Archive for the ‘media freedom’ Category

Vietnam seeks Google, Yahoo! help to control, “regulate” bloggers

December 2, 2008

Communist Vietnam wants Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help “regulate” the country’s flourishing blogging scene, state media said Tuesday, and stop “incorrect information” being published online.

The government will announce new rules this month, stressing that weblogs should serve as personal online diaries, not as organs to disseminate opinions about politics, religion and society, senior officials were quoted as saying.

The regulations aim “to create a legal base for bloggers and related agencies to tackle violations in the area of blogging,” said Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

The ministry “will contact Google and Yahoo! for cooperation in creating the best and the healthiest environment for bloggers,” he added.

The proposals follow the jailing in September of the high-profile blogger Dieu Cay — real name Nguyen Hoang Hai — for two and a half years on tax fraud charges. His appeal hearing is set for Thursday, court officials said.

Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders charged that he was punished for criticising China‘s claims over disputed South China Sea islands and called on the court “to acquit this cyber-dissident.”

From AFP

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081202/tc_afp/vietnammediarightsblogs_081202174628

Leadership, Accountability and the Media

September 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
September 5, 2007

I became a believer in the “freedom of the press” and the great importance the media plays in good government and accountability during the last eleven years. It was eleven years ago this summer that I retired from the U.S. Navy, an organization with a sometimes jaundiced eye on the media. Just eleven years ago this summer I decided to become a journalist myself.

During this eleven year journey, I have seen the power of the free press “up close and personal,” as they say, here in the U.S.A. I have also witnessed the terrible and disgusting disregard for truth and free media in places like China and Vietnam. In those two countries and others, the lack of a free and open media allows government human rights abuses and downright malfeasance to thrive.

Here in the U.S. I am proud to say that I supported The Washington Post in its campaign to right the many wrongs of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and its lack of appropriate follow-up for soldiers under their care. We have also applauded many papers who stimulated the Congress to pay more attention to the equipment sent to support our soldiers during the current war.

Every now and again a journalist, even a fledgling like me, gets to see some small product of his or her work reflected in one of the great bastions of journalistic excellence.

Today I was reminded of something I wrote in 2003, which echoed across the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times just recently.

In the Washington Times on October 26, 2003 I was proud to see published my essay “District Leadership is a National Disgrace.” The piece pointed toward numerous leadership and management lapses on the part of the elected and appointed caretakers of the government of the District of Columbia.  A part of that essay dealing with the D.C. schools read, “As the school year started in 2003, School superintendent Vance was shocked to learn that the entire school system’s budget would only pay his system’s staff until Sept. 30. The superintendent is also a ‘fat cat’ with an enormous salary. Meanwhile, the schools are in a decrepit state of repair. Last winter, several school days were lost at more than one school because the furnaces wouldn’t start. Cost of educating the elementary school students in the District? Among the highest in the nation. Grades and measures of effectiveness? Among the lowest.”

Fast forward to 2007. In Fact, take a peak at the New York Times editorial of September 4, 2007, under the headline “National Disgrace.” That editorial reads in part, “remaking the schools [of the District of Columbia] will inevitably mean dismantling a central bureaucracy that has shown a disturbing talent for subverting reform while failing the city and its children in every conceivable way.”

Bravo New York Times. And Bravo also to the Washington Post, which earlier this summer ran a multiple part series exposing the many problems of the D.C. school system. And Bravo finally to the Washington Times, which has been exposing the malfeasance foisted upon the people of the District of Columbia by elected and appointed highly paid “public servants” for years.

In today’s Washington Times, a page one headline reads, “D.C. textbook chief appealed firing.” You see, one Donald Winstead, the lone manager of the school system’s often-troubled textbook department, was fired by former schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman in 1998 after books were not delivered in a timely manner. The Times’ Gary Emerling wrote that, “Mr. Winstead was reinstated in his position Dec. 19, 2000, following a settlement reached a day earlier between Mr. Winstead and the school system through the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals.”

Needless to say, the textbook situation in D.C. schools is still a disaster. In an August 7, 2007 Washington Times article Mr. Gary Emerling wrote, “The new [D.C. school system] chancellor has faced several difficulties that have plagued the system for years, including news that at least half of the city’s 146 schools may not have textbooks by the time school starts and that others will not have air conditioning.”

So, to those who doubt that a free and open media is a good thing for our nation, our society and, in fact, all nations everywhere; we ask them to look no further than the capital of the United States of America. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Washington Times may just help bring change to a very troubled and corrupt school system.

We are proud of these newspapers and the journalists who serve the people.

This brings us to the case of Virginia Tech.  Parents, in good faith, entrusted the University and the Commonwealth of Virginia leadership with the safety, care and education of their children.  Last April, many of those children died unnecessarily.

