By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Naif Al-Mutawa anticipated a struggle when he launched an Islam-inspired comic book series that he hoped would become a symbol of toleration.
He worried about the comics being banned in Saudi Arabia - which wound up happening, briefly – and he expected to be challenged by conservatives in Islam, since Al-Mutawa wanted to buck the trend of Islamic culture being directly tied to the Koran.
But it wasn’t an Islamic cleric that stalled the series, called “The 99,” after the 99 attributes of Allah, which the superheroes are supposed to embody.
It is the American market, and the voices of Islam’s Western critics, that have caused the most problems for “The 99,” says Al-Mutawa, who is the focus of a PBS documentary airing next week.
In 2010, President Barack Obama called the comic books, which debuted in 2006, “the most innovative response” to America’s expanding dialogue with the Muslim world, which Obama has encouraged. The series features 99 superheroes from across the globe who team up to combat villains and who embody what Al-Mutawa calls basic human values like trust and generosity.
But Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti-born clinical psychologist and graduate of Columbia Business School, says a vocal minority have raised surprising questions about American tolerance of Islam.
The idea for “The 99” started during a conversation in a London cab between Al-Mutawa and his sister. It took off, although slowly, after Al-Mutawa raised $7 million from 54 investors across four continents.
The first issue was released during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2006. The comic book was quickly banned in Saudi Arabia and Al-Mutawa received threats of fatwas against him and his project from clerics. But Saudi Arabia eventually lifted the ban and the television adaptation of “The 99” will be aired there this year.
Al-Mutawa and his team have now raised more than $40 million in venture capital for the project.
But when word leaked that The Hub, a Discovery Channel cable and satellite television venture, purchased the series and planned to air it in the United States, the response from conservative bloggers and authors was swift.
A burqa-wearing superhero?
Pamela Geller, founder of the Atlas Shrugs blog, called the series, part of the “ongoing onslaught of cultural jihad,” and created a counter-comic strip that made the 19 hijackers behind the September 11, 2001 attacks the superheroes.
New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, meanwhile, urged readers to “Hide your face and grab the kids. Coming soon to a TV in your child’s bedroom is a posse of righteous, Sharia-compliant Muslim superheroes - including one who fights crime hidden head-to-toe by a burqa.”
According to Al-Mutawa, the criticism spooked The Hub. “All of a sudden we couldn't get an airdate and I was asked to be patient and we have been,” Al-Mutawa said. “But it has been a year and the actual push-back died down.”
Mark Kern, Senior Vice President of Communication for The Hub, told CNN that “‘The 99’ is one of the many shows we have on the possible schedule, but at this time, no decisions have been made about scheduling.”
Al-Mutawa isn’t shy about responding to the criticism his comics have received in the U.S. “There is nothing different from them and the extremists in my country,” he says. “They are just as bad. They are just intellectual terrorists.”
Geller, author of the book “Stop the Islamization of America,” called Al-Mutawa’s statement “ridiculous victimhood rhetoric.”
“He is the one mainstreaming oppression and discrimination,” Geller says. “I work for equality of rights for all people. So which one of us is the intellectual terrorist?”
Geller also takes issue with Al-Mutawa’s assertion that “The 99” exemplifies “moderation” and “toleration,” pointing to a “burqa-wearing superhero.”
But Al-Mutawa says criticisms of burqas are evidence that, “for some people anything to do with Islam is bad.”
“How cliché is it that characters created to promote tolerance are getting shot down by extremists,” he says.
Chronicling the ordeal
Al-Mutawa’s frustrations are chronicled in the new documentary “Wham! Bam! Islam!,” which will air on PBS on October 13 as part of the Independent Lens series.
The film’s director, Isaac Solotaroff, began shooting before the comic was released.
He said that one of the most surprising aspects of the story is how “a very small group of people who scream very loud, have a disproportionate share of the public discourse when it comes to culture.”
Echoing Al-Mutawa, Solotaroff calls it a case of the tail wagging the dog. He says that initial concerns of censorship in the Middle East began to change as the project progressed.
“We were waiting for a fatwa from a cleric in Saudi Arabia, Solotaroff says,” when it ended up being the U.S. market that has been resistant to “The 99.”
“Realizing that The 99 will not survive if focused solely on the Middle East, Al-Mutawa must now target an international and predominantly non-Muslim market,” reads the website for “Wham! Bam! Islam!”
Citing The Hub holdup, Solotaroff says the project is now stuck in the most important market” for “The 99.”
Al-Mutawa is also trying to gain distribution for his TV series in France and other countries, but his main focus remains the United States.
“One way or the other,” he says, “‘The 99’ will get on air in the U.S.”
