Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category

China’s Internet “Firewall” Has Some “Myths”

March 31, 2008

By Les Lothringer
E-Mailed to Peace and Freedom from Inside China
March 31, 2008

From: West / Asia Strategy Consultants.
ChengDu, SiChuan Province, China.
 
An eye catching and critical story has just appeared in the Australian media, with saturation coverage throughout the land concerning China’s Internet and supposed government censorship.  Yet the story is seriously factually incorrect.  This is not the first time such articles have appeared in the Australian media and so one must question the competence and motivation of the journalist as well as the competance of the editors to establish the factual basis of these stories before running them.
 
The abovementioned article can be seen at
http://www.theage.com.au/news/web/the-great-firewall-of-china/2008/03/18/1205602389513.html and other online websites.[Peace and Freedom Note: Although we could not find the exact article the author refers to, we published this similar story:

China’s Golden Cyber-Shield ]
 
I am in China right now, ChengDu SiChuan Province in fact and I am putting to the test several of this  journalist Patricia Maunder’s propositions.
 
Proposition 1: You can’t look up Bird Flu on Google.
 
Actually you can and I just did!  What is more, you can go to several of the listed sites and I just did, including the US Centre for Disease Control concerning Bird Flu.  There is much to read there.  I found a map of bird flu effected countries and it included China.
GreatWall 2004 Summer 4.jpg
The “Great Wall of China.”
 
Proposition 2: You can’t access Religion on Wikipedia.
 
This statement is misleading because you can’t access anything on Wikipedia in China, but you can access many religious websites and, again, I just did, including the BBC’s Religion and Ethics webpage.  Again, much to read there.
 
Proposition 3: You can’t access Amnesty International.
 
Factually misleading.  Yes, you do get a timeout accessing the Amnesty International website but you can access it at SourceWatch and read all about it.  The time taken for me to find an alternative web site to Amnesty International?  Thirty seconds.
 
Proposition 4: Full identification must be shown at Internet Cafes.
 
At this point I have to question whether this author has ever been in China, beyond booking into a hotel here.  I just checked with several Chinese colleagues who are regular Internet cafe users.  None of them have ever produced their shenfenzheng (ID card).  On the odd occasion where I have used an Internet Cafe I have never had to produce my passport.
 
Proposition 5: In China there is an ‘alarming’ level of self-censorship.
 
I am unsure what ‘alarming’ exactly means here but, yes, self-censorship does apply, as any Chinese journalist will admit.  I observe that self-censorship applies in democratic countries too, which leads one to conclude that here in China people know that censorship exists whereas in some Western democracies could one easy point to numerous deceptions and concealments concerning those countries’  execution of their foreign policy, along with a population deluded into thinking they actually have a free and critical news service feed.
 
Proposition 6: Reporters without Borders lists those nations considered to be among the worst ‘internet enemies’.
 
Quiet so.  Several countries listed are either client states or trading partners of Western states, none are democracies and some have appalling human rights records.  The point made is naive – not being a democracy is not a barrier to commercial relationships with the West.  One could say the same of China and so conclude that major democratic powers and non-democratic ones too pursue their foreign policy objectives in remarkably similar ways.
 
Interestingly, this factually incorrect article is itself not blocked here.  It is not the first time the Australian media has run articles critical of China without verifying the facts.

Peace and Freedom Note: We do not agree with Mr. Lothringer.  In fact, he told us he was unable to read his own essay on this site because this site (we know) is blocked in China.  Mr. Lothringer’s daughter in Australia opend this site without a problem….] 

Related:
http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org/

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/internetprivacy/2006-04-02-china-web-cops_x.htm

Google’s China Problem (and China’s Google Problem)
http://extendedremarks.blogspot.com/2007/11/googles-china-problem-and-chinas-google.html

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Blogger outreach boosts McCain

