Monthly Archives: September 2011

“Mastering of new trends in cultural development” and other smoke and mirrors activities in China

Gotta love the Chinese government. They — like many other political institutions — hide their real meaning behind other words.

But at least others — journalists and human rights advocates — can translate the meaning for the rest of the world.

What Beijing calls “mastering of new trends in cultural development” is just a smoke screen for “Get a handle on these free thinkers on the Internet.”

Read more at: China Mulls Reforms to Tighten Grip on Media, Web

Other translations from “Zhongnanhai speak” to “real world speak” include:

  • “One who stirs up trouble” = A free speech advocate
  • “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people” = a foreign government or organization doing something that upsets the party leadership, such as having a meeting with the Dali Lama.
  •  “China endorses a policy of religious freedom” = As long as there are no ties to Rome or the Dali Lama and as long as each of the religions do what the party says.
More translations later.



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Filed under Censorship, China, International News Coverage

Ethiopian journalist forced to flee after being named in a WikiLeaks cable

It was just a matter of time. Maybe now more people will pay attention to the damage done by the  release of names and sources in the Wikileaks cables.

Reporter named in WikiLeaks flees amid crackdown on dissent

The issue has always been NOT the release of the cables but rather the irresponsible release of names and sources.

The cables released WERE NOT the like the Pentagon Papers nor did they show any “secret” U.S. government plans. Rather they were  day-to-day reporting and analysis cables that every government needs to stay abreast of world affairs. In many ways the cables are the in-house versions of the what the public sees in the New York Times and other quality news organizations.

And like the news organizations, the reporters — in this case foreign service officers — used confidential sources to get to the meat of the issues being covered.

Just as reporters fight each day to keep their confidential sources secret from private and public scrutiny, the State Department also needs to keep its sources secret.

In some cases making it public that a person close to a president of legislative leader said such and such could just lead to an embarrassing  moment. But in other cases, such as the Ethiopian example, it could lead to death or imprisonment.

I raised this point late last year (WikiLeaks cables: Let’s get some things straight) in a posting on the SPJ International Committee blog. Unfortunately, many of those commenting seemed to have no clue as to the dangers the sources faced or why their identities needed to be protected.

Maybe now that one of our own is under attack because of the irresponsible release of names and sources, more in my trade will take this stuff seriously.

And I repeat, the cables released by Wikileaks have nothing to do with conspiracies. Rather they show how the secretary of state and president are kept informed about what is going on around the world. Had the names of sources been redacted, the cables could have been an excellent way to show how foreign policy is discussed and formed. (It still is a great lesson tool but unfortunately there are also now lives at risk for this “educational” exercise.)

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Filed under Connections, Freedom of Information, International News Coverage

It ain’t just a border issue

To hear/read the U.S. media tell the story, one would think the narco-traffickers are all huddled around the US-Mexico border. (With occasional stories about something in Mexico City.)

Well, the problem bigger than and more widespread than that.

Thanks to you can see where the drug cartel-related violence in Mexico occurs.

FYI: The issue is not just in Mexico. With the Mexican police and army getting more aggressive against the cartels, the druggies are moving south into Central America. Unfortunately for the Centrals, their political and legal institutions are weaker than Mexico’s. The narcos take advantage of those weaknesses to take over large tracts of land and sea to move their drugs from South America to the States.

Many thanks to Boing Boing for pointing out this site.

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Filed under Central America, Corruption, International News Coverage, Mexico