Archive for the ‘foreign’ Category

Bill Clinton’s Foreign Deals May Complicate Hillary’s SecState Bid

November 15, 2008

Former President Bill Clinton‘s globe-trotting business deals and fundraising for his foundation sometimes put his activities abroad at odds with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and it could cause complications for her if President-elect Barack Obama picks her to be secretary of state.

By SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writer

In this Oct. 20, 2008, file photo Democratic presidential candidate ...
In this Oct. 20, 2008, file photo Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. greet supporters at the end of a rally in Orlando, Fla. Former President Bill Clinton’s globe-trotting business deals and fundraising for his foundation sometimes put his activities abroad at odds with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and it could cause complications for her if President-elect Barack Obama considers her to be secretary of state.(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

During her own presidential campaign, the New York senator criticized China for its crackdown on protesters in Tibet and urged President George W. Bush to skip the Olympics in Beijing. Her campaign was embarrassed by reports that her husband’s foundation had raised money from a Chinese Internet company that posted an online government “Most Wanted” notice seeking information on Tibetan human-rights activists that may have been involved in the demonstrations.

Hillary Clinton has campaigned as a champion of workers’ rights. Earlier this year, Brazilian labor inspectors found what they called “degrading” living conditions for sugar cane workers employed by an ethanol company in which Bill Clinton invested.

In the Senate, Clinton was an outspoken critic of a proposed deal under which a Dubai company planned to buy a British business that helped run six major U.S. ports. Meanwhile, the company, named DP World, privately sought Bill Clinton’s advice about how to respond to the controversy in Washington over the port plan, which the company later abandoned.

Obama met quietly with Hillary Clinton on Thursday at his headquarters in Chicago, and some Democrats were enthusiastic amid speculation the pair discussed the job of secretary of state. She declined Friday to say anything about the matter, and Obama is understood to be considering other candidates as his top diplomat, including Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081115/ap_on_el_pr/clintons_over
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Rights groups push China on press freedom for local media

October 18, 2008

Rights groups and media experts on Saturday gave a cautious welcome to China’s decision to allow foreign reporters greater freedom and urged Beijing to extend the same rights to domestic journalists.

By Marianne Barriaux, AFP, Beijing

China announced late on Friday that greater freedoms introduced for the Olympic Games for foreign reporters would be extended, giving them the right to interview consenting Chinese without first seeking government permission.

The rules were first introduced on January 1 last year as part of China’s Olympic media freedom commitments, but had been due to run out on Friday.

Domestic journalists, however, were not affected by the rules and were still laden with strict reporting restrictions — a fact deplored by rights groups and media experts.

Human Rights in China, a New-York based activist group, urged the Chinese government to also extend these freedoms to domestic reporters.

“The Chinese government should answer the calls of its own people,” said group executive director Sharon Hom.

“It should respect its own constitution which guarantees press freedom, a right that many Chinese journalists and writers have paid — and are paying — a great price to exercise.”

David Bandurski, a researcher for the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, said the issue of press freedom in China was determined by domestic media policy rather than rules governing foreign reporters’ work.

“This is not going to have any appreciable impact on domestic journalists,” he said.

“This is really about China’s international image. China has decided that the international benefits they are going to get in terms of their image of openness are sufficient to outweigh any negative coverage they might get.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081018/wl_afp/china
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China extends Olympic media freedoms for foreign press

October 17, 2008

China has extended the openness rule for international media put in place for the Olympics…but domestic news people will still be under tight restrictions…

Chinese journalists from Xinhua News Agency work at their office ... 
Above: Chinese journalists from Xinhua News Agency work at their office in the Main Press Centre (MPC) in Beijing in August 2008. China on Friday announced it had extended rules introduced for the Olympics allowing foreign reporters greater freedoms, but there was no easing of restrictions for domestic press.(AFP/File/Jewel Samad)

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Friday announced it had extended rules introduced for the Olympics allowing foreign reporters greater freedoms, but there was no easing of restrictions for domestic press.