March 31, 2008

By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
March 31, 2008

Even as talk radio was brutalizing Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primaries, conservative bloggers reached a respectful truce with the Arizona senator over touchy issues and gave him what the campaign called a “tremendous positive psychological” boost.
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The main reason: Mr. McCain’s blogger outreach, the most extensive of any presidential campaign in either party, helped keep him afloat in the dark days last summer when the major press was sizing up his campaign grave. During those times, Mr. McCain got attention and digital ink from the bloggers he invited to biweekly conference calls, and got a chance to talk policy.
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“During the unpleasantness, whenever Senator McCain put himself in front of reporters, the question was always, ‘How much did you raise today, when are you dropping out,’ ” said Patrick Hynes, a conservative blogger who Mr. McCain hired in 2006. “And then we’d put him on the phone with bloggers, and they’d want to talk about Iraq, and pork and chasing down al Qaeda.”
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For the campaign, it came down to deploying the campaign’s best asset — Mr. McCain himself — in a forum where he can excel.
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Mr. Hynes said the back-and-forth with bloggers took “a great deal of sting out of the criticisms” over immigration, Mr. McCain’s push for campaign-finance changes and other areas where conservatives have registered their discontent with the senator, who has secured enough delegates to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080331/NATION/499689152/1001

Bloggers Provide the Free Speech in Iran

March 14, 2008

By David Blair in Tehran
The Telegraph (UK)
March 14, 2008

When Iranians vote in the parliamentary election, millions will have been influenced by lively debate in the only domain their regime struggles to control: the internet and blogosphere.

Newspapers are tightly controlled and television and radio channels carry a dreary diet of official propaganda.

But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes in for heavy criticism from Iran’s youthful bloggers, who mirror a society in which two-thirds of the population are below the age of 30.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad casts his ballot in the ...
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad casts his ballot in the parliamentary elections at a mosque in south Tehran March 14, 2008.
(Raheb Homavandi/Reuters) 

“Of all the defects Ahmadinejad and his team possess, the one that is astonishing is their attitude towards themselves,” writes a 24-year-old Iranian student, who blogs under the name “Tehran Post.”

“They behave like they’re heavenly beings, supreme in every quality and measure. The trademark of his government and supporters is exalting themselves and criticising others, especially the previous governments.”

Between three and four million Iranians use the internet and perhaps 100,000 are active bloggers.

Read the rest:
Bloggers Provide the Free Speech in Iran
http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-david-blair-in-tehran-telegraph-uk.html

China blogger beaten to death

January 11, 2008

(CNN) — Authorities have fired an official in central China after city inspectors reportedly beat to death a man who filmed their confrontation with villagers, China’s Xinhua news agency reports.

The killing has sparked outrage in China, with thousands expressing outrage in Chinese Internet chat rooms, often the only outlet for public criticism of the government.

The incident has also alarmed advocates of press freedom, who say municipal authorities had no right to attack a man for simply filming them.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/01/11/china.blogger/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Thailand shuts down political Web site

January 6, 2008
By SUTIN WANNABOVORN, Associated Press 

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thai authorities have shut down a political Web site that spoke out against the monarchy, the site’s operator said Sunday, in another move to punish critics of Thailand‘s most revered institution.

Visitors posted comments on the sameskybooks.com bulletin board, questioning claims in the Thai media that the entire country was in mourning over the death Wednesday of Princess Galyani Vadhana — King Bhumibol Adulyadej‘s older sister — and criticizing official calls for the public to wear black as a sign of mourning, said Thanapol Eiwsakul, who operated the site.

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry threatened local Internet provider Netservice with closure unless it took the action against sameskybooks.com, which was closed Friday, Thanapol said.

Read the rest:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080106/ap_on_hi_
te/thailand_web_site_ban_1

Vietnam Moves To Censor Bloggers

December 29, 2007

Japan Today & AFP

HANOI — Vietnam needs to control blogs to prevent the spread of subversive and sexually explicit content, communist government officials said according to a state media report.Weblogs have exploded in Vietnam in recent years, especially among youths, providing a forum for chatting about mostly societal and lifestyle issues and providing an alternative to the state-controlled media.

Recent anti-Chinese protests over the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, which were halted following rebukes from Beijing, were organised and debated on the Internet but almost completely ignored by the official press.

The ministry responsible for culture and information, which controls traditional media, in July said it was drafting regulations that would fine bloggers who post subversive and sexually explicit content online.

Deputy Information and Communications Minister Do Quy Doan this week told a conference on Vietnam’s press law that “controlling weblogs is about developing them in accordance with the law, not forbidding them.

“We should provide guidelines that help people know what type of information they can upload online,” Doan said according to a report in the English-language Than Nien (Youth Daily) newspaper.

Bloggers would also be held responsible for information they access, he reportedly said, adding: “Once we have obvious regulations, I think no one will be able to supervise weblogs better than the bloggers themselves.”

