Posts Tagged ‘news’

Could Benghazi Attack Sink Obama Election Victory?

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm



Justin Bieber’s Short Fuse

In media, stuff on July 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Whether getting a ticket for speeding down a highway to avoid Paparazzi, snapping at radio DJs over Timberlake comparisons, or blowing up at over-zealous reporters, it seems that new stories about Justin Bieber’s ‘bratty behaviour’ make the headlines practically every day.

So, what about the man himself? Is he justified in wanting a little privacy, and the same rights to an opinion (or perhaps, an occassional lapse in judgement) as any other person? Or does his celebrity status make him fair game for a tabloid trashing?

Anderson Cooper’s Coming Out Matters

In media, Uncategorized on July 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

CNN’s silver haired, blue eyed adonis, the network’s most eligible bachelor, Anderson Cooper, is now officially off the market for us ladies.

A few days ago Anderson publicly came out  in an email to The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan:

Andrew, as you know, the issue you raise is one that I’ve thought about for years. Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to. But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist. I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly  12039_084asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life. Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true. I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand. The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud. I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist. Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray 19447_001_1563_CCgay and lesbian people in the media – and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth. Being a journalist, traveling to remote places, trying to understand people from all walks of life, telling their stories, has been the greatest joy of my professional career, and I hope to continue doing it for a long time to come. But while I feel very blessed to have had so many opportunities as a journalist, I am also blessed far beyond having a great career. I love, and I am loved. In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God’s greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life. I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.

Anderson Cooper is an incredibly talented reporter, and his decision to come out is a very brave choice to make. Homophobia and anti-gay sentiment appears much more prevalent in the US than in the UK, where an electoral candidate’s views on gay marriage could  never be used as a platform for an election campaign or as a way to gain favour with potential voters. In addition to facing domestic opposition in the US from the religious right, Cooper of course regularly interviews foreign leaders whose political ideologies directly oppose his own. Certainly, I think Anderson Cooper’s coming out will have repercussions on the way people react to and interact with him in the future. Although I believe that reporters should be allowed the same rights of privacy as anyone else, his sexuality does matter. As a media celebrity, he has the power to raise awareness about gay rights issues, and hopefully to get some people to question their own prejudice.

Yemen’s Opposition Urge Confirmation Saleh No Longer In Charge

In media on June 8, 2011 at 11:25 am

In a telephone interview from Sana’a today with Bloomberg news, a representative from the Yemeni main opposition party Joint Meeting Parties, Al-Mutawakkil, stated that the party will give Vice President Abadurabo Mansur Hadi several days to “resove this issue” and confirm that he has assumed the duties of the recuperating President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh is currently recovering in hospital after sustaining serious injuries caused after a bomb was planted inside his compound last week (initial reports attributing the injuries sustained to a rocket attack on the President’s palace have since been discredited). The injuries are reported to be more serious than originally thought –  Saleh is receiving treatment for burns covering 40 per cent of his body, and one anonymous official has stated that Saleh is suffering from bleeding inside his skull.

The Joint Meeting Party are seeking  for Hadi to make his leadership as acting president official so as to avoid a continuation of Saleh’s rule. This comes after a recent escalation of violence in Yemen following Saleh’s refusal to sign the Gulf Corporation Council plan in which he was offered immunity from prosecution if he agreed to step down from the presidency within 30 days, and to hand over power to Hadi.

Over 37 Syrian Protestors Killed

In media on March 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm


(Reuters) – The main hospital in the southern Syrian city of Deraa has received the bodies of at least 37 protesters who were killed in a confrontation with security forces, a hospital official said Thursday.

Security forces opened fire on hundreds of youths at the northern entrance to Deraa Wednesday afternoon, according to witnesses, in a dramatic escalation of nearly a week of protests in which at least 44 civilians have been killed since Friday.

A Global Nuclear Reaction

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

A series of explosions at Japan’s Fukushiima Daiichi nuclear plant have threatened meltdowns in three of the six atomic reactors, and caused major fires in reactors 3 and 4.

In Tokyo, radiation exposure levels have been recorded to be 20 times the national average. Radiation is reportedly 400 times the legal limit at the Fukushiima plant. Workers inside the plant are being treated for radiation sickness after exposure to the leaks, and have been evacuated over health concerns. Outside the plant, people are also at risk of developing cancer from exposure to radioactive isotopes. However, experts claim that the current risk of radiation exposure is relatively contained.

The  emergency in Japan has triggered a global re-examination of nuclear projects, as the crisis has added fuel to the fire of public alarm over the safety of nuclear power.

