The Guardian 2024-04-25 10:01:39


Peter Dutton backs Elon Musk and contradicts Sussan Ley on ‘silly’ demand for global removal of stabbing footage

The opposition leader says Australia ‘can’t be the internet police of the world’ amid dispute between the eSafety commissioner and X over Wakeley stabbing content removal

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has labelled the eSafety commissioner’s demands for the global removal of footage of the alleged Wakeley stabbing as “silly”, a comment that appears to put him at odds with his deputy, Sussan Ley.

In an interview on Thursday, Dutton appeared to side with Elon Musk on a key part of the government’s dispute with X over online video of the incident, saying Australia “can’t be the internet police of the world” and that federal law should not influence what content can be seen overseas.

Dutton was scathing of the actions of X, Facebook and other big tech platforms, claiming they were “distributing child pornography and allowing groups to share videos of children being raped”. But on a key question in the federal court proceedings between the eSafety commissioner and X, as to whether the Australian regulator’s orders can apply globally, Dutton appeared to back Musk’s stance.

“We can have a say about what images are online here in our country, we can’t influence what happens elsewhere in the world. I think it’s silly to try that,” he told 2GB radio on Thursday.

“We can’t be the internet police of the world, I know the prime minister’s trying that at the moment,” he said.

“If we have a situation where you’ve got a cleric being stabbed, and that’s inciting violence, the law is very clear about the ability to take that down – but I don’t think the law extends to other countries, nor should it.”

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Dutton faces a Coalition party room which includes vocal supporters of Musk and opponents of the eSafety ruling. The LNP senator Matt Canavan claimed on Wednesday “the PM has launched a useless and ineffective jihad against a video that MORE people have seen because of his over the top reaction”.

But Ley said she was “disappointed” in Musk and backed the eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, “100%”.

“I’m for X obeying the law, and I’m not for the actions and the statements of our eSafety commissioner being ignored,” Ley said.

The Sky News Australia host Peter Stefanovic said: “But he [Musk] argues that’s fine if you want to mute it here, but we should have no rights to be able to tell X what to do in its own country or other countries beyond our borders.”

Ley responded: “That’s patently ridiculous, of course we should.”

On Monday, the federal court ordered Musk’s X to hide posts containing videos of the Sydney church stabbing from users globally, after the eSafety commissioner sought an injunction. The Australian federal police told the court of fears the video could be used to encourage people to join a terrorist organisation or undertake a terrorist act.

On Wednesday, the court extended the interim injunction, ordering the posts be hidden from view until 5pm on 10 May 2024, ahead of another injunction hearing.

X and Musk have raised concerns about the global order. X’s legal representative, Marcus Hoyne, told the court on Wednesday there were significant legal issues to do with eSafety’s powers over content overseas.

The eSafety commissioner claimed some of the tweets in question were able to be viewed using a virtual private network connection, suggesting many were still accessible from other countries.

An X spokesperson said on Wednesday: “X is in compliance with Australian law, has restricted all the relevant content in Australia and is removing any content that praises or celebrates the attacks.”

Musk posted this week that “no president, prime minister or judge has authority over all of Earth! This platform adheres to the laws of countries in those countries, but it would be improper to extend one country’s rulings to other countries”.

“Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian “eSafety Commissar” is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?”

Asked on 2GB about the standards accepted on social media, Dutton said online platforms should be held to the same laws that apply offline, raising issues about defamation and discrimination, and adding the owners of said platforms must “act in a responsible way”.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australian politics
  • Elon Musk
  • X
  • Peter Dutton
  • Sussan Ley
  • Liberal party
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Rebel Wilson memoir: entire chapter on Sacha Baron Cohen redacted from book in Australia

Differences in defamation law mean the chapter, which was published in the US and highly publicised, will be blacked out in the Australian edition

Rebel Wilson’s memoir will finally be published in Australia but with an entire chapter on her account of working with Sacha Baron Cohen redacted – weeks after it was published in its entirety in the US.

HarperCollins Australia confirmed to the Guardian that “for legal reasons we have redacted one chapter in the Australian/New Zealand edition and included an explanatory note accordingly. That chapter is a very small part of a much bigger story and we’re excited for readers to know Rebel’s story when the book is released, on Wednesday 8 May.”

The chapter, titled Sacha Baron Cohen and Other Assholes, will be printed entirely as blacked out lines in Australia and New Zealand.

This means the Australian edition of Rebel Rising will be the most affected of all versions of the Australian actor’s book. Differences in defamation law around the world have determined how much of the chapter can be included.

On Wednesday, HarperCollins in the UK confirmed to the Guardian that “most of one page” would be redacted there, along with “some other small redactions” and “an explanatory note” added in.

In the highly publicised chapter, Wilson recounts her alleged experience filming the 2016 comedy film Grimsby – titled The Brothers Grimsby in the US – alongside Baron Cohen. Wilson and Baron Cohen played husband and wife in the film.

In the UK edition, published there on Thursday, Wilson describes it as “the worst experience of my professional life”, with a new line adding that her account “can’t be printed here due to peculiarities of the law in England and Wales”. Most of a page in the UK edition is blacked out, along with several more redacted lines on other pages.

Publication was initially set globally for early April, but was pushed back in the UK and Australia “to coincide with Rebel Wilson’s press tours”, HarperCollins has repeatedly claimed. At the same time, Wilson claimed that Baron Cohen was trying to stop the book’s publication, writing on Instagram: “I will not be bullied or silenced with high priced lawyer or PR crisis managers.”

The memoir was published unredacted in the US three weeks ago, and was extracted in People magazine.

When Wilson’s account of Baron Cohen’s alleged behaviour on set was first revealed, representatives for Baron Cohen rejected the claims.

“While we appreciate the importance of speaking out, these demonstrably false claims are directly contradicted by extensive detailed evidence, including contemporaneous documents, film footage, and eyewitness accounts from those present before, during and after the production of The Brothers Grimsby,” they said.

On Wednesday, Baron Cohen’s representatives issued a statement about the UK edition’s redactions, saying: “Harper Collins did not fact check this chapter in the book prior to publication and took the sensible but terribly belated step of deleting Rebel Wilson’s defamatory claims once presented with evidence that they were false.