Nguyen The Ky, head of the press management and publishing bureau, said: “It’s alright some bloggers have recently showed their patriotism, posting opinions about the Paracels-Spratly archipelagos on their weblogs.”

“But some have sparked protest, causing public disorder and affecting the country’s foreign affairs.

“It’s impossible to control the Internet, so I think we should bolster technical security measures in addition to creating regulations.”

Internet Death For “Print” Newspapers?

November 6, 2007

By Robert MacMillan
November 5, 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Circulation fell at many U.S. newspapers in the six months to September, according to statistics released on Monday that for the first time include Internet readership in a bid by publishers to boost their attractiveness to advertisers.

Average daily paid circulation for newspapers printed Monday through Friday fell 2.6 percent and Sunday circulation fell 3.5 percent for the six-month period that ended September 30, 2007, compared with the year before, according to publishers’ statistics released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

In the top 25 markets, average daily paid circulation fell 2.4 percent, while Sunday circulation fell 4.6 percent.

The declines come as readers move online, but they also stem from publishers’ efforts to cut discounted copies from their subscription rolls, said a spokeswoman for the Newspaper Association of America.

Some papers, particularly in California and Florida, are dealing with the weak housing market, while others face their own regional trends, such as in Michigan where papers have cut jobs as they serve markets hurt by the slumping auto industry.

Most big city dailies reported that average daily paid print circulation fell. Dow Jones & Company Inc said daily circulation at The Wall Street Journal, including paid subscriptions to its Web site, dropped 1.5 percent, while The New York Times fell 4.5 percent.

The New York Daily News and New York Post reported circulation declines, with the Post down 5.2 percent and the Daily News down 1.7 percent.

Advertisers long have considered print circulation key to determining where they spend their dollars, but publishers hope the Web numbers will provide a better picture of the true reach of newspapers.

“We generally agree that we can now truly gauge the impact of newspapers across the variety of media platforms that they truly represent,” said Dave Walker, chief executive of Newspaper Services of America, which buys ad space in papers.

Gannett Co Inc reported a 1 percent rise in daily paid circulation at USA Today, while the Philadelphia Inquirer said circulation rose 2.3 percent.

The Washington Post reported a 3.23 percent drop, while the Chicago Tribune fell 2.9 percent. Its parent company Tribune Co said circulation fell at Long Island, New York’s Newsday, but rose 0.5 percent at the Los Angeles Times.

The new data includes the number of people estimated to read a paper, not just how many papers were sold.

Many also are reporting usage of their Web sites, as well as a figure that tries to count print and Web site use without counting people twice who use both.

Gannett’s Asbury Park Press in New Jersey has average daily print circulation of 144,072. But it claims more than 650,000 print readers, more than 850,000 unique Web users and some 832,000 people, without counting people who read both editions more than once.

It is hard to say if advertisers will buy the new numbers.

Alan Mutter, a former newspaper editor who writes a blog on newspaper and media issues called Reflections of a Newsosaur, said many newspaper Web site visitors to not remain long enough to make them worthwhile for advertisers.

“I think it’s certainly valuable in the sense that advertisers have something they can count on and make reasonable judgments about,” he said. “The question is, are they going to like the numbers they see?”

Edward Montes, managing director for Havas’s online media buying arm Media Contacts, said online-only ad buying at local papers has never been very effective.

“The increase in the data points allows us to more accurately project and measure, and make sure we’re spending our client’s money effectively,” said Montes, whose clients include Sears Holding Corp, Fidelity Investments and Goodyear Tires. “They’re saying print is declining, but oh, by the way, our online properties are increasing, but I don’t think it will change the buying dynamic significantly.”

(Editing by Maureen Bavdek/Tim Dobbyn)

Related:

Google “hugely dangerous” and coming after local press next

Blockbuster Video: Headed For Extinction?

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New York Times Publisher: Managing Transition From Print to Internet

By Eytan Avriel
Haaretz (Israel)
February 8, 2007

Despite his personal fortune and impressive lineage, Arthur Sulzberger, owner, chairman and publisher of the most respected newspaper in the world, is a stressed man. Why would the man behind the New York Times be stressed?

Well, profits from the paper have been declining for four years, and the Times company’s market cap has been shrinking, too. Its share lags far behind the benchmark, and just last week, the group Sulzberger leads admitted suffering a $570 million loss because of write offs and losses at the Boston Globe. As if that weren’t enough, his personal bank, Morgan Stanley, recently set out on a campaign that could cost the man control over the paper.