Last April 16, at Virginia Tech, two students were found dead in a campus dorm room.  This had never before occurred.  Not on this campus.  Not at Virginia Tech.

The police “assumed” a domestic dispute was the cause.  The campus remained un-alerted.

During the last academic year, at Virginia Tech, an English teacher had a student exhibiting such unusual, some said evil, writing and actions that other students would not come to class if he attended.  The teacher alerted the university and nothing happened.

The school sent the student for medical care — a mental evaluation in fact — and then never checked to verify his status or condition.  He may have been diagnosed as a threat to the university population yet the school didn’t follow up.

The Virginia Tech study panel that reported to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine recommended no accountability from anybody following scores of deaths on the campus.

Kaine said the school’s officials had “suffered enough” without losing their jobs.

The parents of the dead have questions.

USA Today asked, in a September 4, 2007 editorial, “Why did so many keep Cho’s [the Virginia Tech killer] problems to themselves? Certainly they underestimated the threat. But more important, many incorrectly believed that privacy laws prevented sharing the information. Interpreting the law narrowly is the ‘least risky’ path for a university to take, the report concludes.”

We wonder why more news media members and commentators have not spoken out about the lack of accountability at Virginia Tech?  Where is the uproar similar to the one that engulfed Senator Larry Craig and maybe will cost him his job?  More than thirty innocent students and teachers are dead and nobody is accountable.  Yet because of the media a Senator has offered his resignation.

The relatives of the Victims in the Virginia Tech massacre deserve to be heard.  And they deserve more appropriate action from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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District Leadership is a National Disgrace

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
October 26, 2003

Just after hurricane Isabel passed, there was some talk that the leadership of the District of Columbia had been less than cordial in its dealings with the federal government throughout the crisis. Metro, some said with city blessing, shut down on Thursday at 11 a.m. without very much consultation with the federal government. Consequently, the feds were compelled to cancel the workday entirely.

After the hurricane, city officials cited city ordinances in an effort to get more of the FEMA financial aid pie than their neighbors in Maryland or Virginia. FEMA and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, rightly rebuffed District officials.

Here are a few tidbits of information we have learned about the District of Columbia during the last few years (much of it from The Washington Times).

–The police chief continues to collect perks and pay raises year after year. He was hired to reduce crime. In fact, crime is up. The crime rate in D.C. is about 50 percent greater than other cities with similar populations. What is down is the police department’s success rate in crime-solving (one of the lowest in the nation). The disgracefully inept execution of the Chandra Levy case reminds us of how badly the police department functions.

–Our fire chief a few years back, one Ronny Few, had apparently “padded” his resume to secure his job. When exposed by the newspaper, he blamed the mayor’s office. Finger-pointing in City Hall ensued but nobody took responsibility for the shoddy way candidates for city jobs are vetted. The chief had also hired several cronies. Their resumes, we discovered, were also inflated, falsified or otherwise inaccurate.Meanwhile, several fire stations were in a decrepit state, a house fire had to be doused by a nearby garden hose because the fire truck had so many problems, and someone actually died due to the inefficiency of the 911 operators.

–Recently, the District’s inspector general resigned. His resume was also inflated. Do we see a trend beginning to emerge? The incumbent mayor’s re-election committee forged many of the required signatures to get the mayor on the ballot. If he is such a great leader, how can he tolerate such conduct? And why was fraud preferred over obtaining legal signatures?

–The president of the University of the District of Columbia lives in a publicly owned mansion. The taxpayers recently paid for a “renovation” of this estate that cost more than $215,000. “Repairs” included the addition of Italian granite and marble countertops worth more than $9,000. The university president also has a handsome salary. Yet the University of the District of Columbia’s Law School is rated dead last among more than 230 law schools rated by the American Bar Association. The percentage of graduates that pass the bar the first time is 22 percent. Only two colleges have rates in the 30th percentile and two schools are in the 40th percentile. All other law schools can boast that at least half the graduates pass the bar on the first try. The cost of educating a law student at UDC? The highest in the nation.

–As the school year started in 2003, School superintendent Vance was shocked to learn that the entire school system’s budget would only pay his system’s staff until Sept. 30. The superintendent is also a “fat cat” with an enormous salary. Meanwhile, the schools are in a decrepit state of repair. Last winter, several school days were lost at more than one school because the furnaces wouldn’t start. Cost of educating the elementary school students in the District? Among the highest in the nation. Grades and measures of effectiveness? Among the lowest.

–The D.C. coroner recently resigned. The morgue is in such disastrous condition that opportunities for forensics resolution to many crimes is seriously doubted. Overall, working for the District of Columbia government provides the best pay, bonus and retirement structure of almost any city in the nation.