Of course there is resistance to this type of propaganda. By Muslim religious doctrine, the lie is even today, accepted as an honorable tool for the advancement of Islam. It is adhered to in all dealings with the rest of the world. Anything that appears good to the open eye must always be viewed through the veil of skepticism.
I oppose religion, but I applaud this because it promotes moderate Islam, which is the only viable counter to radical Islam. I don't like either one, but radical Islam is much, much worse.
By Muslim religious doctrine, the lie is even today, accepted as an honorable tool for the advancement of Islam. It is adhered to in all dealings with the rest of the world. Anything that appears good to the open eye must always be viewed through the veil of skepticism.
This is great! Would love to see this more. We need to build better relations and image between the Islamic world and the West. Too much negativity in the media about muslims. This is refreshing, i have also seen another one called buraaq by splitmoonarts: http://www.splitmoonarts.com, this looks interesting too. May be a new trend? A welcome one in my opinion,
Keep that crap out of the USA. Keep it where it belongs, in Arab countries. 'nuff said.
A muslim superhero?
Does he treat his nine year old wife like property?
Does he sell his children into marriage?
"after Al-Mutawa raised $7 million from 54 investors across four continents."
Do you have any idea how hard it is to raise that kind of money for starving children and yet a freakin muslim comic book gets that kind of cash throw at it, disgusting.
You're just being a jerk for the sake of it. Chill out.
Obviously you know nothing about Islam speaking about these things ......know what is it before u say these silly words of urs
@ Caliban – You are the perfect example of the problem. Couldn't have illustrated it better.
This is the sad part with us non muslims. No one in our non muslim socieits seem to understand that in none of the muslim countries in the world , is there any tolerance for other religions.Even their books have separate names for non muslims"Kafirs" and a separate name for areas occupied by non muslims. Even withn muslim socieites , thery have separate treatment for non muslims. Then why do we listen to these people and theri nonsense. How do they compare extremist in ther own countries with those in non muslims countries. It is absurd but our sad fate.
It bothers me that this has become a religious debate between religions. The99 is not an attempt to conversion for Islam! It is FOR The Islamic people...the children of that faith. It isn't the Koran...it is not read in the Mosques. It is for children. I don't see any great outcry about the free JCTV channel that plays all the christain values cartoons all day. No one is protesting Veggie Tales. Wow! What is wrong with us, America? Let Muslim kids have their cartoons that promote and excite good values in a fun way. What is so bad about that!?
Christianity has had more than its fair share of media that pushes its views on morality and family, which I don't consider a bad thing. It's America, you get freedom of expression. If someone doesn't like it, they don't buy it. I remember one Christian comic where the Holy Ghost was armored up like a character out of World of Warcraft. If I didn't have a problem with that, I don't have a problem with this. They're both comics with certain ideals in mind. Some of this media pushes its ideals more than others, some push it less, both have religious elements. So what, it's America, if you don't like it don't buy it. If there's a market for it, it'll sell.
I would be just as wary of a superhero group based on the apostles or any other ridiculous religious trope. I am wary of religious propaganda of any sort and that's all this is. Take away the Muslim/Christian/Whatever label it's dogma and propaganda and we don't need it. Let kids grow up knowing fact from fiction. Please.
How about you READ the comic before deciding what it is? THe first issue is available free for download.
For the record, it does NOT promote Islam in the way you're thinking.
Here is a fact. A kid wamts a cookie. Another kid has a cookie. He won't hand it over. Now if you punch him, he'll be too busy holding his nose to hold onto that cookie. We don't raise kids on facts. We raise kids on values. The fact is all major religions in the world snare those same core values. I say to the naysayers...turn the channel, don't buy the comic and let Muslim children have their value based entertainment. If you are worried about your own child..monitor their t.v. viewing. Why the panic. It selfishness. Muslim and Islamic values are a part of this world (the greater majority even) and a part of our nation. I am a christian woman and I do not fear this. And the final FACT...it is good for children everywhere...but especially Muslim children living in todays world to have positive rolemodels. Read the comics before you comment, People!
You are wrong: All major religions do not share the same core values. One glaring example for the purposes of this article is, by Muslim religious doctrine, the lie is even today, accepted and used as an honorable tool for the advancement of Islam. It is adhered to in all dealings with the rest of the world. Anything that appears good to the open eye must always be viewed through the veil of skepticism.
thank you for your feedback, first of all ill say that the debate here was to bring common ground between muslims and christians, i have not even spoken about Hindus, Jains, Bhuddists, Pagans as we are not discussing these religions at all in my topic at the moment and in no way the intention was to harm feelings for the followers of these religions. And if my discussion created that impression, i would like to apologize for that. But i would like to add the following.
