May 6, 2007

Lots of Vowing Going on As Sarkozy Elected

In a painful defeat for Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal and as described in a brilliant New York Times lead, "Nicolas Sarkozy, the passionate, pugnacious son of a Hungarian immigrant, was elected president of France on Sunday, promising a break with the past, a new style of leadership, and a renewal of relations with the United States and the rest of Europe."

The Times article, entitled "Sarkozy, Elected in France, Vows Break With Past," detailed how though Royal appealed to the women of France to vote for her in a show of "female solidarity," Sarkozy, the conservative "hard-line" minister of the interior, got the majority of the women’s vote, according to Ipsos, an international polling company.

The Washington Post article, entitled "Sarkozy Vows to Restore Pride in France," described how Sarkozy's election could in fact signal a major transition for French society, as promises were made to spur economic growth and employment through tax cuts and treating the deficit, all while reducing the role of government in the economy a la the United States.

April 29, 2007

French Presidential Candidate Debates Defeated Opponent

French presidential contender and Socialist Segolene Royal addressed voters of defeated centrist Francois Bayrou in a televised debate on April 28.

According to the New York Times, the 100-minute "dialogue" between Royal, the candidate of the left, and Bayrou, the centrist candidate who was knocked out of the race in the first round, was a first since presidential debates began in France in the 1974 race, and what is more, never before has a candidate who made it into the runoff debated one of the losers.

The Washington Post reported that Royal sought to use the debate to "flag the values" she shares with Bayrou and draw away moderates "attracted to Sarkozy's energy and drive, but worried by his hardliner image." However, some of Royal's leftist supporters have criticized her move as one bringing her away from her hardline Socialist stance.

Both articles related how opinion polls show Royal's chief opponent Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of Royal, yet with two polls made the day of the debate pointing to the gap narrowing.

April 22, 2007

French Voters Narrow Field to Two for Decisive Runoff

Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, the candidates of the two leading French political parties, won the first round of the presidential elections April 22, resulting in what looks to be decisive runoff between the French left and right.

According to the New York Times, the election displayed an extremely high voter turnout for France, with 12 candidates to choose from; the outcome was "an affirmation of France’s traditional left-right divide."

The two candidates to face off are Sarkozy,the conservative candidate who "wants the French to work more and pay fewer taxes," and Royal, a Socialist with "a leftist economic program and a declared ambition to modernize her party" and the intention to become France's first female president.

The Washington Post reports that the campaigns have displayed an intense focus on issues such as the stagnant domestic economy and job market, France's waning international financial and diplomatic influence, encroaching globalization, and rising immigration, the last being seen as a threat to both the traditional French way of life and the "cradle-to-grave" benefits of the state's social welfare system.

April 15, 2007

Banned Protest in Moscow Ends in Mass Arrests, Including Famous Chess Champion

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and at least 170 other anti-Kremlin activists were "detained" in Moscow April 14 after hundreds of riot police, acting on the ban prohibiting just such opposition protests, sealed off Pushkin Square and clubbed some protesters.

According to the New York Times, due to being essentially barred from access to television air time, members of Other Russia have focused heavily on the use of street protests as the key platform to voicing their opposition ideas before and about parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections next March. The last ditch element of the protests was made all the more true earlier in April, when Other Russia leaders former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Garry Kasparov’s Web sites were blocked, though it is unclear by whom (though suspicions abound).

According to the Washington Post, Kasparov and his supporters say they plan to continue stepping up their protests, charging that Putin has "squeezed the life out of Russian democracy" and plans to "stage-manage" the elections to prevent a free, democratic choice.

April 8, 2007

North Korea Arms Ethiopians--U.S. Does Nothing

Ethiopia recently completed a secret arms purchase from North Korea, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions made three months ago, when the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country’s nuclear test. What is more, Bush administration officials apparently allowed the transaction, according to senior American officials.

According to the New York Times, the United States allowed the arms delivery to go through last January in part because Ethiopia was combatting Islamic militias in Somalia--a campaign that aided the American policy of combating religious extremists, specifically in the Horn of Africa.

According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration has led a lengthy campaign to "choke off" North Korea's access to "hard currency" via an intense monitoring and halting of weapons sales and an extensive crackdown on counterfeiting operations.

April 1, 2007

Britain - Iran Conflict Escalates into Rioting

The evolving conflict between Britain and Iran over the status of 15 British naval officers detained by Iranian forces continues, after Iranian television aired the confessions of two of the officers for intrusion into Iran's waters.

According to the Washington Post, about 200 Iranian students were throwing rocks and shouting "Death to Britain" and "Death to America" outside the British embassy in Tehran Sunday, while in London, about a dozen British protestors demonstrated outside the Iranian embassy, demanding that the soldiers in captivity be freed immediately.

The Reuters article, as seen in the New York Times, addresses the timing of the incident, as the conflict occurs during a time of heightened Middle East tensions over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, which in turn pushed oil prices upwardds last week to six-month highs, all while the West accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear bombs (a charge Tehran denies).

The Reuthers article mentions the riots in passing only, while the Post piece maintains a focus on the newsworthiness of the opinions of those outside of the respective governments clashing in the situation.

March 25, 2007

Blair Says Iran Guilty of Wrongful Detention

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Iran's seizure of 15 British naval personnel "unjustified and wrong" Sunday.

According to the Washington Post, the British team was seized at gunpoint Friday near the Shatt al Arab waterway between Iraq and Iran. The seizure occured after the search of a civilian Indian ship in Iraqi waters, as part of its U.N. mandate to patrol and search for smugglers, British officials said. Officials said they did not know exactly where their Navy personnel -- 14 men and one woman -- were being held and that they had not been allowed access to them.