The move means that foreign journalists will continue to be able to carry out interviews and travel around China with greater ease, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters at a late night press conference.

“This is not only a big step forward for China in opening up to the outside world, for the foreign journalists it’s also a big step,” Liu said.

The previous rules, introduced on January 1 last year as part of China’s Olympic commitments to give foreign reporters more freedoms, were set to expire on Friday, two months after the end of the Beijing Games.

As was the case during the Olympic period, foreign reporters will have the freedom to conduct interviews with consenting Chinese, rather than having first to seek government permission, Liu said.

Journalists will also be allowed to report outside the city in which they are officially based, rather than having to get authorisation.

However, reporters will continue to have to seek permission from local authorities to gain access to the sensitive Himalayan region of Tibet, where the military quelled protests against Chinese rule in March.

Liu also confirmed that, as was previously the case, the rules did not apply to domestic media and Chinese nationals would remain barred from working for foreign media organisations as journalists.

“We have to say that the conditions are not mature for Chinese citizens to become journalists alongside foreign journalists,” Liu said.

China’s ruling Communist Party seeks to maintain strict controls on the flow of information within the country, and the domestic press are kept on a tight leash.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081017/wl_afp/china
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Nuclear Aid by Russian to Iranians Suspected

October 10, 2008

PARIS — International nuclear inspectors are investigating whether a Russian scientist helped Iran conduct complex experiments on how to detonate a nuclear weapon, according to European and American officials. As part of the investigation, inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency are seeking information from the scientist, who they believe acted on his own as an adviser on experiments described in a lengthy document obtained by the agency, the officials said.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is under way, said that the document appeared authentic, without explaining why, but they made it clear that they did not think the scientist was working on behalf of the Russian government.

Still, it is the first time that the nuclear agency has suggested that Iran may have received help from a foreign weapons scientist in developing nuclear arms.

The American and European officials said the new document, written in Farsi, was part of an accumulation of evidence that Iran had worked toward developing a nuclear weapon, despite Iran’s claims that its atomic work over the past two decades has been aimed solely at producing electrical power.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/10/world
/10nuke.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Leeway seen in China Internet rules

January 10, 2008
By Min Lee, AP  Writer

HONG KONG – China is so keen to keep foreign investment flowing that it probably will let private Web sites work around strict new rules limiting video-sharing to state-controlled companies, analysts say.

China-based Web sites already need a government license that only companies majority-owned by Chinese nationals can get, and managers of private sites based in China say they already excise “inappropriate” content.

But the new regulations — issued Dec. 29 and scheduled to take effect Jan. 31 — also require that the state have a controlling interest in any video entertainment Web site.

“It’s a very clear message these Chinese film governing authorities have decided to send — that they’re taking this stuff seriously and they’re going to regulate it,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief of Danwei.org, a Web site that covers Chinese media issues.

But Goldkorn said Beijing won’t shutter private video sharing Web sites because that might spook foreign investors to desert the world’s second-largest Internet community.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080110/ap_on_hi_te/
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State Department Memories from The Hanoi Hilton

November 4, 2007

Introduction By John E. Carey, Peace and Freedom: Maybe State Department employees, even those with 36 years of service like Mr. Jack  Croddy, need an occasional reminder of their proud heritage. 

United States
Department of State
Seal of the United States Department of State

Last Wednesday, October 31, 2007, Senior Foreign Service Officer Jack Croddy stood up at a “Town Hall Meeting” at the United States Department of State and addressed the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with these words:

“It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers, but it’s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment. I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?” 

The essay below was given to me today by my friend Mike Benge.  Mike was a staffmember of the United States Agency for Internatiional Development, an Agency of the Department of State, in Vietnam when he was scooped up by the communists and ultimately landed in the Hanoi Hilton.  But because Mike was not a member of the uniformed services, he could not be held as a Prisoner of War (POW).  So he was held separately.