Common Hindu Belief.
Common Concept of God in Hinduism: Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods. While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some believe in thousands of gods, and some others in thirty three crore i.e. 330 million Gods. However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.
The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita.
Consider the following verse from the Gita:
"Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures."
[Bhagavad Gita 7:20]
The Gita states that people who are materialistic worship demigods i.e. ‘gods’ besides the True God.
Vedas are considered the most sacred of all the Hindu scriptures. There are four principal Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda.
The following verses from the Yajurveda echo a similar concept of God:
1. "na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no image of Him."
2. "shudhama poapvidham"
"He is bodyless and pure."
3. "Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste"
"They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements" (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). "They sink
deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti."
4. Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol, etc.
The Yajurveda contains the following prayer:
"Lead us to the good path and remove the sin that makes us stray and wander."
5[Yajurveda by Devi Chand M.A. page 377]
6[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith page 538]
7[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith page 538]
8[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Griffith page 541]
One may ask, if both Muslims and Christians love and respect Jesus (pbuh), where exactly is the parting of ways? The major difference between Islam and Christianity is the Christians’ insistence on the supposed divinity of Christ (pbuh). A study of the Christian scriptures reveals that Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (pbuh) himself says, "I am God" or where he says, "worship me". In fact the Bible contains statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in which he preached quite the contrary. The following statements in the Bible are attributed to Jesus Christ (pbuh):
(i) "My Father is greater than I."
[The Bible, John 14:28]
(ii) "My Father is greater than all."
[The Bible, John 10:29]
(iii) "…I cast out devils by the Spirit of God…."
[The Bible, Mathew 12:28]
(iv) "…I with the finger of God cast out devils…."
[The Bible, Luke 11:20]
(v) "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
[The Bible, John 5:30]
Unity of God in the Book of Isaiah
The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah:
(i) "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour."
[The Bible, Isaiah 43:11]
(ii) "I am Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me."
[The Bible, Isaiah 45:5]
(iii) "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me."
[The Bible, Isaiah 46:9]
. God is One
The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (pbuh):
"Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad".
It is a Hebrew quotation which means:
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord"
[The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4]
My only request here would be to study your scriptures in detail. Lastly If Christian is a person who follows the teachings of Christ (pbuh) and not one who worships Christ (pbuh). (We are more Christian than the Christians themselves).
The problem is not what Muslims believe or what Christians believe but is the mutual denoucing of the creed of each other and while Muslims have the right to criticize Christians freely and loudly they deprive this right from Christians.Therefore no Christian can criticize Muhammad without danger upon him and his family or declare that he was not a prophet although he doesn't believe in his prophecy.
Wow, reallity, you are so deep, you're command of English so impressive. You must be right, you're such a smart fellow. If the great religious leaders had talked to you they would have been stunned by your intellect. What a guy you must be. Why would anyone turn to the love and wisdom of Christ when they could have you? Or perhaps you're just another pathetic victim of evil. It's one of the two.
Glad to read your very informative comments,may GOD reward you for tha standt..Amen.
plz do not waste time with reality post hit report abuse
mubeen, do us a favor and stop interpreting the religions of others. You are a fool.
It's not that, prometheus. In America Muslims have relatively little political power, so they aren't despised like fundamentalist Christians are despised. Now, if fundamentalist Muslims started to gain political power...
There can be no common ground when by Muslim religious doctrine, the lie is even today, accepted as an honorable tool for the advancement of Islam. It is adhered to in all dealings with the rest of the world. Anything that appears good to the open eye must always be viewed through the veil of skepticism.
Such hate! All religions promote hate in one form or another...Muslims are no different than christians in many senses.
All those railing on and on abotu this comic 'promoting Islam' are of the SAME ilk as those who shrieked and wailed about Harry Potter claiming it promoted witchcraft.
Reality; neither are based on objective opinion because both groups have something in common; NEITHER have actually READ the supposedly 'offending' material!
Here's the website. you can download the Origins issue for free in English. if you want more, they are $1.99 each. http://www.the99.org/
There, no excuses. If you are going to claim this comic is exactly as YOU claim it to be, then show that you are reasonably educated on it by actually READING it.
What we have spent money on thereby vitiating the need for any comic books about Islam:
Aya-an Hi-rsi Ali's autobiography, In-fidel.
"Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circu-mcised as a child, educated by radical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ensue. It's a story that, with a few different twists, really could have led to a wretched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hi-rsi Ali escaped – and transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women."
ref: Washington Post book review.
"Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly be-aten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their scre-ams resounded across the courtyards. "No! Please! By Allah!"
