Archive for the ‘free media’ Category

China, After Delay, Reports Shoe Thrown at Premier

February 3, 2009

It hesitated for hours over the sensitive footage of a British protester shouting “dictator” and throwing a shoe at Premier Wen Jiabao. But finally, China‘s carefully controlled state broadcaster ran it Tuesday.

The move was a remarkable display of openness — but the footage already was leaking into China via satellite television and the Internet. Critics said it showed the increasing power of such media to erode strict information controls.

By HENRY SANDERSON, Associated Press Writer

“It is impossible for a country to shut out a piece of news,” said Shao Peiren, head of Zhejiang University’s communications research institute in eastern China.

The broadcast might also help the government by appealing to Chinese patriotism. Wen is the leadership’s most popular figure, and he emerged as the hero after last year’s devastating earthquake, calling himself “Grandpa Wen.” The nickname was embraced by some enthusiastic Chinese.

Still, incidents that could be seen as unflattering or insulting to the Chinese leadership have long been treated with the greatest sensitivity. The first Chinese reports on the protest during Wen’s visit to Britain’s Cambridge University left out key details, including that a shoe had been thrown.

But the China Central Television broadcast had it all. The evening news showed the footage among the first stories of its half-hour broadcast, leading into it with a report on Wen’s speech itself and his return to Beijing.

Then the shoe-throwing footage was shown, with no commentary from the anchors, just a simple news setup.

The camera was fixed on Wen, but later cut to the whistle-blowing protester being removed from the hall, while the audience shouted “Get out.”

“How can this university prostitute itself with this dictator here? How can you listen … to him unchallenged?” the man — who has yet to be identified — could be heard shouting.

The sound of the shoe hitting the stage, away from Wen, could be heard as well.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203
/ap_on_re_as/as_china_britain_shoe

Related:
Man Charged With Public Disorder for Shoe Throwing At Chinese Premier

Free Press: Shoe Thrown At China’s Wen Not The Mega Media Event Bush’s Shoe Seemed

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Free Press: Shoe Thrown At China’s Wen Not The Mega Media Event Bush’s Shoe Seemed

February 3, 2009

China has a nice way of dealing with criticism.  They ignore it.

Rather, they make it go away.

In the state controlled Chinese media the shoe thrown at China’s Premier Wen this week in London never happened.

Oh, something happened.  The Chinese just can’t say what.

Mr. Wen was also not accosted by a pro-Tibet freedom group in London….

You can’t buy loyalty like this with a free press….And China knows it.

The shoe landed several meters from Wen Jiabao.

The shoe landed several meters from Wen Jiabao. It landed a million miles from the Chinese media…

A pro-Tibet protester runs past a police cordon outside the Chinese Embassy in London.

Protest in Wen’s face: a pro-Tibet protester runs past a police cordon outside the Chinese Embassy in London on Sunday.

******

By HENRY SANDERSON, Associated Press Writer

BEIJING – China’s foreign ministry and media on Tuesday denounced a man who hurled his shoe at the country’s premier and called him a dictator on a visit to Britain — all while avoiding explicit descriptions of the protest itself.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu called the disruption of Premier Wen Jiabao’s speech “despicable” during a press conference but said it would not “stem the tide of friendly relations between China and Britain.” She didn’t mention shoes.

Unlike the now-famous incident when an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush in December, covered widely not only in China but around the world, state-run newspapers and Web sites in China carried stories on Wen’s speech but did not directly mention the shoe-throwing.

China’s state-run CCTV network reported Foreign Ministry comments, which acknowledged a “disturbance” during the speech, but made no mention a shoe had been thrown at Wen.

The official Xinhua News Agency issued a story saying that Britain apologized for an incident and that China had “expressed its strong feelings against the occurrence of the incident.” However, it did not say what the incident was.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203
/ap_on_re_as/as_china_britain_shoe_4

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/e
urope/02/02/china.uk.shoe.protest/i
ndex.html

White House, Limbaugh Show Blurring Media and Government

January 30, 2009

As soon as President Obama was inaugurated, his White House pledged transparency and said this would be the most open and ethically correct administration ever.

Free press, unbiased sharing, fair coverage and disclosure, right?

But within hours, the White House was under attack for not honorings its transparency pledge and had apprently launched an attack of its own on Republican media giant Rush Limbaugh.

Last I heard, Rush Limbaugh was a private citizen with a radio show.  The President of the United States has to criticize him?

Ever hear of free speech?

Meanwhile, in Britain, the BBC denied it was the “Bararck Broadcasting Channel” and drew the line on unbiased reporting — and got attacked by anti-Israelis because the “BEEB” refused to air a biased Gaza charity video.

NBC never did deny it was the National Barack Channel….

Today we learn that the White House Chief of Staff has a daily phone conference call with selected members of the media — bypassing the White House communications director Robert Gibbs and the rest of the White House media.

Fair?  Balanced?  Transparent?

We aren’t talking an off the record interview with a reporter or a “Deep Throat” moment — we’re talking about the White House Chief of Staff conducting a daily round table with media opinion shapers like ABC news host George Stephanopoulos of “This Week,” frequent CNN talking head Paul Begula and James Carville.

So, President Obama and the Democratic Party were swept into power in the White House and Congress with a largely compliant if not an adoring media.  But the White House still feels the need to potentially manipulate opinion through Mr. Stephanopoulos, Mr. Begula and Mr.  Carville while they trash and attack Mr. Limbaugh.

Related:
 White House, ABC News, Media Talking Heads In Daily Conference Call?

 BBC Insists It Is Not The “Barack Broadcasting Channel”

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Limbaugh challenging notion of new politicsAssociated Press

 

For all the talk of new politics and a new start with a new administration, the media person who has emerged as the chief voice of opposition during the first week of Barack Obama’s presidency—Rush Limbaugh—has been doing this for 20 years.

The talk-radio titan said, days before Obama was sworn in, that he hoped Obama failed because he didn’t believe in the incoming president’s policies.

It’s kept him in the headlines ever since, to the point where MSNBC on Thursday asked: “Is Rush running the GOP?” The day before, every Republican House member voted against Obama’s economic stimulus plan, a bill Limbaugh has ridiculed as the “porkulus” plan.

“Obama was trying to marginalize me,” Limbaugh said. “His hope was that the House and Senate Republicans would join him in denouncing me. Didn’t work.”

When Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Georgia Republican, tried to praise his House leadership this week by saying it’s easy for talk-show hosts to stand back and throw bricks, the headline on the Politico Web site read: “House GOP member to Rush: Back off.” Gingrey was so bothered by the phone calls of complaints that he visited four conservative talk-show hosts, including Limbaugh, the next day to apologize.

Limbaugh, he said, was a conservative giant and one of the “voices of the conservative movement’s conscience.”

Can it get any better for a personality whose business is built on buzz?

“Rush Limbaugh is first and foremost a radio performer,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of the trade journal Talkers magazine, which notes that Limbaugh has been the most listened-to talk-show host since at least the mid-1990s. “He’s not a political leader. He doesn’t make more money by turning elections. He only exists to gather large audiences and raise more advertising revenue and he does it terrifically.”

(Limbaugh is heard on some 600 radio stations across the country, and more than 14 million people listen to him at least once a week.)

Yet count columnist Michael Wolff, writing in the Huffington Post, as one who believes Limbaugh is “being played.”

He could prove valuable to the president, who has sought bipartisan support for many of his plans and romanced Republicans in his first week in office. Being able to point to an opponent like Limbaugh could help him with the millions of Americans for whom the message of ending partisan bickering rang true on Election Day.

Obama even cited Limbaugh in seeking support for his economic plans.

“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he said. “There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats. We shouldn’t let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.”

A liberal advocacy group, Americans United for Change, said Friday it was using Limbaugh’s words in radio ads it was launching against three Republican senators: Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, George Voinovich of Ohio and John Ensign of Nevada. The ads, supporting Obama’s economic plan, urges voters in those states to call their senator and “tell him he represents you, not Rush Limbaugh.”

Wolff wrote that he believed the dinner Obama had with conservative columnists before his inauguration was a pointed snub to Limbaugh.

“He’s tried to make it out to be a political point ever since,” he wrote, “but mostly he sounds like a guy who’s hurt he didn’t get invited to the hot party.”

Asked about Wolff’s comments, Limbaugh said, “Who?”

Read the rest:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.ph
p?id=D961JE5G0&show_article=1

Free, Unbiased Media Under Fire: U.N. Chief Boycots Network

January 28, 2009

Free speech and free press and media are cornerstone of any well functioning free and democratic society.  In China and Vietnam, two remaining communists nation, these basic human rights don’t exist; and efforts to promote free media and free press often come under fire.

