Monthly Archives: October 2009

International and domestic issues merge

The Boston Globe has a great story about the conditions of Brazilian and Dominicans in Massachusetts.

Snapshot of 2 immigrant groups

Regional Brazilian, Dominican report to raise more legal, health questions

A new comparison of two of the region’s largest immigrant groups suggests that Brazilians are more likely to be uninsured and to suffer high levels of stress than immigrants from the Dominican Republic.

Brazilians were also far more likely to be here illegally and less likely to file income taxes, according to the findings to be presented today at Boston City Hall.

The authors say that the study offers the first statistically credible estimates of the legal status, health, and integration of immigrants in a seven-county labor market in Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and that the results raise major policy questions for federal, state, and local officials.

Rest of story.

This is the kind of story that lead to more stories.

By using Census Bureau data, reporters can look at more details about these immigrant communities on a state-wide and national level. They can also do a little more reporting and learn more about WHY these immigrants came to the States. (For a better life is the standard line, but maybe the reporters could find out more about the living and working conditions in the DomReb and Brazil when the bulk of the immigrants came over.)

Reporters could compare the situation of these two groups with other ethnic or immigrant groups. How does the DomRep/Brazilian situation compare to Central Americans? Asians? African-Americans? Irish? etc. (And yes, much of the information can be easily had at the Census Bureau.

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Filed under Connections, Story Ideas

Vietnam sentences bloggers. Anyone noticing in MSM?

In another example of how dictatorships don’t tolerate dissent, Vietnamese courts sentenced 8 bloggers from two to six in jail on charges of anti-government propaganda. One more blogger got 4 years.

From IFEX:

Eight bloggers get sentences ranging from two to six years in jail

I am betting this gets a lot of coverage from the various Vietnamese language papers in the United States.

I wonder how much coverage it gets from the mainstream media. Even in areas with large Vietnamese populations. (Are you listening Washington, D.C. area?)

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Filed under International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Cuba block blogger from receiving award

This should be no surprise to anyone. The Cuban government does not tolerate dissent and it does not tolerate those who support dissenters.

For journalists and free speech advocates Cuba is surpassed only by China in terms of the numbers  arrested and jailed. But once you look at per-capita numbers Cuba is #1.

One of these days the mystique of Cuba will wear off. I am tired of hearing people talk about the high literacy rate in Cuba as something grand. Yes, it is good that 99% of the people can read and write. But what good does that really do if you are restricted on what you can read and write?

Cuba stops blogger traveling to NYC to accept prize

Tue Oct 13, 2009 5:02pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cuba will not allow dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez to travel to the United States to receive a journalism prize, Columbia University said on Tuesday.

Sanchez, 34, whose “Generacion Y” blog ( is critical of Cuba’s one-party Communist government, was due to receive the university’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize on Wednesday in New York.

The prize honors journalists covering the Western Hemisphere whose work has furthered inter-American understanding.

Read rest of story.

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Filed under Censorship, Cuba, Press Freedom

Iranian journalists flee for doing their jobs

This is really no surprise. Dictatorships rarely like to have people running around covering views or individuals opposing the government.

Iranian Journalists Flee, Fearing Retribution for Covering Protests


Published: October 12, 2009

TORONTO — For two months Ehsan Maleki traveled around Iran with a backpack containing his cameras, a few pieces of clothing and his laptop computer, taking pictures of the reformist candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi during the presidential campaign. He did not know that his backpack and his cameras would soon become his only possessions, or that he would be forced to crawl out of the country hiding in a herd of sheep.

Read rest of story at New York Times.

For once I agree with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he told the official FARS news agency that the media are “worse than nuclear weapons” in the hands of Western countries.

Where I diverge from this view is that free media are dangerous to any dictator no matter where. Why do you think the defacto government in Honduras and the rulers in China are so afraid of free and independent journalism?

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Filed under Censorship, Harassment, Press Freedom

What happens when good intentions are taken too far

I think we could all agree that harassment of an individual such as stalking or physical abuse should be punished. The problem comes when laws designed to protect members of our societies are used to stifle free speech and media freedom.

