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Mousa Ishaq, a Palestinian born in the West Bank who has lived in Essex Junction for 30 years, said after the meeting that Al-Jazeera is not just an Arab propaganda organ, and that those urging its removal from Burlington Telecom would find some allies in the Middle East.Of course they don't: many governments in the Middle East (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) are not democratic and oppress their citizens. Al Jazeera's in-depth reports on some of these countries goes against their rule!
"Al-Jazeera has been kicked out of every single Arab country," he said. "Arab governments do not like Al-Jazeera."
Stebbins says the U.S. government embarked on a campaign to deligitimize Al Jazeera's journalism. "I think we still live with the legacy of that campaign," he says of the Al Jazeera English network. "They still successfully manage to associate us with radicalism."These below are older stories, but noteworthy:
But Al Jazeera isn't radical, he argues. Its motto, Stebbins says, is "the opinion and the other opinion," and it encourages charged and open debate. At times, that debate can become heated, especially when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. "An Al Jazeera colleague said to me, the difference is that the Western media covers the war from where the missiles were fired," Stebbins says. "Al Jazeera covered it from where the missiles landed."
Neslen sees the channel reporting multiple viewpoints, journalism virtually unimaginable in the Western media, "a willingness to take risks in showing controversial images of the horrors of war, reporting from ‘behind enemy lines’, critical coverage of Saddam Hussein and George Bush alike and an avoidance of the 'news pool'."Al Jazeera and the Net – free speech, but don't say that
A sign of the increasing interest being generated by al-Jazeera is the release of the film Control Room. Telling the story of how the channel decided and made the news during the Iraq war, the film has already broken box-office records in the US. With senior Bush officials accusing the station of anti-Americanism, an increasing amount of Americans clearly want to make up their own minds. The Christian Science Monitor highlighted the main thrust of the film: nobody has a monopoly on truth.
Essentially Al Jazeera's 'Iraqi propaganda' activities are no greater (perhaps even rather less) than those of many liberal media outlets. In the UK many of these have also been criticised by the government, but they have not been the subject of major hacking attacks, nor have hosting and services companies declined to do business with them. We should also clarify something regarding the footage of the prisoners and the dead servicemen; military spokesmen to the contrary, reproducing such images is not a breach of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention is directed at governments, and does not cover news organisations. Al Jazeera has arguably broadcast images of the Iraqi Government breaching the Geneva Convention, but that is not the same thing.
To get this into perspective, note that one of the most striking pictures from the Vietnam war was of a South Vietnamese officer shooting a prisoner - do we argue that this should not have been published? If Al Jazeera had footage of an Iraqi shooting a British prisoner, should that be broadcast? The other way around? Are our standards today different from those of the 60s, or do the criteria differ depending on the nationalities of the participants and/or the audience? The answers are not straightforward, nor should they be. In deciding whether or not to report a story and how to report it news organisations have to take into account the motivation of the people they're covering, standards of taste and decency and likely impact on people involved, such as friends and family.
By Western standards Al Jazeera may have breached standards of taste and decency, and may not (again by Western standards) have sufficiently contextualised bin Laden and Iraqi exercises in propaganda. But by Middle Eastern standards Western media could similarly be accused of too readily parrotting propaganda in the other direction, and of too frequently operating a system of self-censorship. There's some merit to both points of view, the demise of Arnett being a good example of self-censorship, but there's no good reason for casting Al Jazeera into outer darkness - unless of course the problem is that its coverage has been increasingly reaching a Western audience.
American churches can contribute enormously by seeing how pathologically dysfunctional war is rapidly becoming. Let them affirm the psalmist’s contention that “the war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save” (33:17). Churches have a special obligation to point out that “God’n’country” is not one word, and to summon America to a higher vision of its meaning and destiny.Via Speaking to the Soul - From “Beyond War” in A Passion for the Possible: A Message to U.S. Churches by William Sloane Coffin (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004):
As America limps toward the November elections, fatigued by the exertions of war, numb to the lofty promises of politicians, in dread of the economic dragons growling on the horizon, the role of Congress could not be more irrelevant.Via Another Green World (thanks).
That's one of the reasons that GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R. Ariz.) has called for a change in congressional tradition, to one which allows the President to answer questions before the body.
