BBG Media Highlights - April 11, 2013
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Primetime battle for Iran's airwaves- The Financial Times, April 10, 2013
The Islamic regime in Tehran could intensify the crackdown on satellite dishes in the coming months as Iran prepares for a presidential election on June 14, during which it hopes to project a democratic image of the country through a high turnout. Satellite channels usually discourage Iranians from voting by asserting directly or indirectly that the election results are rigged. Since the 1990s, when satellite channels were first broadcast into Iran, the country's Islamic rulers have tried to prevent the "cultural invasion" of outside entertainment and news. In recent years, they have targeted Manoto and the Persian services of BBC and Voice of America, jamming signals and seizing satellite dishes. Yet during the just-ended two-week New Persian Year holidays, Iranians were largely tuned to either Manoto or the Dubai-based Gem TV, which is run by a little-known Iranian businessman and airs Turkish soap operas.

New "Born To America!" Musical Infotainment Video Offers an Explosive 'Shock And Awe' Crisis Response to North Korea's 'Nuke Man' Missile Threats- Digital Journal, April 10, 2013
"Born To America!" was composed, produced and performed by Neil H. Brandt in honor of American spirit, determination, and good will. This musical video also gives tribute to all the dedicated men, women and veterans who serve in the armed forces to keep this country safe and free. See the breath taking clips of the cutting edge technology and spectacular national monuments. The song was originally played on The Voice of America and heard throughout the world. This exciting, patriotic anthem received favorable comments from people all across this land including Presidents, Senators and Congressmen.
Citations of BBG Broadcasters

UAE may deport refugee Tamil journalist to Sri Lanka- Committee to Protect Journalists, April 10, 2013

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by news reports that a Tamil journalist in the United Arab Emirates may be deported to Sri Lanka this week despite her United Nations refugee status, and calls on authorities in the UAE to halt any such deportation measures. Lohini Rathimohan (also spelled Lokini), a former television journalist, is one of 19 Tamil refugees facing deportation from the UAE, the BBC reported. UAE authorities have told the group they must leave the country by April 11 and return to Sri Lanka, according to U.S. government-funded Voice of America. The 19 refugees face "serious risk of torture and persecution upon return," according to Human Rights Watch.

 

The Leaderboard: Mam Sonando- Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 9, 2013

Mam Sonando pledged in an interview with Voice of America after his release to continue broadcasting news in Cambodia. His release is a welcome development for press freedom in Cambodia. However, it came only after significant domestic and international pressure. Numerous international leaders called attention to his case, including President Barack Obama, who raised the issue with Hun Sen during a November 2012 meeting in Phnom Penh.  Cambodia has become an increasingly difficult space for independent media personnel in recent years. The government frequently levies harsh penalties on journalists who report on corruption or criticize state leaders. In September 2012, reporter Hang Serei Odom was brutally murdered after reporting on the involvement of a military commander's son in timber smuggling.

 

U.S. has used drones to kill hundreds of low-level fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan- The Washington Times, April 10, 2013

Also Wednesday, the noted Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed published his new book "The Thistle And The Drone," in which he critiques U.S. strategy in the war on terror, not just in Pakistan, but from the southern Philippines to Yemen, Somalia, and all the way to Mali and Nigeria. The militancy in these areas "reflect[s] larger tribal groups which have problems with the central government," he told Voice of America. "All of them reflect areas where there are serious economic problems in terms of their natural resources. And all of them suggest that we are still misreading the relationship that they have with Islam."

 

Burma's Ethnic Violence 'Poses Threat to Foreign Investment'- The Irrawaddy, April 11, 2013

"Religious tensions are now being whipped up again in the main city, [Rangoon], largely by Buddhist nationalists using what many pro-democracy activists here thought would be a tool for promoting peace: the Internet," reported the Wall Street Journal. The paper quoted leaders of the 88 Generation movement of pro-democracy activists expressing dismay at the Internet becoming a tool of extremists. Only two weeks ago the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, visited Rangoon to lend support to encouraging telecommunications development. "The Internet will make it impossible to go back," Schmidt was quoted by Radio Free Asia as telling students. "The Internet, once in place, guarantees that communication and empowerment become the law and practice of your country."

 

Chen Guangcheng Calls Out China for Broken Promises- China Digital Times, April 11, 2013

Chen said the authorities in Shandong province had attempted to remove the four-year-old son of Chen Kegui from school last month, according to Radio Free Asia, and Chen Kegui's father said he had been followed as he attempted to take the child to school. Chen pressed Congress to disclose the details of the deal brokered between the State Department and the Chinese government in May of last year, according to Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post.

 

Mourning in Serbia, Competing Inaugurations in Armenia- Transitions Online, April 10, 2013

The Serbian government declared 10 April a national day of mourning for 13 victims of a shooting rampage in the village of Velika Ivanca, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Belgrade, Radio Free Europe reports. The massacre occurred a day earlier, when Ljubisa Bogdanovic, identified by police as the gunman, went on a shooting spree that killed 13 family members and neighbors, according to RFE. Three other people, including the shooter, were injured. Most of the victims died instantly and were killed in their beds. Among his victims are the gunman's mother, son, a 2-year-old child, and other relatives and neighbors. His wife, whom he shot at the end of his rampage, was in critical condition.

