Foreign visitor information readily available

The trick to putting things into context is getting the right information.

With all the recent talk of illegal immigration to the United States, it is sometimes useful to look at legal immigration before going off on a bender on immigration law.

Fortunately the Department of Homeland Security puts out a regular report on the numbers of people coming — legally — across the US borders and where they come from. (I’m sorry, from whence they came.)

The bottom line is that the top 5 countries that sent visitors to the USA last year were:

  • Mexico – 17,980,784
  • United Kingdom – 4,566,669
  • Canada – 4,445,88
  • Japan – 4,298,081
  • Germany – 2,359,681

Brazil was in a close sixth place with 2,143,154 entering the US. (By the way — and this is an old story — a Florida business group did a survey about six years ago that showed a direct link between US visas issued in Brazil and jobs created in Florida. It is worth reviewing this piece.)

California and Florida — 11,182,804 and 8,089,139 respectively — were the top two desitnation sites. Kinda looks like a lot of tourism to me. And toursim means jobs and a more favorable foreign exchange situation.

There is a lot of information in this report that can easily be fodder for some great local-global stories.

One of the data points I liked was the growing number of foreign journalists coming to the United States with their families. That means they are coming to stay for a while. That means more coverage of the US overseas and more income for the communities where the journalists are going to live. (Granted, some could be for just a short time to cover a story and then go home, but even so, the numbers are impressive.)

Representatives of foreign media and their spouses and children:

  • 2013 – 45,827
  • 2012 – 44,472
  • 2011 – 51,459

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Filed under Connections, Immigration, Jobs, Story Ideas, Trade

ONION: New v. Old Media and Toeing the Line

The damnedest thing about Chinese censorship and Western satire, one is never sure which is which.

THe latest contribtion from the Onion has paper journalists complaining about the threats to their jobs by online journalists.

“Reporters used to have the time to sit down, read the day’s official press release from the Central Propaganda Department, and craft a carefully written 2,000-word article describing the government’s flawless response to a massive earthquake or deadly riot,” said Zhang Li of thePeople’s Daily, describing the great care she and her colleagues take in upholding censorship standards. “Now, we’re given 15 minutes to whittle down a party directive on the booming economy into a single paragraph that they’ll post on our social media page in the hopes it goes viral.”

Chinese Journalists Bemoan Decline Of Traditional State-Run Newspapers, Rise Of State-Run New Media

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Is Bolivia saying the south runs backwards?

News Flash: Bolivian officials reversed the clock on the facade of the building housing the Bolivian congress in La Paz, calling it the “clock of the south.”

The actual story is that President Evo Morales said Bolivians should be proud of their heritage and thate there is no reason clocks have to run, well, clockwise.

Kinda reminds me of the changes to traffic lights in China during the Cultural Revolution. People “move forward on red” rather than stop..

And what do the Bolivians think about it?

Shoe shiner Franz Galarza, who works in Murillo Square where the legislative building stands, told Efe news agency that the new clock was “a bad idea”.

“If they want to send out the message that the country is heading in another direction, then they’ll have to make that clear, because all the people who are walking past Murillo Square say they thought it was an error, a mistake.”

Read more at: Bolivia congress clock altered to turn anti-clockwise

And I am not quite sure what this is all about:

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, also an Aymara, told the ABI press agency that the new clock aimed to show “it was time to recover our identity.”

“The solar clock, it’s a natural clock,” he noted, adding that “the sun moves to the left in the south and in the north, the sun turns in the other direction.”

Read more.

Looking at a map with north on top and the south on the bottom, the sun “moves” right (east) to left (west) for the WHOLE world.

But if you turn the map upside down so the south is on top and the north is on the bottom, then the sun “moves” left (east) to right (west). For the WHOLE world.

I guess it is nice to see that it is not only a majority of the Republican party and certain former Playboy models who reject science.

 

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25 years since Tiananmen Square demonstrations

The Chinese government is pulling out all the stops to make sure the official party line on the Tiananmen Square killings is the only one heard in China.

Besides the usual heavy-handed directives from Beijing to all media outlets on what to say and what not to say, the government has also moved against the Internet community in China, known as Netizens.

So, of course, anyone making any comments that challenge the official line gets in trouble: Professor’s Microblog Axed After Tiananmen Comment

For many, it is difficult remembering how things were 25 years ago. China Digital Times is running a series of articles and observations from that turbulent period in modern Chinese history

And while the rest of the world will be looking back at what happened then, the government leaders will just keep on doing “business as usual” rather than deal with the wound created 25 years ago.

And I should add that the ONLY place under Beijing rule that is allowed to openly discuss what happened at Tiananmen Square and is able to have demonstrations calling for a full investigation into what happened is Hong Kong.

And here is the famous “Tank Man” who stood up to the Chinese tanks heading to the square.

 

 

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Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of Information, Harassment, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

TOR: Software that helps keep journalists safe

TOR is a piece of software that was developed by the US Navy and then got support for further improvements and distribution by the Electronic Frontier, Google and the State Department. (Here is a short video explanation at MIT.) 

The value of TOR is that its encrypts data that allows human rights activists and journalists to get around the censorship and monitoring of dictatorships. It is such a robust piece of encryption software that even the NSA has been unable to crack it.

IFEX interviewed  Andrew Lewman, Executive Director of the TOR Project.

Keeping writers safe online: An interview with the Tor Project

 

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China channels Casablanca: “Round up the usual suspects.”

It’s that time again and Beijing has repeated the order Louie gave to his underlings at the Casablanca airport: “Round up the usual suspects.”

Activist arrested for planning Tiananmen hunger strike

Two prominent activists in the eastern city of Hangzhou have been taken into police custody since Friday for attempting to draw attention to the military crackdown on June 4, 1989 during which more than 200 protesters are believed to have died.

Each year the security police round up anyone who has called for an accounting of the government’s action in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

I watched it in action during my time in Shanghai (1992-1994). Our phone lines suddenly had more static and some lines, like those for Western reporters, temporarily “had difficulties.” Extra “security” put in front of the Western consulates and housing enclaves of Western diplomats and businessmen.

Editors and reporters regularly get transferred to other positions to make sure they do not have the opportunity to print or air anything that might call into question the government’s official line that is basically: “Nothing of interest happened in the Tiananmen Square area June 4.”

Things have not changed since then.

And thanks to China Digital Times for pointing the latest outrage.

 

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Filed under China, Harassment, International News Coverage

Russia continues crackdown on freedom of expression

Russian president Vladimir V. Putin signed a new law into effect that requires bloggers to register with the government.

Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web with Bloggers Law 

The new law states that any blog site with more than 3,000 followers is the same as a newspaper or broadcast outlet, and thus, is required to register with the state. The law also bans anonymous bloggers.

It is this last point that has many critics of the Putin government troubled. Russia is already in the NOT FREE category by Freedom House (and other freedom of expression organizations.)

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