But the media can be persuaded and pressured too; and this is a much more subtle destruction of the media right to preserve its own unbiased view…..

The BBC is currently under fire for electing not to air a charity plea to help people in Gaza.  The BBC says the video uses the same images used by the network to depict the news.  The BBC also says the video is not impartial and has a clear bias — that the BBC would like to keep at arms length.  The result has been huge protests in London, the closing by Iran of BBC’s Persian network, and now a top U.N. official has cancelled his scheduled interviews on BBC….

BBC director general Mark Thompson had said airing the appeal would compromise the BBC’s impartiality.

Protesters demonstrate in London against the BBC. The BBC is ... 
Protesters demonstrate in London against the BBC. The BBC is facing more pressure to broadcast a charity appeal for funds for people in Gaza, as the Archbishop of Canterbury joins the row and more than 50 MPs sign a motion condemning the move.(AFP/Frantzesco Kangaris)

******

The head of the UN atomic watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the British broadcaster’s refusal to air a Gaza charity appeal, the IAEA said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said that the “director general has cancelled his scheduled BBC World Service TV and radio interviews because of the BBC management’s refusal to broadcast the DEC’s (Disasters Emergency Committee) humanitarian appeal for Gaza.”

“He believes this decision violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people irrespective of who is right or wrong,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

Both the BBC and Sky News refused to air the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella group of 13 charities including Oxfam and the British Red Cross, which kicks in with coordinated fundraising after disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

ITV, Channel 4 and Five, Britain’s three other terrestrial television broadcasters beside the BBC, have all aired the appeal.

And top Church of England archbishops, government ministers, opposition spokesmen, more than 11,000 viewers and 50 lawmakers have called for the BBC to reconsider its decision.

But BBC director-general Mark Thompson insists that the corporation will not change its mind.

Egyptian-born ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work at the IAEA, is scheduled to step down in November after three terms as the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief.

–AFP

Related:
 Gaza Fight Thunders Across Middle East, Britain, France, Media

Sky News joins BBC in not broadcasting Gaza aid appeal

BBC Insists It Is Not The “Barack Broadcasting Channel”

BBC In Hot Water; Accused Of Not Helping Victims

Internet: Do You Really Believe China Cares About Porn, Public Morality?

Media Censorship, Criminalization of Free Press In Vietnam Needs Action

http://bernielatham.wordpress.com/2009/0
1/28/bbcsky-refusal-to-air-appeal-for-gaza-st
ill-causing-anger-and-debate/

China says Internet crackdown to be “long-lasting”

January 23, 2009

If you thought even for a second that China might relax Internet restrictions and move closer to free media and free press, forget about it!

During the same week that China censored President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech, the government said its Internet crackdown would be a long one….

China has closed down 1,250 Web sites in its latest crackdown for what it calls ” online pornography”….

 

********

BEIJING (Reuters) – China sought Friday to portray its Internet crackdown as a campaign to protect youth from filth and nothing to do with stifling political dissent, with an official promising long-lasting action against “vulgarity.”

China has already detained 41 people as part of the crackdown, but the government’s move was in reality no different from laws in the United States and Europe which also aim to keep children from harmful sites, said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the State Council Information Office’s Internet Bureau.

“The purpose of this campaign is very clear,” he told a small group of invited reporters. “It’s aimed at creating a healthy Internet environment for all young people and making the Internet in China safer and more reliable.”

art.hacker1.cnn.jpg 

Above: China closely monitors the habits of its 300 million Internet users.  Over 40 people have been detained for disseminating porn on the Internet, and over 3 million “items of online information” have been deleted.

The Internet crackdown has been described by analysts as another step in the Communist Party‘s battle to stifle dissent in a year of sensitive anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests.

“The Internet remains where the battle for information lies and the fact that the government is devoting so much effort at reining it in, in itself indicates how much of a threat they perceive it to be,” said Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch.

China polices the Internet intensely, quickly removing any content deemed subversive or overly critical of the Party.

The government has closed over 1,200 websites, including a popular blog site, but with an estimated 3,000 new sites appearing daily, the battle to maintain control of the online world is never-ending.