All this may explain why Sulzberger does not talk with the press. But perhaps the rarified alpine air at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, which ended last week, relaxes the CEOs of the world’s leading companies. And what began as a casual chat ended in a fascinating glimpse into Sulzberger’s world, and how he sees the future of the news business.

Given the constant erosion of the printed press, do you see the New York Times still being printed in five years? “I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either,” he says. Sulzberger is focusing on how to best manage the transition from print to Internet.

“The Internet is a wonderful place to be, and we’re leading there,” he points out. The Times, in fact, has doubled its online readership to 1.5 million a day to go along with its 1.1 million subscribers for the print edition.

Sulzberger says the New York Times is on a journey that will conclude the day the company decides to stop printing the paper. That will mark the end of the transition. It’s a long journey, and there will be bumps on the road, says the man at the driving wheel, but he doesn’t see a black void ahead. Asked if local papers have a future, Sulzberger points out that the New York Times is not a local paper, but rather a national one based in New York that enjoys more readers from outside, than within, the city.

Classifieds have long been a major source of income to the press, but the business is moving to the Internet. Sulzberger agrees, but what papers lose, Web sites gain. Media groups can develop their online advertising business, he explains. Also, because Internet advertising doesn’t involve paper, ink and distribution, companies can earn the same amount of money even if it receives less advertising revenue.

Really?

What about the costs of development and computerization? “These costs aren’t anywhere near what print costs,” Sulzberger says. “The last time we made a major investment in print, it cost no less than $1 billion. Site development costs don’t grow to that magnitude.”

The New York Times recently merged its print and online news desks. Did it go smoothly, or were there ruffled feathers? Which team is leading the way today? “You know what a newspaper’s news desk is like? It’s like the emergency room at a hospital, or an office in the military. Both organizations are very goal-oriented, and both are very hard to change,” Sulzberger says. Once change begins, it happens quickly, so the transition was difficult, he says.

“But once the journalists grasped the concept, they flipped and embraced it, and supported the move.” That included veteran managers, too. How are you preparing for changes to the paper that are dictated by the Internet? “We live in the Internet world. We have, for example, five people working in a special development unit whose only job is to initiate and develop things related to the electronic world – Internet, cellular, whatever comes.

The average age of readers of the New York Times print edition is 42, Sulzberger says, and that hasn’t changed in 10 years. The average age of readers of its Internet edition is 37, which shows that the group is also managing to recruit young readers for both the printed version and Web site. Also, the Times signed a deal with Microsoft to distribute the paper through a software program called Times Reader, Sulzberger says. The software enables users to conveniently read the paper on screens, mainly laptops.

“I very much believe that the experience of reading a paper can be transfered to these new devices.” Will it be free? No, Sulzberger says. If you want to read the New York Times online, you will have to pay. In the age of bloggers, what is the future of online newspapers and the profession in general?

There are millions of bloggers out there, and if the Times forgets who and what they are, it will lose the war, and rightly so, according to Sulzberger.

“We are curators, curators of news. People don’t click onto the New York Times to read blogs. They want reliable news that they can trust,” he says. “We aren’t ignoring what’s happening. We understand that the newspaper is not the focal point of city life as it was 10 years ago. “Once upon a time, people had to read the paper to find out what was going on in theater. Today there are hundreds of forums and sites with that information,” he says. “But the paper can integrate material from bloggers and external writers. We need to be part of that community and to have dialogue with the online world.”

And while on community, the scandal about Jayson Blair, the reporter caught plagiarizing and fabricating, hurt the brand, not the business, he says. Blair was forced to quit in May 2003. You’re one of the few papers that continues to print on broadsheet, which people consider to be too big and clumsy. Until when? “Until when? The New York Times has no intention of changing that,” Sulzberger promises. At any rate, transitioning from broadsheet to tabloid would be prohibitively expensive, he says.

Do you feel that the newspaper world is weakening? Are advertisers pressing harder for better deals? “Advertisers always press harder for better deals and influence over content,” Sulzberger says. But the New York Times has nothing to apologize for and no reason to fold, “as long as I’m sure that what we wrote and what we’re about to write is right.”

Related:

Blockbuster Video: Headed For Extinction?

Blogs Sweep Vietnam

September 6, 2007

by Frank Zeller
September 5, 2007

HANOI (AFP) – Pop stars are doing it, so are millions of teenagers and even Communist Party politicians — blogging has taken Vietnam by storm and spawned an alternative communications universe to dusty state media.

