Sunday, April 10, 2005

Second part of what media in other countries are covering

This is the second part of our "what is media in other countries covering?"

Dallas notes that in Australia our friend Luke (wotisitgood4) notes realites not dealt with while the media was on "Pope-arama:"

* "Mexico is heading for political crisis after its Congress voted to impeach the leading candidate in next year's presidential election in what his supporters said was a naked act of obstruction." LINK apparently there were "several hundred thousand supporters in the capital's central square" what will the democracy-bringers do? did blinky discuss this when he was in mexico recently? who else was in mexico recently? i think the anti-c.rice went? and maybe rumsfeld? is this why the media was told to go wall2wall pope-arama? is this version2.0 of the failed media strategy wrt the venezuela debacle?

* similarly, heres Shakespeare's Sister:"Nothing happens in a vacuum with this administration. DeLay suddenly having lost his protection, finding himself naked, cold, and alone on the front page of the Washington Post, was not inevitable, not in this media climate. This is an orchestrated takedown, and you can bet your boots it’s a red herring for something. We’ve just got to make sure we keep our eyes peeled for exactly what that something is." LINK

* meanwhile, rebecca thinks that the pope-a-palooza is unadulterated p.r. with a splash of zero-cost programming - which is possibly true, but she also says (in passing): "i used to work in public relations. back then we prayed for a day like this week (just a day!). some family man was leaving his wife and kids for his pregnant mistress and a day like any of the past 9 or 10 came along, we'd be screaming, 'we're putting it out now! no(one) will even notice it!'" i'd posit that maybe this was the *purpose* of the ridiculous level of coverage.

And while in Australia, we'll note "Doctors link Vioxx to 300 deaths" from ABC:

A best-selling pain reliever has been linked by doctors to the deaths of about 300 Australians. Arthritis drug Vioxx was withdrawn from the worldwide market last year after being linked in the United States to more than 100,000 heart attacks and strokes.

US lawyers say they have internal memos and documents showing that the drug manufacturer, Merck, knew that Vioxx was dangerous in the mid-1990s.

Merck denies those claims.

Royal Adelaide Hospital Professor Les Cleland has told ABC TV's Four Corners program that about 30 per cent of 1,000 events in Australia may have been linked to the drug before it was banned.

From the International Federation of Journalists, we'll note "Impunity, Justice Denied and Media Killings That Haunt the United States:"

The International Federation of Journalists today called on the United States government to end all speculation over targeted killings of journalists and media staff by providing "credible and convincing" reports on incidents in which 14 media staff have been killed since the invasion of the country in March 2003.

"The United States stands accused of failing to meet its obligations to deliver justice and fair treatment to the victims of violence by its own soldiers," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White in a letter to President George Bush.

Similar letters calling for the US to carry out exhaustive investigation into these cases have been sent by IFJ affiliates to US officials and many countries.

April 8th marks the second anniversary of the United States attack on Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, which at the time contained scores of reporters and media people reporting on the US invasion. Two journalists were killed and others wounded.

On the same morning, a journalist was killed when the Baghdad offices of the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera was attacked by US fighter planes.

The IFJ says there are another 11 other cases of unexplained killings in which US soldiers were involved that require answers. "

The ordeal of family, friends and colleagues of media victims continues as they wait for justice from the authorities about how and why their loved ones died," said White.

From OpenDemocracy, Gareth notes Dominic Hilton's "Is Britain a banana republic?" Here's an excerpt:

In 2005, thanks to what the London Evening Standard calls "quirks in the electoral system", pollsters predict Blair could win a House of Commons majority of 70-90 seats with only a "wafer thin" 2-3% lead over the Conservatives (with only 53% of voters saying they "intend to vote"). Conservative leader Michael Howard reportedly thinks the "people who matter" make up only 2% of the electorate.

Whatever one's view on the Iraq war, if the British people were the boss, British troops would not be wearing desert boots.

In fact, if the British people were really in charge, it would say so in a British constitution that begins "We the people of the United Kingdom…".

The UK election in May is billed as all about turnout. If voters show in large numbers, it should favour Labour. Conservatives stand accused of deliberately campaigning to keep people away from the polls.

As if!

