King endorses media law
King Abdullah II has endorsed controversial amendments to a press and publication law seen by online journalists as a threat to freedom of expression. The king on Monday night issued a decree approving the law in its new form, after parliament passed the amendments that require the country’s 220 news Web sites to obtain licences from the government, which can censor content and hold journalists liable for posted comments. The amendments also stipulate that Web site chief editors must be members of the Jordan Press Association. Journalists and rights activists had urged the king to reject the law. “We refuse to be terrorized,” read a banner carried by journalists during a sit-in on Saturday.
Rushdie dismisses threat
Author Salman Rushdie is dismissing the latest threat against his life as just talk. The author of the novel The Satanic Verses says the threat “was essentially one priest in Iran looking for a headline.” Rushdie spoke on Tuesday to about 400 people at a New York Barnes & Noble book store about his newly published memoir, Joseph Anton. The memoir tells of his years in hiding after Iran’s now deceased leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 declared The Satanic Verses blasphemous and called for his death. A semi-official Iranian religious foundation headed by Ayatollah Hassan Saneii has raised the bounty for Rushdie from US$2.8 million to US$3.3 million after recent protests against an anti-Islamic film.
System failing black males
More than half the young black men who graduated from high schools in 2010 earned their diploma in four years, an improved graduation rate that still lagged behind that of their white counterparts, according to an education group’s report released yesterday. The Schott Foundation for Public Education, which has tracked graduation rates of black males from US public schools since 2004, said 52 percent of black males who entered high school in the 2006 to 2007 school year graduated in four years. That compared with 78 percent of white, non-Latino males and 58 percent of Latino males.
Group decry use of song
The pop group Los Amigos Invisibles says it is the latest victim of socialist President Hugo Chavez’s wave of expropriations. Local media say the band is demanding a state-owned radio station yank a publicity spot remixing its song Majunche as a re-election campaign plug for Chavez, who is known for his frequent and often uncompensated nationalizations of businesses. The 2004 tune is mostly an instrumental jam in which the singers occasionally shout majunche, which roughly translates as “loser.” Chavez, up for re-election on Oct. 7, uses the epithet to describe opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
Burger poll beefs up election
With burgers as ballots, a restaurant in the capital is conducting its own gourmet straw poll in the run-up to national elections on Nov. 6. BLT Steak is giving patrons a choice of hamburgers named after President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Republican challenger Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. Voting ends on Oct. 2, just over a month before polling day. The Obama burger is the most expensive at US$28 because “he’s the president” and deserves the best, manager Adam Sanders said.