Pakistan breaks up plan to free Daniel Pearl’s killer

The Pakistan military reported Friday (2/12) it had arrested 97 militants who plotting a series of attacks that included freeing the killer of journalist Daniel Pearl. Three extremist groups, including al Qaeda, were working together on the plan.

The BBC reported the plan included six suicide bombers and was close to being carried out.

Pearl, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was working on ties between the Pakistan government and extreme Islamic groups when he was kidnapped and later beheaded.

Other articles:

Following his murder, Daniel Pearl’s family established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to

continue Danny’s mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Danny’s work and character.

These principles include uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communication; and the love of music, humor, and friendship.

One of the most visible activities is Daniel Pearl World Music Days. These events celebrate Pearl’s love of music and the ability of music to draw people together.

 

 

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War Against Journalists Continues in Mexico

The latest victim in attacks against journalists in Mexico is Anabel Flores Salazar, a reporter in Veracruz.

Mexican authorities say they are searching for her after reports she was dragged from her home by armed men and hasn’t been seen since.

Salazar was taken Monday morning from her home near the city of Orizaba, where she worked for several newspapers.

Unfortunately, kidnapping and killing journalists is not uncommon in Mexico. Since 2010 15 journalists have been killed in Veracruz alone.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 24 journalists have been killed in Mexico because of their jobs since 2010. A vast majority — 77 percent — of the reporters killed covered the crime beat, just like Salazar.

Threats against journalists come not only from the gangs but also corrupt public officials. The BBC reports there are strained relations between the Veracruz governor and the media. The governor has gone as far as warning journalists to “behave” or bad things might happen to them.

Understandably journalists in the area saw the comment as a veiled threat.

 

Veracruz prosecutors say they will investigate everything about Salazar to see why she was kidnapped.

The office said a few years ago she was seen with a leader of the local branch of the Zetas drug cartel.

And here in lies the problem.

For reporters to do their job, they have to develop sources across the board. If a cartel leader doesn’t like a story, threats are made and carried out against journalists. Likewise, if a local political figure is identified as being in the hip pocket of a cartel, the journalist receives threats from or is intimidated by the local government.

And then, there are a few bad apples in the journalism profession. Some have used their position as reporter or commentator to extort money from people in exchange for their silence on the air or in print. And because of the few unethical journalists, it becomes easier for governments and gangs to frame honest journalists, because the public is already to accept corruption within the media exists, just as it exists in the rest of society.

And to be clear, the situation described above is not unique to Mexico. Journalists throughout the Western Hemisphere face similar threats from gangs and rogue government officials.

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How China’s Corruption Issue Affects U.S. Economy

When the Shanghai stock market fell at the beginning of the year, markets in London and New York shook.

When China showed official numbers that its economic growth rate might falter, economists around the globe talked of dire financial consequences around the world.

And yet, anyone who has spent any time dealing with the China and its government would know — or should know — that the numbers released by the Chinese government are always suspect and the Chinese stock markets are about as transparent as a block of onyx.

Rule one in dealing with the Chinese government is that all things must be bent to serve the official line. If the official position is that China will have a 7 percent growth in GDP, then the appropriate government agencies must ensure the numbers they put out show at least that level. (A 6.9 percent growth is not acceptable, because it is not at least seven.)

And now Wang Bao’an, director of the National Bureau of Statistics is under investigation for  “serious violations of party discipline.” That phrase is veiled code for corruption.

As Charles Riley at CNN noted, this calls into question the data presented by Wang:

The…announcement, which is bound to raise new questions about the accuracy of Beijing’s economic statistics, came just hours after Wang briefed reporters on the state of China’s economy.

China Digital Times notes economist Xu Dianqing, of Beijing Normal University and the University of West Ontario, has raised doubts about China’s official growth rate for some time. According to Xu’s calculations, the real rate is between 4.3 percent 5.2 percent, not the official growth rate of 6.9 percent for 2015.

Granted, the investigation against Wang may not be related to his current job but may involve other activities during his 24 years in the finance ministry.

Yes, the Chinese government and ruling party (one in the same) are moving on corrupt officials. It would be nice to say that they are doing this because it is the right thing and that corruption is bad. Instead, the move seems more motivated to prevent a popular uprising against the ruling party.

China ranks 83 out of 168 on the perceived corruption index of Transparency International. (The higher the number, the more corrupt.) And we all know that China ranks near the bottom for political, social and media freedom.

The Communist Party holds onto its power largely because it promises the people of China a better life. If that better life is stalled or blocked by corrupt officials, the people see fewer reasons to support the party. If people are hurt or damaged by shoddy workmanship in infrastructure projects or public buildings because of corruption, there is less support for the government.

