Watchdog: Mexico One of most Dangerous Countries for Journalists

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Watchdog: Mexico One of most Dangerous Countries for Journalists

Mexico

Mexico has been slammed for successive presidents’ failure to stop violence against journalists or to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

A report from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and the few cases in which killers go to jail have not made a dent in such violence.

The group added that “endemic impunity allows criminal gangs, corrupt officials, and cartels to silence their critics” in Mexico, where it said over 50 journalists and media workers have been killed since 2010.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged President Enrique Pena Nieto to prioritize protection for the media in the last year of his government, after at least 21 journalists were slain in the past decade with “complete impunity.”

“The pursuit of justice has failed categorically,” CPJ said in a report on Mexico. “The system seems to be corrupt down to its very foundation; either that or it’s simply incapable of achieving justice.”

Mexico, where battles among rival drug cartels have left tens of thousands dead in recent years, has the sixth worst record in the world for resolving the murders of journalists, according to the CPJ.

Despite promises of action by Pena Nieto and his predecessors Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox, Mexico’s impunity rating has more than doubled since 2008, it added.

The CPJ’s impunity index is based on unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population.

The drug-ravaged state of Veracruz is now the deadliest region for the media in the Western hemisphere, the CPJ said.

A case in point was the January 21, 2016, killing of Marcos Hernandez Bautista, who was a reporter for the newspaper Noticias, Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca.

In March, a court in the southern state of Oaxaca convicted a former municipal police commander in the killing and sentenced him to 30 years. But the former mayor who the commander said ordered the slaying was not tried.

Journalists came under fire across the country in the ensuing weeks, resulting in March becoming the deadliest month for the press in Mexico in recent memory.

“Convictions in journalists’ murders are infrequent and when they do occur …. they are often limited to the perpetrator and authorities fail to establish a motive,” the report by Committee to Protect Journalists said.

“By not establishing a clear link to journalism or providing any motives for the killings most investigations remain opaque,” the report added. “This lack of accountability perpetuates a climate of impunity that leaves journalists open to attack.”

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Russian journalist, Putin critic dies of injuries after mysterious attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

VLADIMIR PUTIN

Russian journalist, Putin critic dies of injuries after mysterious attack

Nikolai Andrushchenko in October 2016.

Nikolai Andrushchenko in October 2016.  (AP Photo/Denis Usov)

A prominent Russian journalist – who was also a prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin – died Wednesday from injuries sustained during a mysterious attack six weeks ago in St. Petersburg.

Nikolai Andrushchenko’s death was reported by Russian media outlets that cited his lawyer and the editor-in-chief of the Novy Peterburg newspaper. State news agency RIA Novosti reported Andrushchenko, 73, had been in a medically induced coma since the March 9 attack.

RUSSIA’S SUPREME COURT BANS JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

Andrushchenko’s attackers have not been identified. The editor of RIA Novosti has linked the assault to articles in the newspaper about corruption in St. Petersburg.

Andrushchenko was a member of the St. Petersburg city council from 1990 until 1993. He was among the founders of Novy Peterburg, where he made a name for himself writing about human rights issues and crime.

He was jailed in 2007 for defamation — but his colleagues said the court was punishing him for its news coverage giving a voice to the opposition, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

China’s Actions At G20 Summit Designed To Humiliate President Obama, U.S.

(This article is courtesy of the Washington Post)

Obama’s China visit gets off to rocky start, reflecting current relations

September 3 at 2:29 PM
The problems began as soon as President Obama landed in China.There were no stairs waiting for him to disembark from his usual door at the top of Air Force One.

On the tarmac, as Obama’s staff scrambled to get lower-level stairs in place for him to disembark, White House press photographers traveling with him tried to get in their usual position to mark his arrival in a foreign country, only to find a member of the Chinese welcoming delegation screaming at them.

He told the White House press corps they needed to leave.

A White House official tried to intervene, saying this is our president and our plane and the media isn’t moving.

Obama presses climate issues at G-20 summit in China

President Obama praised the Paris agreement on climate change while meeting with world leaders at the G20 summit in China, but said the plan by itself “won’t solve the climate crisis.” (Reuters)

The man yelled in response, “This is our country!”

The man then entered into a testy exchange with Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, and her deputy, Ben Rhodes, while trying to block them from moving toward the front of the plane.

On what is probably his last visit to China for a G20 summit here, there were flare-ups and simmering tensions throughout— a fitting reflection of how the relationship between these two world powers has become frayed and fraught with frustration. Over the past seven years, that turbulence with China has colored and come to define Obama’s foreign policy at-large in Asia.

On Saturday, several White House protocol officers and other staff arriving at a diplomatic compound ahead of Obama’s meetings were stopped from entering and had heated arguments with Chinese officials in order to get in.

“The president is arriving here in an hour,” one White House staffer was overheard saying in exasperation.

A fist fight nearly broke out between a Chinese official trying to help the U.S. diplomats and a Chinese security official trying to keep them out. “Calm down please. Calm down,” another White House official pleaded.