"The Pakistanis were Muslims but they too had cas-tes. The Untou-chable girls, both Indian and Pakistani were darker skin. The others would not play with them because they were unt-ouchable. We thought that was funny because of course they were tou-chable: we to-uched them see? but also hor-rifying to think of yourself as un-touchable, des-picable to the human race."
"Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were ki-lled by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exa-ggerating."
"The kind on thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia and among the Brotherhood of Kenya and Som-alia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves the feu-dal mind-set based on tr-ibal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hypro-cricy, and double standards. It relies on the technologial advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam".
By 'promoting Islam' I think the fear is that it promotes positive Islam, and may breed a generation of Muslims who aren't as bitter towards us and a generation of Americans who are more accepting and aren't so ready to give Muslims reason to be bitter. Then the hawks will have to go looking for another enemy in which to keep us afraid, ...and compliant.
hit report abuse to any reality post
There is no reason to read any propaganda that Islam promotes. By Muslim religious doctrine, the lie is even today, accepted as an honorable tool for the advancement of Islam. It is adhered to in all dealings with the rest of the world. Anything that appears good to the open eye must always be viewed through the veil of skepticism.
"There is no reason to read any propaganda that Islam promotes"
Let's put that another way...There is no reason to read any propaganda that Christiniaty promotes
The Arab house of Islam
Most people are probably descended from the Prophet Muhammad anyway
If we accept the argument above that, even if the exact lines aren't known, most of the prominent families of Islam would have soon ended up descended from the Prophet, then most of modern Islam would descend from the Prophet.
And only a tiny amount of intermarriage with Christians and Jews in medieval Spain would yield the result that, even if all the descents above are false, quite likely almost every Muslim, almost every Jew, and almost everyone in the West today is descended from the Prophet.
Simply put, if anyone at Muhammad's time left a reasonable number of descendants, they are probably the ancestor of most of the West today, even if no specific descent can be proved. See full discussion on Common ancestors of all humans.
Check link for the argument;
Quite likely almost every Jew in the world today descends from the Prophet Muhammad, c. 600 AD.
By the same logic, there were Jews in medieval Spain, and it's hard to see them staying separate from the gradual descent of all of Muslim and Christian Spain from the Prophet. Again, all we need is a tiny amount of interbreeding for this to happen. And later the Jews of Spain were expelled, and are probably hence the ancestors of much or most of the world's Jews today.
It is interesting to think that every Palestinian suicide bombing attack on Israel is almost certainly some descendants of the Prophet killing other descendants of the Prophet.
Check link for more;
"Most people are probably descended from the Prophet Muhammad anyway"
You are an idiot.
I get a headache trying to put any logic to your rants.
"Christians interpret Scripture as implying a Trinity; Muslims interpret the coming of the Holy Spirit as being Mohammed and the Quran original being in Arabic and Mohammed coming to correct the excesses of Christianity. It is unclear, therefore, how we can speak of God as being the same Supreme Being as Allah."
Muslims do not believe in the holy trinity at all 1st off. And Muslims do not believe Muhammed came to correct anything of the true Gospel (Injeel arabic), but only to seal everything that was revealed before him. Muhammed in his teaching specifically state that fact. Last but not least, Allah is an arabic word for God. If you go over seas in the middle east, Christians Jews Muslims and what ever other faith there is abroad, who speak arabic, use ALLAH for God because that is there language. Maybe you should stop listening to people (media or whoever else) and actually do some research before talking bad about a particular religion.
In the middle east Muslims had been forced Christians to say ALLAH as a result of forcing them to speak arabic and that is exactly what happened to Jews when they obligated to say Amen toward Egyptians (the word which all of us used to write and pronounce it Amon) to avoid confusion.Consequently both Christians and Muslims repeated it.
Where do you get such stories from?
Arabs and Arabic speaking was much old before Islam and was spoken by Pagans,Jews,Christian Arabs much back on time before the word of Islam....!
Egyptian "Amon" was much back on time even before Moses received the commandments...where by time he received the commandments children of Israel were out of Egypt already...
Even Arab Pagans have used the word Amen after their prayers because it means "May the Lord make it True answering to the prayers"....
The fact is believing what the mormons or muslims believe is just as crazy as believing in the rapture which is not mentioned in the bible and made up centuries later by a false interpatation of a few scriptures . I think all religion is suspect of fantasy land thinking
This is a religion of hate! stop ur useless preaching, instead PRACTISE goodwill and tolerance.
You first. Start by reading the comic. First issue can be downloaded free from the website.
Nice poet to refresh your days...!
A Sea of Tears
Sheeple of the world lend me thine ear,
for the truth we speak sends messages clear!
