Victory Was Never Certain

A short BBC video on D-Day

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Not that Those in China can Read Blogs

Sharing a story from VOA in Chinese on Tiananmen Square.

海涛 —
今天是天安门民主运动被血腥镇压30周年。海外媒体拿出很大版面和很多时间,报道和纪念这个悲惨事件以及牺牲者,但是,中国媒体保持沉默,没有一家媒体就此表态。

三十年前今天,北京发生了军队血腥镇压示威者惨案,死伤无数。全世界媒体都称之为“六四事件”。六四30周年之际,海外有关这场悲剧的报道,可谓铺天盖地,但是,对比之下,发生在北京的这场死伤惨重的流血事件,中国的媒体却保持沉默,一言不发。

在所有中国的主要官媒上(新华网,人民网,中新网,央视网,环球网),在中国管控的互联门户网站(搜狐、腾讯、网易)上,都看不到任何有关六四的报道和评论。在搜索引擎百度搜索,也得不到相關信息。在微信上,有关六四的回忆或相关文章,尚可以部分得到传播,但不论是在电子或是平面媒体上,都看不到任何报道和言論,谈及这场当年震惊全球的杀戮事件的重要评论和图片以及相关视频,而不少报道或社评内容,则是抨击美国在贸易战中的立场和言论。

环球时报总编胡锡进还在中国防火墙挡在海外的推特网上发表英文推,批评了美国国务卿蓬佩奥有关六四30周年的声明。

蓬佩奥国务卿推特中包括了他的声明要点:在6月4日这一天,我们纪念中国人民英雄般的抗议运动,这场运动止于1989年6月4日,当时,中国共产党领导人向天安门广场派出坦克,以暴力镇压了呼吁民主、人权、结束猖獗腐败的和平示威。聚集在北京和中国其它城市的成千上万的抗议者为追求国家的美好未来而蒙受了惨痛损失。死亡人数仍然未知。

“我们向那些仍在为失去亲人而悲伤的家庭表示深切的哀悼,这包括勇敢的天安门母亲们。她们冒着巨大的个人风险,永不停息地追究责任。三十年前的事件仍然触动着我们和全世界热爱自由的人民的良知。”

环时总编胡锡进在其6月4日的英文推中抨击蓬佩奥说:你的政府损害了美国的正面形象。中国人现在深信,一些美国要员存心想摧毁中国的发展能力。你为天安门事件和人权发声,其目的就和你们谈关税和华为时是一样的。

胡锡进还在6月3日的英文推中说道:现在是北京天安门广场6月3日晚上10点,30年前大约此时,抗议者和军队在通向天安门的路上发生冲突。接下来的30年中,中国快速发展,取得了巨大成就改变了人们看待六四事件的态度。

胡锡进在其中文推特中,没有发出相同的内容。

不过,从中国当局和网管的态度和所作所为来看,他们不仅封杀了本国媒体有关六四的报道,还尽可能封杀外国网站有关六四的报道。

据techcrunch.com 6月3日报道,中国封杀了美国有线电视网CNN和路透社有关天安门镇压的报道。该媒体报道说:中国封了CNN网站,因为该网站在重要版面登载了一篇谈六四30周年的报道。报道说,通常中国是不封CNN网站的。

CNN 驻中国记者麦特.瑞佛斯3日在其推上说:看来中国政府的确封了CNN网站。我们的相关报道本来就在网页最重要版面。看起来,中国政府限制网上相关讨论已经到了无所不用其极了。

在麦特.瑞佛斯的最新推文中,他说到了和同事去天安门一带在六四中死亡人数最多的地方采访,却被一些便衣阻挡了。这些国安便衣说是为了他们的安全。麦特.瑞佛斯还登出了他们现场拍摄的视频。

另外,设在美国的维权组织《自由之家》发表报告说,中国的媒体管控情况日益严重。该组织的研究人员萨拉Sarah Repucci说:中国不仅压制本国媒体,还不断打压所有信息。近来,他们还不断向其他国家输出压制媒体的模式。

