Monday, July 27, 2009

Chinese State TV Starts Arabic Channel

Published: July 26, 2009

BEIJING — Chinese state television has begun broadcasting an Arabic-language channel for the Middle East and Africa as part of efforts to expand the Communist government’s media influence abroad.

The 24-hour channel, which began operating Saturday, will air in 22 Arabic-speaking countries and reach nearly 300 million people, China Central Television said in a statement.

The channel “will serve as an important bridge to strengthen communication and understanding between China and Arab countries,” a CCTV vice president, Zhang Changming, said in the statement.

Beijing is carrying out a multibillion-dollar effort to raise the profile of its state media abroad by expanding CCTV; People’s Daily, the Communist Party newspaper; and Xinhua, the official news agency.

The effort has a budget of 45 billion yuan, or $6.6 billion, according to a report last month by The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper.

The Arabic channel will carry news, feature stories, entertainment and education programs and will gradually expand its offerings, CCTV said. The network already broadcasts in English, French and Spanish as well as in Mandarin.

Despite rapid economic growth and rising global influence, China has retained its authoritarian one-party political system, with strict limits on freedom of speech and civil and political life.

The media drive echoes efforts by Russia and Qatar to influence international news coverage through Russia Today and Al Jazeera, their state-funded channels. Those attempts to challenge the BBC and CNN have scored some success.

CCTV announced plans last month for a Russian channel.

State television is also overhauling its domestic news broadcasts for the first time in a decade to combat a decline in viewership.

China’s government and party media are struggling against more dynamic competitors and rely on state subsidies or moneymaking subsidiaries.

Chinese State TV Starts Arabic Channel

Henry Louis Gates: Déjà Vu All Over Again

Monday, July 27, 2009

I’m Skip Gates’s friend, too. That’s probably the only thing I share with President Obama, so when he ended his press conference last Wednesday by answering a question about Gates’s arrest after he was seen trying to get into his own house, my ears perked up.

As the story unfolded in the press and on the Internet, I flashed back 20 years or so to the time when Gates arrived in Durham, N.C., to take up the position I had offered him in my capacity as chairman of the English department of Duke University. One of the first things Gates did was buy the grandest house in town (owned previously by a movie director) and renovate it. During the renovation workers would often take Gates for a servant and ask to be pointed to the house’s owner. The drivers of delivery trucks made the same mistake.

The message was unmistakable: What was a black man doing living in a place like this?

At the university (which in a past not distant at all did not admit African-Americans ), Gates’s reception was in some ways no different. Doubts were expressed in letters written by senior professors about his scholarly credentials, which were vastly superior to those of his detractors. (He was already a recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, the so called “genius award.”) There were wild speculations (again in print) about his salary, which in fact was quite respectable but not inordinate; when a list of the highest-paid members of the Duke faculty was published, he was nowhere on it.

The unkindest cut of all was delivered by some members of the black faculty who had made their peace with Duke traditions and did not want an over-visible newcomer and upstart to trouble waters that had long been still. (The great historian John Hope Franklin was an exception.) When an offer came from Harvard, there wasn’t much I could do. Gates accepted it, and when he left he was pursued by false reports about his tenure at what he had come to call “the plantation.” (I became aware of his feelings when he and I and his father watched the N.C.A.A. championship game between Duke and U.N.L.V. at my house; they were rooting for U.N.L.V.)

Now, in 2009, it’s a version of the same story. Gates is once again regarded with suspicion because, as the cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson put it in an interview, he has committed the crime of being H.W.B., Housed While Black.

He isn’t the only one thought to be guilty of that crime. TV commentators, laboring to explain the unusual candor and vigor of Obama’s initial comments on the Gates incident, speculated that he had probably been the victim of racial profiling himself. Speculation was unnecessary, for they didn’t have to look any further than the story they were reporting in another segment, the story of the “birthers” — the “wing-nuts,” in Chris Matthews’s phrase — who insist that Obama was born in Kenya and cite as “proof” his failure to come up with an authenticated birth certificate. For several nights running, Matthews displayed a copy of the birth certificate and asked, What do you guys want? How can you keep saying these things in the face of all evidence?

He missed the point. No evidence would be sufficient, just as no evidence would have convinced some of my Duke colleagues that Gates was anything but a charlatan and a fraud. It isn’t the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate that’s the problem for the birthers. The problem is again the legitimacy of a black man living in a big house, especially when it’s the White House. Just as some in Durham and Cambridge couldn’t believe that Gates belonged in the neighborhood, so does a vocal minority find it hard to believe that an African-American could possibly be the real president of the United States.

Gates and Obama are not only friends; they are in the same position, suspected of occupying a majestic residence under false pretenses. And Obama is a double offender. Not only is he guilty of being Housed While Black; he is the first in American history guilty of being P.W.B., President While Black.

Stanley Fish: Henry Louis Gates: Déjà Vu All Over Again

Friday, July 10, 2009

New talents from Kuwait

Here is some of the good press about our exhibit, New talents from Kuwait, which runs from June 27th-July 11th at the Opera Gallery in Dubai:

New talents


American University of Kuwait

Also, check out this Arab Gulf "online lifestyle magazine" Khaleejesque that featured an article on our Dubai exhibit:

It was an amazing opening and very successful exhibit, more than one third of the artwork sold and two of the students got picked up by the gallery!

Monday, July 6, 2009

the fog of war...

Robert McNamara dies: No escape from Vietnam

"Robert McNamara (who passed away today) waited 30 years before conceding in his 1995 memoir, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, that he had waged the war in error... McNamara admitted in his book that the U.S. government had never answered key questions that drove its war policy, such as whether the fall of Vietnam would lead to a communist Southeast Asia and if such an occurrence would really have posed a grave threat to the West. "It seems beyond understanding, incredible, that we did not force ourselves to confront such issues head-on," he wrote. He said he wanted to help prevent the country from making similar mistakes in the future and that he fretted that just as Washington misperceived Vietnam a generation ago, it remained in danger of making a similar mistake. "We ought to learn the history of the Muslim religion," he told TIME in 1995. "Most Americans don't know the difference between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites, but we need to know that because that's going to be a major issue in the world of the future."

McNamara continued to wage his campaign to make amends for Vietnam through the end of his life, most notably in Errol Morris' Oscar-winning 2003 documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. And he was a vocal critic of the Bush Administration's war in Iraq..."