“Printing falsehoods is against the law in the UK and Australia; this is not a ‘peculiarity’ as Ms Wilson said, but a legal principle that has existed for many hundreds of years.

“This is a clear victory for Sacha Baron Cohen and confirms what we said from the beginning – that this is demonstrably false, in a shameful and failed effort to sell books.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Books
  • Film books
  • Rebel Wilson
  • Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Autobiography and memoir
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Welcome to our latest live blog on the Israel-Gaza war and the wider Middle East crisis. I’m Martin Belam in London and I’ll be with you for the next while.

The White House says it wants “answers” from Israeli authorities after the discovery of mass graves at two Gaza hospitals destroyed in Israeli sieges.

Gaza’s civil defense agency said health workers uncovered nearly 340 bodies of people allegedly killed and buried by Israeli forces at the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, reports Agence France-Presse. About 30 bodies were reported found buried in two graves in the Al-Shifa hospital courtyard in Gaza City.

Israeli army spokesperson Major Nadav Shoshani claimed the grave at Nasser “was dug – by Gazans – a few months ago”.

The Israeli army did acknowledge that “corpses buried by Palestinians” had been examined by soldiers searching for hostages, but did not directly address allegations that Israeli troops were behind the killings.

More on that in a moment but first, here’s a summary of the latest developments:

  • Israel appears to be readying to send troops into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, the only corner of the strip that has not seen fierce ground fighting and where more than half of the Palestinian territory’s population of 2.3 million has sought shelter. The Israeli military said on Wednesday that two reservist brigades had been mobilised for missions in Gaza, while video that circulated online appeared to show rows of square white tents going up in Khan Younis, 3 miles (5km) north of Rafah, which was decimated in a months-long Israeli air and ground campaign.

  • Hamas has released a video of an Israeli-American man held hostage in Gaza who is seen alive and saying that the captives are living “in hell”. He identifies himself as Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, one of the hostages abducted from the Nova music festival in southern Israel during the Hamas attack on 7 October. The video showed him missing a hand. His parents said in a statement they were “relieved to see him alive” but worried for his wellbeing.

  • A top Hamas political official has told the Associated Press the militant group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and that it would lay down its weapons and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders. The comments by Khalil al-Hayya in an interview Wednesday came amid a stalemate in months of ceasefire talks.

  • Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant has claimed that since 7 October 2023, Israeli military strikes have killed half of Hezbollah’s commanders in southern Lebanon. Israel’s military issued a statement earlier to say this morning it struck at what it called “Hezbollah terror targets” in southern Lebanon. “Many forces are deployed on the border and IDF forces are carrying out offensive action currently throughout southern Lebanon,” Gallant said in a statement.

  • The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday condemned pro-Palestinian protests at universities in the United States as “horrific”, saying the demonstrations “have to be stopped”, as he categorised students as antisemitic.

Protesters arrested amid crackdown on pro-Palestine student rallies across US campuses

At least 34 arrested at University of Texas in Austin and 50 more detained at University of Southern California while House speaker jeered at Columbia University

Dozens of protesters were arrested on Wednesday while participating in pro-Palestine demonstrations across US college campuses.

At least 34 protesters, including a member of the media from a local news station, were arrested during protests at University of Texas in Austin and at least 50 more were detained by police at University of Southern California (USC).

The arrests come amid a wave of demonstrations at campuses across the US, which began last week after students at New York’s Columbia University set up encampments calling for the university to divest from weapons manufacturers with ties to Israel. The protests have led to mass suspensions and arrests of hundreds students in New York and other cities.

House speaker, Mike Johnson, jumped into the fray on Wednesday with a visit to Columbia’s campus, where he faced jeers from the pro-Palestinian protesters and called for the resignation of the university’s president.

Flanked by a number of Republican members of Congress, Johnson denounced the demonstrations as “mob rule” and condemned what he called a “virus of antisemitism” at colleges nationwide.

“And it’s detestable, as Columbia has allowed these lawless agitators and radicals to take over,” he said. “If this is not contained quickly and if these threats and intimidation are not stopped, there is an appropriate time for the national guard.”

Johnson’s speech drew boos from the crowd, as he also called for the resignation of Minouche Shafik, Columbia’s president, who he accused of failing to protect Jewish students and allowing protests that led to the arrest of dozens of people there last week.

In California, protests swelled at UC Berkeley and USC. Further north at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, protesters barricaded themselves in a university building using furniture, tents, chains and zip-ties, prompting a campus shutdown.

Students at Harvard University set up an encampment in Harvard Yard on Wednesday morning to protest against the suspension of the university’s undergraduate Palestine solidarity committee and demand the university divest from Israel over its war in Gaza. And in Texas, an anti-war protest at the University of Texas in Austin resulted in at least 34 arrests, including of a photojournalist, after state troopers stormed the campus.

As temperatures rose, Kathy Hochul, the Democratic governor of New York, called Johnson’s trip “divisive”, while the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez assailed authorities for the “reckless and dangerous act” of calling police to non-violent demonstrations.

Hochul accused Johnson of “politicizing” the issue, and “adding to the division”, according to the New York Post. “There’s a lot more responsibilities and crises to be dealt with in Washington,” she said.

Protest movement grows

Thousands of students have turned out this week to attend marches or set up encampments at universities from Massachusetts to California, demanding their schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies enabling its months-long conflict.

At UC Berkeley, a protest camp entered its third day. Rows of tents have been added to a cluster set up on the steps of the university’s Sproul Hall at the center of campus. Starting with just a dozen, more students have joined the “Free Palestine Camp” over the last three days, a sit-in demanding their school sever its financial connections to BlackRock and other asset managers they see as complicit for financing genocide in Gaza.

UC Berkeley holds a $427m investment in a BlackRock portfolio and school officials have commented that a change in their investment strategy is not on the table. There is minimal police or security presence on site, but the students say they are bracing for that to change. The group is determined to stay even if the university tries to have them forcibly removed.

The protesters are also calling for an academic boycott, which would end collaborations with Israeli universities and the establishment of a new Palestinian studies program.

Police responding to a demonstration at USC got into a back-and-forth tugging match with protesters over tents. As of 7pm local time over a dozen people were arrested at the campus, according to a Los Angeles Times reporter on the scene.

The arrests came after law enforcement and university leadership told protesters to disperse. Protesters began to clash with law enforcement, who shoved the students in attendance, video shows.

Meanwhile, the campus of Cal Poly Humboldt, a public university on California’s northern coast, has been closed through the weekend, with classes being held remotely after pro-Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves in a building for a sit-in.

Dozens of students remain inside the building and have blocked entrances with furniture, according to the university, while others occupied another nearby building. Students there told the Sacramento Bee they felt compelled to take action.

“I think the solution is to get involved, because at least I can feel like I’m doing my part. Even if it’s not enough, I’m doing the best I can to make something of it. I find peace in that,” one student said.

At UT Austin, hundreds of local and state police – including some on horseback and holding batons – clashed with protesters, pushing them off the campus lawn and at one point sending some tumbling into the street.

A photographer covering the demonstration for Fox 7 Austin was arrested after being caught in a push-and-pull between officers and students, the station confirmed. A longtime Texas journalist was knocked down in the mayhem and could be seen bleeding before police helped him to emergency medical staff who bandaged his head.

Faculty at UT Austin will be striking in response to what they called a “militarized response” to a “peaceful, planned action”, stating on X that they are refusing to hold classes starting Thursday.

At Columbia, the focal point of national student demonstrations, Shafik said on Wednesday that she had extended by 48 hours a deadline for talks with protest leaders for the dismantling of a tent encampment on Columbia’s west lawn. More than 100 people were arrested at the university last week after she brought in the police, and more than 140 students, faculty members and others were arrested on Monday night at a separate protest at New York University’s Manhattan campus.

Some Jewish students at Columbia, meanwhile, said they had been physically blocked by protesters from attending classes, and subjected to racial hatred by demonstrators demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and for the university to divest from companies linked to Israel’s military operations.

Protest organizers blame outside actors for particularly inflammatory rhetoric against Jewish students.

Johnson’s visit to Columbia follows a number of other trips there this week by bipartisan groups of politicians. Three competing delegations attended on Monday, Axios reported, with the entirety of New York’s Republican congressional delegation demanding Shafik’s resignation, and Democrats criticizing her for not protecting Jewish students and faculty.

Joe Biden does not plan to visit Columbia when he visits New York on Friday, the White House and campaign officials told CNN. The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said in a Wednesday statement that Biden believes free speech, debate and nondiscrimination are important on college campuses, adding that “students should feel safe on college campuses”.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

Explore more on these topics

  • US universities
  • Protest
  • New York
  • Israel
  • Gaza
  • Mike Johnson
  • US politics
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Israel thought to be preparing to send troops into Rafah

Two reservists brigades mobilised for Gaza missions while rows of tents put up in Khan Younis

Israel appears to be readying to send troops into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, the only corner of the strip that has not seen fierce ground fighting and where more than half of the Palestinian territory’s population of 2.3 million has sought shelter.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday that two reservist brigades had been mobilised for missions in Gaza, while video that circulated online appeared to show rows of square white tents going up in Khan Younis, 3 miles (5km) north of Rafah, which was decimated in a months-long Israeli air and ground campaign. A spokesperson for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government said Israel was “moving ahead” with a ground operation, but gave no timeline.

The apparent mobilisation came as Hamas, the militant group that seized control of Gaza in a brief civil war with the Fatah faction in 2007, released a video of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a 24-year-old Israeli-American who was abducted from the Nova festival during the group’s attack on southern Israel on 7 October.

Goldberg-Polin, who was missing his left arm below the elbow, said in the propaganda video that 70 hostages had been killed in Israeli bombings, and asked that the Israeli government brought the surviving hostages home. The video is not dated, but it appeared to have been filmed in the last few days as Goldberg-Polin said he had been held captive for “nearly 200 days”.

Israeli officials have estimated that 129 of the roughly 250 people abducted on 7 October remain in Gaza, including 34 who the military has said are dead.

Israel said that Hamas’s leadership, along with four battalions of fighters, were camped out in Rafah, using Israeli hostages as human shields, and that a ground operation was necessary for “total victory” over the Palestinian militant group and to bring the hostages home.

But the long-threatened plan to attack Rafah has drawn intense opposition from Israel’s allies, including the US, which said it would cause thousands of civilian casualties and further disrupt aid deliveries.

“We’ve had very detailed discussions … to talk through not just our concerns, but our view that there is a different way to go about dealing with the Hamas threat in Rafah,” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in Washington.

Any large ground operation in Rafah would almost certainly need to be coordinated with Washington and Cairo, given the town’s location on the Egyptian border.

Egypt has said in the past that it would not allow Palestinians in Gaza to be pushed across the border on to its territory. Cairo had warned Israel against moving on Rafah, which “would lead to massive human massacres, losses [and] widespread destruction”, its State Information Service said.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said last week it was acquiring 40,000 tents to prepare for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians, and there were unconfirmed reports that extra artillery and armoured personnel carriers had been deployed to the Gaza Strip periphery.

Netanyahu, and his war cabinet were expected to meet in the next two weeks to authorise civilian evacuations, which are expected to take about a month, as the first stage of the Rafah offensive, Israeli media outlets said on Wednesday.

Ceasefire talks mediated by the US, Egypt and Qatar have all but collapsed as Israel and Hamas have been unable to agree on the conditions and length of a truce and the identities and numbers of Israeli hostages to be released in exchange for freeing Palestinians held in Israel jails. A ceasefire held at the end of November collapsed after a week.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the latest war between Israel and Hamas, according to the health ministry in the militant-run territory. About 1,200 Israelis were killed and 250 taken hostage in the 7 October attacks that started the war, according to Israeli data.

Explore more on these topics

  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Israel
  • Middle East and north Africa
  • Hamas
  • Palestinian territories
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Senior Democrat calls for arrests of ‘leftwing fascists’ urging Gaza ceasefire

Congressman Adam Smith says ‘totalitarian’ protesters are ‘trying to silence anyone who dares to disagree with them’

Protesters calling for Israel to cease fire in its war with Hamas who have disrupted US public events and infrastructure are practicing “leftwing fascism” or “leftwing totalitarianism”, a senior US House Democrat said, adding that such protesters are “challenging representative democracy” and should be arrested.

“Intimidation is the tactic,” said Adam Smith of Washington state, the ranking Democrat on the House armed services committee. “Intimidation and an effort to silence opposition … I don’t know if there’s such a thing as leftwing fascism. If you want to just call it leftwing totalitarianism, then that’s what it is. It is a direct challenge to representative democracy now.”

Smith was speaking – before the outbreak this week of mass protests on US college campuses, many producing arrests – to the One Decision Podcast and its guest host Christina Ruffini, a CBS News reporter.

Ruffini asked Smith about protests in his district, including vandalism at his home and a town hall meeting disrupted by protesters demanding an end to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza prompted by attacks by Hamas on 7 October.

Disruptive, aggressive protests are “illegal … completely wrong … and enormously dangerous”, Smith said, adding: “I really want people to understand – and I put out a statement after they shut down a town hall meeting that I was trying to have [in March] – what’s going on here.

“And everyone’s like, ‘Well, you understand their passion and all that. And I do understand that, I do. This is a life-or-death situation. It is certainly not the only life-or-death situation that I and all policymakers deal with. But it is one that is important. But that’s not what [the protesters are] doing.

“What they are trying to do is they are trying to silence opposition and intimidate decision-makers. I’ve been doing town hall meetings for 34 years now, in some pretty hotly contested environments … [but] I have never had a town hall that I couldn’t keep under control enough so that people had the chance to say their piece.

“But [the protesters’] goal and their objective was not to get their point across. It was to silence anyone who dared to disagree with them, to make sure that only one voice was heard. And their other goal was to intimidate. That’s why they’re showing up at member’s houses.”

More than 1,100 people were killed on 7 October when Hamas attacked Israel, also taking hostages. Since then, more than 34,000 people have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, where the population also faces displacement and starvation.

Protesters, Smith said, “would say, ‘Children are dying. This is a huge humanitarian crisis.’ And they’re right about that … and by the way, I do have some sympathy with these people. If there are members of Congress who won’t meet with them, I meet with them. All the time. So they have an opportunity to be heard. They’re not trying to be heard. They’re trying to silence people who disagree with them.”

Asked what kind of protest might be appropriate, Smith cited a recent instance in an armed services hearing in which “people came in and they didn’t say anything, they just held up bloody hands. And the chairman noticed that and said, ‘You can’t do that, you’re out, and they got up and left.”

But he said: “You go back to the civil rights movement, they expected to be arrested, they knew they were violating the law. And also … you have to enforce the law. You have to make clear … that this is about more than just the issue. You know, they can be heard, but then other people get to be heard.

“You come to our town hall meeting, it’s one thing to try to get attention. They got their attention. But literally, they wouldn’t stop screaming insults at me. They wouldn’t … even let me answer the very questions they were raising.

“I got two words into it and they started screaming at me again. So this is a different thing than your standard protest. In my view, the solution to it is if they are committing a crime – which by the way, shutting down a freeway, shutting down an airport, intimidating people, there’s a crime – [they] ought to be arrested.”

Protesting at public figures’ homes should also be subject to arrest, Smith said.

“The point of it is intimidation. And I think it is harassment. It’s a crime, and I think [they should] be arrested for it.

“… But you know, when you are shutting down freeways, shutting down airports, frankly putting people’s lives at risk – If you’re an ambulance trying to get through to hospital – then that’s going beyond getting your point across, and you’re trying to intimidate and silence people in a way that I think is troubling.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Democrats
  • US politics
  • House of Representatives
  • Gaza
  • Israel
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Moulin Rouge windmill blades collapse in Paris

Blades of famous cabaret venue fall from roof overnight

The blades of the Moulin Rouge windmill, one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, have collapsed, firefighters have said, just months before the French capital hosts the Olympics.

There was no risk of further collapse, Paris firefighters said after the incident overnight.

“Fortunately this happened after closing,” a Moulin Rouge official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

“Every week, the cabaret’s technical teams check the windmill mechanism and did not note any problems,” the source said, adding that there was no more information on the reason for the collapse.

They said it was the first time such an accident had happened since the cabaret first opened on 6 October 1889.

Images on social media showed the blade unit lying on the street below, with some of the blades slightly bent.

The Moulin Rouge, at the foot of the Montmartre hill in northern Paris, is one of the most visited landmarks in the city and is known as the birthplace of the can-can dance.

The only serious accident at the venue was a fire during works in 1915, which forced it to close for nine years.

Explore more on these topics

  • Paris
  • France
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Moulin Rouge windmill blades collapse in Paris

Blades of famous cabaret venue fall from roof overnight

The blades of the Moulin Rouge windmill, one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, have collapsed, firefighters have said, just months before the French capital hosts the Olympics.

There was no risk of further collapse, Paris firefighters said after the incident overnight.

“Fortunately this happened after closing,” a Moulin Rouge official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

“Every week, the cabaret’s technical teams check the windmill mechanism and did not note any problems,” the source said, adding that there was no more information on the reason for the collapse.

They said it was the first time such an accident had happened since the cabaret first opened on 6 October 1889.

Images on social media showed the blade unit lying on the street below, with some of the blades slightly bent.

The Moulin Rouge, at the foot of the Montmartre hill in northern Paris, is one of the most visited landmarks in the city and is known as the birthplace of the can-can dance.

The only serious accident at the venue was a fire during works in 1915, which forced it to close for nine years.

Explore more on these topics

  • Paris
  • France
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

US Congress passes foreign military aid package with $5bn boost for Aukus agreement with Australia

Defence minister Richard Marles welcomes confirmation of congressional funding that ensures US can produce Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines for Australia

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A United States funding package authorising more military aid for Ukraine and Israel passed by Congress on Tuesday includes a A$5bn boost for the US domestic submarine-building industry that will directly enable the Aukus agreement.

