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The premium media organization who coves news and updates, focusing an eye on highlights of the inside stories of international media players, world politics, geo-political strategies’ and world leaders political moves around the globe.

World trends in freedom of expression and media development

Publication title: World trends in freedom of expression and media development
Publisher: UNESCO, 2014

UNESCO has released a report documenting world trends in freedom of expression and media development.

UNESCOrepEach of the report’s four chapters, on freedom (chapter 1), pluralism (chapter 2), independence (chapter 3) and safety (chapter 4), contains a section of gender .

In the foreword section, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO explains the impetus for the report. “At the 36th session of the General Conference (November 2011), Member States  mandated UNESCO to explore the impact of change on press freedom and the safety  of journalists”.

Bokova underlines four angles of analysis adopted “to review emerging trends, through the conditions of  media freedom, pluralism and independence, as well as the safety of journalists. At each  level, the Report has also examined trends through the lens of gender equality”.

On media freedom for instance, the report highlights the continued “relative exclusion of women in news content by mainstream media and even online media”, echoing findings of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) research in 2010.

Download the UNESCO report here.

Women and Media: Africa in Focus

Join the BBG and Gallup for a discussion about women’s media consumption habits across Africa, and how those choices impact their lives.

african-female-journalsitsAn emerging body of evidence shows that investing in opportunities for women can yield economic, health and even national security benefits for all. Many U.S. agencies and other organizations are working to improve the lives of women around the globe, resulting in a growing need to better understand which media platforms are most likely to reach them. Please join the BBG and Gallup for a conversation focused on this question.

A keynote, followed by a deep dive into the data, and roundtable discussion will comprise this event.

Presenters will include:

  • Tara Sonenshine, Distinguished Fellow, George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
  • Sonja Gloeckle, Director of Research, IBB
  • Magali Rheault, Regional Research Director, Francophone Africa, Gallup

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 23 2014 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM

Location:

Gallup World Headquarters
901 F Street, NW
(Entrance on 9th Street)
Washington, DC 20004

This event is free, but registration is required.

This event is on the record and will be recorded for future viewing.

 

For more information, please call the BBG’s Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4400
or email publicaffairs@bbg.gov

Gender politics of British television: British Women Dominating on TV

Radio Times has claimed that a “revolution” has taken place in the gender politics of British television with “more and more British women dominating the screens and airwaves both on and off screen”.

 

The magazine published a “powerlist” of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting, citing presenters Kirsty Wark and Kirstie Allsopp alongside the BBC controllers Charlotte Moore (BBC1) and Kim Shillinglaw (BBC2).

Contrary to previous reports that television is a medium which discriminates against older women, the powerlist was comprised of women aged between 39 and 79, with the exception of actor Sheridan Smith, 33. Among the septuagenarians on the list were Mary Berry, star of The Great British Bake Off, and the actress Anne Reid, who are both 79.

Radio Times said it had decided to draw up the list after interest in the BBC’s choice of female duo Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman as hosts of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

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Alison Graham, television editor of Radio Times, said that the controversy surrounding this casting – without a male presenter – showed “just how pitifully slowly television has reacted to the seismic changes in wider society”.

“For more years than I care to remember a woman’s place on television has routinely been on a slab, the decorously eviscerated victim of some serial killer or other,” she said. “But luckily a revolution has been rumbling quietly in the background and it’s now reached the foreground as clever, talented and formidable women prove that our gender provides much more than disposable props.”

The list was chosen by a panel headed by Jenni Murray, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Also on the panel was Amanda Berry, chief executive of Bafta, Emma Freud, a founder of Comic Relief, and the quizmaster Richard Osman, co-presenter of BBC1 show Pointless.

The chief executive of Women in Film & Television, Kate Kinninmont, welcomed the list but said it also suggested a lack of women in the production side of the business.

“These names provide a role model for young women who are thinking of coming into the television business and can see that it’s not just female actors who have the chance of careers but also other people behind the scenes,” she said. “But where we don’t have so many women is in writing, directing and the crew. There are no cinematographers, there are no sound people, no editors and no composers.”

Ms Kinninmont, who is a former BBC producer, said that almost all of the women on the list were well known and she would like to see greater analysis of the production credits.

Daisy Goodwin, founder of Silver River Productions, said: “Because there are so many women working in television we think we have sorted it – but I’m still amazed by how few women there are right at the very top.”

The Government’s naming of Rona Fairhead as the potential first female chair of the BBC Trust was “quite revolutionary”, she said. “That has been a job for the boys so I’m delighted it has gone to a woman.” Ms Fairhead’s nomination came too late for the powerlist.

The list in full

  1. Olivia Colman, actor
  2. Mary Berry, presenter
  3. Clare Balding, presenter
  4. Julie Walters, actor
  5. Victoria Wood, comedian
  6. Dawn French, comedian/actor
  7. Sheridan Smith, actor
  8. Mary Beard, presenter
  9. Sarah Lancashire, actor
  10. Joanna Lumley, actor
  11. Claudia Winkleman, presenter
  12. Sarah Millican, comedian
  13. Kirstie Allsopp, presenter
  14. Miranda Hart, comedian
  15. Anne Reid, actor
  16. Kirsty Wark, presenter
  17. Heidi Thomas, writer
  18. Abi Morgan, writer
  19. Beryl Vertue, producer
  20. Sue Vertue, producer
  21. Jay Hunt, chief creative officer, Channel 4
  22. Sally Wainwright, writer
  23. Nicola Shindler, founder, Red production company
  24. Elisabeth Murdoch, founder, Shine production company
  25. Pippa Harris, co-founder Neal Street Productions
  26. Charlotte Moore, controller, BBC1
  27. Helen Boaden, director, BBC Radio
  28. Anne Mensah, head of drama, Sky
  29. Hilary Bevan Jones, producer
  30. Kim Shillinglaw, controller, BBC2

Story by: The Independent

Celebrating Good journalism: A Helping Hand From the United Nations

Commenting on the calls at a United Nations conference in Indonesia at the weekend for media to play a more active role in promoting peace and tolerance, BBC journalist Mark Easton warned bluntly that it’s not the job of journalists to celebrate diversity. Our role, he says, is to stick to the facts. If we start taking a point of view it might alienate parts of the audience.

He has a point. The cardinal principle of journalism is to provide accurate, reliable and impartial reporting of events and not to take sides, even in favour of worthy causes.

media-awardsBut in a world where people increasingly get their news in an instant feed from Internet sources, such as social media, the role of journalism is less about reporting facts and more about delivering what the Internet does not provide – reliable context, background and intelligent analysis. These are the vital ingredients of ethical journalism that help us better understand the impact of events.

It’s not possible to really understand what’s happening in Ukraine, or Gaza, or Pakistan without providing careful and sensitive reporting of the back story including the historical context; a rational assessment of the political and social forces at work; and some thoughtful consideration of what may happen next.

We can do this without, as Easton fears, taking sides. But being impartial does not mean that we always have to seek contrary opinions, particularly on issues where there is an established and overwhelming expert consensus such as climate change and the impact of HIV/Aids.

In order to make these fine distinctions journalists need to be well-trained, better informed and, above all, free to work without undue pressure from politicians and campaigners.

But sometimes special interest groups can help. One excellent example of this came at the UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) conference where a useful and detailed Glossary on Migration for Media was launched by Panos Europe.

Migration is just the sort of story where journalists are encouraged to take sides.

It’s a story about humanitarian rights and the aspirations of people who are seeking to improve their lives, seeking refuge from injustice and tyranny, or are on the run from war and conflict at home.

And it is also hugely controversial. In Europe and the United States, for instance, attitudes to migration fuel deep political divisions. They are a breeding ground for unscrupulous and intolerant politics.

For this reason it is vital that journalists tell the story as it is – in context and with careful handling of the facts.

Whether it is a story being reported on the borders of the United States and Mexico; or from the Mediterranean where boatloads of desperate people risk their lives to start a new life within the European Union; or from the refugee camps sprouting around the conflicts in Iraq and Syria; it is essential that journalists are sensitive in their use of words and images.

Too often journalists are ill prepared for this story. Often they don’t know the difference, for instance, between who is a migrant, an internally-displaced person, an asylum seeker and a refugee, and the difference in their status and rights under international law.

When this is the case, how can they begin to provide stories that properly explain the story of migration?

This glossary helps by providing simple explanations. From asylum-seeking to xenophobia, the terms and issues in the migration story are touched upon. It won’t provide all the answers, but it points journalists and media in the right direction. And if it helps us to tell the story with compassion and clarity that will be something to celebrate.

Journalist for 17 years. An idealist, aspiring novelist, wannabe yogi...a reined in wanderer. columnist.

Ranjiv Gandhi Excellence award for Pakistani journalist Reema Abbasi

NEW DELHI: Karachi based Reema Abbasi, author of the recently launched book, ‘Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience’ has won the ‘best literary personality of the year’ at the Fifth Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Awards organized in New Delhi.

Journalist for 17 years. An idealist, aspiring novelist, wannabe yogi...a reined in wanderer. columnist.
Journalist for 17 years. An idealist, aspiring novelist, wannabe yogi…a reined in wanderer. columnist.

The event was attended by many and organized by the Non-government organization, Pehchaan- it is run by a hub of significant media professionals,activists and policymakers to concentrate on nurturing the girl child.

‘Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience,’ is a book-length attempt to record in pictures the history of an Islamic country’s Hindu past,especially as extremist activity mounts against Pakistan’s religious and ethnic minorities, including Ahmadis, Christians, Sikhs and Shia Muslims.

 

 

 

“For the past 10 years my writings have maintained a focus on the values of secularism, tolerance and a pluralistic milieu. This book is basically a culmination of that journey.
This particular journey has culminated but the quest is on”, says Reema Abbasi about her decision to travel rigorously for a year and write this book.
The author says the process began as a guerrilla project for her and Aijaz, their travels taking them across the country to Balochistan, Sindh, and Peshawar.

Abbasi traveled the country to write this narrative covering about 40 old religious sites including the Hindu temples in the jagged terrain of the western part of Balochistan. She also visited the Thar Desert and the Indus River Valley in the state of Sindh as well as Karachi, Lahore in Punjab and dangerous sketches of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with the Afghanistan border.

Protesters leave PTV building, transmissions restored

Pakistan Army arrived to vacate the premises of the state-run Pakistan Television Monday after protestors entered its premises and ransacked and occupied its building.

Samaa reported that protestors entered into PTV building after breaking main gates. They ransacked the building forcing closure of transmission of PTV World – one of its several channels.

Several hundred employees of PTV got besieged inside the building and were reportedly really worried about their safety.

Soon after protestors occupied the building, a contingent of the Pakistan Army arrived to control the situation.

Pakistan Army made announcements for calm and urged protestors to clear the building.

Protestors said that they were vacating the building in respect of the army. Afterwards, they gathered outside the building.

PTV Director News Athar Farooq, later talking to Samaa, said that protestors forced them to shut the transmission.

“They cut our cables and got hold of our equipment…our 20 to 22 cameras have been stolen,” he said.

He said that they have restored PTV World signals after army evicted protestors from the premises.

The protesters engaged in street battles with policemen after a long stand off in Islamabad, had broken the gate of Pakistan Television building and entered in the premises in federal capital.

The protesters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), vacated the building after military troops ordered them to leave.

The protesters after their entry at the television headquarter buildings forced shut down of the transmissions of PTV News and PTV World.

Federal Interior Ministry came into action after the incident and called the troops for assistance to the civil administration so as the protesters could be removed from the television building.

The military rushed to the premises and directed the protesters to leave the premises within 10 minutes.

protestors-enter-ptv-premises
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protestors-enter-ptv-premises-1409555098-7498

Several journalists attacked while covering Freedom March in Pakistan

New York: The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on all sides to respect the role of journalists and media workers covering an anti-government demonstration in Pakistan. Journalists from various news outlets have been attacked while covering the “Freedom March”, according to news reports.

“We note that the organizers of the ‘Freedom March’ have condemned these attacks but they must do more to control their supporters and ensure the safety of journalists covering the protests,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Whatever message demonstrators are trying to convey, it’s unlikely that beating reporters and news crews is going to do the job.”

At least four crew members from Aaj News, including digital satellite news gathering engineer Iqbal, cameramen Usmaan, Iqbal, and Samaarat, (identified by single names only) were beaten today by workers from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party while covering a speech by PTI leader Imran Khan during a sit-in in the capital Islamabad, the private news channel reported. The four were treated in hospital for minor injuries, reports said.

journalists-attacked-pakistan

Journalist and International Press Freedom awardee Umar Cheema, who has documented the attacks, told CPJ by email that those involved were PTI workers. News broadcasts showed the attackers wearing orange jackets that identified them as official workers who had been brought in to manage the march.

In recent days, tens of thousands of demonstrators have participated in the demonstration, which has traveled from Lahore to Islamabad, and was organized by the PTI and the anti-government cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri. The protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over allegations of electoral fraud.

A Samaa TV crew were also harassed at the march by workers who confiscated their footage on Sunday after covering claims that a woman was harassed at the sit-in, according to news reports and tweets by Gharidah Farooqi, a journalist with the private news channel.

In a separate incident, journalist Babar Malik from the private news channel ARY News, was beaten by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters on Thursday while covering a rally that PML-N had organized to show solidarity with Sharif, according to reports. Local PML-N leaders Hanif Abbasi and Ziaullah Shah helped rescue Malik, who was bruised but not seriously injured during the attack in the Faizabad area of Rawalpindi. The news channel said he was attacked for having reported on the opposition rally.

Between August 15 and 16, several journalists and media workers from the privately owned Geo TV were also assaulted or harassed while covering the PTI-led rally, according to news reports and Cheema.

Along the route of the march a crowd began kicking and striking a Geo digital satellite news gathering van with batons while staff, including reporters Arshad Waheed and Farhat Jabeen, were inside. They warned the crew they would set fire to the vehicle if they did not leave the area within 10 minutes, according to reports.

Demonstrators snatched a mic from Geo reporter Azaz Syed when he was about to go on-air while covering the event from the Zero Point interchange in the capital, Islamabad. The demonstrators then surrounded Syed and forced him to flee, according to reports.

PTI party workers attacked Saif-ur-Rehman, another Geo journalist, forcing him to flee. As Rehman set up his mic, which displayed a logo for Geo TV, a group of men approached him from behind. One of them pounced on him and started yelling: “Get lost. You work for the traitor channel,” Cheema told CPJ. GEO TV cameraman Shabbir Ahmed had his camera broken by PTI workers and another cameraman, Khurram Shehzad, was beaten and had his equipment damaged, according to reports.

The PTI condemned the attacks on journalists and Khan apologized, according to news reports and the International Federation of Journalists. But The News International reported that Khan had criticized Geo News and the Jang group, Pakistan’s largest newspaper company, during a speech on Saturday night, saying: “You are making propaganda against me.”

In a separate incident, unidentified men who appeared intoxicated, attacked an ARY News team in Rawalpindi along the rally route from Lahore to Islamabad on August 14, according to the news channel. PTI party workers intervened and helped lead the crew, who have not been named, to a safer location. A driver for the channel, who was not named in news reports, was taken to a hospital to be treated for head injuries.

Committee to Protect Journalists

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mid east crisis(June 28, 2014) The Obama administration has stepped up its military involvement in the civil war that has spread from Syria to Iraq, further fueling the slaughter and heightening the level of destruction and human suffering throughout the region.

On Thursday, the White House asked Congress to authorize $500 million for direct US military training and equipment for Sunni insurgents fighting the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

On the same day, the Pentagon deployed drones over Baghdad to bolster the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against Sunni insurgents led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the first US military advisers began operations in the Iraqi capital.

The contradictions in US policy are stark. The CIA and US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been arming and training Sunni Islamist fighters that are the backbone of the forces opposing the Assad government in Syria. The most extreme wing of the anti-Assad forces, ISIS, has now crossed the border into Iraq to wage war against the US-installed regime of Maliki, leading the US to step in to fight against a group that was tacitly allied with Washington in Syria.

The request for $500 million in US military aid and training for the Syrian insurgents was part of a much larger $65.8 billion request for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a supplement to the gargantuan $700 billion Pentagon budget.

The bulk of the OCO will go to Afghanistan, where 36,000 US troops are engaged in extensive combat operations against Taliban forces in the southern and eastern districts of the country. Billions more will finance Special Forces and drone missile operations in Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere across North Africa.

Some $5 billion of the OCO is dedicated to the “counterterrorism infrastructure” initiative Obama announced earlier this month, aimed at the region extending from the Sahara Desert in Africa to Pakistan. Half of these funds will go to pay for US Special Forces and training of troops in partner nations across that vast region, while the remaining half will go to operations related to the Syrian civil war.

Of this, $1.5 billion will flow to the four countries bordering on Syria—Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq—all US client states, to bolster border security and offset some of the costs of housing and feeding the millions of refugees who have fled the civil war.

Five hundred million dollars will go to training Syrian opposition forces to “defend the Syrian people, stabilize areas under opposition control, facilitate the provision of essential services, counter terrorist threats, and promote conditions for a negotiated settlement,” according to a White House summary.

The remaining $500 million will pay for “unforeseen contingencies related to counterterrorism or regional instability”—in other words, Pentagon, CIA and State Department operations related to the crisis in Iraq.

The White House statement describes those Syrians who will receive training as “vetted elements” of the armed opposition. This formulation is meant to suggest that, unlike previous US efforts to foment civil war in Syria, this new initiative will exclude Al Qaeda-linked groups such as ISIS and the Al Nusra Front.

It has been widely reported that hundreds of ISIS members—likely including many of those now engaged in the offensive against Maliki in Iraq—received military training from CIA operatives at camps in Jordan.

Leading congressional Democrats have backed the escalation of US support for the Syrian insurgents, with Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, declaring his support “in light of recent events in Iraq and Syria.”

The US military began supplying some Syrian opposition groups with TOW anti-tank missiles last month, the first significant shipment of heavy weapons directly from Pentagon inventories. Up to then, US weapons found their way to the insurgents via Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The flights by armed US drones over Baghdad marked another step towards a direct US military re-engagement in Iraq. Until Thursday, US drone flights were limited to unarmed reconnaissance vehicles. The armed drones operate from a US air base in neighboring Kuwait.

Also on Thursday, the Iraqi army launched its first major counteroffensive since the arrival of US Special Forces “advisers” and the opening of a US-run Joint Operations Center in Baghdad. Helicopter-borne commandos landed near the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein and a stronghold of Sunni opposition to the Maliki government. There was heavy fighting around a university campus in the city.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic and political maneuvering over the crisis continued. Iraqi officials announced that the newly elected parliament would convene for the first time on Tuesday, July 1, beginning the process of the formation of a new government. US officials have been pushing for Prime Minister Maliki to step down and be replaced by another Shiite political figure not as hated by the Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Friday in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Abdullah, following talks in Paris with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates—all Sunni-majority countries that are hostile to the Shiite-based Maliki government.

The Saudi monarch has put the Saudi armed forces on full alert because of the crisis in Iraq. ISIS fighters have seized border crossings between Iraq and Syria and between Iraq and Jordan, and are moving south toward the Iraq-Saudi border.

By Patrick Martin(WSWS.org)

Egyptian President Sisi ordered Rania Badawi not to appear on TV

Rania BadawiEgyptian President ordered Rania Badawi who hang the phone on the Ethiopian Ambassador to be replaced by Riham Sabli and not to appear on TV.

This came after a note of protest made by the Ethiopian Ambassador in Cairo, Mahmoud Dridi Gedi, to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, on the background presenter Rania Badawi shut the phone in his face during televised interview.

A source confirmed that the president also sent a letter to all media in Egypt to Stop an attack on Ethiopia specially at this period.  The Badawi has hosted the Ambassador over the phone, confirmed to her that Ethiopia is proceeding with construction of the dam, and that this will not affect Egypt and Sudan, according to a tripartite committee has conducted a study, it also called on her to stop what he called the tone condescending in talking to him, so she shut down the phone on the face of the ambassador.

This comes just days before President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi travel to deliver a speech in front of the African Union, amid reports about the presence of a strong and calming mediation between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Rania-Badawi1

The Egyptian television channel, Al Tahrir, invited Ambassador Dirir on its program Fil Midan (In The Square) to discuss the latest on the two countries relation over the Nile dam row. The TV-host, Rania Badawy, seems to have already been fired up with the interview she had with Egypt’s new Irrigation Minister on the same subject right before she welcomed Ambassador Dirir.

Following is the entire unedited interview translated to English from Arabic:

TV-host: Your excellency, Mr. Ambassador, good evening.

Amb. Dirir: Good evening. First, I’d like to salute the minister and congratulate him on his new position. And there will be the usual cooperation between the ministry and us. By now, I’ve worked with many ministers in Egypt and we’re optimist with his appointment.

TV-host: Cool. Does that mean there will be cooperation for viewpoints to meet halfway?

Amb. Dirir: First, it appears to me that you were speaking in a clichéd political tone while you were talking with the minister. We are now … [Interrupted]

TV-host: Which is what exactly? Explain it to me.

Amb. Dirir: We are now talking about reviewing the entire Ethiopian-Egyptian relation and we do not limit our relations to the Renaissance Dam. The Ethiopian-Egyptian interests are much bigger than that. Promoting that this dam will endanger the lives of Egyptians and that it’s going to threaten the Egyptian water interests, do not have a place in our ongoing negotiations. We’ve reached … [Interrupted]

TV-host: So, if it’s not threatening the lives of Egyptians, why is Egypt bothered to send you delegates for negotiations?

Amb. Dirir: Excuse me … Allow me. Allow me … Allow me my lady.

TV-host: Go ahead.

Amb. Dirir: We are going to build this dam, and we’ll continue to build it. It’ll not negatively affect Egypt or Sudan.

TV-host: Hmmm [Smirked]. All right, your Excellency Mr. Ambassador, again my question is, if you (Ethiopians) think this dam will not burden the Egyptian people, then how do you see the formation of committees every now and then [stuttering] to go to Ethiopia and negotiate with the officials? Do you think the Egyptian government doesn’t understand the subject and is wasting its time or what’s it exactly?

Amb. Dirir: No, no. On the contrary, you’re looking at the issue in a very pessimistic way. What we’ve reached at this level is a positive achievement.  First, with Ethiopia’s initiative, a tripartite committee of experts was formed from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia together with international experts. And a comprehensive report was released from this initiative, which has concluded two main points: one is that this dam does not harm Egypt and the other is, the construction of the dam complies with international standards. Secondly, when we talk about the Renaissance Dam, we’re talking about combating poverty in Africa especially in Ethiopia. Moreover, we are talking about the electricity shortage this region suffers in relation to the industrialization boom. Because the Ethiopian economy depends on agriculture, it is impossible to achieve industrialization without electric power especially one that is environmentally friendly like hydropower.

TV-host: Ok, ok, your Excellency, Egypt has announced repeatedly she’s not against development or if the level [standard of living] of Ethiopians improve or [against] your policies in combating poverty … Egypt is for development and I think you’ve just heard the Irrigation Minister saying we’re willing to operate the dam and participate in the technical administration and cooperation. Egypt is offering everything only on the condition that the construction of the dam is reversed to its initial specification & capacity without the new alternations. Not the 47 billion per hour as it is now … [Interrupted]

Amb. Dirir: Excuse me … Excuse me, we’ve gone past this dictation and description you’re talking about, and it doesn’t concern us in anyway. What concerns us [Interrupted]

TV-host: When you say you’re past it, do you mean you refused it or what?

Amb. Dirir: What concerns us is that there are recommendations presented by the tripartite committee, which we have to work together to realize. And excuse me, with regards to Egypt’s desire to operate the dam and etcetera, that’s Ethiopia’s affair not Egypt’s.

TV-host: Aha… So, you don’t want us to jointly operate the dam with you?

Amb. Dirir: I told you, this decision is Ethiopia’s to make.

TV-host: Let me ask you again. You’ve passed the discussion on the capacity of the dam. As I understand, you’re still insisting on the present specification and capacity of the dam.

Amb. Dirir: You don’t understand about dams and you’re speaking in a bumptious tone. And this doesn’t add one iota to the talks between the two nations, and these superfluous questions doesn’t benefit anyone. [Interrupted]

TV-host: Mr. Ambassador, you trespassed your limits with me and it is not your right to characterize my words. I do not characterize your words, and you shouldn’t be talking about bumptiousness. I have the right to ask the question that the Egyptian people are asking and are concerned about. These questions are not superfluous. It’s my right to ask Mr. Ambassador and it’s only diplomatic and a protocol of engagement that you do not attack anyone or characterize a question. And when you’re being asked a question, either you answer that question or say no comment. I ask and you have to answer or refuse to comment, that’s your right. Otherwise, it’s none of you’re right. Your Excellency, you’ve trespassed the limits and I thank you… Thank you very much.

With that the TV-host Rania Badawy hanged up and discontinued the televised phone conversation. But right before he was cut off, the Ambassador was heard in the background saying, “No, you’ve trespassed you’re limits as a journalist.”

Apparently, the television station has supported Badawy, seeing that it has let her keep ranting on the Ambassador even after she discourteously ended the phone conversation.

“It’s known that Mr. Mahmoud Dirir, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt, is one of the adamant people towards Egypt in general and regarding the dam,” she exclaimed.

“And I think we had a show with him before and I wish my colleagues [search for the clip] so that I can show you, it was clear from the beginning that there is insistence, adamancy and aggression when dealing with this topic.”

Media Scam? Iran and America Join Hands in Waging “The Global War on Terrorism”?

Following the incursion of jihadist rebels of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) into Iraq and the capture of its second largest city Mosul, American and Iranian officials meeting behind closed in Vienna allegedly reached, according to media reports, a historical agreement: Tehran will collaborate with Washington in fighting the ISIS rebels in the context of  “America’s War on Terrorism”.  A new foreign policy narrative on US-Iran relations has emerged. Is it real? Is it fake? What happened on June 16 in Vienna? 

According to Tehran, nothing happened, there were no negotiations.Iran US joining

Moreover, in an unusual  twist,  according to Western media reports, Washington took the decision to “collaborate” with Tehran, despite the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran is subject to a US sanctions regime and is categorized by the US State Department as a “State Sponsor of terrorism” which “harbors senior al Qaeda leaders”

Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide remained undiminished through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hizballah, which remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region. The U.S. government continued efforts to counter Iranian and proxy support for terrorist operations via sanctions and other legal tools. (US State Department, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013)

Ironically, this “fake” foreign policy shift from “countering” Iran’s (alleged) support of Al Qaeda to actually “collaborating” with Tehran “in going after Al Qaeda”, didn’t raise an eye-bat in the media or the US Congress.

Notwithstanding these apparent contradictions (see below for further analysis) Secretary of State John Kerry, was emphatic: the US government will “communicate” with Tehran with regard to “pushing back the Islamist terrorists”.

While Tehran will participate (according to US statements) in counter-terrorism operations in coordination with Washington, officially the two governments will “not work together”.

While the alleged Vienna agreement excludes an “active” relationship between Washington and Tehran, it nonetheless establishes (according to John Kerry) a positive framework of collaboration, implying the exchange of information and intelligence:

“What I said [John Kerry] is we are interested in communicating with Iran to make clear that the Iranians know what we’re thinking and we know what they’re thinking and there’s a sharing of information so people aren’t making mistakes,” (US State Department website: Interview With John Kerry, June 16, 2014 emphasis added)

Analysts quoted by the Los Angeles Times say that:

“the U.S. and Iran are likely to agree to only limited military cooperation at best, if President Obama chooses to order direct military action, such as airstrikes, in Iraq.” (emphasis added)

America’s overture to Iran at the Vienna meetings took place on Monday June 16, 2014 when Deputy Secretary of State William Burns joined the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. It was understood at this meeting that “talks about the threat posed by an Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni extremist group” would be discussed on the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations:

The topic was not military coordination “or strategy determinations about Iraq’s future over the heads of the Iraq people,” the [US] official said in a statement. Instead, “we will discuss how the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, [or ISIS] threatens many countries in the region, including Iran, and the need to support inclusivity in Iran and refrain from pressing a sectarian agenda.” U.S. and Iranian officials have been hinting for several days that they may discuss at least limited cooperation on how to deal with the extremist group, which has seized the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit in the last week. (Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2014)

Tehran Denies the Existence of an Agreement with Washington

While the Western media in chorus has focused its attention on US-Iran “collaboration”, official sources in Tehran deny the existence of an entente between the two governments.  On June 16, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian (i.e. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns’ Iranian counterpart) stated emphatically that:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has had no negotiations with the Americans over mutual cooperation in Iraq.”

In turn, Iran’s Supreme Leader’s top adviser said: “Iran will not cooperate with the US over the crisis in Iraq as Tehran and Washington pursue different objectives in helping the Iraqi nation.”

… If Washington truly intends to help Iraq counter the ongoing Takfiri [ISIS] violence, it should first condemn terrorism and those parties that support and fund the terrorists.

On Wednesday, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces General Hassan Firouzabadi rejected western media speculations about Tehran’s likely cooperation with the US over Iraq, and also stressed that Iran has not deployed troops in Iraq. “There is no need to the presence of Iranian forces in Iraq,” General Firouzabadi told reporters, and added, “Cooperation between Iran and the US will never take place and is meaningless.”  (Fars News, June 20, 2014, emphasis added)

What happened in Vienna on June? Nothing?

Opening the Door to Military Escalation. Towards a New Iran-Iraq War?

What these diplomatic overtures to Tehran suggest is that Washington is attempting to incite Iran to actively intervene militarily in Iraq, in a sectarian “civil war” which has been triggered by the US.

Whatever information or exchange of intelligence occurs between the US and Iran will in any event be subject to manipulation and deception. Washington’s hidden agenda is to incite Iran’s military involvement as well as control it, with a view to ultimately weakening the Islamic Republic of Iran as a regional power.

Yet it would appear that Tehran is not swallowing the bait. And on the Iranian side, there is no confirmation of a collaborative agreement.

US War of Aggression: Protecting al Qaeda

The Pentagon scenario is not military escalation directed against Al Qaeda. It is escalation directed against the Iraqi population and the Iraq resistance movement.

Known and documented, ISIS is a creation of US intelligence. It is supported by the CIA, financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in liaison with Washington. Needless to say, US support to Al Qaeda formations in Syria and Iraq is known to the Iranian government.

Washington’s has no intention of targeting the ISIS terrorists. Quite the opposite: Its objective is to ensure the protection of the ISIS rebel army, which is supported covertly by Washington. In this context, Tehran has responded by pointing its fingers at Qatar and Saudi Arabia which are funding the ISIS terror brigades.

