dailies, including Rome's La Repubblica, Turin's La Stampa and the online edition of Milan's Il Corriere della Sera. \n`Spy' \nThe alleged scoop was in fact first published on the Internet by Dagospia, a gossip web site that is rapidly redefining Italy's media landscape. \nDagospia is the brainchild of Roberto D'Agostino, a rumor-mill enthusiast who first made headlines in 1991 by slapping Vittorio Sgarbi, an obnoxious art critic-turned-politician, on live television. \nThe name of his Internet magazine, which he founded four years ago, derives from a contraction of his surname and "spia," Italian for "spy." Its design style resembles that of the Drudge Report, the Internet gossip site created by American journalist Matt Drudge. \nD'Agostino openly speaks of Drudge as being the model that inspired Dagospia. \nAnd just like Drudge played a pivotal role in unveiling the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the United States, Dagospia is rapidly establishing itself as Italy's premier source of gossip and insider information for journalists, captains of industry, politicians and media personalities, not to mention ordinary Italians, who visit the site in their millions. \nAdmiration \nLast year, for instance, rumors that Corriere della Sera's board of directors would be replacing its chief editor because of the editor's hostility towards the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi first surfaced on Dagospia. \nThe change of guard at Italy's most influential daily did indeed take place several days later, earning D'Agostino widespread admiration from the country's media circles. \nMore recently, during a meeting with foreign journalists in Rome, a high-ranking Northern League politician cited a Dagospia article to denounce what he described as an "unnaturally cozy" relationship between the governor of the Bank of Italy and the chairman of Capitalia, one of Italy's largest banks. \nToo hot \nDagospia relies on a growing network of strictly anonymous contributors to provide readers with daily servings of sex and celebrity rumors involving figures from the worlds of culture, politics, finance, sports and media. \nIt is equally disparaging toward everyone, whatever their status in society. \nMany of the stories it prints are too hot to be published in the mainstream media -- usually because they risk offending sensitive advertisers or because they infringe upon the vested interests of very powerful individuals or corporations. \nSome of Italy's best paparazzi send their irreverent snapshots to Dagospia because they are unable to find a buyer. \nVoyeurism \nA recent photograph of Berlusconi holding on to his private parts during a military parade, for instance, was only to be seen on Dagospia. \nLa Stampa columnist Filippo Ceccarelli has since suggested that its publication on the Internet site is evidence of the prime minister's decline in popularity. \nDespite being financed largely by advertisements from the pornographic industry -- an aspect that may make puritans cringe -- Dagospia cannot be ignored. \nBy appealing to Italians' lust for voyeurism, intrigue and scandal, and by operating outside the control of the authorities, Dagospia has turned into a highly influential source of information and into an unprecedented media success story. \n"I am the most ferocious gossip in the world," D'Agostino says proudly.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
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The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against