In an online phenomenon that has exploded in a little over a year in this youthful and booming nation, millions of net surfers now reveal all as they share daily gossip and thoughts on their fast-changing society.

Vietnam may be a one-party state that censors its official media and the Internet, but this hasn’t stopped millions of yong people embracing a world of carefree online chatting their parents could only have dreamed off.

Read it all:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070906/lf_afp/
lifestylevietnaminternetblogs_070906030137

We first reported on this in a related story on August 20, 2007:
New Arrival From Vietnam Talks About Communism; Including China

New Arrival From Vietnam Talks About Communism; Including China

August 20, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 20, 2007
Updated September 6, 2007

Thieu grew up in Vietnam. He was a professional teacher of literature and history. After the communists took over all of Vietnam in 1975, Thieu fell in love and married a woman who worked for the communist government.

Today, at the age of 55, Thieu came to the United States; sponsored by his 84 year old Mother.

Mother will become a U.S. citizen tomorrow. Thieu will be on hand to witness this grand event along with his three brothers and three sisters.

One of Thieu’s sisters is Diep, who came here from Vietnam only 15 months ago at the age of 65.  She is working toward her citizenship and learning to drive. (see story on Diep at the end of this essay)

Thieu left behind in Vietnam his wife of almost thirty years. She thought she could not change her ways away from the communist system.

Thieu also left behind two daughters aged 26 and 22. They both speak English, have good jobs, and read the Washington Times and Post on the internet.

When I asked Thieu about internet restrictions, he only said, “Smart ones can get around that in Vietnam. Not like China that has the famous ‘internet wall.’”

Blogging is huge.  Guys like you with good information blogs are like rock stars!” Thieu told me.

Imagine that!

Thieu obviously knew what he was talking about.

When I visited with Thieu I was with my own Mother-in-law of about his mother’s age. He said, “These are both Mothers that visited sons in communist re-education prisons after 1975 [when the communists took over]. Sometimes for seven, eight or more years.”

Since Thieu is an educated man who spoke to me about the communists in China, I asked him to compare Vietnam to China.

He said, “The Chinese people do not know what they do not know. China has no history or tradition with democracy. The people, many of them, have learned to live as sheep. We in Vietnam lived with the French for many decades, maybe 100 years. And we had a democratic tradition and experience with democracy and western religions. In South Vietnam, there is still longing for democracy. Many of the communists in Vietnam tell you how grand their system is; yet they no longer believe in the words spoken by the party. They have learned to know better.”

I thought this was a very meaningful statement coming from the husband of a communist functionary.

I asked Thieu to think a moment and then tell me the worst aspect of communism.

Thieu did think, but only for a moment, and then said, “Communist governments always lie.”

I was stunned. I told Thieu that I had written about this very thing many times, and most recently for The Washington Times on August 8, 2007.

Thieu asked, “How did you know such a thing?”

I told him I lived for a time in China, I considered myself a “China watcher,” and still had many friends who communicated with me from China.

He asked what I knew about Vietnam; but my bride interrupted before I could answer.“The Church asked us to teach English as a Second Language (ESL)” said my wife to the startled newcomer, “to the newcomers from Vietnam this year.”

I asked Thieu if Vietnam would still be a communist nation at the end of our lifetimes. Maybe 50 years from now (I am an optimist).

Thieu said, “Even before 1975, the people in communist North Vietnam were told that South Vietnam was poor and uneducated. The communists said first the French enslaved the South Vietnamese and then the ‘White Devils’ [Americans] did the same thing. But as communists came from North Vietnam to Saigon, they found a happy contented, educated and prosperous people. But in the first few years of communist rule, all of South Vietnam collapsed into poverty and near starvation. People were forced from Saigon and into the fields to do farm labor — to make food.”

Thieu finished this line of thought with, “Every communist knew they had been lied to. The stories about South Vietnam were wrong and the communist system was the one that didn’t function well.”

Thieu said he would immediately seek work and he invited us to come to his Mom’s citizenship ceremony tomorrow.

More importantly, Thieu asked us to come to his U.S. citizenship ceremony: whenever that should occur.

Related:

China: You Won’t Get The Truth

My Day With Diep: Seeing America Through Immigrant Eyes

Vietnam After the Fall of Saigon: 1975 Until Present

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part II)