It reminded me of the March 25, 2008 vote in the British House of Commons, where members of Parliament debated whether to open an official inquiry into the reasons for starting the war. Not surprisingly, the vote lost, largely along Party lines, as the ruling Labour members voted to protect their party, which sponsored and spearheaded the Iraq War, and avoided a formal inquiry.
Most, but not all.
A dozen Labour backbenchers bolted party ranks to express their support for an inquiry, in terms rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic.
And even though the inquiry vote failed by some 50 votes, it marked a period of questioning of the sort that should actually precede wars, not follow them.
When should we expect such voices in the U.S. Congress? 2025?
A red-haired, 34-year-old Dutch woman has become the first woman in the world to have her compete DNA unraveled, genetic scientists at Leiden University Medical Centre announced on Monday.
[T]he sequencing data of a female provides more insight into the X chromosome. 'Because the X chromosome has to do all the work in one half of the population - the males - selection has been tougher during human evolution,' according to Van Ommen. 'This means the X chromosome is less variable.'
Male sequencing data has already been unraveled from Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, from researcher Craig Venter and from two Yoruba Africans. 'It was time to balance the genders a bit,' news agency AP reported Van Ommen as saying.
Decoding the DNA took six months, but the scientists point out they could only use the sequencing equipment when it was not being used for other projects.
Business students of the Hogeschool Utrecht in Amersfoort came up with this in their first year to show off their business savvy.
“We talk a lot about sex,’’ says Jelle Okkerse (21). “The link with STDs was made very quickly since it is increasingly more of a problem with young people. We have so often not had a condom handy, which is why we came up with a trendy keychain, which can fit a condom.’’
Democrats should not attack the mayor for stepping in. He's doing the right thing. A fledgling city department is veering off course and the mayor is responsible . So is the city council.If y'all have time and the interest --
The Republicans may not philosophically agree with the city owning a telecom utility, but at least they understand it for what it is. Burlington Telecom is a political entity. There's no getting around that. I think that's great. Some people don't and believe all telecom utilities should be commercial or private. That's a debate we can have. But if the Dems try to accuse the mayor of politicizing what the Progs and the Republicans already know is political anyway, they run the risk of appearing out of touch and/or disingenuous. I hope they don't go there.
The fact is, this is a city department. There are oversight committees and there are processes. Burns cancelled the channel unilaterally without telling the oversight committees. That's un-democratic. This is a democracy, and Burlington Telecom is a public utility. If you want to infringe on someone's first amendment rights, you at least have to go through due process.
Open Forum: Open Government CommitteeIf the BTAC meeting on Tuesday has not room for public comment, you'll have a chance to have your say on Wednesday. After all, BT is a city department whose focus is communication! Let's hope Channel 17, that Burlington bastion of free speech records these meetings and carries them live-stream on its nifty website!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
2nd Floor, Firehouse Gallery/City Arts
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
A gay man who faces the death penalty in Iran has won asylum in the UK after protests prompted the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to reconsider his case.More background here.
Family and supporters of Mehdi Kazemi, now 20, welcomed the decision yesterday not to send him back to Iran where his boyfriend was arrested by the state police and executed for sodomy.
Mr Kazemi came to London to study in 2005, but in April 2006 discovered his gay partner had been arrested and named him as his boyfriend before his execution. Fearing he might suffer the same fate if he returned, Mr Kazemi decided to seek asylum in Britain. His claim was refused and he fled to the Netherlands where he also failed to win asylum before returning to Britain last month.
In an open letter to the British Government, Mr Kazemi told the Home Secretary: "I wish to inform the Secretary of State that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country. But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me."
Yesterday, the UK Border Agency said it had decided to allow him asylum, granting him leave to remain for five years.
The Death of Burlington Telecom
Take away the soul and the philosophy and what have you got? A subscriber base of 2100 people who can't get their remotes to work. Your'e a cork in a tempest tossed ocean of Comcasts and Adelphias and Dish TVs. Nobody cares about you, little network. The only thing you had going was your commitment to free speech. The providence and the promise of opening up more and more channels of communication. The limitless possibilities.
Including Burlington Telecom, there are only two telecom providers in the United States broadcasting Al Jazeera English. Are we supposed to believe Al Jazeera wants to lose half its carriers in the United States? The choice is Burlington Telecom's to make.