By moving against corrupt officials, the government wants to show that it is “doing the people’s will” by rooting out the (few) bad influences in power. The problem is that an anti-democratic, free-press bashing government by its very nature is a breading ground for corruption. There are no independent checks on abusive government officials. The Chinese government only tends to move against corrupt officials after the corruption is so blatant as to cause social unrest.

So China is corrupt. What does that mean for the average American.

For starters, look at the first two paragraphs of this entry. The world’s economy went into a tailspin because of activities in a country that regularly cooks the books and that has no resources to independently check the factual nature of its economic numbers.

Jobs in the United States are put at risk when China falters.

Yes, the U.S. buys more from China than it sells, but in the past few years the exports to China have been growing. Until the Chinese economy started to hesitate.

Exports to China were on a steady growth pattern for the past decade. January-November exports to China rose from $37 billion in 2005 to $109 billion in 2014. Then, last year, that number slipped to $106 billion. In fact, 2015 showed a marked decline month-on-month in exports to China.

Unlike what we import from China, what we sell is high-end aircraft parts, machinery and electronic equipment. These are products made with high-wage labor. A reduction in sales of these types of products overseas could mean more people forced to take lower-paid jobs and, therefore, contributing less to the American economy.

So, a handful of experts were keeping an eye on the situation in China. And occasionally there would be a story about the status of the Chinese economy. There would also be stories about how the changes in the Chinese economy affect trade with the United States. But where were the stories that showed how the Chinese economic changes impacted individual Americans?

How difficult would it be for a local reporter in Seattle or South Carolina to ask the local Boeing factory how sales to China were going? Along with the expected follow-up of, “What does it mean to local production and employment?”Washington2China

Or maybe for a local reporter in Galveston, Tex., to ask about how chemical sales are doing with China. (Yes, they are also down.)

Or even a reporter from Louisiana to call the New Orleans Port Authority to make inquiries about how shipments to and from China are doing.

Or how about a reporter along the Mississippi River asking how grain sales are doing to the rest of the world — and China in particular?

Had any of these inquiries been made and followed through, perhaps there would have been less shock about the slow down in China. People would not have been happy about the slow down, but at least they would have understood what was happening and why.

And the last time I looked, explaining what happened and why is part of the job description of being a jorunalist.

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Turkey orders media to conform to “family values”

Many thanks to Roy Greenslade at The Guardian for point out the latest attack on free press by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish media output must conform to ‘traditional family values’

The Turkish government wants to ensure that the output of the country’s media conforms to “traditional family values.”

It is to take unspecified “measures” aimed at countering what it regards as the “negative effects” on family of material in newspapers, on television and even on social media.

A statement from the government said “measures will be taken to ensure that visual, aural and social media, news, tabloids, films and similar types of productions conform to our traditional family values.”

turkey_5years_capture_updated-445x480Ever since Erdogan took the reigns of power, press freedom in Turkey has been slowly but steadily eroded. in 2010 Freedom House ranked Turkey’s media as Partly Free. By 2013, however, the country was pushed into the Not Free category because of government policies hostile to independent media.

Constitutional guarantees of press freedom and freedom of expression are only partially upheld in practice. They are generally undermined by provisions in the penal code, the criminal procedure code, and the harsh, broadly worded antiterrorism law that effectively leave punishment of normal journalistic activity to the discretion of prosecutors and judges.

The constitutional protections are also subverted by hostile public rhetoric against critical journalists and outlets from Erdoğan and other government officials, which is often echoed in the progovernment press. Since the Gezi Park protests of 2013, Erdoğan has accused the foreign media and various outside interest groups of organizing and manipulating unrest in the country. He has also blamed foreign-based conspiracies for corruption allegations against his family and ministers. In August 2014, during a speech at a campaign rally just prior to the presidential election, Erdoğan denounced Economist correspondent Amberin Zaman as a “shameless militant” and told her to “know [her] place.” In the following months, Zaman was deluged with threats of violence on social media. In September, New York Times reporter Ceylan Yeğinsu suffered a similar verbal attack over a photograph caption that accompanied her piece on Islamic State recruiting in Turkey. Progovernment media depicted her as a traitor. The U.S. State Department criticized Turkey for such attempts to intimidate and threaten her.

This item was first posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

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Corruption in China’s media

As usual David Bandurski does a great job breaking down the media situation in China.

The Roots of Media Corruption in China

Excerpt:

Periodically, China’s leaders declare a war of attrition against the spectre of media corruption. They nibble at the monster’s heels, arresting a handful of regional bureau chiefs, or “fake reporters” operating without formal press credentials. They announce a new round of moral training for journalists in the “Marxist View of Journalism.”