Twenty minutes before the arrival of Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two sides were still arguing in the room where the two leaders would soon be touting their cooperation. The Chinese insisted there was not enough space for the 12 American journalists traveling with Obama. U.S. officials insisted there was, pointing to a spacious area sectioned off for the media and citing arrangements negotiated long in advance.

For all the skirmishes, in the days leading up to the trip, White House officials gave a much rosier depiction of the US-China relationship, talking up mutual cooperation such as a deal to improve climate change.

But in so many other areas, the world’s two largest economic powers have failed to bridge increasing hostilities and in­trac­table maritime disputes, cyber security, trade and human rights. The yelling and screaming on Saturday in many ways illustrated just how differently both sides view their roles—and how little has changed since Obama’s troubled first visit in 2009.

High hopes turn to pivot

Obama began with high hopes of improving U.S.-China relations. In 2009, he tried reaching out to Chinese leaders with offers of increased engagement. He decided not to meet with the Dali Lama to avoid angering Beijing, to the disappointment of human rights advocates. Obama became the first U.S. president to visit China during his first year in office. But his administration was taken aback by how completely the Chinese controlled all aspects that visit.

“He wasn’t allowed to say much at all,” said Orville Schell, a longtime China scholar who was in China during the visit. “The Chinese kept him from meeting certain people, from taking questions or even radio broadcasts. He didn’t know quite how to respond. He didn’t want to be impolite. It took the U.S. a while to understand that this was the direction China and the relationship was headed.”

Some have blamed Obama for adopting such an overly optimistic and open stance during those early years. For all his outreach, current and former top U.S. diplomats say, Obama got little in return, except the feeling of being burned by Beijing.

But that could be equally attributed to the simple fact that China itself was undergoing a seismic shift during those early years of Obama’s presidency.

When the global recession plunged the world into financial crisis in the late 2000’s, China escaped unscathed. Its leaders looked around and realized for the first time just how much power China had achieved in becoming the world’s second largest economy. And shortly after, they began eagerly throwing that weight around.

No longer were they willing to make concessions or bide their time, from big things, such as territorial claims, down to the nitty-gritty of negotiations over who sits where and says what in diplomatic exchanges.

Obama’s response to this newfound Chinese assertiveness was largely a response to reality. “In a textbook, it would be great to have a strategic vision for how you see things being eight years now,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, Obama’s top Asia adviser during those early years. “But in this case, I think the word ‘reaction’ is right. You had a China that was changing in capacity and leadership.”

If the carrot of engagement didn’t work, the Obama administration decided, they would try the stick. And they gave this tougher policy a name: the “Pivot to Asia.”

The pivot policy boiled down to the idea of turning the attention of the United States away from perpetual problem areas in the short-term such as the Middle East to Asia — an area that will have clear long-term strategic importance in coming years.

Those overseeing the pivot strategy, senior U.S. officials said at the time, had studied other examples in history, where one power was rising while others were declining: Germany’s rise in Europe after World War I; Athens and Sparta; the rise of the United States, itself, in the past century.

Out of those studies, they developed a belief that China would respond best to a position of strength. To find that leverage, the United States planned to forge stronger ties with its traditional allies in Asia and pick up new allies among neighbors alienated by China’s new aggression — including Vietnam, Burma and India.

Using that multilateral approach, the thinking went, the United States could offset China’s rising military power and assertiveness.

Doubts in Asia and among allies

The main problem with the Asia pivot was one of perception and substance.

European and Middle East leaders expressed concern with the idea of U.S. attention and priorities suddenly shifting from their regions to another. Chinese leaders saw the pivot as a U.S. conspiracy to interfere with China’s goals and to slow its rise.

Meanwhile, the very Asian allies the pivot was meant to reassure had their doubts, as well. Many wondered how much of the U.S. pivot was empty rhetoric and how much of it would be backed by economic and military substance.

In recent months, those doubts have resurfaced because the Trans-Pacific partnership — a trade deal Obama cobbled together as a way to reach out to Asian allies — may die for lack of support among Congress and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, in the years since the pivot strategy began, the U.S.-China relationship has soured to its current acrimonious state.

Both countries today are trying to avoid open hostility but are increasingly wary, hedging and frustrated with each other. Other countries in the region continue to fear China’s rise but at the same time are not fully convinced that the United States will be a sufficient counterweight.

The U.S.-China relationship may be the biggest problem Obama’s successor will face in Asia. How he or she deals with it — the exact proportion of carrots and sticks chosen and the Chinese response — will probably define the region in the decade to come.

If this visit by Obama is any indication, the situation is not likely to get better anytime soon.

On Saturday, even as the two presidents finished their talk and prepared for a final nighttime stroll toward Obama’s motorcade. Chinese officials suddenly cut the number of U.S. journalists who could cover them from six to three, and finally to one.

“That is our arrangement,” a Chinese official flatly told a White House staffer, looking away.

“But your arrangement keeps changing,” the White House staffer responded.

In the end, after lengthy and infuriating negotiations, they settled on having just two journalists witness the leaders’ walk.

Neither side was happy with the result.

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