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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Released and Writing Again, Theo Padnos Keeps a Promise

NYT_Twitter_MagazineIn the interminable hours, days and months of his Syrian torture and captivity, journalist Theo Padnos hoped and prayed that he would one day report again. For readers of the New York Times Magazine, that miraculous moment has arrived, punctuated by this deceptively straightforward footnote:

Theo Padnos has written for The London Review of Books, The New Republic and other publications. This is his first article for the magazine.

In the piece, titled “My Captivity,” Padnos details his odd relationship with Abu Mariya al-Qahtani, a.k.a. an individual known as the Al Qaeda fighter group’s “Man of Learning.” When Padnos was finally, without much warning, allowed to go free, he was asked improbably for a favor from his captor:

The Man of Learning asked me to approach the truck he was driving. “Hey Bitar,” he said. “Don’t say bad things about us in the press.”

“I’ll just say what’s true,” I said.

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The Economist Mocks Obama’s Attack on Syria

Judging by the latest Economist cover, its editors aren’t feeling especially optimistic about President Obama’s decision to launch air strikes in Syria.

As a president, the last former president you want to be associated with is George W. Bush. This is the same flight suit Bush wore to announce that the Iraq war was a raging success, while that depressingly ironic banner that read “Mission Accomplished” hung in the background.

Let’s hope things go better for us (and Obama) than they did for Bush.

University Professor Recalls a ‘Fearless’ James Foley

JamesFoleyPicIn between Libya and Syria, journalist James Foley spoke in February 2012 at San Diego State University. His February 9 talk with students was part of the series “Understanding the Arab Spring.”

In the wake of Foley’s apparent, horrific execution at the hands of ISIS, SDSU economics professor Hisham Foad has shared with News 10 San Diego reporter Rachel Bianco some memories of this intrepid truth-seeker:

“The story he was telling was like a movie,” Foad recalled. “It was better than a movie almost, going out there, getting captured, his life in captivity.”

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Morning Media Newsfeed: GMA Ups Spencer | Everest Special Nixed | Journalists Freed in Syria

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Lara Spencer Named Co-Host of Good Morning America (TVNewser)
Lara Spencer has been promoted to co-host of Good Morning America, joining George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, ABC News president James Goldston announced Friday. FishbowlDC Goldston sent a memo to staff with the announcement, highlighting Spencer’s “style, humor, sunny confidence, wonderful journalism and storytelling” and the two-year anniversary of GMA breaking “Today’s 852-week winning streak.” Mediaite Spencer rejoined ABC News three years ago as the lifestyle anchor on GMA after an extended stint in syndication and on CBS’ Early Show. Variety The move comes as GMA has been in the midst of change, with two members of the on-air staff that helped the show pass NBC’s Today in both total viewers as well as those between 25 and 54, the demo most coveted by advertisers, departed. Spencer is also now a veteran presence on the program, which has two new faces after the departures of meteorologist Sam Champion and news anchor Josh Elliott. ABC recently enlisted Michael Strahan, the former football player who has added new momentum to the company’s syndicated morning Live With Kelly And Michael, to take part in occasional GMA segments. The Associated Press The other current members of the GMA family are Amy Robach and Ginger Zee. Spencer was the show’s national correspondent from 1999 to 2004. Then, for seven years, she was a host of The Insider.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Ferns Plugs Obamacare | Sweeney Steps Down | Reporter Dies in Uganda

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White House: Obama’s Between Two Ferns Cameo Driving Traffic to HealthCare.gov (The Washington Post / Post Politics)
The White House said in a tweet early Tuesday afternoon that President Obama’s appearance on the Funny or Die Web series Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis has made that website the top referrer to HealthCare.gov. Politico As of 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, the website had racked up more than 19,000 referral visits from Obama’s Between Two Ferns video, which was posted around 7 a.m., Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright said. But those who clicked through from the video to HealthCare.gov represent just a small percentage of those who watched the video. Around 1 p.m., the video had drawn about 3 million views through Funny or Die’s video player. By 6 p.m., the total was around 7 million. Reuters In the video, Obama got the chance to urge the youth of America to get health insurance, but not until he’d been subjected to questions like “What is it like to be the last black president?” and “What should be done about North Ikea?” Youth participation is crucial to the success of the program, but U.S. government data released on Tuesday showed that while the number of people enrolled in private insurance under Obamacare reached 4.2 million by March 1, the proportion of adults aged 18-34 remained unchanged from January at 25 percent of total enrollment in private Obamacare plans. Variety At Tuesday’s briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney was grilled by the White House press corps on whether the video demeaned the dignity of the office. “I think we made the right call here,” Carney said. “I think what it says is gone are the days when your broadcasts can reach everybody we need to reach.” He noted that Between Two Ferns videos average 6 million views, and that he expected the Obama interview would exceed that. He declined to say exactly which parts of the interview were scripted and which ones were not. THR During Obama’s six-and-a-half-minute back-and-forth with Galifianakis, the president played the role of a stern, sometimes irritated straight man as the comedian deadpanned a series of questions that were alternately outrageous and inane. “This is a perfect example of a great partnership with Funny or Die stepping up in a big way,” said Between Two Ferns producer Eric Ortner. “The site has a very robust traffic base of young men and women who are on the edge of the cultural zeitgeist.” PRNewser Will the people who hate the president’s health care law see this clip and change their minds? Of course not. The point, really, is that this appearance was far more valuable than any Sunday morning show discussion could be, no matter what Obama’s opponents think. We all know that the key to successful communication is to deliver the message to the right audience in the best possible format, which for young people is not Sunday morning on NBC with David Gregory.