 

Wolf Warns China 'Don't Spy if You Want to Be Friends'- New Tang Dynasty Television, April 10, 2013

U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf warns the new Chinese leadership that cyber attacks and espionage seriously risk damaging bi-lateral ties. In an interview with Radio Free Asia's(RFA) Mandarin service on April 5th, Wolf said, "Friends don't spy on one another, and most of the major companies in America have been hit with cyber attacks." He went on to say that even computers in the Pentagon and his own office had suffered attacks linked to China. "China had better stop," Wolf said,"and if they don't, there's going to be a lot of action by our government." He says concerns are growing in the U.S. over the aggressive attacks that have targeted at least 100 businesses.

 

Finland to Putin: Sorry We Put You on Criminal Blacklist- Newswer, April 10, 2013

It's not your usual diplomatic nicety: Finland had to apologize to Vladimir Putin today after a Finnish TV station reported that the Russian president had turned up on the nation's secret criminal blacklist. Government officials say they're trying to figure out how Putin's name got there, though the TV station said it was because he had links to a Russian motorcycle gang called the Night Wolves, reports Radio Free Europe. Rest assured, Putin's name is now off the list and he can visit without fear of arrest at the border. Given his fond desire to be seen as a he-man, and a flying he-man at that, Putin probably didn't mind a bit.

 

N. Korea missile test possibility very high- examiner, April 10, 2013

North Korean officials have not announced plans to launch a missile towards South Korea, but have told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang that it will not be able to guarantee their safety starting Wednesday, Voice of America News reported.  South Korea's foreign minister said Wednesday that the possibility of a missile test is "considerably high."

 

From the foreign-language press

 

Obama and Karzai discuss Afghanistan's future; Britain warns of Afghan civil war- Alahram (Egyptian daily newspaper) April 11, 2013

According to Radio Sawa, the White House says the security transition in Afghanistan was discussed during a phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  A White House statement stated  that the two leaders discussed a range of issues, including progress in the transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces, preparations for Afghanistan's 2014 elections, and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts.  In addition, President Obama appreciated Karzai's recent discussions in Doha regarding Afghan-led peace and reconciliation.

Also cited in Elgornal, Dasman News, and Masr Press 

 

Amnesty reports 682 executions in 21 countries in 2012- Moheet (Egypt-based news and information site) April 11, 2013

In 2012, at last 682 executions were known to have been carried out in 21countries, according to Amnesty International's yearly report, published Wednesday.  Setbacks have been observed in countries such as India, Japan, Pakistan, and the Gambia as these countries have resumed executions after some long execution-free periods, Radio Sawa reported.  The report also says the number of executions in Iraq nearly doubled in 2012 compared with a year earlier, which it characterized as "an alarming escalation."

Also cited in Albawabh News, El-balad, and Veto Gate 

 

Guatemala recognizes Palestine as 'free, sovereign' state- Masrawy (Egyptian news and information site) April 10, 2013

According to Radio Sawa, Guatemala has recognized Palestine as a sovereign state in the belief that this will help foster peace in the Middle East, the president's office announced Wednesday.  Guatemala "has decided to join the vast majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries and recognize the State of Palestine, as a free, sovereign and independent State," the statement said.

Of Interest
U.S. embassy learns a hard lesson about Twitter- CNN, April 10, 2013
Old and new diplomacy clashed in the flare-up between Egypt and the United States over the arrest and interrogation of Bassem Youssef -- considered the "Jon Stewart of Egypt" -- who skewers politicians of all stripes on his popular TV show, El Bernameg.

In the world of traditional diplomacy, governments had more control over what was said about them and by whom. As the Egyptian and U.S. governments discovered the hard way, that control is long gone in the world of 21st century diplomacy with its 24/7 social media and powerful nongovernmental voices.


Self-Censorship on Chinese TV: An American Comedian's Experience - PBS, April 10, 2013

Last fall, I produced and featured myself in a video parodying the most popular entry ever on YouTube -- the K-pop klassic "Gangnam Style," now up past 1.5 billion views. My own video, "Laowai Style," was about the life of a foreigner ("laowai") living as modestly as most everyone else in Beijing, with me rap-singing my own story in Mandarin. To my amazement, it quickly went viral on the Chinese Internet. It was featured on The Business Desk, with the lyrics translated into English, when it first came out.

 

Vote monitor slams Russia ministry for 'wanting it closed' - AFP, April 10, 2013

Russian election monitoring group Golos (Voice) on Wednesday slammed the authorities for trying to halt its work after the justice ministry launched a court case accusing it of failing to declare itself as a "foreign agent" with international funding. "This is total lawlessness. They have given an instruction not to let us cover elections," the group's executive director Lilia Shibanova told AFP, vowing to fight back and possibly even countersue the ministry.

About Us
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG broadcasts reach an audience of 175 million in 100 countries. BBG broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti).