Receive email alerts May 15, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 US should not adopt “information warfare” approach WhatsApp blocks accounts of at least seven Gaza Strip journalists On 30 April, a committee reported the US International Communications Reform Act to the House of Representatives for further consideration. This bill aims to restructure the US federal government-funded international media and, in particular, to overhaul the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the State Department’s overseas broadcasting.If the Senate approves the version passed by the House and if President Obama signs it into law, Voice of America would henceforth be required to support US foreign policy.The bill’s authors accuse Voice of America of abandoning its duty to support US policy over the years, becoming “too” independent and even making “anti-American” statements.”Historically, VOA served US diplomacy by countering Nazi and then Chinese and Soviet propaganda. In 1976, President Gerald Ford enshrined the principle of “accurate, objective, and comprehensive” broadcasting in VOA’s charter. VOA was now promoted as an independent news source in regions where censorship prevailed.These principles are retained in the new bill, but VOA’s reports must also be “consistent with and promote the broad foreign policies of the United States.” There is clearly a danger that this new concept of “promoting” US foreign policy could affect VOA’s content.The International Communications Reform Act reverses the priorities of the 1994 law currently in effect. Programming focused on the United States and its foreign policy would be more important that providing independent news and information to the population of countries where it is otherwise inaccessible.“We urge the US authorities not to transform media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia into diplomatic communication tools,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “It is legitimate that these media should offer a US vision of freedom. But encouraging or forcing them to support diplomatic positions and to reflect national interests means adopting the attitudes of information warfare and this would be extremely regrettable.”As well as defining the VOA’s principles, the very first article of the International Communications Reform Act says that the US international broadcasting “exists to advance the United States’ interests and values.”It is crucial that journalists working for the network of media depending on US funding should not be obliged to reflect US interests while “presenting accurate, objective, and comprehensive news and information (…) to societies that lack a free media.”Like VOA in Iran, the local language services of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty constitute one of the very few sources of independent news and information in countries such as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. These media could not continue to provide the same valuable service if they took their orders from the US government. RSF_en News United StatesAmericas June 3, 2021 Find out more to go further News News United StatesAmericas Help by sharing this information Organisation April 28, 2021 Find out more Facebook’s Oversight Board is just a stopgap, regulation urgently needed, RSF says Follow the news on United States News NSO Group hasn’t kept its promises on human rights, RSF and other NGOs say June 7, 2021 Find out more
Sweden’s seventh AP fund (AP7) has said its board decided in the first half of this year to reduce the gearing in its SEK261bn (€27.7bn) equities fund gradually to 125% from 150%.In its interim report for January to June 2015, the state pension fund said that, as part of this plan, it had trimmed the fund’s gross leverage to 139.5% by the end of June.While the normal level of leverage had been set at 150% of the fund’s capital, its board is allowed to reduce this on the chief executive’s recommendation – in situations where it is seen as appropriate to lower exposure to the stock market, for example.The pension fund said it produced a 9.8% return for savers in its balanced Såfa pension fund in the six-month period, which outperformed the average 8.3% return for competitor funds in Sweden’s premium pension system. AP7 operates as a state-owned alternative to the private investment funds in the country’s first-pillar premium pension system.Its Såfa fund is composed of AP7’s “building-block” equity and fixed income funds, with the proportions set depending on customer age profiles.The equity fund generated a 10.5% return in the first half of the year, in line with the benchmark.In absolute terms, the return was SEK24.6bn, and the fund’s total assets increased to SEK260.7bn at the end of June.AP7 said: “The positive development seen in the fund is due to the upswing on global equities markets in 2015, which was intensified by the fund’s leverage as well as the weakening of the Swedish krona.”Active management contributed positively to the result, it said, adding SEK12m, although tactical allocation reduced returns to the tune of SEK38m in the reporting period.It blamed the tactical asset allocation underperformance on the fact the fund had had a lower global equity exposure than the benchmark, adding that this had also had the effect of reducing the fund’s risk level.Meanwhile, the fixed income fund produced a 0.6% return in the period, identical to the benchmark return.The return was SEK99m, while total assets in the fund rose to SEK18.3bn.