I went to corruption-ridden Birmingham to hear Michael Howard talk about the decline in popular participation and he insisted he was all for boosting voter turnout. True, when I chatted to him afterwards, he made little effort to seduce me to the polls. There was no "Can I rely on your vote, young man?" Just a blank stare and an expression that read "Why am I wasting my time with this jerk?"

Perhaps he was clocking my name for a postal ballot. Postal voting is no answer not only because it is "wide open to fraud", but because it is a stunt, designed to increase turnout but failing to address the basic relationship between the state and its citizens.

There's a hollow centre in British politics, and it's in danger of being stuffed with forged ballot-papers.

Friday's (domestic) Free Speech Radio News offered this:

Journalists Held in Iraqi Prisons (3:27)

According to the Pentagon, a CBS news freelancer who was shot in the hip by US troops Wednesday is being held in prison as a suspected insurgent. Meanwhile, a journalist with the Arab language satellite al-Arabiya network continues to be held in prison. Aaron Glantz reports from Washington.

[Click on "Friday" to listen to the thirty minute program and hear the story.]

This is echoed at Reporters Without Borders. From "Concern that US forces are holding CBS cameraman who was shot and wounded:"

Reporters Without Borders said today it was very worried that the US forces have detained a CBS cameraman of Iraqi nationality ever since shooting and wounding him during an operation against an insurgent on 5 April.

"We call on the US army to release him very quickly if no evidence is produced to support his alleged collaboration with the insurgency," the press freedom organization said.

The organization said there have already been cases of journalists being detained for no reason by the coalition forces in Iraq.

In May 2004, for example, three journalists with the French TV station Canal + were detained while working in Baghdad. They were held for nearly 30 hours although they had their press cards and their TV station immediately confirmed their identity.

A US army statement said the CBS cameraman was being held because be might pose "an imperative threat to the coalition forces."

CBS said the US military suspect him of links to the rebels because video footage found in his camera shows he was on the scene of several bombings shortly after they took place. This makes the US military think he may have been warned in advance in the insurgents.

CBS yesterday issued a statement of support for their cameraman, who began working for them three months ago after being recommended by one of their fixers. CBS has asked that he not be named for his own protection.

From the UK's Independent, Susan e-mails to note David McNeill's "Textbook war escalates as China and Korea vent their fury at Japanese rewriting of history:"

Thousands of Chinese protesters pelted the Japanese embassy in Beijing with missiles and shouted "Japanese pigs come out" and "stop distorting history" over the weekend, dragging Sino-Japanese relations to a new low.

The protests against Tokyo's authorisation of textbooks that many Chinese say whitewash Japan's 15-year occupation is the latest incident to rock the shaky partnership between Asia's leading power and its rising star.

[. . .]

The most contentious history text removes all references to the comfort women and suggests that Korea and China invited or benefited from the Japanese occupation. A civics text claims jurisdiction over a clump of rocks called Takeshima (in Korean, Tokdo) that Korea has held since 1945.

"What nonsense is this," said an editorial in the normally mild Korea Herald. Written by a group of neo-nationalist academics, the two texts, with the backing of a right-wing media conglomerate, have sold nearly one million copies since 2001.

This success has dragged the teaching of history sharply to the right: just one new history textbook out of eight mentions the comfort women this year, down from seven in the mid-1990s, and references to other war crimes have been toned down or dropped.

From the BBC, Dominick notes "Taiwan bans Chinese journalists:"

Taiwanese officials have ordered journalists from two of mainland China's largest official media groups to stop working on the island. They claim the reporters are contributing to straining relationships between Taipei and Beijing.

Xinhua news agency and the People's Daily newspaper have ignored Taiwan's objection to an anti-secession law passed by China last month, they say.

The law authorizes the use of force if Taiwan tries to gain independence.

Also from the BBC, Rachel notes "Nepal clash deaths 'rise to 100:'"

Authorities in Nepal now say 100 died in clashes between Maoist rebels and government forces in the remote western district of Rukum on Thursday. The clashes were by far the biggest since King Gyanendra assumed direct power on 1 February, vowing to crack down on the rebels.

The army said it had recovered 97 rebel bodies and that three soldiers died. The rebels have not commented on their dead but say the army's losses were much higher. None of the claims could be independently verified.

The Maoists have been fighting for nearly 10 years to replace the monarchy with a communist republic. About 11,000 people have been killed.

Note: This is part II of the post. See previous entry.

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