萨拉说,中国主要在三个方面这样做:第一,他们找到友好传媒帮他们发出相关信息,第二,给记者、外交人士,还有媒体老板施加压力,代替北京来监管媒体;第三,就是设法打入这些国家的媒体行业和市场。比如,在非洲,中国有了自己的有线电视台和新闻机构, 他们可以利用这些机构来传播自己的理念,或者按照他们的意愿来编辑稿件,以便更好地对外宣传。

Les Misérables, Episode 5

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While I like Les Misérables, and the novel’s one of my favorite books, there’s some je nes sais quoi aspect that is missing in this production. Perhaps I can’t help but compare a Les Misérables production to the musical, but then why am I completely satisfied with the classics with Michel Simon and Jean Gabin? I watched them after reading the book or seeing the musical and was swept up by the stories. With this version, I’m a bit detached.

This week resumes with Cosette pining for Marius, who’s rather mopey in my opinion. Marius’ friends led by Enjolras decide to seize the moment of General LaMarque’s funeral to start a revolution that will bring about the social change they seek, i.e. better treatment for the poor. Marius is teased for being so in love that he can’t focus on a revolution.

The penniless Marius decides to eat crow and visit his awful grandfather to ask permission to marry. The old man scoffs and just suggests Marius put the girl gramps believes is a pauper up in an apartment and amuse himself till it’s time to marry for status and wealth. Gramps is simply advising Marius to do what he did. To his credit, Marius is appalled and vows to never cross the threshold of his grandfather’s mansion.

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After escaping from jail, Éponine finds Marius and promises to give Cosette a letter from him. Though she’s in love with Marius, she’s willing to aid his love for her rival. She confronts her evil, abusive father in her efforts and while for a time hides Cosette’s new address she eventually tells Marius all and even sacrifices her life for him. The problem with this production was that the love Éponine shows looks so thin. I wondered why she died so Marius, who’s a bit of a wet noodle, could live.

The funeral procession seemed less epic, and probably more authentic, than in the musical. All hell does break loose, but this rush to the barricades didn’t have the impact on me as a viewer as other productions did.

Javert continues to obsessively want to capture Jean Valjean more than he wants to quell a rebellion. This time I wanted a colleague or superior to knock him over the head or ship him off to an asylum.

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Jean Valjean fears Thenardiér and the police and plans to leave France after a few days at a new secret apartment. In addition to retrieving the fortune he’s stashed in the woods, he has to deal with Cosette’s teenage rebellion. Like all her age, she can’t see that her love isn’t quite as important as saving her adopted father’s life. Well, it’s almost excusable as she’s not fully aware of Jean Valjean’s situation. But she does know enough. She’s the one who cleaned his wounds after his fight with Thenardiér’s thugs. He has told her he was in prison. She must remember how he saved her from abuse and neglect.

The episode takes us up to Jean Valjean arriving at the barricade. He’s finally discovered Cosette’s secret romance and selflessly goes to help Marius.

For the most part, Masterpiece has followed Hugo’s story, but as I said something’s missing. Je souhaite que je nouveau quoi.

Partisan Journalism

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In his well researched book Partisan Journalism: A History of Media Bias in the United States, Jim Kuypers traces the history of American journalism back to America’s founding and shows the history of journalism’s connection to party politics. Each era differs, of course. The changes in media from newspapers to radio and television and now the Internet make a marked difference in journalism. After all, few disagree with McLuhan who told us “The media is the message.”

This is clearly shown in the impact of the decrease in newspaper subscribers, who’d at least glance through most sections of the paper, and Internet readers, who hop by clicking from one link to the next, perhaps never seeing stories unrelated to their core interests.

