Freelance journalist killed amid new round of Libya clashes

Members of the Tripoli Protection Force, an alliance of militias from the capital city, patrol an area south of the Libyan capital on January 18, 2019, during clashes with the Seventh Brigade group from the town of Tarhuna. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Freelance journalist killed amid new round of Libya clashes

  • Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter, another colleague said

BENGHAZI, Libya: A freelance journalist who contributed to The Associated Press and other news organizations was killed Saturday in the Libyan capital, a colleague said.
Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was in his 30s, was hit by shrapnel while accompanying a militia patrolling the Qaser Bin Ghashir area south of Tripoli, said Hamza Turkia, also a freelance journalist.
The militia came under attack by another armed group, said Turkia. He said there was gunfire, and that a missile was also fired.
Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter, another colleague said.
A new round of fighting between rival militias erupted earlier this week, killing 13 people and wounding more than 50, according to the Libyan Health Ministry.
The clashes shattered a UN-brokered cease-fire reached in September. A bout of violence last year killed nearly 100 people.
The fighting between militias allied with Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli and an armed group from a nearby town underscores Libya’s lingering lawlessness since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The energy-rich North African nation is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east, each of which is backed by an array of militias.


Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

Updated 20 March 2019
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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.