There are 100 million people out there watching the Al Jazeera network. But here in America, with our so-called "freedom of speech" we don't have a choice. Virtually no one gets to see it. We should know what the rest of the world is learning. We should not be afraid of words and ideas. This isn't the middle ages.
Throughout time, whenever somebody has wanted to shut someone else up the thing to do is accuse the speaker of inciting civil unrest. I don't care if it's Galileo, Salmon Rushdie or Ozzy Ozbourne, the same dumb arguments get used. But let's examine the logical fallacy inherent in censorship, shall we? In order to know something deserves censorship, you have to watch it. If you watch it, then tell others not to, you're a hypocrite. If you don't watch it, and tell others not to either, you're an ignoramus.
Whistle-blower finds support in royal circlesPieter van Vollenhoven analyzes problems rationally. And sometimes he meets criticism with a touch of humour and self-knowledge. He has a really independent mind and isn't afraid to put blame where it belongs. In the letter the state-secretary for Defence was urged to request Professor mr Pieter van Vollenhoven to act as mediator; the Dutch government still has to approve his offer to help Mr Spijkers.
Pieter van Vollenhoven, husband of one of Queen Beatrix's sisters [Princess Margriet, shown in the photograph with Van Vollenhoven], wants to act as a mediator in the case of the whistle-blower Fred Spijkers. He says Mr Spijkers is a courageous man, who he gladly wants to help.
Almost twenty-five years ago, Mr Spijkers prevented a Ministry of Defence cover-up after the deaths of eight soldiers. The eight were killed by landmines with fatal design error in the detonating mechanism. At the time, Fred Spijkers, who was a social worker for the Ministry of Defence, refused to tell the widow of one of the soldiers that his death was caused by his own carelessness. As a result of his action, Mr Spijkers still faces problems with his income, pension and tax assessments today. Several parliamentary parties [Labour, Socialists, GreenLeft, Christian Union , the progressive liberals (D66) and MP Verdonk] have called for these problems to be resolved before the summer.
The Ministry of Defence was aware of the faulty detonating mechanism as early as 1970. But it was only admitted by Defence Minister Joris Voorhoeve in 1997.
During the decades after Brown v. Board of Education there was terrific progress. Tens of thousands of public schools were integrated racially. During that time the gap between black and white achievement narrowed. But since 1990 when the Rehnquist court started ripping apart the legacy of Brown, the court has taken the teeth out of Brown. During these years our schools have rapidly segregated and the gap in skills between minorities and whites has increased again. I just visited 60 public schools in 11 different states; if you took a photo of the classes I’m visiting, they would look exactly like a photograph of a school in Mississippi 50 years ago. -- Jonathan Kozol, Educator and WriterThe struggle continues!
In order to maximize the number of subscribers, the cable operator usually selects channels that are likely to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.Burlington Telecom offers 135 TV channels in its most expensive bundle. That's not as many channels as other cable services offer, but it's still a wide array of "choices" for viewers. There's so much schlock and pap on there, most aren't worth watching -- Fox may be popular, but it certainly ain't news, right?
Al Jazeera's arrival also can be attributed to the fiercely independent and free-thinking spirit of the state and to the left-leaning sentiments of its citizens. At last count, about 40 communities in Vermont had passed resolutions demanding President Bush's impeachment. The Vermont State Senate also approved a resolution asking Congress to initiate impeachment hearings against the president and vice president — the only state legislative body to have done so.Wrong.
Such politics are coupled with a deep resentment among many Vermonters toward global media giants perceived as unchecked behemoths. Sanders, now an Independent U.S. senator, has organized two town-hall meetings focusing on media consolidation and cross-ownership. These gatherings are often standing-room-only affairs in which people lament media monopolies and their adverse effects on journalism and democracy.
Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that Al Jazeera's arrival on BT's cable lineup generated little controversy.
Easter, observed just after the first full moon following the equinox, is - like spring itself - a blaze of light bursting in on darkness. The light of Christ is an invitation to the dance - come closer, go to arm's length, be pulled back. In our era we are better at learning this in relation to each other than in relation to the earth itself. We pull further and further away, crucifying not only other species, but our own fullness as part of an ecosystem. Even most models of environmentalism paint us as caretakers of a separate "natural world". Paul's cosmic Christ calls us to more than this - rediscovering ourselves as cells in the body of God's universe.