Monthly Archives: August 2011

Dominican journalists push back — And why it matters to the USA

Fighting corruption and malfeasance in the Dominican Republic is a task of Sisyphusian proportions.

The government — not wanting to seem to be too corrupt — pushes back when the media focus on the corruption and poor management that goes on.

The private sector — wanting to keep their sweet ride going — also push back with economic boycotts of media outlets that dare to call out the corruption and illegal activities of the companies.

And then there are the individuals — in both government and business — who decide the only good journalist is a dead journalist or at least one who is severely wounded.

Freedom of press in the Dominican Republic was a hard-won freedom. Not only from the Trujillo dictatorship but also from the subsequent governments that thought any criticism should not be aired for the public to hear.

Recently the DR has faced a number of attacks and killings of journalists for doing their jobs. (The latest was August 3 when José Agustín Silvestre, was found dead after being beaten and then shot. He was critical of corrupt politicians and the growing influence drug cartels were exercising in Dominican society.)

Well, the journalists are pushing back publicly and naming names.

Dominican Republic journalists again rail the Government

Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with life in the United States?

Let’s look at the basic numbers first: There are about 9 million Dominicans in the world. About 7.5 million live in the DR. Another 500,000 live in Europe and South America. that leaves about 1 million (mas o menos) living in the United States. (And many of them illegally.)

The corruption and crime of the Dominican Republic drive out people and investments. With fewer job opportunities in the DR (investments are being driven out, remember), the people who want to work go where the jobs are. And believe it or not, they are coming to the United States.

Now remember that those Dominicans already in the States are here for economic reasons: They want more opportunities for work.

But what would happen if the economic refugees were joined by others fleeing a dictatorship? What dictatorship, you ask…

The journalists right now in the Dominican Republic are doing what journalists do in a democracy, they hold the feet of the power-holders to the flame of public opinion and transparency.

The corrupt political and business leaders know that if the journalists keep pursuing corrupt practices, they will soon be out of work and out of power. So the corrupt forces must fight to control the media.

Once the news media are no longer free (or find it safe) to report the news of corruption and malfeasance, democracy will die in the Dominican Republic.

Now think about how many refugees the U.S. will face then.

So, it is in the best interest of the United States for its news organizations to keep an eye on what is going on in the DR. And it is in the best interests of the US government to support those fighting to defend free media in the DR.

Seems like a pretty obvious set of connections between LOCAL! LOCAL! LOCAL! and the rest of the world to me.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Story Idea: How AID and State Dept benefit Americans

The oft-heard complaint that the U.S. government should “spend money to solve our problems at home instead of throwing it away overseas” indicates that the speakers really don’t know much about U.S. development assistance. (This has been a point raised here before.)

The Huffington Post provides another look at how U.S. aid actually benefits the U.S. economy and how the State Department serves the American people.

10 Things You Should Know About the State Department and USAID

And #1 is We create jobs.

Sounds like a LOCAL story to me!

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Filed under Connections

Political arrest in Hong Kong upsetting

Many thanks to Global Voices for this report.

China and Hong Kong: Citizen Arrested for Wearing Political T-shirt

Li Keqiang, China’s current vice premier and premier-to-be, began three-day visit to Hong Kong on August 16, 2011. On the first day of his visit, Li tried to show concern for Hong Kong people’s livelihoods by visiting a center for the elderly and a residential campus in Lam Tin district. However, Li’s “friendly” gesture turned into a performance of political brutality when a male resident was forcibly dragged away and arrested by a number of “men in black”, because he wrote a political t-shirt with the slogan “Vindicate June 4“.

For rest of story, click here.

I thought the use of  blog postings about the incident added to an understanding of the situation and the reaction of the politically active and aware in Hong Kong.

For the uninitiated (or forgetful):

  • June 4 is the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre when Chinese troops crushed a growing democracy movement.
  • While Hong Kong is a part of China, the region enjoys political, social and economic freedoms unheard of in mainland China. It is the only place under Beijing’s rule that allows for freedom of the press, speech and assembly.
  • Hong Kong is also the only place under Beijing rule that has annual June 4 commemorative ceremonies.

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Filed under Censorship, China, International News Coverage

Sometimes I think this conversation REALLY takes place in most newsrooms

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Filed under International News Coverage

Missing the man bites dog story (Again)

So many complain about how much the US imports from other countries. Yet, when a change occurs for the US to export, the story gets lost or ignored.

Well, that is not completely fair.

The Americus, Ga., media covered the event. NPR covered it. VOA covered it. Even the Economist covered it.

But the Atlanta Journal Constitution missed it.

It was: U.S. company exports chopsticks to China.

Yes, there is a giggle factor here but there is also a serious story of how US exports create local jobs.

Click here  to see the search page for “chopsticks”.

Now look at these stories:

VOA: Chopsticks Carry ‘Made in America’ Label 

NPRGeorgia Company Exports Chopsticks To China

WALP TV10Chinese will eat with GA chopsticks

Even China Daily picked up the story: US firm joins the dinner table

Now if I missed the AJC story, it was not from lack of trying to find it. (Here is the Google search.)

This is a small story. But it does have irony and — like I said — a certain “giggle” factor. But more importantly is shows that even in a small town a company can reach into a foreign market. That company can create LOCAL jobs that help the LOCAL economy.

More importantly, once you get past the irony, maybe (but I doubt it) some enterprising reporter might look at other small companies in the area that might be doing more mundane exports that also create or maintain US jobs.

Chopsticks to China is the hook for a series of larger stories if only people would look for them and look beyond the damned “Local. Local. Local” mantra.

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Filed under China, Connections, Story Ideas, Trade