I know from my research into the 19th century that newspapers were clearly affiliated with political parties. It was customary for each paper to annually declare which party they were aligned with. Now that practice is no more, but it’s not hard to determine that PBS*, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, etc. lean towards the Dems and Fox News leans towards the GOP. Kuypers does spend a good chapter on surveys of journalists, which confirm what I’d heard about a slant in journalists vis-a-vis in membership in and donations to the Democrats. (Roughly over 85% of journalists identify themselves as Democrats. Even a majority of Fox News employees donated to Democrats in 2012.) There’s a lot of solid data, along with the sources so you can double check it all.

Rather than rehash every section let me share an excellent summary and review:

[F]ocusing on the warring notions of objectivity and partisanship [ . . . ] Kuypers shows how the American journalistic tradition grew from partisan roots and, with only a brief period of objectivity in between, has returned to those roots today. The book begins with an overview of newspapers during Colonial times, explaining how those papers openly operated in an expressly partisan way; he then moves through the Jacksonian era’s expansion of both the press and its partisan nature. After detailing the role of the press during the War Between the States, Kuypers demonstrates that it was the telegraph, not professional sentiment, that kicked off the movement toward objective news reporting. The conflict between partisanship and professionalization/objectivity continued through the muckraking years and through World War II, with newspapers in the 1950s often being objective in their reporting even as their editorials leaned to the right. This changed rapidly in the 1960s when newspaper editorials shifted from right to left, and progressive advocacy began to slowly erode objective content. Kuypers follows this trend through the early 1980s, and then turns his attention to demonstrating how new communication technologies have changed the very nature of news writing and delivery. In the final chapters covering the Bush and Obama presidencies, he traces the growth of the progressive and partisan nature of the mainstream news, while at the same time explores the rapid rise of alternative news sources, some partisan, some objective, that are challenging the dominance of the mainstream press. This book steps beyond a simple charge-counter-charge of political bias
For more, click here.

The best part of the book was how it shows readers how to look out for framing, selection and emphasis and the sort of questions to see how television journalists shape the news to fit their agenda.

I recommend people read Partisan Journalism and take the time to fact check as you go.

*My near daily source.
My other regular source since I believe in learning from all sides.

I’m Finding this Fascinating

I think every now and then when I get captivated learning something new, or relearning something in a deeper way, I’m going to share it.

I’m in lesson 6 of Hillsdale College’s course on the US Congress and it’s enthralling. I really think this is a must-see for any US citizen and for anyone curious about how our government works.

Now I got an average or maybe above average education on US government in high school as was and still is required, but I didn’t learn about how congress changed through the centuries, about how administrative laws proliferated and how the government had to figure out, through trial and error how new regulations should be made and how the agencies should approve them. I didn’t learn about the powerful Speakers of the House Thomas Brackett Reed or his successor Joseph Gurney Cannon, of whom it could be argued was more powerful than either of the presidents he served.

The professor also shares how the U.K. Parliament’s Question Hour influenced American legislators and others who wanted this sort of give and take. I’ve seen snippets of the Prime Minister’s Questions, but now that I’ve found the Parliament’s YouTube Channel, I’m sure to watch more often.

I urge you to check out Hillsdale’s online courses. They’re free.

It Was the War of the Trenches

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A gritty look at WWI, Jacques Tardi’s It was the War of the Trenches shows the dark side of World War I from the French side. Most of characters are jaded, egotistical schemers, who’re willing to break the rules. They’d inflict themselves with wounds to avoid fighting. They’d collude with the enemy if it meant survival. They would shoot women and children if that was the order given.

Nonetheless, I felt bad when a man would die, even though that same man would desert his comrades or cheat them one way or another. It’s an interesting angle to a historical book.

Well, it’s not exactly a historical book. In the forward Tardi says:

“This is not the history of the First World War told in comics form, but a non-chronological sequence of situations, lived by men who have been jerked around and dragged through the mud, clearly unhappy to find themselves in this place, whose only wish is to stay alive for just one more hour…”

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The drawings convey the horror and violence of the war, but I must remind myself and you to realize that this book is just one perspective on the war. It’s definitely worth reading, though I don’t think children under 15 should read it (maybe older still). But also, we should read and view other more historical books or films to really understand “The War to End All Wars.”