33 degrees plus 2012 years
adds to masterplan complete: a sea of tears.
Distractions abundent losing your focus
as the magicians wave screaming "hocus pocus"!
And despite all your anger you sit content in complacency
as the "Novus Ordo" churns with conspiracy.
The undead walk without a clue that they are dead –
and you fail to recognize what the poet has said.
The shepard has come to tend to his flock,
ignorant children of intelligence mock.
The third eye is straining to see the light
so open up your mind and begin to take flight.
The undeclared war is wageing so get ready for battle,
unless you are happy being mindless cattle.
So get with the plan – Not of the "master"
and help us usher these cattle from their pasture.
For all minds have potential to do glorious work
and then we can eleveate a world that's gone berserk.
posted by Phreshview @ 10:38 12 comments
"The Mayan calendar predicted the world would end Dec. 21, 2012. Is this true?
Yes, the world, as we know it, will definitely end on that date, but it will not be the end of the world".
I say imagine how many calendars already passed on earth before the calendars that we know and take into our account...?! (Before&After Noah).?
Can the superhero blow him/herself up?
Yes. The burqa hides all.
Last I checked we are a free country, and last I checked that includes freedom of religion. I am not Muslim but I think the idea of this comic is fantastic, maybe it will inspire people to be more accepting of other religious beliefs. Why are Christians criticizing the Muslim beliefs so violently? They all share the same old testament and they all worship the same God, do they not realize this? Jews, Muslims, Christians... they are all tribes of Abraham. They should be defending each other in a world of atheism but they do not, they feud amongst themselves like spoiled children over who is right and who is wrong. Each is preaching that they are Gods favored but all equally look as foolish. I will watch this and I think the story line is creative and interesting, I can't wait! I love such fresh ideas driving creative talent, that is what we need to revitalize the economy!
I feel compelled to point out that if a comic that featured embodiments of Christian or Jewish values, or Confucian or Wiccan or anything else non-islam, were published in a Muslim country the comic would be banned, and the creator would be prosecuted for proselytizing, which carries heavy penalties under sharia law.
We used to be more accepting, but the polarized political environment we currently live in this country (where neither side is right or truthful incidentally), only serves to promote the animosity and narrowmindedness; along with the blatant forward hate, impatience, and lack of love and respect spreading in this country, which I attribute in large part to the themes coming repeatedly out of Hollywood.
Not alot of comic books are religious themed.... it seems an odd medium and I don't blame the US market for resisting it, especially putting it on TV, I think heavily religious animated series based on heavily religious comics books would be a VERY niche market, and not a ratings bonanza. There are the occasional religious superhero (night crawler for example) but it is an aside, not the focus, of the story.
Christians interpret Scripture as implying a Trinity; Muslims interpret the coming of the Holy Spirit as being Mohammed and the Quran original being in Arabic and Mohammed coming to correct the excesses of Christianity. It is unclear, therefore, how we can speak of God as being the same Supreme Being as Allah.
We're talking about people resisting these comics in this country, so why bring up the backwardness of other nations? Are you saying that, because other nations can be backward in this regard, we can too?
@ Tom Cruise, I'd like to point out to YOU the reason we pride ourselves in being American is because of the freedoms, liberties and values our system was founded upon–which did NOT include religion, but did include freedom OF religion. Islamic countries are GOVERNED BY ISLAM. What do you expect? They are not secular. They're ALLOWED to regulate religion. By definition, that is what they do. Your point therefore makes NO SENSE. Are you saying America is a Christian nation? Because if you're going that route, look up the faiths of our founding fathers. Hint: For most, Christianity was not that important. Jefferson was a deist.
@steve says: "It is unclear, therefore, how we can speak of God as being the same Supreme Being as Allah."
Um, becuase Islam, Judaism and Chjristianity are all Abrahamic religions, i.e. they all believe in the God of Abraham aka "jehovah" or "Allah", depending on the language spoken. Why don't you try picking up a book and learning something before you display your ignorance to the entire planet?
OMG Shaggy's a cripple what happend? And why is Daffney dressed like a ninja? Scoobie Doo where the F_CK are you?!
Cute, and I would not have known those characters if not from reading to my 3 year old. But to label a person with motor limitations a "cripple"–to define a person by their impairment, is rather insensitive, and I do not mean just politically incorrect. When a friend of yours is in a similiar situation, I would expect that you would see them as your friend first, a person with great talents and potential, not just as a cripple.
While I applaud the creativity, and the courage it takes to start this. It just sounds DULL as a comic. But I would have to see one to be sure.
The first issue is available free to download. http://www.the99.org/
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.