At present, ISIS terrorist operatives in Syria are fighting the forces of the government of Bashar al-Assad in liaison with their US intelligence sponsors. In turn,  Iranian special forces including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force are in Syria in the context of a Tehran’s military cooperation agreement with the Damascus government.

Iran: From “Active State Sponsor of Terrorism” to “Limited Military Cooperation” with Washington?

In the space of 24 hours, according to US official statements and media reports, the fundamental tenets of post 9/11 US foreign policy were (temporarily?) scrapped.

Lest we forget: since September 11, 2001, The Islamic Republic of Iran has been labelled by Washington as an “Active State Sponsor of Terrorism”, allegedly supportive of Al Qaeda. That status has not been officially revoked.  On the other hand, Tehran accuses the US of supporting and financing the Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria and Iraq and denies the existence of  a “collaborative agreement”.

In the words of  former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

“Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories, and we have deep concerns about what Iran is doing in the south of Iraq.” (quoted by CFR, emphasis added)

Moreover, in 2011, a US federal district court in New York City ruled that Iran had actually supported Al Qaeda in the conduct of the 9/11 attacks:

‘U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled yesterday that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.

Attorneys representing families of 9/11 victims today are filing their second lawsuit against Iran asserting evidence that Iran played a key role in planning and facilitating the 9/11 attacks. The new case, Bingham, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., is being filed in federal court by the same attorneys who have been litigating Havlish, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., now pending in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Iran 911 Case

About Turn? Now Iran is to join hands with America against Al Qaeda, according to Western media reports.

Following ad hoc bilateral talks in Vienna, Iran is called upon to become a partner of the “international community” in “going after al Qaeda.”

Somebody is either lying or are we all stupid?

Another Timely Media Scam: Iran is Allegedly “Preparing to Wage a Terrorist Attack” against Canada’s National Capital Region

On the 16th of June, the Western media went into overdrive. A  gush of syndicated reports on the Vienna agreement inundated the news chain:  Iran will henceforth be “helping America” in waging the “war on terrorism”.

Beneath the barrage of Iraq reports, a timely news story pertaining to Iran as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” was barely noticed.

According to Canadian press reports, published on the very same day as the US-Iran agreement in Vienna (June 16,2014) quoting “reliable” intelligence documents, Iran was preparing to wage a terrorist attack against Canada’s National Capital Region.

According to Toronto’s National Post under the title:  Iran’s ‘anti-Canada rhetoric’ has officials on guard for possible Ottawa area terror attacks

[In response to] Iran’s rising “anti-Canada rhetoric,” intelligence officials have been monitoring the Islamic republic as a potential terrorist threat to the Ottawa area, newly declassified documents show. While the diplomatic falling out between Ottawa and Tehran is well-known, the intelligence reports are the first indication the Canadian government is tracking the possibility it could lead to terrorism in the capital.

The reports, written by the Integrated Terrorist Assessment Centre, do not specify the exact nature of the threat Tehran may pose to the Ottawa region but in the past Iran has used its proxy force, Hezbollah, to attempt attacks internationally.

The documents also note the Iran connection to last year’s alleged plot to derail a Toronto-bound passenger train. The RCMP says the conspiracy was directed by Al Qaeda figures operating out of Iran. “The presence of numerous high-profile federal institutions, foreign embassies, military facilities, tourist attractions, and special events make the NCR a rich environment for possible plots by a variety of differently-motivated terrorists,” the report says.

The intelligence reports include Iran on a list of “other potential threats to the National Capital Region,” immediately after politically motivated violence against foreign dignitaries.(National Post, June 16, 2014 emphasis added)

Another Canadian news report confirms that:

“Canadian intelligence agencies are tracking the possibility of a terrorist attack from Iran as tensions between Tehran and Ottawa increase.”

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has continued to urge caution where Iran is concerned.

“We haven’t seen much change in the Canadian position and so, that sort of tension between Tehran and Ottawa seems to be continuing,” he said [John Baird].

That tension is what is raising the concern for intelligence agencies.  (CFRA, June 17, 2014)

Meanwhile, an Ottawa Police spokesman stated that The Ottawa Police Department would seek the collaboration of:

“the RCMP, OPP, military police, Surete du Quebec and Gatineau Police as well as their ongoing partnership with Ottawa Paramedics and Ottawa Fire (Ibid)

Assuming for a moment Canada’s fake news reports on the Iran threat are real and that America’s objective is to fight Al Qaeda, why on earth would Washington seek the cooperation of a country which is “allegedly” planning to bomb its closest ally: Canada, not to mention Iran’s alleged support (based on piles of national security documents) of Al Qaeda in various terrorist undertakings.

Surely the “Iran threat” to Canada’s National Capital Region (revealed “with authority” by The National Post on June 16, quoting “reliable” Canadian Intelligence documents), should have been “an eye-opener” to US State Department officials in Vienna who had invited the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist America in waging a “Global War on Terrorism”.

Welcome to the “New Normal”, Iran is no longer a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”, Tehran no longer supports Al Qaeda, Iran is now helping America to fight Al Qaeda.

How long will this “New Normal” Last?

The hidden agenda is to suck Iran into an extended regional conflict.

Were Iran to become actively involved in Iraq’s civil war, with military operations directed against the Sunni population, the “international community” would most probably point its finger at Iran rather than at the US.  Already, sections of the Sunni resistance movement consider Iran –which supports the Al Maliki government– rather than the US as the main aggressor nation.