The core causes go unaddressed. Chief among these is the inescapable fact that media and information are defined as tools of power. Look no further than the “Marxist View of Journalism,” which states that all news must serve the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.

When political power is given precedence — as opposed to accuracy, relevance and the public interest — the upshot is that all media are in a sense morally bankrupted. Those who possess sufficient power can exploit the media. Conversely, media, as extensions of power, can apply that power for economic gain in a competitive, commercialised media environment.

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Belarus Fines Freelancer For Working With Foreign Media

There is so much happening in the world and news organizations have limited resources. The smarter news groups reach out to freelancers to fill the gaps in reporting around the world.

Belarus — one of the last hard-core holder overs of Stalinist rule after the collapse of the Soviet Union — enacted a law that forbids Belarus journalists from working for foreign media.

Now the government has fined freelance journalist, Larysa Shchyrakova about US$245 for breaking that stupid law.

The European Federation of Journalists is calling on the Belarus government to withdraw the fine and repeal the law.

Belarus ranks right at the bottom of press freedom according to Freedom House, with a score of 93 out of 100 for media repression and control. It also has a political freedom rating of 6.5, with 7 representing an absolute lack of any freedoms.

From the Freedom House 2015 Press Freedom report on Belarus

Despite constitutional provisions for freedom of the press, criticism of the president and the government is considered a criminal offense, and libel convictions can result in prison sentences or high fines. There are no effective legal guarantees of public access to government records. Judges, prosecutors, police officers, tax officials, and bureaucrats from the Information Ministry regularly use politicized court rulings and obscure regulations to harass independent newspapers and websites.

That puts Belarus in the same neighborhood as Chad, China and Cuba.

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International Jobs and Fellowships for Journalists

A few interesting things came across the IJC desk this morning, thanks to GlobalJobs.org:

Senior Correspondent, IFR
Thomson Reuters

Location: Hong Kong

Position Overview:

The International Financing Review Asia, a Thomson Reuters publication, is seeking an experienced journalist to lead its People & Markets coverage, focusing on trends and regulatory developments across the Asian capital markets.

The successful candidate will need to generate exclusive story ideas ranging from individual hires to global investment banking strategy, and be able to maintain a network of senior contacts across the region.

He or she will need to be able to work quickly and accurately under pressure, and be able to understand and explain complex financial instruments. This position would suit an established financial journalist with a keen eye for the big picture and a flair for writing.

The successful candidate will also work closely with the Reuters newsroom and can expect their byline to appear on multiple platforms, including Eikon, the IFR magazines and IFR websites.

At least five years of relevant experience is required. Knowledge of Asian languages preferred, but not essential.

Bureau Chief, Singapore
Thomson Reuters

Location: Singapore

Position description

Reuters is looking for a highly experienced and dynamic Bureau Chief for Singapore to drive a multimedia news file from the city state with fast spot stories, exclusives and strong enterprise coverage. The successful candidate will be one of two deputies to the Southeast Asia bureau chief, getting involved regularly in stories across a region that stretches from Indonesia to Indochina.

As Asia’s biggest foreign exchange trading hub and a major wealth management centre, Singapore enjoys a pivotal role for Reuters’ financial clients. The bureau chief will work closely with a small team of seasoned correspondents on the big currency market and financial services issues, including how tighter global regulations are changing the competitive landscape for Singapore’s private banking business, and the pressure on Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds to sustain decent returns amid volatile global markets. The bureau chief will also play a key role in covering Singapore’s economy and economic policies, the real estate market, heavyweight companies such as Singapore Airlines and MNCs. She/He will also lead our coverage of political and general news.

The Bureau Chief should be an adept communicator, both within the bureau and across the regional editorial network, ensuring collaboration between enterprise, Reuters TV, RVN, Pictures and Graphics. The role requires a candidate who has a passion for breaking news, can focus clearly to set an agenda, and develop best coverage strategies. He/she must be an excellent writer and sub-editor, have a sharp analytical mind, see the big picture and make connections between politics, economics and financial markets.

2015 Jefferson Fellowships Program
East–West Center

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii; Beijing & Guiyang, China; Tokyo & Fukuoka-Kitakyushu, Japan

Dates: April 30-May 22, 2016

Who Can Apply

Working print, broadcast, and on-line journalists in the United States, Asia* and the Pacific Islands. Five years of experience preferred. English fluency required.

Background

The 2016 Jefferson Fellowships will focus on Asia’s search for new, more sustainable growth models through sessions with experts and one another in Honolulu and by exploring economic challenges and restructuring in Japan and China. As the world’s 2nd and 3rdlargest economies, the success of China and Japan in finding new models will have wide reaching impacts.

