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It was bound to happen. The iconic flagship of our voyage into the digital age has run up against the hard realities of state power and international relations. Internet naiveté is giving way to global realpolitik. Now that Google is in a major flap over its deal with the Chinese government to censor itself, what will become of Google’s “foreign policy?” And what, if anything, should the American government do? This case simply foreshadows the complexities of designing “foreign policy” in the digital age.

Al Jazeera held its “2nd Aljazeera Forum” Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 in its headquarter city of Doha, Qatar. The conference was titled “Defending Freedom, Defining Responsibility,” but its goal seemed to be to trash U.S. media and celebrate everything Al Jazeera.

This posting has been moved to the Public Diplomacy Blog.

Worldcasting has obtained exclusive comparative independent television ratings that document a steady decline in Al Jazeera's popularity among viewers in Saudi Arabia over a one-year period. That country is the most important television market in the region; 70 percent of the region's television advertising is spent there.

Did the commander of the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) really say those things about the media, and the war in Iraq? If so, why the big secret?

The remarks attributed to General John Abizaid that mysteriously surfaced on the Internet and were sent anonymously to media outlets were said to have been from the General’s recent address at the Naval War College, date unknown.

NAIROBI – December 10

Is Africa becoming part of the Middle Kingdom?

That is a popular question in the news recently: The week began with a Council on Foreign Relations report describing Africa's strategic importance to the United States. The report was comprehensive, but most American media accounts focused on one chapter, about energy, and how the Chinese were cultivating African oil, gas and other resources.

December 15, 2005

The latest international television satellite channel, Russia Today, debuted this week, after securing a bank loan of $30 million to cover start up costs. It will broadcast in English, as do satellite networks from the BBC, the Chinese government, and the proposed Al Jazeera channel. The satellite news bandwagon is getting more crowded all the time and English will be the language of choice as new channels develop.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee conceded that its recent call for a debate on Alhurra's effectiveness should have happened before America’s Arabic television channel went on the air. But the oversight committee is too late. The dispute rages daily in Washington and the Middle East, and battle lines have been drawn on two major issues.

One is who is watching Alhurra, and the other is what they see there.


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