The Guardian is providing live updates on the situation at the nuclear plant in Japan, and the global responses to it:

12.02pm (9.02pm JST): China has become the latest nation to re-think its nuclear plans following the situation in Japan. The State Council in Beijing announced tonight that it will suspend approval of new nuclear projects until new safety rules are introduced, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Until now China had been eagerly trying to build nuclear power stations as fast as possible, trying to reduce its traditional reliance on old and polluting coal-fired facilities. The nation currently has 25 nuclear plants under construction, with 13 already running, the WSJ calculates.

On Monday Germany announced the temporary closure of its two oldest nuclear power stations and suspended plans to extend the life of remaining plants. Switzerland has also put on hold plans to build and replace nuclear plants.

Secrets and Lies

Public trust of nuclear power has been low since its inception, one reason for this could be that this is an industry traditionally shrouded in secrecy. Cover-ups and lies over accidents at nuclear plants in Britain, America (Rocky Flats, Colorado), Russia (Chelyabinsk) and Japan have all but erased public faith in government statements on nuclear energy. The bottom line is: nuclear energy is costly and needs to be funded with public money, the nuclear industry simply can’t afford to lose public support.

When we turn to Japan, we find an identical culture of nuclear cover-up and lies. Of particular concern has been the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Asia’s biggest utility, which just happens to be the owner and operator of the stricken reactors at Fukushima.

Tepco has a truly rotten record in telling the truth. In 2002, its chairman and a group of senior executives had to resign after the Japanese government disclosed they had covered up a large series of cracks and other damage to reactors, and in 2006 the company admitted it had been falsifying data about coolant materials in its plants over a long period.

Last night it was reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency warned Japan more than two years ago that strong earthquakes would pose “serious problems”, according to a Wikileaks US embassy cable published by The Daily Telegraph.

Even Chernobyl, the world’s most publicised nuclear accident, was at first hidden from the world by what was then the Soviet Union, and might have remained hidden had its plume of escaping radioactivity not been detected by scientists in Sweden.


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Protests in Bahrain

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Friday, Feb 18

Thousands of protesters are calling for the downfall of Bahrain’s ruling monarchy, one day after a military crackdown which left at least five pro-reform protesters dead and many others seriously injured.

The reaction against King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and his inner circle reflects an important escalation of the initial political uprising – a call for the hold on top government  held by the Sunni majority to be weakened, and for claims of discrimination against the Shia majority to be tackled.

An attack on a protest camp in Manama which left five protesters dead and 230 injured, has united protesters in an atmosphere of defiance against the entire ruling system. Witnesses described the excessive force used  by police, who fired rubber pellets and rubber bullets and used tear gas against the people, many of whom were sleeping at the time. A state of emergency was imposed, with military forces and checkpoints in key areas.

“The regime has broken something inside of me … All of these people gathered today have had something broken in them,” said Ahmed Makki Abu Taki, whose 27-year-old brother Mahmoud was killed in the pre-dawn sweep through the protest camp in Pearl Square. “We used to demand for the prime minister to step down, but now our demand is for the ruling family to get out.” Guardian

“The government has shaken something inside us all and we have lost all trust in it,” Mohamed Ali, 40, a civil servant, said as he choked back tears. “Our demands were peaceful and simple at first,” he said. “We wanted the prime minister to step down. Now the demands are harsher and have reached the pinnacle of the pyramid. We want the whole government to fall.” CBS News

Human rights organisations and officials in the United Nations, United States and the United Kingdom have condemned the raid and urged for government restraint in Bahrain. In an interview with CNN on Thursday night, the Bahraini Special Envoy to the US defended the county’s actions, stating that the force used “was really proportional.”

“We had to use it, because it was necessary, and the process started to really destruct our national economy and scaring the people,” he continued.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said there is “no evidence” of British-made weapons being used against protestors in Bahrain; however, in light of recent events, the UK Foreign Office will be reviewing its policy on arms sales to Bahrain.

Lara Logan and Assaults on Female Journalists

In media, Uncategorized on February 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

CBS correspondent Lara Logan was released from hospital yesterday  following a “brutal” assault in Tahir Square after Hosni Mubarak’s resignation last Friday.

Logan was covering the celebrations in Egypt for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her crew were surrounded by a dangerous mob of 200 men. In the chaos, she became separated from her crew, when she was surrounded, beaten and sexually assaulted.

The attack lasted about 20 minutes, after which a group of women and up to 20 Egyptian soldiers managed to rescue her.

CBS News’s Katie Couric reports that Logan is “recovering well”, and Logan has told friends that the attack in Egypt “will not destroy her”.