For those too young to recall, the “Hanoi Hilton” is the American nickname given to the most infamous of communist North Vietnam’s prisons.

Mike has contributed to America and the world in many ways but I always recall his memory of the “Christmas lights over Hanoi in 1972.”  That essay closes with these simple words: “Yes Christmas lights are pretty, but none will ever be as pretty as those over Hanoi on Christmas ’72.  And  God Bless the pilots and crews of the planes who gave their lives to set us free.”

Mike and I have had contact for several years, and Mike has taught me much and there is not much that I could ever teach Mike.  He is an expert in duty, honor, service to country and service to his fellow man. I first met Mike because of his insightful work writing for the Washington Times.  We share a passion for freedom and human rights, a love of the peoples of Vietnam and a desire to contribute in the world community. Mike would be my half brother as I can never fully honor or equal his time held captive by communists or his stellar contributions to many venues including the History Channel. We cannot regain the past; so we both now man the gates of justice and reality and attempt to keep honest and aware those that might overlook different problems in far away lands. Or in Washington DC, it now seems.

HanoiHilton.jpg

The Hoa Loa Prison (Vietnamese: Hỏa Lò, meaning “fiery furnace”), later known to American prisoners of war as the Hanoi Hilton.
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On the State Department at War
By Mike Benge

Like me, those who choose government service — be they military or civilian — swore an Oath of Service:

“I (person taking oath says own name) do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I take this obligation freely and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. That I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me, God.”

Although sworn to this Oath of Service, some Foreign Service Officers join not really to serve their country but to be elitists and enjoy the perks of cushy government employment: job security, good retirement package, travel to exotic foreign countries, free housing, generous leave packages, and access to good life and other accompanying bennies – never dreaming that they may someday be called to really serve their country in dangerous situations.

And now when these people have been called to live up to their oath of office, last week at the State Department, officials began crying, “I didn’t sign up for this!” (See: Envoys Resist Forced Iraq Duty, Washington Post, 11/1/07)

Sorry folks, but you did, and it wasn’t even in fine print at the bottom of your Oath that by the way is a binding contract.

After first serving in the Marine Corps, I went to Vietnam with the International Voluntary Services, then joined what is now the U.S. Agency for International Development serving as a foreign service officer doing what is now termed “nation building.”

In 1968, I was captured by the North Vietnamese and was held hostage for over five years. After my release in 1973, I again returned to Vietnam as a volunteer and continued going in an out until the communist takeover in 1975.

My government service spanned 44 ½ years.

We had many fine foreign service officers who served in Vietnam, quite a few from the State Department who served in various capacities including in danger zones out in the provinces.

The closest thing to a “green zone” perhaps was service in Saigon — which was sometimes dangerous.

Every one of these dedicated State Department officers in Vietnam did an excellent job, and many gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in service of their country — 27 State Department officials gave the final sacrifice for their countrymen, I believe. Many more from USAID and other government agencies lost their lives, and some like I, were taken prisoner.

None of them went on strike like the present breed of elitists at the State Department; none of them cried, “Not I!”

Related:

For a real hero’s story from the Hanoi Hilton go to:
Meet “Bud” Day; Read His Medal Of Honor Story

Other stories related to the Diplomatic Corps:

Diplomat Jack Croddy: You Don’t Want to Go To Iraq? Step Forward and Meet the Families of the Fallen and Those that Serve

Diplomats Who Refuse Assignments: “Hit The Road, You are Terminated with Prejudice and Without Pay”

The Abyss Between State and Defense

In Iraq: Reporters More Dedicated than the U.S. Foreign Service?

Diplomatic Infighting Hurts Terror War Effort

Rice Tells State Department Staff: You Took an Oath

A Diplomacy of neighborhoods

“Gaffe Machine” Karen Hughes Leaving State Department