According to the New York Times, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki of Iran said to reporters in New York that the charge being considered against the officers is “the illegal entrance into Iranian waters,? according to news agencies.

Of interest is the manner in which this story has unfolded in news publications--notably, that by the third day of the "crisis" the newsworthiness of the story is dependent not on whether the officers are in good condition or on their whereabouts or even on the broader implications of why these men and women have been detained in the first place, but rather, on what prominent people, such as Tony Blair, have to say about it.

March 4, 2007

"Complex Ambush" Ends in Marine Gunfire, Civilian Casualties

A "complex ambush" in eastern Afghanistan ended with substantial civilian casualties March 4. American troops opened fire on a highway filled with civilian cars and bystanders after encountering a suicide car bombing followed by small arms.

The incident sparked demonstrations and protests against the Americans and the Aghan government.

Of interest are the distinct differences in terms of how the story was presented by the New York Times and the Washington Post. For instance, in the lead of the Times story, casualties were described as "16 civilians dead and 24 wounded. However, the Post took a much more conservative stance, saying only that "at least eight Afghan civilians were killed." Later, nearer the end of the article, the U.S. military's reversal of an earlier estimate of casualties is addressed, from 16 down to eight, though a check at a local hospital reported 14 deaths.

Another item of note is a look at where each story was filed from. The Times piece was filed from Kabul, Afghanistan, whereas the Post story was filed from Islamabad, Pakistan.

February 25, 2007

"Canada's Guantanamo North" Rejected by Canadian Supreme Court

Canada's Supreme Court struck down a law allowing the government to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely using secret evidence and secret testimony Friday in a unanimous decision.

According to the New York Times, the law, responsible for the "security certificate system" used as a detention measure, has been described by government lawyers as "an important tool for combating international terrorism and maintaining Canada's domestic security."

The Washington Post detailed how the ruling, having been suspended to allow the government to pass a measure in line with the word of the law, has left six men (two held in a special prison, three free on bond, one ordered released on bond) in legal limbo.

While the Post remarks on how the decision reflects a victory for civil rights proponents, the Times goes one step further, addressing and contrasting the act with US decisions of late, such as the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

So far as the structure of the articles, both articles interspersed quotations with follow-up fact blocks. However, considering the complexity of the legality behind the piece, fact blocks outnumbered the quotations, to provide a more comprehensive overview of the topic at risk of losing the readers' attentions.

February 18, 2007

Baghdad Car Bombs Claim 60, Injure More

Two car bombs exploded at 3:30 p.m. February 18 in a Baghdad neighborhood.

According to the Washington Post, Iraqi officials estimated the total death toll at 40, whereas other officials quoted by Iraqi television and news outlets put the death toll as at least 60, with over 100 injured.

The attack occurred shortly after an American patrol rolled through the neighborhood, which, according to the New York Times, underscored the continual difficulties involved in maintaining the peace on Baghdad streets amidst similar and nearly daily car bombings and suicide attacks.The bombing took place in the streets of the New Baghdad neighborhood, which is predominantly Shiite. Blame for the assault has fallen upon Sunni Arab militants, according to American and Iraqi officials.

Both articles addressed the timing of the incident, having occurred two days after a declaration by Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki about the purported successes enjoyed by the recent security crackdown.

February 4, 2007

Avian Flu Outbreak Results in Turkey Culling

A poultry farm in eastern Britain was the unfortunate location privy to a recent outbreak of avian flu strain A(H5N1) Feb. 3. The disease has thus far killed 2,500 turkeys at the Lowestoft farm since Feb. 1, already making the outbreak of the largest reported since 2003. However, an addititional 160,000 turkeys will be culled, in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, both to other turkeys and humans alike.

The New York Times reported that the prospect of a mass slaughter recalled Britains battle with foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, which entailed the slaughter of four million animals consisting of sheeps, pigs, and cows.

BBC News' report places a heightened emphasis on the the extensive protective measures being undertaken by the authorities, such as how "the carcasses of gassed birds were being transported in "sealed, leak-proof lorries, fully convered with tarpaulin" for destructed at a Staffordshire plant" which was attributed merely to a "spokeswoman" due to the fact that the action was not viewed by the reporter, but, having been relayed in a press conference, offically in the public record.

Worldwide, the strain in question of avian influenza has killed 164 people, primarily in southeast Asia since 2003, as the disease, though commonly transmitted to farmed birds by infected migrators, is far more difficult to be transmitted from bird to human. This fact was attested to in the New York Times by Fred Landeg, a "senior government veterinarian." A common media practice, Mr. Landeg's title attribution lends respectibility and credence to the report, as well as a highly-usable quotation.

January 28, 2007

Suicide Bomber Kills 2 at Pakistan Hotel

A suicide bomber detonated himself just outside a Marriot hotel in Islamabad on January 26, killing two (including himself) and wounding at least five.

ABC News details the efforts of a security guard in apparently blocking the bomber's path, though that action ultimately cost the guard his life. The inclusion of this occurrence in the report's lead demonstrates the increase emphasis upon the unusual in their reporting style. The New York Times also reported on the guard's efforts, though much later in the piece.

According to the New York Times, no one immediately took responsibility for the act. However, as detailed within the ABC News report, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said the explosion was the work of "anti-state elements who want to create unrest."

Both publications took explicit care to include a statement by the US Embassy, imploring its citizens to avoid the region in particular, and Pakistan in general, due to recent attacks of this nature. The New York Times reports similar attacks on international businesses operating in Pakistan, possibly in connection to the government's support of the American War on Terror.