The funding was a condition of congressional endorsement of the Aukus deal and is aimed at ensuring the US can produce Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines for Australia without undermining its own capability requirements.

The US president, Joe Biden, has earmarked a further $17.5bn in funding for the US submarine industrial base over five years, as part of the presidential budget request for the next financial year.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

To further ensure the Aukus submarines can be delivered on schedule, the Australian government has previously confirmed it is also contributing directly to the US’ submarine-building capability with its own $4.6bn funding commitment.

A spokesperson for the defence minister, Richard Marles, welcomed confirmation of the congressional funding, which passed the US House of Representatives on 20 April and the Senate on 23 April.

“The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom are all investing significantly to build up our respective industrial capacity to ensure the success of AUKUS,” the spokesperson said.

The submarine funding is part of a broader $12.5bn injection of American funds contained within the omnibus military aid bill that is dedicated to the Indo-Pacific region and aimed at countering Chinese influence.

The Indo-Pacific funding includes a specific $3bn financing program for Taiwan and countries that have provided support to Taiwan at the US’ request. Another $830m is earmarked for the US’ military capabilities in the region, through its Indo-Pacific command.

The legislative package also doubles the size of military financing loans and expands the eligibility for loans and loan guarantees. Previously only available to Ukraine and other allies within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, they will now also be open to “major non-NATO allies and the Indo-Pacific region”.

Biden said he was grateful to Congress for greenlighting the $146.5bn total funding package.

“It gives vital support to America’s partners – so they can defend themselves against threats to their sovereignty and to the lives and freedom of their citizens,” Biden said. “And it’s an investment in our own security, because when our allies are stronger – and I want to make this point again and again – when our allies are stronger, we are stronger.”

Biden acknowledged that securing bipartisan congressional support for the package had not been straightforward.

“It’s a path – to my desk, it was a difficult path,” he said. “It should have been easier, and it should have gotten there sooner. But in the end, we did what America always does: We rose to the moment, we came together, and we got it done.”

Speaking to journalists in Washington DC on Wednesday morning about the bill’s passage the night before, the president highlighted the importance of the separate funding boosts for Ukraine and for Israel.

He did not mention the Indo-Pacific funding.

Last year, the governments of the Aukus partners – Australia, the UK and the US – announced that a new special Aukus submarine would be designed and built in the UK under the first pillar of the agreement.

In the interim, Australia is extending the life of the existing Collins class conventionally powered submarines. The US has agreed to sell Australia at least three – and possibly as many as five – Virginia-class submarines to guard against any capability gap until the new Aukus submarines are available in the 2030s.

Explore more on these topics

  • Aukus
  • Nuclear weapons
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Emma Bates death: family pay tribute to Cobram woman’s ‘biggest heart’ after John Torney charged with assaults

Torney, 39, due to face Shepparton magistrates court on Friday after woman found dead

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The family of a Cobram woman found dead at her home in northern Victoria have remembered her as “proud aunty” who had the “biggest heart of anyone we know”.

A statement from the family of Emma Bates, 49, who was found dead on Tuesday, described her as someone who was always willing to help those in her community.

They said Bates was a type one diabetic, was frequently hospitalised and required a mobility scooter to travel around – but her health challenges didn’t stop her from offering a helping hand.

“She had the biggest heart of anyone we know. She was always helping someone,” the family said in the statement.

“Dropping in food for an elderly neighbour. Giving lifts to people who needed it. The list goes on.”

“She was the crazy cat lady aunt. She had her rescues that she treated like her babies. Her home decor was all cat inspired.”

They said Bates had 17 nieces and nephews, who were her “pride and joy”.

“She would spend hours talking about them to everyone. She had many of their faces tattooed to her leg so she could carry them with her always,” they said.

Cobram man John Torney has been charged with assault and causing injury by police investigating Bates’ death.

Torney, 39, was on Wednesday evening charged with intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury, common law assault, aggravated assault of a female and unlawful assault.

He was expected to face an out-of-sessions court hearing late on Wednesday, and is due to appear at the Shepparton magistrates court on Friday.

Police said on Wednesday that emergency services were called to an address on Campbell Road in Cobram, near the border between Victoria and New South Wales, at about 2.15pm on Tuesday. Bates was found dead at the property.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Neighbours were still coming to terms with Bates’ death, with the daughter of one describing her as having “a huge heart, was warm and loving” and telling reporters: “I’m in total shock that something like this could happen to such a beautiful soul.”

On Wednesday evening, police said detectives from Cobram’s crime investigation unit were working to establish the circumstances around the woman’s death.

The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, told reporters on Wednesday she could not comment about the circumstances around Bates’ death but condemned violence against women.

“Over the course of this year, we have seen too many women already in 2024 lose their life,” Allan said.

“This has to stop.”

She said governments across the country needed to look at how they could strengthen their legal systems and improve support for women. Allan also called on the broader community to call out disrespect for women.

Explore more on these topics

  • Victoria
  • Australian police and policing
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Are we joking?’: Venice residents protest as city starts charging visitors to enter

Day-trippers will have to pay €5 to visit Italian city under scheme designed to protect it from excess tourism

Authorities in Venice have been accused of transforming the famous lagoon city into a “theme park” as a long-mooted entrance fee for day trippers comes into force.

Venice is the first major city in the world to enact such a scheme. The €5 (£4.30) charge, which comes into force today, is aimed at protecting the Unesco world heritage site from the effects of excessive tourism by deterring day trippers and, according to the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, making the city “livable” again.

But several residents’ committees and associations have planned protests for Thursday, arguing that the fee will do nothing to resolve the issue.

“I can tell you that almost the entire city is against it,” claimed Matteo Secchi, who leads Venessia.com, a residents’ activist group. “You can’t impose an entrance fee to a city; all they’re doing is transforming it into a theme park. This is a bad image for Venice … I mean, are we joking?”

Once the heart of a powerful maritime republic, Venice’s main island has lost more than 120,000 residents since the early 1950s, driven away by a number of issues but predominantly a focus on mass tourism that has caused the population to be dwarfed by the thousands of visitors who crowd its squares, bridges and narrow walkways at the busiest times of the year.

The entrance fee, which is required only for access to Venice’s historic centre, is bookable online and will apply on 29 peak days, mostly weekends, from Thursday until 14 July as part of its trial phase.

Residents, commuters, students and children under the age of 14 are exempt, as are tourists who stay overnight.

Day trippers, however, will be required to buy their ticket online and will then be provided with a QR code. Those without one will be able to buy a ticket on arrival, with the help of local stewards, who will also carry out random checks at five main arrival points including Santa Lucia train station. Those without a ticket risk fines of between €50 and €300.

Venice council said 5,500 people had booked a ticket for 25 April, a national holiday in Italy, bringing €27,500 to the city’s coffers on its first day. Although Brugnaro has denied it is a money-making initiative, he has promised to cut local taxes for residents if the scheme is successful.

Federica Toninello, who leads ASC, an association for housing, said: “They think this measure will solve the problem, but they haven’t really understood the consequences of mass tourism on a city like Venice.

“For a start, €5 will do nothing to deter people. But day trippers aren’t the issue; things like the shortage of affordable housing are … What we need are policies to help residents, for example, making rules to limit things like Airbnb.”

The local branch of Arci, a cultural and social rights association, said it would distribute “symbolic passports” to tourists on Thursday as a way of highlighting the “dubious constitutional legitimacy” of the measure in terms of restricting free movement. The fee, it added, would be “ineffective in containing mass tourism” while generating “unequal treatment between different categories of visitors”.

Others, however, have embraced the scheme. “It will serve to collect fundamental data and help regulate tourist flows, which during certain periods of the year risking damaging a fragile city like Venice,” Tommaso Sichero, the president of the association for Venice shop owners, told Avvenire newspaper.

Despite the criticism, the Venice tourism councillor Simone Venturini said the administration was feeling “very relaxed” about “the “adventure”. “For the first time since Venice affixed itself to mass tourism, we are trying to do something,” he said. “This is the most relevant point.”

While some have raised questions over privacy due to people having to feed their data into the booking system, Venturini said the tool would be useful in “providing more precise figures on visitor numbers”.

Explore more on these topics

  • Venice
  • Italy
  • Conservation
  • Heritage
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Are we joking?’: Venice residents protest as city starts charging visitors to enter

Day-trippers will have to pay €5 to visit Italian city under scheme designed to protect it from excess tourism

Authorities in Venice have been accused of transforming the famous lagoon city into a “theme park” as a long-mooted entrance fee for day trippers comes into force.

Venice is the first major city in the world to enact such a scheme. The €5 (£4.30) charge, which comes into force today, is aimed at protecting the Unesco world heritage site from the effects of excessive tourism by deterring day trippers and, according to the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, making the city “livable” again.

But several residents’ committees and associations have planned protests for Thursday, arguing that the fee will do nothing to resolve the issue.

“I can tell you that almost the entire city is against it,” claimed Matteo Secchi, who leads Venessia.com, a residents’ activist group. “You can’t impose an entrance fee to a city; all they’re doing is transforming it into a theme park. This is a bad image for Venice … I mean, are we joking?”

Once the heart of a powerful maritime republic, Venice’s main island has lost more than 120,000 residents since the early 1950s, driven away by a number of issues but predominantly a focus on mass tourism that has caused the population to be dwarfed by the thousands of visitors who crowd its squares, bridges and narrow walkways at the busiest times of the year.

The entrance fee, which is required only for access to Venice’s historic centre, is bookable online and will apply on 29 peak days, mostly weekends, from Thursday until 14 July as part of its trial phase.

Residents, commuters, students and children under the age of 14 are exempt, as are tourists who stay overnight.

Day trippers, however, will be required to buy their ticket online and will then be provided with a QR code. Those without one will be able to buy a ticket on arrival, with the help of local stewards, who will also carry out random checks at five main arrival points including Santa Lucia train station. Those without a ticket risk fines of between €50 and €300.

Venice council said 5,500 people had booked a ticket for 25 April, a national holiday in Italy, bringing €27,500 to the city’s coffers on its first day. Although Brugnaro has denied it is a money-making initiative, he has promised to cut local taxes for residents if the scheme is successful.

Federica Toninello, who leads ASC, an association for housing, said: “They think this measure will solve the problem, but they haven’t really understood the consequences of mass tourism on a city like Venice.

“For a start, €5 will do nothing to deter people. But day trippers aren’t the issue; things like the shortage of affordable housing are … What we need are policies to help residents, for example, making rules to limit things like Airbnb.”

The local branch of Arci, a cultural and social rights association, said it would distribute “symbolic passports” to tourists on Thursday as a way of highlighting the “dubious constitutional legitimacy” of the measure in terms of restricting free movement. The fee, it added, would be “ineffective in containing mass tourism” while generating “unequal treatment between different categories of visitors”.

Others, however, have embraced the scheme. “It will serve to collect fundamental data and help regulate tourist flows, which during certain periods of the year risking damaging a fragile city like Venice,” Tommaso Sichero, the president of the association for Venice shop owners, told Avvenire newspaper.

Despite the criticism, the Venice tourism councillor Simone Venturini said the administration was feeling “very relaxed” about “the “adventure”. “For the first time since Venice affixed itself to mass tourism, we are trying to do something,” he said. “This is the most relevant point.”

While some have raised questions over privacy due to people having to feed their data into the booking system, Venturini said the tool would be useful in “providing more precise figures on visitor numbers”.

Explore more on these topics

  • Venice
  • Italy
  • Conservation
  • Heritage
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Activist groups not directly involved in Tiwi Island lawsuit must hand over documents to Santos, court rules

Broad terms of subpoenas a ‘chilling’ precedent that could undermine future climate litigation, legal experts say

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A federal court judge has allowed Santos to subpoena paperwork held by three activist groups who were not directly involved in a lawsuit against the oil company.

Justice Natalie Charlesworth ruled on Wednesday afternoon that Santos could pursue financial records and communications between activist groups – Sunrise, Jubilee Australia and the NT Environment Centre – and the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) in order to determine whether the company will also pursue the campaign organisations for costs for the lawsuit carried out by the EDO on behalf of Tiwi Island traditional owners.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

The documents included financial undertakings, legal indemnities and communications between the groups about the proceedings.

A fourth group, Market Forces, was able to successfully argue that it should be exempt from providing communications to the oil company as it had not made public comments. It will still be subpoenaed for financial documents but has none in its possession.

The four campaign groups were not directly involved in the lawsuit.

The traditional owners’ case argued Santos had not properly assessed submerged cultural heritage and sought an injunction on pipeline works until Santos submitted a new environmental plan and it was assessed by the offshore petroleum regulator, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema).

In a judgment in January, Charlesworth made adverse findings against the EDO that one of its lawyers and a cultural heritage consultant engaged in a form of “subtle coaching” in a meeting with Tiwi islanders. Charlesworth also found that evidence from one expert witness involved “confection”.

Australian Energy Producers, the oil and gas industry association, responded to the decision by calling for the EDO’s funding to be pulled. Opposition leader Peter Dutton pledged in January to cut the organisation’s funding if returned to office.

Santos is now pursuing the EDO for costs and may also seek a non-party costs order against other groups.

During court hearings regarding the subpoenas, Santos’ lawyers suggested statements by the campaign groups regarding an unrelated court decision suggested they might have been “intimately involved” in the case and were “not merely standing by in solidarity”.

“We have done all we can to try and find out from the EDO how it was that the EDO was able to conduct these proceedings with a very large legal team and so far we have turned up only limited information,” they said.

“We think the kinds of communications between the EDO and the organisations which had a keen interest in the outcome of the proceedings as an aspect of the ongoing campaign to stop this Santos project may shed light on that matter.”

In deciding whether to issue the subpoenas, Charlesworth rejected arguments by the campaign groups that Santos was on a “fishing expedition” and held that the organisations could be subject to a costs order even where they did not provide a financial benefit.

“Here, the addresses may fairly be described as activist organisations, existing solely to achieve environmental outcomes, not to derive profits,” Charlesworth said.

“It is at least arguable that a non-party’s support of litigation to pursue a political or ideological objective of the non-party’s own could, in an appropriate case, weigh in favour of a costs order.

“That is particularly so when a reason for the non-party’s existence is to achieve one or more of the outcomes sought in the proceeding.”

When making the decision, Charlesworth paid particular attention to comments made by the campaign groups in their annual reports and public communications.

These largely pre-dated the start of litigation and referred to a separate and unrelated federal court decision. That case concerned consultation rights under offshore petroleum regulations and was upheld on appeal.

Dr Lily O’Neill, senior research fellow with Melbourne Climate Futures, said the broad terms of the subpoenas were “chilling”.

“This decision is a chilling one for the environmental organisations who cheer on environmental and climate litigation carried out by other people and organisations,” O’Neill said.

“The terms of the subpoenas allowed by the court against all but Market Forces are arguably far too wide for their intended purpose i.e. whether they should have to pay the legal costs of this gigantic company in its fight against the traditional owners of the Tiwi Islands.

“It’s a rare win for Santos and one that shows the climate litigation space is becoming more cut throat.”

David Mejia-Canales, a senior lawyer from the Human Rights Law Centre, said the organisation was deeply concerned the decision would set a precedent that might undermine future climate litigation.

“That the expression of support for fellow civil society groups and Traditional Owners involved in litigation might enable a fossil fuel company access to internal documents, and the risks of a legal costs claim, will have a real chilling effect on climate advocacy,” Mejia-Canales said.

“By deterring people and communities from standing up against environment injustice, Santos’ actions are ruthlessly prioritising profit at the expense of people and the planet.”

The NT Environment Centre, Sunrise, Jubilee Australia and Santos declined to comment citing ongoing litigation.

Will van de Poll, Market Forces CEO said: “We are pleased with the court’s decision in relation to Market Forces but as there are still matters before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Law (Australia)
  • Santos
  • Tiwi Islands
  • Energy (Australia news)
  • Energy (Environment)
  • Fossil fuels
  • Gas (Environment)
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Australian women alleging ‘unlawful’ treatment at Doha airport launch appeal

Five women who say they were forced to undergo invasive examinations seek to overturn judgment finding they could not directly sue Qatar Airways

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Five women who allege they were forced off a Qatar Airways plane by armed guards and intimately examined at Doha airport are attempting to overturn a legal decision that found they could not sue the airline directly.

Earlier this month, Australia’s federal court dismissed a lawsuit lodged against Qatar Airways over the October 2020 incident at Doha airport, with justice John Halley determining that the five Australian women bringing the case could instead refile their claims for damages against Matar, a Qatar Airways-owned subsidiary engaged by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) to run Doha airport.

The five women initiated legal action against the airline in 2022, later adding the QCAA and Matar to the case over the October 2020 incident, seeking damages over alleged “unlawful physical contact”, false imprisonment and mental health impacts, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

They were among more than a dozen passengers who were escorted off the Sydney-bound Qatar Airways plane by armed guards as authorities searched for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned in a plastic bag at Hamad international airport. The infant survived.

The women were taken to ambulances on the tarmac and some were forced to submit to invasive examinations that sought evidence they had recently given birth. The lawsuit claims one passenger was forced to undergo a strip-search holding her five-month-old son.

In a judgment on the various interlocutory applications made in the case handed down on 10 April, Halley found that Qatar Airways should not have to go to trial for the case because its employees could not have influenced the actions of the Qatari police who boarded the planes to remove the women.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Halley also agreed with the QCAA’s view that, as it was owned by the Qatari government, it could claim sovereign immunity from the court’s jurisdiction.

He ordered the women, who have been represented by Marque Lawyers, to pay the costs of Qatar Airways and the QCAA.

Halley found that as Matar had not proven that its employees or contracted security personnel did not give any specific directions to the women during the incident, the women could refile against Matar.

However, on Wednesday afternoon the women lodged an appeal against Halley’s judgment, hoping to pursue Qatar Airways and the QCAA directly.