A local government in Chennai, India, has taken the harassment idea to the extreme in a way that violates India’s free press and free speech provisions.

Local police entered the offices of the tabloid Dinamalar and arrested its editor B. Lenin. And to make matters worse, the local judge sentenced Lenin to 15 days in jail without a trial.

The police and court relied on Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Women Harassment [Prevention] Act to arrest and jail the editor.

The Editors’ Guild of India and other local journalists’ associations immediately condemned the arrest and sentencing of Lenin.

The reason for the arrest was because Dinamalar reported that a Tamil Film industry actress had been arrested on prostitution allegations and made a “confession” naming other actresses involved in the sex trade.

The local journalists’ associations said they did not approve of the salacious reports published in the paper but that “proper course of action would have been to file a civil defamation case.”

The International Press Institute weighed in as well:

“It is unacceptable for a journalist to be arrested and sentenced to any period of detention simply for reporting in a case like this,” said IPI Deputy Director Alison Bethel-McKenzie. “If the person or persons involved have a complaint about the reporting, they should take it up at a civil, not criminal, legislative level, or with the appropriate press bodies.”

See full IPI story here: India Editor of Tamil Newspaper Arrested By Police without Warrant, after Reporting Tamil Film Industry Actress Arrested on Prostitution Charges

For smug Americans, think about all the calls for restrictions on free press and speech under so-called “harmful speech” rules on college campuses and in some cities.

Reporting that is false should be punished in civil courts by proving the falsity of the reports. And bad journalism should be punished by a failure of the news outlet to survive as people no longer turn to it for information. (Unfortunately, there are too many media outlets that play fast and loose with the facts but still have a strong following. Maybe one day all this will catch up on them.)

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Filed under Harassment, Press Freedom

World Media Summit in Beijing — Give me a break!

Officially the gathering in Beijing this weekend is to get the bosses of major media groups together to talk about the challenges facing media outlets.

The summit will be an effective platform for the heads of wire services, radio and television broadcasters, newspapers and magazines, and online media organizations from all parts of the world to communicate and pool ideas. The participants will gather and say what they will to brainstorm on media survival, development and cooperation, and envisage the future.

Notice the idea of media independent of government control is not mentioned. In his opening address Chinese president Hu Jiantao said:

“The media should use their distinctive assets and advantages to convey the messages of peace, development, cooperation, mutual benefit and tolerance.”

Showing he doesn’t get the idea of what freedom of press is all about. To him the media are to convey messages sent out by government leaders.

He added that media groups should treat each other as equals. Well it is kind of hard, I would think, for a reporter from The Times of London or The New York Times to treat a writer from Xinhua or People’s Daily as an equal. The former work hard to dig up information the government doesn’t want publicized because the public has a right to know. The latter repeat what ever information the government decides the public should know and don’t go further.

I am all for talks and discussions. Let us not forget, however, the differences and let us not be afraid to call out those differences when necessary.

Click here for more on the World Media Summit.

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Filed under China, Freedom of access, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Green Dam keeps coming up

Earlier this year the Chinese government ordered all Chinese computers to have the Green Dam software installed. All new computers would have this intrusive bit of software loaded at the factory.

The government said the software was needed to protect young people from the dangers of pornography and other polluting influences.

What was clear to the rest of the world was that the main polluting influences Beijing was worried about were the free press from the rest of the world and other sources of information independent from the ruling Communist Party.

The software also allowed the government to more easily reach into an individual computer and roam around to see what “polluting” thoughts might be stored on an individual’s hard drive.

Complaints from human rights groups fell on deaf ears.

It wasn’t until a University of Michigan team looked at the software and discovered that it was stolen from a U.S. company that the Chinese government backed down. The team also discovered that the filters built into the program blocked the New York Times and the BBC web sites.

Now, it appears the Chinese government had help from a U.S. company.

According to Bloomberg, CBS Corp., through its Internet unit helped the Chinese government dispense the program.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, CBS Interactive is accused of “willingly” participating in the Beijing plan to give away tens of millions of Green Dam, which is based on pirated versions of CyberSitter, a program made by Solid Oak Software.

Read the story here.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of access, Press Freedom