The US is “A State Sponsor of Terrorism”

Beneath the fake intelligence, the media lies, contradictions and outright fabrications of both the US and Canadian media, the truth of the matter is as follows:

  • Iran has denied the existence of a collaborative agreement with the US. It has condemned the US’ covert support of the ISIS terrorists.
  • There is no evidence that Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks, nor is there is evidence that the Sunni Al Qaeda entity was supported by the “Shiite government” of the Islamic Republic of  Iran. Yet in the course of the last 13 years, the political consensus supported by the media and the intelligence community is that Iran is a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”. (See US State Department, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013)
  • While Iran does not support Al Qaeda, there is ample evidence that Al Qaeda including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)  funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has been supported by US-NATO as well as Israel.
  • The US is “A State Sponsor of Terrorism”. Known and documented, Al Qaeda affiliated entities have been used by US-NATO in numerous conflicts as “intelligence assets” since the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war.
  • In Syria, the Al Nusrah and ISIS rebels are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance, which oversees and controls the recruitment and training of paramilitary forces. ISIS has Western Special Forces within rebel ranks.
  • The ISIS rebels are trained and funded by the Western military alliance. The US has no intention to target its own ISIS foot soldiers, who are waging a covert war on behalf of the US in both Syria and Iraq. The US  wants to preserve and protect these terrorist paramilitary forces.
  • Whatever military actions are waged by the US, they will target the Iraqi resistance movement as well as the civilian population.
  • ISIS is a US intelligence asset, an instrument of non-conventional warfare. The ultimate objective of this ongoing US-NATO engineered conflict opposing the al-Maliki government forces to the ISIS insurgency is to destroy and destabilize Iraq as a Nation State and suck Iran into a violent regional sectarian conflict,
  • This conflict could potentially engulf (directly or indirectly) a large number of countries, including Iraq, Iran and Syria, as well as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Pakistan, leading to a reconfiguration of the Middle East-Central Asian region (see map below).

    New Map of the Middle East Project: unofficial NATO and US War Academy map. The above map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).
    New Map of the Middle East Project: unofficial NATO and US War Academy map. The above map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).

by: Prof Michel Chossudovsky

US: Media organizations urge Senate to vote on federal shield bill

“Report is written by Cindy Gierhart for Reporter’s Committee ( For Freedom of The Press) www.rcfp.org”

Protect_Our_Right_to_RecordSpurred by a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal by New York Times reporter James Risen – which could result in Risen going to jail or being fined for not naming his source – media organizations stress that now is the time to pass a federal shield bill.

More than 70 news organizations – the Reporters Committee included – sent a letter to the Senate majority and minority leaders earlier this week, urging them to schedule a vote on the shield bill.

“A federal shield law would follow the wisdom of the 48 states and the District of Columbia that provide reasonable protections for journalists and their confidential sources,” the letter said. “Without [a federal shield law], journalists cannot provide the public they serve with the spirited, independent journalism that is the lifeblood of American debate and democracy.”

A federal shield law would offer protections for journalists who are asked to testify in court or to hand over their notes.

Many states have shield laws and offer varying protection: some offer absolute protection for anonymous sources, while others offer only qualified protection, so that a journalist can be forced to testify under certain circumstances (such as when the information cannot be obtained elsewhere and it is essential to the case). The proposed federal shield law would offer a qualified privilege.

Soft censorship of media condemned globally

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN) has strongly condemned “soft censorship” by governments and regulators as a “very serious threat to media independence and the very viability of media companies”. WAN, which is the umbrella organization of newspapers representing more than 18,000 publications and 15,000 online sites in 120 countries around the world, has urgently called for rapid action to stop this blatant repression of media and press freedom.

“Soft censorship” is the practice where governments use financial leverage and regulatory powers -most often stopping advertising– when they find coverage to be “adverse”. The practice is rampant in India as well, with some state governments especially guilty of misusing tax payers’ money to try to pressurize and influence those media entities which criticize them. Some private sector companies also try to intimidate and pressurize the media in this manner and hence try to influence news coverage in their favour.

mediaprotest
“Soft censorship is less noticed than direct attacks on press freedom like assaults on journalists,

In fact, the report — ” Soft Censorship, Hard Impact”, released earlier this week — goes into damning detail of the practice, specifying that: “Soft censorship is used to promote positive coverage of—and to punish media outlets that criticize-officials or their actions. It is the practice of influencing news coverage of state bodies and officials and their policies and activities through allocation or withholding of state media spending (subsidies, advertising, and other media contracts or assistance), or selective application of licensing, permits or regulations, to shape the broad media landscape; promote or diminish the economic viability of specific media houses or outlets; and/or reward or punish content produced by individual media workers”.

The report hits the nail on the head, when it points out that the “abusive allocation of government advertising to reward positive coverage and punish critical coverage is doubly pernicious, as taxpayer money and public wealth is used and abused to promote partisan or personal interests”, adding, that “the opaque and purposefully prejudiced use of official advertising subverts both media freedom and public knowledge”.

The report produced by WAN-IFRA and the US-based Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) has urgently called on governments to fully respect principles of transparent and non-discriminatory state advertising, aid and funding for all media outlets, be it for advertising, training, content, or straightforward subsidies.

“Soft censorship is less noticed than direct attacks on press freedom like assaults on journalists, but is even more widespread,” said Larry Kilman, secretary general of WAN-IFRA. “Soft censorship is pervasive, but not yet recognized for its grave and growing threat to media independence and press freedom.”

Mark Nelson, senior director of CIMA, warned: “Soft censorship can all-too-quietly strangle free media,” adding that “a public that is denied accurate and impartial information is unlikely to be aware of its existence and its pernicious impact on the democratic process.”

This report’s recommendations suggest a path forward that proponents of free and independent media can embrace, beginning with greater transparency and impartiality in all government payments and funding for media, be it for advertising, training, content, or straightforward subsidies.

“With reference of Pakistan’s context this report even does not reflects any clear situation around. But it is understood that our governments democratic and dictatorial regimes both violated media liberties and freedom of expression at large. The reasons what violators presented are firstly the undefined National Interest and other is religious respect. No doubt the second one is case sensitive hence this is suggested that to secure the religious respects there should be some clear lines. ”

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore and India, is the global organization of the world’s newspapers and news publishers, representing more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), based in Washington, DC, raises the visibility and improves the effectiveness of media development around the world. The Center provides information, builds networks, conducts research, and highlights the indispensable role media play in the creation and development of sustainable democracies.

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Government condemns first strikes for nearly six months in which at least 16 people were killed in North Waziristan

A missile strike from a suspected US drone has targeted a compound in a north-western tribal district in Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing at least 10 people, Pakistani intelligence officials have said.

PakistanThursday’s attack came a day after a drone strike in the same area in North Waziristan, marking the resumption of the CIA-led programme in Pakistan after a nearly six-month hiatus.

The Pakistani government condemned the strikes, with a ministry of foreign affairs statement calling them a violation of Pakistani sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The latest attack, early on Thursday, saw a pair of US drones drop three missiles on a compound and a vehicle in the town of Ghulam Khan, two Pakistani intelligence officials told the AP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Military sources told the Reuters news agency that six people, including four Uzbeks, were killed in Wednesday’s strike around 5km north of Miranshah, the capital of the North Waziristan tribal region, where Taliban fighters are holed up.

Pakistan’s northwest, particularly the North Waziristan tribal area, is home to numerous armed groups – both local and al-Qaeda-linked foreign groups – who often work together, sharing fighters, money or expertise.

Due to stricter rules on the use of drones, diplomatic sensitivities and the changing nature of the al-Qaeda threat, the number of drone strikes had dwindled.

journalist Anna Politkovskaya
journalist Anna Politkovskaya
journalist Anna Politkovskaya

Justice not yet done… its the view point of Editorial board of Washington Post. this is being uploaded just to project opinion of an other side. THE REUTERS photograph from a Moscow courtroom during the sentencing this week of five men in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya spoke volumes. The defendants were not somber or respectful. Instead they were laughing and smiling after two of them were sentenced to life in prison and the others received long terms for their roles in shooting Ms. Politkovskaya to death in the entrance to her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006.

They are laughing, but Russia should not be. Although a court has delivered harsh sentences to the men who carried out the shooting, there has been no progress toward finding out who ordered the killing, as someone surely did. Ms. Politkovskaya was singularly courageous in her journalism and highly critical of President Vladi­mir Putin and the brutality of the war he prosecuted in Chechnya. Someone wanted her intrusive, resolute inquiries to stop. That person still is free and undetected.

Mr. Putin attempted to belittle Ms. Politkovskaya after her death, saying her reporting was “extremely insignificant for political life in Russia.” He was wrong about that; she was as fearless as any reporter of her generation. The sadly incomplete investigation into her murder exposes a profound gap in Mr. Putin’s years in power.

Outwardly and superficially, Russia possesses a system of courts, law enforcement agencies, lawmaking chambers of parliament, prosecutions and trials. But that is not enough. Under Mr. Putin, Russia has not achieved the simple standard of a rule-of-law state: that no one, absolutely no one, not even the president and his Kremlin pals, is above the law.

There was hope when Mr. Putin first took office in 2000 that the former KGB man would fill the vacuum left by outgoing President Boris Yeltsin and bring real change. He promised as much. But the hard truth is that Mr. Putin has led Russia backward. The most egregious cases of abuse — the prosecution of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the death in prison of whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, the pursuit of the Bolotnaya demonstrators — came on Mr. Putin’s watch as president or prime minister. He presides over a state in which unchecked power is wielded arbitrarily and from the top. Those with protection go unmolested. Those who dare challenge Mr. Putin or question his policies — such as Ms. Politkovskaya — risk great personal harm.

In the last two decades, Russia has adopted new laws to replace the obsolete and crumbled foundations of the Soviet Union. But the missing element is enforcement. It has been painfully clear that judges in major cases have been instructed what to do and say, that prosecutions and laws can be readily deployed as political weapons and that corruption and coercion are thriving. This is Mr. Putin’s choice, a system as old as Russia itself, and hardly a path to a modern state and society.

Most of all, it is a tragedy for Russia’s people. After centuries of misrule, by czars and commissars, they deserve a chance at true democracy and rule of law. They deserve a country in which Ms. Politkovskaya’s killer will be found and brought to justice.

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Ruins and child. Central African Republic, 2007. Less than a week after an urgent funding appeal by the heads of the lead UN food and refugee agencies, lack of donor attention threatening to cut off aid to thousands trying to escape violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) emerged again today as a top item in the bi-weekly humanitarian briefing in Geneva.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said $15 million is needed to cover urgent funding until December as refugees and stateless persons continued to arrive in Cameroon from neighbouring CAR. As of today, WFP’s emergency operation has received only two contributions and that the current projected shortfall is 90 percent.

“The immediate priority across host countries is to address the acute needs of these refugees, and to plan for the rain season, which will create conditions for the outbreak of disease and challenge overland delivery,” Ms. Byrs told reporters.

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remains at more than half a million across the CAR since December 2013, and more than 120,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

The Regional Refugee Response Plan involves WFP, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) along with 13 other partners in the four countries affected by the CAR refugee crisis – Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo.

Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Ertharin Cousin and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on June 4 had reported on the dire plight of the most vulnerable arriving in Cameroon from CAR exhausted, often acutely malnourished and sick.

Ms. Byrs told reporters at the press briefing – held on Tuesdays and Friday every week in Geneva, long known informally as the humanitarian capital, featuring briefers from agencies like WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, and other organizations and partners that take part in humanitarian emergencies worldwide.

A WFP mission is on the ground in Cameroon, and has conducted screening at the Gbiti site where they found 31 percent of new arrivals at the entry point are acutely malnourished, of whom 11 percent are in a state of severe acute malnutrition, Ms. Byrs said. Screening at all other sites confirmed the dire situation, and acute malnutrition has been observed among school-age children.

According to UNHCR, in a report on its website, most of the people arriving in Gbiti are exhausted and in a precarious physical condition after fleeing brutal attacks on their homes by armed elements. Many are suffering from deep cuts or bullet wounds, but they count themselves lucky to be alive.

UNHCR and its partners closely monitor the thousands of people crossing at Gbiti, keeping an eye out for people in need of medical assistance, especially malnutrition, but also physical injuries.

Up to 2,000 people a week, mostly women and children, reach Cameroon through more than 30 entry points along a 700-kilometre stretch of border.

WFP’s Ms. Byrs said in May some 63,000 beneficiaries with were assisted and general food distribution at entry points and sites were complete. More than 30,000 Central African refugees located in transit sites had received 30-day food rations, and another 30,000-strong CAR refugees based in other sites had received those rations as well.

The percentage of IDPs intending to relocate to another region within Central African Republic had also been steadily increasing, from 4.6 percent in March 2014 to nine percent in April 2014 to 11 percent in the latest survey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The 28 May attack on the Notre Dame de Fatima had provoked the displacement of 22,000 people, including 9,000 of whom had been taking refuge at the church, had forced that population to move to nine other displacement sites, quickly straining the limited resources at these sites in terms of shelter, water, sanitation and food, IOM said.

UN NEWS