Finally, the District of Columbia would like to tax commuters who come to the city to work. This is one way the banana republic preys upon its neighbors. Traffic enforcement cameras, predatory parking enforcement, towing and other practices contribute to the city coffers and to the ill will the city engenders in the neighborhood.

So I ask the voters in the District of Columbia, “Do you have the best government money can buy? Are you satisfied and content? Are you proud of your city and your flag?”

Related:

D.C. Schools: A National Disgrace

Rhee raps D.C. schools ‘bureaucracy’
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070807/
METRO/108070064/1004/metro

D.C. textbook chief appealed firing
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070905/METRO/109050074/
1001&template=nextpage

Virginia Tech: No Accountability

Life After Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech: ‘Least Risky’ Path Raises Risk

China: ‘Trust but verify’ needed

China Saying No to News

Pentagon says it acts as quickly as it can to meet needs
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The article above was written before the full implications of the sex scandal in D.C. fire houses was completely understood.

See:

Sex in The City

“Where Did My Lucky Go?” Asks China’s Hu Jintao

August 21, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 21, 2007

China’s President Hu Jintao might be fed up with his “wonderfully pleasing idea” to bring the Olympics to Beijing.

He has seen his nation come under ever increasing scrutiny. People want to know about China’s record on human rights, HIV/AIDS, global warming and the environment and just about everything else.

胡锦涛
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

When things go horribly wrong you might expect to hear someone from China utter, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”

Luck, or more appropriately, “good fortune,” is one of the centerpieces of Chinese life.

When you live in a godless society, luck takes an even larger role.

So all of good fortune was implored as the one year countdown to the Olympics started in China earlier this month.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge marked the start of the one-year countdown with a lavish Chinese-style ceremony that stared on the 8th day, of the 8th month at 8 PM and 8 minutes 8 seconds.

Eight is a lucky number in China.

But to the Chinese, Tiananmen Square has not always been lucky — especially for those seeking democratic and human rights reforms.

Chinese tanks mowed down pro-democracy demonstrators 18 years ago right where tonight’s Olympic ceremonies commenced.

“Not lucky place” a Chinese friend said to me as we watched events unfold.

Yesterday, the “not lucky place” was shrouded in toxic air pollution as Beijing completed a four day test with more than one million cars off the road. Unfortunately, the test was supposed to prove that by removing one million cars from Beijing the city would enjoy cleaner air.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

The test failed. Air pollution, as measured by the official state environmental agency, was up from three days ago.

President Hu Jintao of China must be saying about now, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”
*******************

President Hu has a host of other issues dogging him: Darfur, the poisoned food scandal, the poisoned toy scandal and a mine disaster of epic proportions.  Read more at:

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

Beijing’s Pollution Rises in 4-Day Test Of Restricted Driving

Psst. China! Enforce your laws, make new regulations where needed, admit the truth and wash your hands!

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

August 20, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 21, 2007

Let’s just review a few tales of China’s handling (or mishandling) of information, the media, the Chinese people and the truth lately.

–On August 17, an estimated 12 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Zhangzhuang Mine, in Shandong province 300 miles southeast of Beijing, after hard rains caused the Chaiwen River to burst through an earthen levee. More than 700 miners were underground when the dam burst. About 172 miners are unaccounted for. But because no list of names has been released, even to waiting families, and no news has been allowed about the event, we may never know the truth.

The Washington Post reported on August 20, 2007  that, “The accident, the latest in a long series of tragedies in Chinese mines, provided another dramatic example of China’s poor worker safety record, particularly in the booming coal industry. More than 2,800 miners were killed in underground explosions and floodings last year, making China’s mines the deadliest in the world. The highest known toll came from a gas explosion in a mine shaft in 2005 that killed 214 workers.”

After last week’s flooding in the Zhangzhuang Mine, families waiting for some news from their government revolted in a near-riot. Many were beaten and removed by uniformed troops, according to eye witnesses.

At the end of the Washington Post report on the lost miners, reporter Edward Cody wrote that, “The official party newspaper, People’s Daily, ran a prominent front-page story Monday detailing the widely applauded rescue of 69 miners on Aug. 1 after a similar flooding accident in Henan province. ‘Miners’ Lives Above All,’ was the headline. The paper’s account of what was actually happening in Shandong was limited to five paragraphs on page three.”

The story, it seemed, was as submerged as the miners.

–On August 16, President Hu Jintao of China ordered all of Chinese media to only report good news. The efficiency of this order’s execution indicates a long-planned evolution. China watchers says there are two goals to this. First, the communist leadership of China does not want the people of China to see, understand or think about the social ills and crimes of the government just before the 17th Communist Party Congress. And, secondly, President Hu is putting into place media restrictions that will “sugar coat” all information about China between now and next summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, designed by Ai Weiwei
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the ‘bird’s nest’, designed by Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei has said he will not attend any Olympic events, even the opening in the stadium he designed, because of China’s poor record on human rights.

