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In 1948, gasoline was 26 cents a gallon, a new car was $1,500, and you could drive it to see Bob Hope in the movie "Paleface," or head home to watch Milton Berle cavorting on your small, round, green TV screen.

1948 was also the year that Congress enacted the Smith-Mundt Act that has, for more than half a century, prevented Americans from understanding how a critically important part of the U.S. government carries out its responsibilities: Under that law, domestic distribution of U.S. government media content meant for overseas audiences was forbidden.

Amman, Jordan

This is an important moment in the Middle East. Events have been moving quickly in several countries around the region. The questions now are whether the momentum for reform can be sustained, and whether the United States, despite its poor reputation throughout the Arab World, can play a constructive role.

WASHINGTON, March 4 -- There are no independent news organizations in the Arab world. That was the assertion of Arab journalists addressing a conference on Arab media today, who said the only truly independent voices in the Arab world are bloggers.

A Reporter Remembered: Dan Rather, Ed Murrow and the changing face of news and information.

In the 1960s, when President John F. Kennedy wanted a voice of America with impeccable credentials, he turned to Edward R. Murrow. In his career at CBS News, reporting live from wartime London, later anchoring nightly news on radio and inventing much of modern broadcast news, Murrow personified the dedication to fair and unbiased news and information that Kennedy wanted as the face of American public diplomacy of his time.

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Iraq’s election went off better than expected. Now that the results have been announced the hard part begins.

February 18, 2005

Let’s say Al Jazeera goes south, then what?

The Arabic-language satellite channel from Qatar has changed the way people receive information, especially in the Middle East, and it has changed the way information is fashioned and perceived. So if Al-Jazeera goes on the block and new owners take over, which now appears likely, or if it simply goes dark, which is unlikely but one never knows, things will never be the same. Like him or not, the Emir of Qatar, who came up with the idea, has Chutzpah. Okay, let’s call it that vision thing.

February 17, 2005

Claremont, California

I’ve spent a day here in the suburbs of Los Angeles talking about the Middle East with students and faculty at my alma mater, Pomona College. The really interesting thing is that while I came to talk about Iraq, I keep getting asked about Israel and the Palestinians. Add in Monday’s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Iraq, the constant topic of the last two years, seems to have vanished from the agenda, at least for a moment.



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