VULGAR WEBSITES

We fully realize that the crackdown on vulgar websites will be long-lasting, complicated and difficult,” said Liu. “We will not abandon efforts to clean up the Internet environment under any circumstances.”

Zhang-ziyi
China reeled last year with postings and photos of young Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi cavorting on a beach in the Caribbean with her fiancé.

One of the websites closed in the campaign, which began this month, was bullog.cn, a popular site for Chinese bloggers. Some of the bloggers it hosted had been signatories of Charter 08, a manifesto released in December that called for greater civil freedoms and elections in China.

But Li Jiaming, director of the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center, said the government did not have a political motive.

The crackdown had “achieved clear results,” with more than 3.3 million pornographic or vulgar items already identified and deleted, Liu said.

Internet pornography and vulgar content seriously threaten the mental and physical health of youth and threaten to damage the healthy development of the Internet in China,” Liu said, adding that more than 35 percent of web surfers in China were under 19.

“I can tell you very candidly, our work does not have anything to do with political content. People are extremely supportive of this campaign.”

China had looked at similar Internet laws in other countries, including in the United States and Britain, and found common ground, he added.

“We discovered a common goal of all these governments is to ensure that Internet users feel safe when they go online.”

(Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Nick Macfie and David Fox)

 Tianasquare.jpg
Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Related:
 China Extends War on Free Speech Hidden by Fight Against Porn into Cell Phones
.
Chinese censor parts of Obama speech dealing with dissent, communism
.
 China has close to 300 million Internet users
.
 Internet: Do You Really Believe China Cares About Porn, Public Morality?
.
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090123
/ap_on_hi_te/as_china_pornography_5

Iran Shuts BBC Persian After Network Critical of Cowardice Among Hamas

January 21, 2009

Iran has decided that the BBC’s Persian service is illegal.  Iranians cannot work for BBC Persian and the network is basically shut down with no broadcasting while talks ensue.

Iran says the BBC Persian is “illegal,” and little else.

BBC says the news it broadcasts on the channel is gathered from abroad, using sources within Iran.

BBC says the news it broadcasts on the channel is gathered from abroad, using sources within Iran.

But the shutdown came just after the BBC featured stories of Hamas cowardice during the war with Israel.  The BBC World Service wondered where all the Hamas fighters went while Israel”s troops and tanks moved across Gaza.

Hamas boasted about how few men it lost in the fighting.  The BBC wondered why more fighters weren’t lost to Israeli fire or even seen by the Israelis.

The BBC also wondered why a Hamas rally in Gaza on Wednesday only drew a few hundred Gazan supporters.  Such rallies in the past would include thousands of Gazans….

In Jerusalem, the Post ran news stories further linking Hamas and Iran.  The Jerusalem Post said the Hamas war plan was basically written by Iranians.  The newspaper quoted Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officials who said Israel beat Hamas and Iran in Gaza….

Related:
CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meas
t/01/21/iran.bbc.persian/index.html

China Censors Obama Speech, Iran Kills BBC TV: Free Speech Under Attack

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/

Hamas Says They Still Control Gaza, But BBC Has Doubts

Hamas declares victory in Gaza claiming it lost only 48 fighters

China Extends War on Free Speech Hidden by Fight Against Porn into Cell Phones

January 21, 2009

China has extended a crackdown on electronic porn to the country’s mobile phones, after shutting down 1,250 websites because of their explicit content, the official Xinhua agency said Wednesday.

“We will incorporate ‘lewd’ messages spread via mobile phones into the crackdown,” the report quoted a joint notice from the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Culture and five other government offices saying.

China promised last week that the campaign, which was launched in early January, will be no “flash in the pan.”

art.hacker1.cnn.jpg 

Over 40 people have been detained for disseminating porn on the Internet, and over 3 million “items of online information” have been deleted, the report said.

Google, Baidu and other major websites have also been given a public dressing down for not being quick enough to wipe out targeted content, and outspoken blogging portals shut down for posting “politically harmful information.”

The Internet crackdown has been described by analysts as another step in the Communist Party‘s battle to stifle dissent in a year of sensitive anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the government’s bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Tianasquare.jpg
Tiananmen Square in 1989.

(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani for Reuters)

Internet: Do You Really Believe China Cares About Porn, Public Morality?

Chinese censor parts of Obama speech dealing with dissent, communism

January 21, 2009

It came as no surpirse to China watchers that the Communist government of the  nation most interested in censoring the media and Internet, chopped sections out of President Barack Obama’s first speech as Commander in Chief before it was distributed by state media services….

*****

The official Chinese translation of President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech was missing his references to communism and dissent, while a live broadcast on state television Wednesday quickly cut away to the anchor when the topic was mentioned.

The comments by the newly installed U.S. president veered into politically sensitive territory for China’s ruling Communist Party, which maintains a tight grip over the Internet and the entirely state-run media. Beijing tolerates little dissent and frequently decries foreign interference in its internal affairs.

By ANITA CHANG, Associated Press Writer

At one point, Obama said earlier generations “faced down communism and fascism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.” He later addressed “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent — know that you are on the wrong side of history.”

The Chinese translation of the speech, credited to the Web site of the official China Daily newspaper, was missing the word “communism” in the first sentence. The paragraph with the sentence on dissent had been removed entirely.

The censored version was carried by the state-run Xinhua News Agency and posted on popular online portals Sina and Sohu. Another portal, Netease, used a version without the paragraph mentioning communism, but retaining the part about dissent.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090121/ap_
on_re_as/as_inauguration_china_obama;_
ylt=AtPfWDN5.Yt_Tr.xTHKS.tdvaA8F

Thailand Makes Arrest For “Insulting” Royal Family, Cracks Down on Internet, Free Speech

January 20, 2009

Harry Nicolaides wrote a book four years ago that only sold four copies.  In it, buried, was a slight insilt to the Royal Family of Thailand.

Nicolaides, an Australian, is now under arrest and in jail in Thailand and the government is cracking down on free speech everywhere including on the Internet…..

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” he said. “It’s been an ordeal for months. It feels like a bad dream.”

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. ... 
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. A jail term handed down to an Australian for insulting Thailand’s royals is a “serious violation” of free expression and part of a worrying increase in such cases, a media rights watchdog said.(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

*****

By Tim Johnston in Bangkok
The Financial Times

An Australian author has been sentenced in Thailand to three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to charges of insulting the country’s royal family.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, fell foul of Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté laws, designed to protect King Bhumibol Aduladej and his family.

Four years ago Mr Nicolaides self-published 50 copies of his novel Verisimilitude , selling only seven. Buried deep within the plot, set in Thailand, was a short passage that portrayed the private life of an unnamed crown prince in unflattering terms.

Harry Nicolaides behind the bars of a Thai holding cell on Monday.

Harry Nicolaides behind the bars of a Thai holding cell on Monday.

He was arrested in August and has spent the past five months on remand in Bangkok. Mr Nicolaides did not contest the charges. In previous cases similar to this the king has pardoned culprits.

Even though Thailand’s revered king has said publicly that he does not need the lèse majesté laws, they have proved too useful to be discarded by opportunistic politicians for whom they serve both as a political tool to prove their loyalty and as a weapon against their opponents.

The king and his family are formally above the country’s partisan politics, but King Bhumibol was dragged into the political debate last year by protesters who besieged government offices and Bangkok’s two airports. The protesters said they aimed to protect the king, while seeking the resignation of the then ruling party.

Read the rest:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8f6a6f16-e6
92-11dd-8e4f-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

From CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/
asiapcf/01/19/thai.jail/index.html

Group: China fails to improve human rights in 2008

January 13, 2009

China failed to enact democratic reforms in 2008 despite promises to do so, a private democracy watchdog organization said Tuesday.

The statement from the Washington, D.C.-based Freedom House came as the group unveiled its 2009 “Freedom in the World,” report, an analysis on levels of freedom in almost 200 countries around the globe.

By DEBBY WU, Associated Press Writer

Asia researcher Sarah Cook called China’s progress toward freedom in 2008 “disappointing,” particularly following its promises to expand opportunities for free expression in connection with the holding of the summer Olympics.

“There were restrictions on Internet access even after there was some opening of that when the Games first began, and … a lot of attacks and incidents of foreign journalists arrested,” Cook said. “Meanwhile, local journalists continue to face a very difficult environment, including arrests.”

Tuesday was the first time Freedom House publicized its annual report in Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory despite the fact the two sides split amid civil war in 1949.

Tianasquare.jpg
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen uprising in Beijing

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090113/ap_o
n_re_as/as_taiwan_democracy_report_1