bm275 Baghdad Brian Arrested in China

Fellow independent video blogger and friend Baghdad Brian, along with 5 other individuals, was arrested Thursday in Beijing. They are accused of being part of an overseas pro-tibet activist group. Brian was there to report about the demonstrations during the olympics as an independent journalist.
Chinese authorities say they must serve a 10 day jail sentence, according to the American embassy the conditions they are living in are better than average (perhaps because they’re foreigners). Since the start of the olympic games at least 400 people have disappeared as part of the continued repression of pro tibet and other human rights demonstrations. These disappeared include many journalists who are their without the supervision of Chinese government handlers.
The following podcast features an interview with Brian’s wife, Eowyn, who explains what she knows about Brian’s situation, the group, and people who have risked their freedom and well-being in protest of the Chinese government and their disregard for basic human rights. More information can be found here. Please listen to the program and do pass on the link, otherwise all we have is the image of the mainstream press… the picture perfect images of the olympic games and China on television.

Music:
Phil Ochs – I’m Going to Say it Now
Utah Phillips – Ain’t it Grand

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The Quintessential China-US Debate

I’ll start the week by pointing you to a very excellent edition of On the Media, one of my absolute required-listening podcasts each week – Journalism with Chinese Characteristics. And the subtext of the post reads as follows:

There is real investigative reporting in China, itís just not done under a free press flag. Instead, practitioners mind an unstated set of rules, keeping themselves safe by employing tactics like using excessive jargon and exploiting government rivalries…

The program itself doesn’t present particularly new facts or opinions about China.† If anything, in the last few years, there is no shortage of Chinese voices in international media talking about how China isn’t what you might remember from the movies or old stereotypes. That the country is modernizing fast and people have alot of new freedoms that are comparable to whatever you have in the west.† That said, OTM provides a nice group of voices who communicate their experiences and opinions in a manner worthy of listening to.

What gets me about the interviewees in this podcast is that they come back to the classic China-US comparison talking point: The freedom criticism.† So they point out how strange it is that there are “free Tibet” protests on the streets of the US, and yet the US occupies Iraq and has guantanamo bay.† To which there are no protests on the streets of China saying “Free Iraq.”† The arguement brushes over the well known hypocracy and goes right for some kind of lack of reciprocity.

My response would simply be as follows, once and for all let it be said, that it is our right and responsibility as human beings on this earth, to protest and engage in some form of acknowledgement whenever and wherever human lives are being destroyed and opressed.† Moreover, that you might be American and on the streets protesting what takes place in Tibet, does not mean you automatically believe your own government is doing just fine and you support the occupation of Iraq.† Hell, you probably attend those demonstrations as well.† But protesting human rights violations in another country does not require that you live in a country where human rights are perfectly respected and it shouldn’t result in silencing dissent anywhere in the world.

Just because you have the capacity to repeat all the terrible mistakes and crimes of the western world, dear China, does not mean you should.

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Perspectives on China

Tibet ProtestDuring my time in Portugal I was of course constantly accompanied by my podcasts. Among the programs that I found fairly interesting, On Point Radio was doing their program from Shanghai for a week. At a time where I’m fairly disgusted and often confused about what China is doing to its people and the world, it was of particular interest to hear Tom Ashbrook interviewing various Chinese guests on the topic of the Environment in Crisis and China, Dissent in China, and even China at the Movies.

I imagine many of you also have questions and a desire to better understand what is happening. Questions like, is a boycott the right move or not, and is the situation in China as terrible as it often seems.. etc etc. After listening to these shows I can say, though I may not have the answers, I definitely have a better idea.

With any luck, one day I too can be like Tom and go on my own to someplace in China (Macau for me, in honor of my Portugueseness) and to my own series of podcasts about life and society in China.

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bm240 John Aravosis on Advocacy and Creating Change

Should journalists and activists who seek change in the world inform the public and expect action? Or should they be launching campaigns complete with talking points and strategy? This podcast features a special extended interview with my friend John Aravosis of Americablog.com and it focuses on how you can change a country and at what cost such change can occur.

We Discuss:

  • Informing the public versus manipulating the public
  • The tactics of US conservatives
  • The lack of tactics from US liberals
  • Global Warming
  • Human Rights in China
  • Playing on emotion
  • Passing laws versus changing culture
  • Holidays and Consumerism

 

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