One week prior to the attack, the South-African born  chief foreign affairs correspondent and her crew were detained overnight and interrogated while entering Cairo. Logan described being marched at gunpoint through the streets of Cairo back to her hotel as ” a very frightening experience and one which was repeated throughout the day”.

In a statement on Thursday night, she told Esquire magazine “We were detained by the Egyptian army. Arrested, detained and interrogated.” She described being kept in stress positions throughout the night and denied medical treatment after her and her crew were accused of being “Israeli agents.”

‘We were accused of being more than journalists, very frightening suggestions were being made. Suggestions that really could be very dangerous for us,’ she said.

Harassment of women on the streets is a major issue in Egyptian society, although measures to curb the problem are often met with resistance from officials. Suzanne Mubarak once suggested that the problem was manipulated by the media to portray Egypt in a  damming light.

Official figures of attacks on women published in The Guardian today would appear to contradict this:

A survey by the independent Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights in 2008, however, revealed that 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women had been exposed to some form of sexual harassment, including groping, verbal abuse, stalking and indecent exposure.

Comments on the Lara Logan assault have sparked controversy in the US after certain journalists attempted to downplay or make light of the incident. NYU fellow Nir Rosen posted insensitive remarks on Twitter, saying that Logan “had to outdo Anderson [Cooper]….She was probably groped like thousands of other women….It would have been funny if it happened to Anderson, too.” Rosen has since apologised and was forced to resign from his fellowship.

Right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel has been condemned for blaming Logan for bring the attack upon herself, stating that she should have expected Muslim “animals” to treat her this way.

“How fitting that Lara Logan was ‘liberated’ by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over…the ‘liberation.’…Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Praise Allah!” blogged Schlussel.

Schlussel’s comments have been met with a surge of protest online by those who fear the Logan assault could be twisted by the right wing into a story of Arab misogyny.

An article in the 2007 Colombia Journalism Review suggests that many female foreign correspondents do not report incidents of sexual abuse, for fear of being prevented from being given future assignments.

Heather Blake, of Reporters Without Borders, said that the incident should not be used to prevent female correspondents from going out into the field.

“Female journalists have distinct voices to male journalists and it is vital that those very different concerns and outlooks continue to be heard,” she argued. “The attack on Lara Logan highlights the fact that there needs to be gender-specific protection and training of journalists.  The Guardian

See: Walk Free! Stop Sexual Harassment in Egypt and Apology to Lara Logan

Japan’s Child Abuse Problem

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 at 10:44 am

“This girl is part of an expolding population in Japan: victims of child abuse”

The international image of Japan has traditionally been of a country which is kind to its children, but in the last decade reported cases of child abuse have quadrupled and protective orphanges are filled to capacity.

Several reasons for this alarming situation have been suggested. In the year 2000 a government mandated law on child abuse was put into effect, meaning that cases could now be reported more accurately. This caused reports of childhood neglect cases to skyrocket. Other potential causal factors are more concerning – reflecting culturally entrenched problems like Japan’s  two-decade long economic stagnation, rising divorce rates coupled with a lack of support for single mothers, the dearth of foster homes,  and a cultural aversion to adoption and fostering.

One way to combat the growing child abuse problem is through eductaion, states child advocate Yuki Okada.

“It’s going to get worse unless the public understands the pattern of child abuse, and deals with abuse openly.”

Learning to Love The Big Society…

In media on February 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

David’s Cameron’s ‘big society’ plan should be making the British public go weak at the knees. The Prime Minister’s “mission” to encourage civic engagement through schemes for social improvement – empowering local communities, forging collaborative ventures, and insisting that power in public services be decentralised-  seems sound enough in theory.  However, his agenda has been much maligned by both the right and the left. Why are we so opposed to the “Big Society”?

The fact is, Cameron’s pet project is just too vague for many people to allow for the possibility of any substantive changes arising from his plan to fix our “broken society”.  The government’s budget cuts have already forced tough decisions on local authorities who are having to cut back on funding to charities, and the potential closure of dozens of local libraries across London, in areas such as Brent, Lambeth and Ealing are a casualty of said cuts. Is it any wonder we’re sceptical of such Big Ideas? The creation of the Big Society bank sounds great, but again it will cost.

If we’re cynical, it’s not because we don’t like the potential of “social recovery as well as an economic recovery” which Cameron’s “absolute passion” promises. It’s maybe more because we’re the wife of a philandering husband who brings us flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s, and promises year after year “never again, baby”. So, we take him back because it’s Valentine’s Day in the hope that this year he will behave differently, and keep his promise.