Saturday, October 19, 2019

Iran a hugely ‘friendly’ country behind the sabre-rattling


The fate of the "US Den of Espionage" ... Washington's embassy that was seized by Iranian protesters
along with 52 diplomat hostages during the revolution in 1978
is now a museum to US unpopularity in Tehran. Image: David Robie/PMC
Iran attracts an onslaught of negative media in New Zealand and Western media. But is it fair or deserved? David Robie has spent several weeks travelling in the country on sabbatical and finds the media negativity far from the reality of the “most friendly” country he has ever visited in the first of a three-part series.

THE HEADLINES were chilling as we flew into Turkey and then Iran. “All out war”, trumpeted The New Zealand Herald, as being an imminent response to last month’s surprise drone attack knocking out almost 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, blaming the attack on the Islamic Republic without convincing evidence.

President Donald Trump warned that the US was “locked and loaded” if Iran was found to be behind the attacks, and then later apparently backed off and relied on even heavier sanctions.

The next day the Herald belatedly ran the other side of the story, quoting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s response denying the allegations and warning that Iran would defend itself in the case of a US-Saudi attack while offering the “hand of friendship and brotherhood” for overseeing security in the Persian Gulf.

Houthi forces in neighbouring Yemen, invaded by a Saudi-led coalition in 2015 that led to widely condemned four-year civil war, claimed to have carried out the drone and rocket attack on the two oil installations at Abaiq and Khurais.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

West Papua’s road to 'independence', following the Timorese lead?


An Al Jazeera report on the protests and rioting in Papua this week in response to the racist attack in Surabaya. 

The groundswell of regional support continues to grow in the Pacific - and also globally - for West Papuan self-determination, writes DAVID ROBIE. The latest repression only adds to this momentum.

INDONESIA’s harsh policies towards West Papua ought to be scrapped. Whatever happened to the brief window of enlightenment ushered in by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2015 with promises of a more “open door” policy towards foreign journalists and human rights groups?

They were supposed to be seeing for themselves the reality on the ground. But apart from a trickle of carefully managed visits by selected journalists after the grand announcement – including two multimedia crews from RNZ Pacific and Māori Television in 2015 – no change really happened.

And the serious media freedom and human rights violations remain rampant.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Remembering environmental campaigner Steve Sawyer, 1956-2019

Steve Sawyer, Rongelap campaigner with the original Rainbow Warrior which was bombed by French secret service agents in July 1985 in Auckland, aboard the new Rainbow Warrior during the ship’s first visit to New Zealand. © Nigel Marple/Greenpeace
A tribute to STEVE SAWYER by former Rainbow Warrior captain PETER WILLCOX, who was skipper at the time of the Rongelap evacuation and the French bombing in 1985.

I MET Steve in 1981 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the first Rainbow Warrior. I was answering a job advert he had placed in the National Fisherman. We spoke in his cabin for a while, and then went to the mess to meet the crew.

One of the things Steve liked about the manager’s job on the RW was that he got to do real physical work as well as intellectual organising. The crew was all giving him a hard time about his painting technique. It seems the day before, Steve, while climbing down into an inflatable (not a rhib by a long shot), had stepped directly into a five-gallon bucket of paint.

That he took the ribbing good-naturedly and laughed with everyone else was to me an excellent sign of life on board that ship.

Steve was the first guy I ever worked for who was younger than I. I was 28, and he 25 in 1981. But I learned fast not to mess with him. He could argue you into a corner quickly, and he did not suffer fools.

Friday, July 12, 2019

'Pacific Media Watch - the Genesis', a new freedom, ethics and plurality doco


The new video produced by Blessen Tom and Sri Krishnamurthi for AUT's Pacific Media Centre.

By


“It’s a bit of a lighthouse” for vital regional news and information, says former contributing editor Alex Perrottet summing up the value of the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project for New Zealand and Pacific journalism.

The Radio New Zealand journalist is among seven international media people involved in the 23-year-old project featured in a new video released this week.

Pacific Media Watch – The Genesis is a 15-minute mini documentary telling the story of the project launched by two journalists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in 1996 and adopted by Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre in 2007.

READ MORE: The Pacific Media Watch freedom project

The video was released this week to coincide with the global media freedom conference in London this week.

Pacific Media Watch has become a challenging professional development opportunity for AUT postgraduate students seeking to develop specialist skills in Asia-Pacific journalism.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Global smart tech, ethics and cyber humanism

Dr Mohamed El-Guindy ... time for universities to step up or face an Orwellian future.
Image: David Robie/PMC
 By DAVID ROBIE in Bangkok

A LEADING cyber security expert has called on universities to play a more active role in implementing ethics and legal frameworks for communications smart technology to save society from an Orwellian future.

Dr Mohamed El-Guindy, an Egyptian consultant to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC-ROMENA), says communication research programmes should promote “ethically aligned” design.

In an era of “accelerated addictiveness” to smartphone and other digital technologies, he told media researchers, policy advisers and journalists at the recent 27th Asian Media Information and Communication (AMIC) conference in Bangkok, Thailand, that it was vital for democracy that universities stepped up.

He also said families and parents needed to be more critically active by balancing screen time and promoting “real social interaction”.

Addressing the “persuasive technologies” industry, Dr El-Guindy spoke about being “hooked”, the “scrolling dopamine loop” and the “digital skinner box” models and how they had made smartphones fill psychological needs.

Canadian cartoonist ‘dumped’ after viral Trump cartoon

The "problem" Michael de Adder cartoon ... too close to the truth?
By CAFE PACIFIC
CANADA'S “most read” cartoonist has been “let go” from all newspapers in New Brunswick, apparently over a Trump and migrants cartoon that went viral.

“I’m a proud New Brunswicker. I’ll miss drawing cartoons for my home province,” cartoonist Michael de Adder was quoted by The Daily Cartoonist as saying.

The above cartoon was the one that apparently caused the fuss.

“The highs and lows of cartooning. Today I was just let go from all newspapers in New Brunswick.”

Michael de Adder was born, raised, and educated in New Brunswick province and was a regular presence in its newspapers.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

ABC raid over Afghan Files atrocities allegations 'chilling' for freedom of press

The Afghan Files ... How the ABC reported a "Defence leak exposing deadly secrets of Australia’s
special forces" in 2017. Image: Screen shot of ABC/PMC
By Pacific Media Watch

AN Australian police raid on public broadcaster ABC this week risks having a chilling effect on freedom of the press, its editorial director says.

Police officers left the ABC’s Sydney headquarters more than eight hours after a raid began over allegations it had published classified material.

It related to a series of 2017 stories known as The Afghan Files about alleged misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

READ MORE: Why the raids on Australian media present a clear threat to democracy

ABC editorial director Craig McMurtrie told RNZ Morning Report the message the raids sent to sources and whistleblowers who wanted to reveal things in the public interest was concerning.

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