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News Organizations Ask Syrian Rebels to Stop Kidnapping Journalists

Desperate times call for desperate measures. A collection of 13 news organizations — including The New York Times, the AP, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters — have composed a letter asking Syrian rebel forces to stop kidnapping journalists, and to free the ones currently held in captivity.

“By our estimate, more than 30 journalists are now being held,” explains the letter. “As a result of these kidnappings, a growing number of news organizations no longer feel that it is safe for their reporters and photographers to enter Syria, and many have decided to limit their coverage of the war, unwilling to have they staff members subjected to the increasingly common risk of abduction.”

The note (which you can read in full below) has been sent to the Free Syrian Army and other groups under the leadership of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

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Virtual Vigil Friday for Kidnapped Journalist James Foley

JamesFoleyPicTomorrow is freelance journalist James Foley‘s 40th birthday. There will be candles, but sadly, they will be of a sort that do not signify a happy occasion.

Foley was abducted in northwest Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012 by a group of unidentified gunmen and has not been seen or heard from since. In support of an ongoing grassroots campaign to bring about his release, there will be vigils tomorrow night in the U.S. and various international locations:

Please join the Foley family this Friday in a virtual and actual vigil for peace and the safe return of James Foley, in honor of Jim’s 40th birthday!

October 18, 2013
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
Rochester, NH at 6pm

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Business Insider CTO Out | Obama Speech Panned | 9/11 Network Coverage


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Business Insider CTO Forced to Resign Following Twitter Firestorm (NY Mag / Daily Intelligencer)
Pax Dickinson has been forced to resign as chief technology officer at Business Insider following an online firestorm over his long history of controversial tweets, according to a source who has been in contact with him. Dickinson got in hot water Monday over his most recent string of tweets about feminism, misogyny and women in tech. A look at his tweets from over the years uncovered many more instances of Dickinson bashing feminists, gays and the poor, among others. FishbowlNY How offensive were his tweets? Well, it depends on which ones you want to discuss. Dickinson dabbled in pretty much everything. HuffPost The brouhaha began around the time Dickinson offered this opinion on the issue of women in tech: “Feminism in tech remains the champion topic for my block list. My finger is getting tired,” he tweeted. The flurry of responses caught the eye of Nitasha Tiku over at Gawker’s Valleywag. Tiku noticed Dickinson’s Twitter account was littered with posts potentially offending Christians, the LGBT community, women, minimum-wage earners, Jews, rape victims and African-Americans. Slate / XX Factor Dickinson’s tweets were no secret within the company; the website’s chief correspondent, Nicholas Carlson, admitted to blocking his feed so he didn’t have to interact with him on Twitter. “Pax was speaking for himself, not Business Insider. We obviously don’t condone what he said,” the company’s founder, editor and CEO, Henry Blodget, told Valleywag’s Sam Biddle when the retweets began to mount. NY Observer / BetaBeat Dickinson is the most recent and potent example of sexism (and racism, and classism) in tech, but he’s certainly not the only one. Such a rancorous person doesn’t scale the corporate ladder — tweeting all the while! — without some sort of systemic acceptance (or at least tolerance) of his attitudes. Business Insider / Henry Blodget A Business Insider executive has made some comments on Twitter that do not reflect our values and have no place at our company. The executive has left the company, effective immediately.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Anchors Slam Obama Snub | Assad Interview Airs | Crossfire Debuts


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Univision, Al Jazeera Anchors Slam Obama After Being Left Out of Media Blitz (The Wrap)
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos and Al Jazeera English senior political analyst Marwan Bishara lashed out after their networks were left out of President Obama’s media blitz, writing that the president was leaving Hispanics and Arabs out of the Syria crisis debate. TVNewser “Pres. Obama gives 6 interviews [Monday]. None of those to Univision. Why? Hispanics also care about Syria. Same mistake as presidential debates” Ramos tweeted. “150,000+ Latinos are serving in the U.S. military. But none of the 6 interviews given [Monday] by Obama include Univision” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Jose Zamora, a spokesperson for Univision, told us the network “did everything possible” to get an interview when the opportunity was announced, but was unsuccessful. “We think it’s a very important story for us and most importantly for our audience,” he said. Al Jazeera America Marwan Bishara: “Considering Washington’s decisions in the past decade have had an arguably deeper impact in Iraq and Afghanistan than in Iowa and Montana, President Obama must answer to Arabs as he does to the American people, regarding future wars in Syria or elsewhere in their region. And there’s only one major network that reaches the majority of Arabs and Muslims and others in the greater Middle East.”

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Rose Interviews Assad | Obama Gives Interviews | Politico Buys Capital NY


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Charlie Rose Interviews Bashar al-Assad
(TVNewser)
CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose got an interview Sunday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is Assad’s first TV interview since President Obama asked Congress to approve the use of force against the Syrian regime for use of chemical weapons. Rose, now in Beirut, called in to Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media In the interview, Assad denied that he had anything to do with the chemical weapons attack that took place on Aug. 21, 2013. Rose also said the Syrian president would not confirm or deny that the regime has chemical weapons. NYT The interview, which was arranged in the last few days amid a Congressional debate about whether to authorize a limited military strike against Syria, will be broadcast on Monday by CBS and PBS. In a sign of the significance of the interview, he was accompanied by Jeffrey Fager, the chairman of CBS News and the top producer of 60 Minutes. HuffPost It is the first interview that al-Assad has given to an American news network in two years. Barbara Walters sat down with him in Syria in 2011. The Guardian It is Rose’s second major scoop of the summer. In June, he interviewed Obama as the president defended the record of the National Security Agency, following revelations in The Guardian regarding the mass surveillance of US and foreign citizens.

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