Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quebecois Separatism, Syrian Unity (Link Round-Up 9/5/12)

[via BoingBoing]

As negative news stories of its brutal repression grew in the wake of the Arab Spring, the regime undertook a massive, very well-funded PR campaign to improve its image. As reported by Bahrain Watch, the regime has spent more than $32m in PR fees alone since the commencement of the Arab Spring in February, 2011, including payments to some of Washington, DC's most well-connected firms and long-time political operatives, such as former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi.

One of the largest contracts the regime had was with the DC-based PR firm Qorvis Communications. As Time reported last November, the firm, which also does extensive PR work for Bahrain's close allies, the Saudi regime, "has a branch dedicated to rehabilitating the reputation of unsavory governments, a niche practice that has seen great demand in the wake of the Arab spring".

Qorvis often led the way in complaining to CNNi about its Bahrain coverage. An internal email from CNN at the beginning of 2012, seen by the Guardian, records the firm's calling to complain about excessively favorable mentions of Nabeel Rajab, who had been arrested and charged over an anti-regime tweet, and was just this month sentenced to three years in prison for an "illegal demonstration".
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called for all sides to end fighting, telling a joint news conference with Clinton: "Let me emphasise that China is not partial to any individual or any party."

Yang called on all nations to exert "a positive influence" to persuade the sides in Syria "to adopt a realistic, calm and constructive attitude so that there can be an early beginning of political dialogue and transition".

But he warned against the use of outside force to end the conflict that activists say has killed more than 26,000 people -- a sensitive notion for one-party China.
"Maybe it's because of the elections -- maybe it's because of the pre-election situation in the States. Might be the root cause of the lacking of initiative. Nobody has spoken to us about their reasons, and they are not obliged to state anything. We are very thankful and pleased they have stated that they're against this regime," he said through a translator.
Previous PQ governments held referendums in 1980 and 1995 on whether to break away from Canada and both failed. The party won just 31.9 percent of the vote on Tuesday, showing that enthusiasm for the idea of independence is muted at best.
Vorayuth Yoovidhya, a grandson of the late founder of Red Bull, billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya, had initially fled the scene but later confessed to hitting the policeman, police said. He was released hours later on 500,000 baht ($16,000) bail.

Though Vorayuth has yet to appear in court, there seemed little faith among the public that justice would be served.

"Jail is only for the poor. The rich never get punished. Find a scapegoat," said one of a stream of comments posted on the popular Thai website,

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