Deadline: January 29, 2016

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Update on Murder of Paraguayan Journalist

By Robert Buckman

One of the two suspected triggermen in the 2014 murder of Paraguayan investigative journalist Pablo Medina was arrested in Brazil on Jan. 10, according to the Asunción newspaper ABC Color, for which Medina worked.

Flavio Acosta, 30, was arrested in Pato Brancio in the Brazilian state of Paraná, which borders eastern Paraguay, when his wife reported him to local authorities for domestic abuse and told them he was wanted in Paraguay for Medina’s killing. Acosta is the nephew of the alleged intellectual author of Medina’s killing, Vilmar ”Neneco” Acosta, former mayor of the town of Ypejhú, near where Medina was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle on Oct. 16, 2014.

Vilmar Acosta was arrested in Brazil in March and extradited to Paraguay in November.
Flavio Acosta is believed to be one of the gunmen on the motorcycle. The second is believed to be Wilson Acosta, brother of Vilmar and uncle of Flavio Acosta. Wilson Acosta is still at large.

Vilmar Acosta was the target of some of Medina’s investigative reporting on drug trafficking and gunrunning in the lawless “tri-border” region where Paraguay borders Brazil and Argentina. Medina was 53.

Also killed in the attack was Antonia Almada, 19, Medina’s volunteer assistant. Almada’s sister, Juana Ruth Almada, survived the attack and identified the gunmen. Vilmar Acosta’s chauffer was arrested and also implicated him.

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Summary of 2015 censorship efforts from China

China Digital News has a good summary of reports looking at censorship in China.

Censoring the Media at Home and Abroad

The part American reporters should pay attention to is the part on Beijing’s efforts to control media outside China.

 

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2016 Not Looking Good For Journalists In China

French journalist Ursula Gauthier faced the wrath of Beijing censors when she wrote about China’s policy toward the Muslim Uighur minority in China.

First, Beijing accused her of being sympathetic to the Uyghurs and promoting the violent actions taken by a few radicals. Then, to make sure she could not follow up on her stories, the foreign ministry refused to renew her visa to work in China. That meant she had to leave by December 31, 2015.

Denying visa renewals or sitting on the applications for a long time has become a standard move by the central government.

In 2014 the reporters from The New York Times and Bloomberg did not know until the last minute if they would be allowed to stay. Seems their articles about how family members of the ruling elite use their connections to get incredibly wealthy ticked off a few folks in Beijing.

The ruling Communist Party has always been hostile to Western media. Even though more reporters are being licensed to work in China, the harassment they face from national to local government officials is daunting.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China regularly assembles stories and complaints about how the government is hindering journalists. The reports used to be posted on the FCCC website. Now, however, one has to specifically request the reports or sign in as a member.

The reason is pretty clear, the club is afraid if they are too public, the government will shut them down:

To ensure the continued operation of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China we are not currently making such material openly accessible on the website.

And it is not like anyone could blame them. At least the reports are available in one form or another.

And lest anyone think this is aimed at just the media, remember that the Canadian contestant for the Miss World competition was blocked from entering China because she spoke out about human rights violations in China.

What made it worse for Beijing, of course, was that the woman is Chinese-Canadian. It is one thing for a round-eyed foreign devil to be critical of China’s policies, but a whole other thing when the critic looks like any other Chinese person.

Beijing passed a new anti-terrorism law, in part to allow them to get Western nations on their side against the Uyghurs, but also to have a legal basis for their actions inside the country.

Under the new law, “terrorism” is now defined as any idea or activity that generates “social panic, undermines public security, infringes on personal and property rights, and menaces government organs and international organizations, with the aim to realize certain political and ideological purposes.”

And for Beijing, anything that challenges the supreme authority of the ruling Communist Party has the potential to generate social panic. And, it goes without saying, has “certain political and ideological purposes.”

Things are not likely to get better in China for reporters — foreign or domestic. The rhetoric against free press is clearly not letting up and the hostility aimed at foreign media representatives from doing their job of fairly and accurately reporting events in China is expected to continue unabated

This item was originally posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.
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Newest Posts

Protected: Let the debate begin February 13, 2016, 5:33 pm
The writing life: The problem with the Craigslist Writing Gigs section February 12, 2016, 8:29 pm
Pakistan breaks up plan to free Daniel Pearl’s killer February 12, 2016, 3:16 pm
Photo finish February 11, 2016, 2:02 pm
BREAKING: Contest deadline extended! February 10, 2016, 4:51 pm
BREAKING: Contest deadline extended! February 10, 2016, 4:51 pm
War Against Journalists Continues in Mexico February 9, 2016, 2:01 pm

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