Marque Lawyers’ Damian Sturzaker said the decision to lodge the appeal had been made “after carefully reviewing the court’s judgments”.

“The applicants remain committed to pursuing their claims against Qatar Airways, Matar and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority for the events which occurred on 2 October 2020 on the tarmac of the Doha international airport,” Sturzaker said.

The initial legal action was launched in an Australian court because both Australia and Qatar are parties signed up to the Montreal convention, which governs airline liability around the world. Under the convention, a lawsuit can be brought before the courts in the jurisdiction where a passenger lives.

Halley found the applicants were not able to bring a claim against the airline under the Montreal convention, as he held that the incident was not in the course of embarking or disembarking.

Qatar Airways was contacted for comment.

The judgment and application of an appeal follow months of controversy over the Australian government’s refusal of Qatar Airways’ push to increase flights to Australia.

The five women who are part of the lawsuit earlier wrote to the transport minister, Catherine King, urging her to reject the airline’s request. King said their experience was a factor in her decision.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australia news
  • Qatar
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Queensland woman pleads guilty to manslaughter of baby daughter who drowned in bath

Lavinia Alison Murray’s few minutes of inattention while bathing seven-month-old Trinity have resulted in ‘devastating consequences’, court hears

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A mother’s few minutes of inattention while giving her baby daughter a bath have resulted in “devastating consequences”, a court has heard.

The grandmother of a baby who drowned in an accident has described to a sentencing hearing how she “lost a part” of her life after the seven-month-old girl died.

Lavinia Alison Murray, 24, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Brisbane supreme court to the manslaughter of her daughter Trinity on 5 February 2021 at Murgon, north-west of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The crown prosecutor Caroline Marco said Murray had put Trinity in a bath in the laundry sink at about 9am and used a pair of children’s underwear to wash her.

“She turned the tap on and moved the spout to the side of the tub. There was no plug in the drain,” Marco said.

Trinity remained in the tub unsupervised and lying on her back with the water running while Murray attended to her other children, cleaned the house and exchanged text messages.

Marco said Murray checked on Trinity three times but then realised she was not making any noise after 9.39am.

“The underpants had blocked the drain and sink had filled up with water up to Trinity’s ears and cheeks. She had turned purple in colour,” Marco said.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Marco said Murray should never have left Trinity in the bath unattended for any period of time.

“Ms Murray’s actions amount to a breach of the duty she held … That is the basis for her criminal responsibility,” she said.

Marco read from victim impact statements from Trinity’s father and paternal grandmother.

The father said Trinity’s death caused him to turn to drugs and alcohol, which led to further time in custody and missing his daughter’s funeral.

“This left me lost and alone, unable to process what happened,” he said.

Trinity’s grandmother said she had been a happy and smiling baby who loved to visit people.

“I wake up from sleep hearing her little laugh … She has lost her life and I feel as though I have lost a part of mine too,” she said.

The defence barrister Joseph Briggs said Murray had faced much adversity, having an abusive childhood, a mild intellectual disability and had suffered domestic violence.

“Her disability meant she had difficulty planning, coordinating and concentrating,” Briggs said.

He said police reports showed Murray had been receiving phone calls threatening to seriously injure and kill her in the days leading up to Trinity’s drowning.

“The effect on Ms Murray may well have been significant,” Briggs said.

He said Murray had been struggling to cope with caring for children as a young single mother and made candid admissions to police.

Justice Paul Freeburn told Murray she was responsible for causing the death of a defenceless and vulnerable baby but he accepted she was remorseful.

“This is a tragedy you will have to live with for rest of your life … it has had devastating consequences for you, the father and your family,” he said.

Murray was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment to be suspended after serving 12 months in custody.

Explore more on these topics

  • Queensland
  • Sunshine Coast
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Estate of Tupac Shakur threatens legal action against Drake over AI diss track

Drake used AI to simulate the voice of the late rapper and have him chide Kendrick Lamar, which the estate calls a ‘flagrant violation’

The estate of the late Tupac Shakur has sent a cease and desist letter to Drake, following the release of a Drake track that uses an AI version of Shakur’s voice to lambast Kendrick Lamar.

As seen by Billboard, the letter instructs Drake to remove the track, Taylor Made Freestyle, within 24 hours, or face legal action.

“The estate is deeply dismayed and disappointed by your unauthorised use of Tupac’s voice and personality,” lawyer Howard King writes. “Not only is the record a flagrant violation of … the estate’s legal rights, it is also a blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time. The estate would never have given its approval for this use.”

King added: “The unauthorised, equally dismaying use of Tupac’s voice against Kendrick Lamar, a good friend to the estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately, compounds the insult.”

The track is part of an ongoing spat between Drake and Lamar, after the release of Like That by Future and Metro Boomin, on which guest rapper Lamar claimed he was the superior artist to Drake and J Cole. Drake parried with insults against Lamar and others on a diss track, Push Ups, and continued them with Taylor Made Freestyle.

A convincing simulacrum of Shakur’s voice chides Lamar for not recording a retort to Push Ups, and accuses him of being cowed by Taylor Swift in not releasing a track alongside the release of her new album. Drake also uses an AI version of Snoop Dogg to similarly chide Lamar, before delivering a verse in his own voice.

Drake’s embrace of the technology comes a year after an AI likeness of his voice, alongside one of the Weeknd, was used in a popular track called Heart on My Sleeve by producer Ghostwriter977. Universal Music Group had the track removed from streaming services, saying AI tracks “demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists”.

AI was also used for a meme in which Drake’s voice was used to imitate the rapper Ice Spice, with Drake writing on social media: “This is the final straw”.

As the sophistication of AI technology rapidly increases, allowing users to easily create accurate simulations of artists, some politicians are working to protect artists’ rights.

In March, the state of Tennessee passed the Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security (Elvis) Act which prohibits the use of AI to replicate an artist without their consent. Country star Luke Bryan was among those supporting the legislation, saying: “Stuff comes in on my phone and I can’t tell it’s not me. It’s a real deal now and hopefully this will curb it and slow it down.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Music
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Drake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Rap
  • Hip-hop
  • news
Share

Reuse this content