–Also on August 16 in Henan, the police shut down two offices of China Orchid Aids Projects, saying that they were part of an illegal organization. Earlier this month, Li Dan, the director of the group, was detained for 24 hours and a planned conference about the legal rights of people infected with HIV cancelled.

Meg Davis, founder of the Asia Catalyst organization, another advocacy group for HIV/AIDS sufferers that planned to participated in the conference, said China’s leaders were excessively anxious ahead of the congress and the Olympics.

“Groups like China Orchid Aids Projects are among the best and the brightest in the world. China should be showing them off, not shutting them down,” she said. “We can’t sit on our hands and stop fighting Aids for a year because of a sporting event.”

–Also in anticipation of the 17th Communist Party Congress, on August 8, 2007, China halted radio transmissions from as many as 12 of the 17 radio stations in Nanjing. The stations were known for their more liberal views. All the stations remain silenced as of this writing on August 20.

–In Beijing, practice for what we here call the “Surreal Façade” (Beijing Summer Olympics 2008) is in full tilt. Because the automobile traffic contributes to Beijing’s smothering air pollution, the communist government has devised a plan to get one million cars off of Beijing’s streets. A four day test is just completed. But because many people were inconvenienced, out of their cars and on to buses and trains, the communist government had issued instructions to editors and producers about how they must cover the “One Million Auto Shut-Down.”

By the way: the test was a failure.  Pollution actually went up during the four day “One Million Auto Shut-Down.”

If Hu Jintao isn’t asking, as the Chinese do, “Where did my lucky go?” maybe he should.

Photo

No interviews or images of the inconvenienced are allowed. The success of the four day test, at least in the eyes of the Chinese media, has been foreordained.

“This crackdown is a legal gun to the head to responsible journalists who want to report on the basis of facts,” said Sophie Richardson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “China has a long track record of using similar campaigns to weed out news that the authorities find objectionable because it exposes social and political problems.”

–On August 13, 2007, a bridge collapsed in China near the town of Fenghuang, killing 41 construction workers. China’s Central Propaganda Department ordered a media blackout on the bad news which exploded into a fist fight between police and the assembled media at the site of the bridge collapse.

–On the day marking exactly one year until the start of the Beijing Games, China arrested a group of student activists who draped a banner on the Great Wall reading: “Free Tibet.”  The protest was quiet and peaceful.

After two days “detained,” the students were deported.   This was a signal to the world about the manner in which protesters will be treated during the Olympics.  No mention of the affair appeared in the Chinese media.

–China’s handling of the product safety scandals, which started in December 2006, is in a class by itself. For months China denied that any products exported from China were harmful. Yet all over the globe, inspectors found poisoned pet food, poisoned toothpaste, poisoned cough syrup that probably killed over 100 people in Panama, and other dangerous problems. Even children’s toys were found with lead-based paint on them, which is toxic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that China’s “farm-fed” seafood came packed with antibiotics. That’s because they are fed on human excrement. If you soak your Chinese shrimp too long in warm water, the “pink” runs out. It is dye: there to make the seafood look more fresh and appealing.

With a public relations scandal involving food and other product safety looming if not already roiling for China on June 12, 2007, the Vice Minister for the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China said, “We can guarantee food safety.”

But that assertion was clearly laughable.

On August 4, 2007, the official China news agency Xinhua quoted the deputy head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Hui Lusheng, as saying “Dealing with and preventing food safety risks is a long-term, arduous and complicated project.”

Finally, a probably reliable admission from China.

But China is never happy with the truth.

Just this last weekend, on China State Television, the Most Honorable Li Changjiang, China’s director of product safety made an appearance to say the “product safety scandal” was all “politically motivated, unfair, biased and poisoned by jealousy.”

So you Americans, Canadians, Panamanians and others in the west fabricated the scandal: China was not at fault as some might think. Is that a correct interpretation, do you think?

The bottom line to all of this is this the Chinese people live in a repressive regime with an ugly record on human right. In the minds of Hu Jintao and other communist leaders in China, the less the people of China know the better. If a free media continually exposed China’s ills, the entire communist system might be called into question.

And with the world coming to call in Beijing next summer during the Beijing Games, the Chinese will stop at nothing to make sure that China appears to be the new nirvana.

END Note: as we were completing this article, the news services reported that New Zealand was investigating toxic levels of chemicals in clothes made in China….
New Zealand investigates formaldehyde content in Chinese clothing imports

Related:

China: You Won’t Get The Truth

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain