The FPA condemns the prison sentences handed down by Hong Kong Courts on press people and political figures, some of whom have been our guests in the past, for alleged breaches of anti-Protest laws implemented under PRC auspices. China is destroying Hong Kong’s position as a regional media centre even as it makes a mockery of its own solemn promises on “One country, two systems.”
A new Cold War – this time, between the US and China —is threatening to paralyze the UN’s most powerful body, even as military conflicts and civil wars are sweeping across the world, mostly in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
The growing criticism against the Security Council is directed largely at its collective failures to resolve ongoing conflicts and political crises in several hot spots, including Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Libya — and its longstanding failure over Palestine.
The sharp divisions between China and Russia, on one side, and the Western powers on the other, are expected to continue, triggering the question: Has the Security Council outlived its usefulness or has it lost its political credibility?
The five big powers are increasingly throwing their protective arms around their allies, despite growing charges of war crimes, genocide and human rights violations against these countries.
Last week, Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director at Human Rights Watch, called on Britain “to step up as penholder on Myanmar and start negotiating a Security Council draft resolution on an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against the military”.
Over 580 people, including children, have been killed since the February 1 coup: “it is time for the Security Council to do more than issue statements and begin working towards substantive action,“ she warned.
But in most of these conflicts, including Myanmar, arms embargoes are very unlikely because the major arms suppliers to the warring parties are the five permanent members of the Security Council, namely the US, UK, France, Russia and China.
US President Joe Biden has described the growing new confrontation as a battle between democracies and autocracies.
In a recent analytical piece, the New York Times said China’s most striking alignment is with Russia, with both countries drawing closer after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The two countries have also announced they will jointly build a research station on the moon, setting the stage to compete with US space programmes.
“The threat of a US-led coalition challenging China’s authoritarian policies has only bolstered Beijing’s ambition to be a global leader of nations that oppose Washington and its allies,” the Times said.
Ian Williams, President of the New York-based Foreign Press Association and author of ‘UNtold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War’, told IPS that in the early years, with a secure majority in the General Assembly (GA), the US could pretend virtue and eschew using the veto. The embattled Soviets resorted it over and over.
“But as with so much UN and international law, the Israeli exception had the US making up for lost time. Now the Russians have been catching up with vetoes for Serbia and Syria”.
China, he pointed out, avoided using the veto unless Taiwan or Tibet was mentioned. In the old days there was a hint of an ideological element — Third World and Socialism versus Imperialism.
“But now it is entirely transactional, veto holders looking after their clients and allies, so no one should entertain illusions about China and Russia acting in a progressive and constructive way. But the US is no position to point fingers about Syria while it protects Saudi Arabia and Israel”.
“We can hope that the majority of members will grow indignant enough to try to effect indignation. But sadly, historical experience suggests many governments have almost unlimited tolerance for mass murder in far-away countries of which they know little,” he noted, including Darfur, the Balkans, Rwanda and now Myanmar.
The breakthrough would be the US saying, end the Occupation and then inviting others to join in a reaffirmation of the Charter.
“But since I don’t really believe in the tooth fairy, I would have to settle for a coalition of the conscious-stricken in the GA united for peace – and international law and order”, said Williams, a senior analyst who has written for newspapers and magazines around the world, including the Australian, The Independent, New York Observer, The Financial Times and The Guardian.
Asked about the killings in Myanmar, and the lack of action in the UNSC, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on March 29: “We need more unity in international community. We need more commitment in the international community to put pressure in order to make sure that the situation is reversed. I’m very worried. I see, with a lot of concern, the fact that, apparently, many of these trends look irreversible, but hope is the last thing we can give up on.”
Vijay Prashad, Executive Director, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, who has written extensively on international politics, told IPS the United Nations is an essential institution, a process, in many ways, rather than a fully-finished institution.
The agencies of the UN – including WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, he said, provide vital service to the world’s peoples; “and we need to make these institutions more robust, and we need to ensure that they drive a public agenda that advances the UN Charter’s main goals (namely to maintain peace, to end hunger and illiteracy, to provide the basis for a rich life, in sum).”
The Security Council is a victim of the political battles in the world, he argued.
“There is no way to build a better framework to handle the major power differentials”., said Prashad, author of 30 books, including most recently ‘Washington Bullets’ (LeftWord, Monthly Review),
“It would be far better to empower the UN General Assembly, which is more democratic, but since the 1970s we have seen how the US – in particular – undermined the UNGA to take decision making almost exclusively to the UNSC”.
Ever since the fall of the USSR, he said, the UN Secretary-General has become subservient to the US government (“we saw this shockingly with the treatment of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali”).
The new ‘Group of Friends to Defend the UN Charter’, which includes China and Russia, is a positive development, said Prashad.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters on March 31: “And then in terms of working with my counterparts in the Security Council, I know that there are areas – and this is a discussion that I’ve had – with both my Russian and Chinese colleagues – we know that there are red lines”.
“There are areas where we have serious concerns, and we’ve been open and we’ve been frank about those concerns. In China, what is happening with the Uyghurs, for example. With Russia, in Syria, and there are many others. We know what the red lines are”, she added.
“We tried to bridge those gaps, but we also try to find those areas where we have common ground. We’ve been able to find common ground on Burma (Myanmar). With the Chinese, we’re working on climate change in, I think, a very positive way. We’re not in the exact same place, but it’s an area where we can have conversations with each other.”
“So as the top U.S. diplomat in New York, it is my responsibility to find common ground so that we can achieve common goals, but not to give either country a pass when they are breaking human rights values or pushing in directions that we find unacceptable,” she declared.
Meanwhile, harking back to a bygone era, during the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s, the United Nations was the ideological battle ground where the Americans and the Soviets pummeled each other– either on the floor of the General Assembly hall or at the horse-shoe table of the UN Security Council.
Perhaps one of the most memorable war of words took place in October 1962 when the politically-feisty US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson (1961-65), a two-time Democratic US presidential candidate, challenged Soviet envoy Valerian Zorin over allegations that the USSR, perhaps under cover of darkness, had moved nuclear missiles into Cuba—and within annihilating distance of the United States.
Speaking at a tense Security Council meeting, Stevenson admonished Zorin: “I remind you that you didn’t deny the existence of these weapons. Instead, we heard that they had suddenly become defensive weapons. But today — again, if I heard you correctly — you now say they don’t exist, or that we haven’t proved they exist, with another fine flood of rhetorical scorn.”
“All right sir”, said Stevenson, “let me ask you one simple question. Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR has placed and is placing medium and intermediate range missiles and sites in Cuba?” “Yes or No? Don’t wait for the translation: Yes or No?”, Stevenson insisted with a tone of implied arrogance.
Speaking in Russian through a UN translator (who faithfully translated the US envoy’s sentiments into English), Zorin shot back: “I am not in an American courtroom, sir, and therefore I do not wish to answer a question that is put to me in the fashion in which a prosecutor does. In due course, sir, you will have your reply. Do not worry.”
Not to be outwitted, Stevenson howled back: “You are in the court of world opinion right now, and you can answer yes or no. You have denied that they exist. I want to know if …I’ve understood you correctly.”
When Zorin said he will provide the answer in “due course”, Stevenson famously declared: “I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over.”
*Thalif Deen is the author of a newly-released book on the United Nations titled “No Comment – and Don’t Quote Me on That.”
GENEVA (14 April 2021) – The United States’ anti-terrorism program “Rewards for Justice” is violating the human rights of some of the individuals it targets, UN human rights experts* said.
The program, operated by the U.S. State Department, offers money for information about people outside the United States whom the U.S. Government designates as being associated with terrorism, but who have not been charged with any crimes. It also offers money to foreign individuals whom it claims are involved with terrorism if they cooperate with U.S. authorities.
“Many of the people targeted by the Rewards for Justice program have had their due process rights denied,” said Alena Douhan, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. “Those rights entail the presumption of innocence and fair trial, and the United States is obliged by international law to respect them. By offering money for information that can lead to the capture of these individuals, the program encourages others to participate in the denial of these rights.
“Such offers are reminiscent of wanted posters that target fugitives from justice – fugitives charged with crimes or who have warrants for their arrest,” said Douhan, whose call is supported by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The offers of money to foreign individuals alleged to be involved in terrorist activity or associated with entities qualified by the United States as being involved in terrorist activity – including institutions of Iran, Cuba and many other States – comes with threats to impose sanctions on these individuals if they don’t cooperate with the U.S. Government’s demands. Sanctions imposed against them violate a number of their rights, including the right to work, to freedom of movement, right to reputation, right to life with no possibility to access justice to protect these rights, as well as the right to be forgotten.
“Making an individual carry out tasks against their will under the threat of a penalty for not doing so amounts to forced labour as defined by agreements made through the International Labour Organization, and the United States has accepted that definition,” said Douhan. Forced labour is prohibited by treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States has ratified.
“I respectfully urge the U.S. Government to review its Rewards for Justice Program in order to ensure that its activities are aligned with international law,” Douhan said. “Fighting terrorism is obviously necessary, but it shall only be done with due respect to human rights, international humanitarian and refugee law, in line with the UN Global Strategy on Counter-Terrorism.”
The Special Rapporteur has raised this, along with other issues of concern to her mandate, with the US Government but has thus far not received any response.
For more information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Christophe Peschoux (email@example.com).
For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 7578 / firstname.lastname@example.org).
President of the Foreign Press Association Ian Williams
Many of our members remember when Hong Kong was a beacon for press freedom in the region. The PRC controlled Hong Kong Court’s guilty verdict on Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, Margaret Ng and four others threaten to extinguish that flame of freedom.
We deplore the verdict, and ask government leaders who value freedom and a free press, call out these abhorrent actions.
The Foreign Press Association USA shares with our members and colleagues news that the
George Polk Awards will host a webinar on "The Press & the Pandemic: Filling the Information Void," which will take place on Zoom at 6 PM EST on April 8th.
Laurie Garrett will moderate a panel consisting of Polk awardees Ed Yong of The Atlantic, David Culver of CNN and Helen Branswell of STAT.
The event is free of charge and open to the public. The panel discussion on Zoom will be followed by a Q&A session.
The FPA USA strongly condemns Russian fining of RFE/RL which goes against all principles of press freedom. While this is far worse than anything so far envisaged in the USA, the FPA points out that it also condemns the USA FARA which provides precedent and excuse for the Russia’s repression of the work of foreign correspondents.
Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft joined the FPA for a briefing on March 3rd.
Trita Parsi spoke about the yawning gaps in the Gulf: the US, Iraq, Iran, the JCPOA. In wide ranging tour d’ horizon he covered nuclear weapons sanctions and many other issues.
Parsi assessed how Biden administration’s moves in the region and how the US should make rejoining JCPOA an immediate goal, while suggesting that the recent bombing was not just illegal but a foreign policy mistake since, he suggests the US will make itself safer by pursuing a national security strategy that is centered on diplomacy and on military restraint.
The decision to bomb Iranian backed militia in Syria is thought to have come directly from President Biden himself
Instability and tensions in the Middle East are inevitable due to the lack of equilibrium caused by previous US administrations in addition to the lack of concerted efforts to forge meaningful political discourse.
The decision to end the arms sales to Saudi Arabia used for offensive purposes in Yemen was an extremely important and positive development.
The Iranians are deeply threatened by the fact that the Saudis and the Emirates are spending eight times as much on weaponry as the Iranians are. The Iranians are deeply threatened by the fact that the Israelis are conducting assassinations inside their country.
The Abrahamic pacts (CK) with Gulf States did not bring peace. The UAE was never at war with Israel
United States has both a responsibility to work with the Iranians as well political incentives for doing so with dwindling support at home for American involvement in wars in the Middle East. With the arguable exception of South Africa, he pointed out that sanctions historically have not changed regimes, but rather have consolidated their control.
And they have a cost on others as well, so for example, sanctions on Iran have cost the US economy over $200 billion but that is never brought to the attention of Congress which often supports sanctions because they are more popular than wars.
Iranian nukes are a possibility – the program started with US support under the Shah. But Iran, as a large regional power did not need nukes and its possession would encourage smaller powers to go nuclear, which levels the playing field and makes Iran just one among many.
Parsi expands on how the disruptive foreign policy of countries such as Saudi Arabia are ignored while long held suspicions of Iran have been supported and encouraged by previous US administrations.
He explains how regional players and lobbies in the US exaggerate the Iranian threat, and for example ridiculed the Moroccan accusations of Hezbollah/Iran involvement in Western Sahara as a ploy to get Washington’s recognition of annexation.
The Biden administration has a clear opportunity to work towards a more constructive relationship with Iran, resolving the JCPOA issue but will it take it?
Long Island University (LIU) has announced the winners of the 73rd annual George Polk Awards in Journalism, honoring journalists in 18 categories for their reporting in 2020.
Almost half of the awardees won for reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, which dominated the judging process, accounting for one quarter of all submissions. This year saw a record total of 592 entries, work that appeared in print, online or on television or radio and was nominated by news organizations and individuals or recommended by a national panel of advisors.
"As always, we strive to identify individual reporters who do significant work, not just the news organizations themselves," said John Darnton, curator of the awards. "We have never seen a story on the scale of the pandemic. In large part it fell to the press to inform the public about it and the press performed admirably. Our eight Polk winning entries represent the best of the best."
Four of the 2020 George Polk Award winners reported on the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at police hands in Minneapolis and Louisville. Others detailed President Donald Trump's controversial tax returns, delved into the complexities of the elections in Georgia, and revealed highly questionable practices by Facebook. Still others exposed racial discrimination at the Virginia Military Institute, documented how federal land grant universities were created on land taken from Indigenous peoples, and completed the investigation of a Mexican drug cartel that was started by a reporter assassinated in 2012.
The George Polk Awards were established in 1949 by LIU to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war. The awards, which place a premium on investigative and enterprising reporting that gains attention and achieves results, are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism.
Long Island University Board of Trustees Chair Eric Krasnoff stated, "Now in its 73rd year, the George Polk Awards in Journalism chronicles an unbroken chain of journalistic excellence, integrity and bravery. Honest and independent reporting is our best hope to nurture and sustain an equitable democratic society. LIU is proud and humbled by its role in curating these proceedings."
Beijing-based reporter David Culver, producer Yong Xiong and photo journalist Natalie Thomas of CNN receive the award for Foreign Reporting for giving much of the world its first on-the-scene look at the dangers posed by the coronavirus and the Chinese efforts to control its spread. Tapping into independent sources they developed during a trip to Wuhan that was cut short when the government ordered a lockdown of the city, the CNN crew did much of its early reporting from an enforced 14-day quarantine site.
Ed Yong of the Atlantic has won the Science Reporting award for his clear and insightful analysis of factors behind the spread of Covid-19 and failed efforts to bring it under control. Yong's March 25 account, "How the Pandemic Will End," correctly predicted its inordinately severe impact in the U.S., a circumstance his August 4 story, "How the Pandemic Defeated America," explained in devastating detail.
The award for Medical Reporting goes to Dan Diamond of Politico for multiple accounts of Trump Administration interference with the Centers for Disease Control and other sources of medical and scientific expertise. Among the actions he revealed were efforts to reduce Covid-19 testing, pour $300 million into a celebrity ad campaign, send seniors $200 drug discount cards, ignore a "pandemic playbook" inherited from the Obama Administration and install a spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services with orders to withhold or revise reports that did not hew to the official line.
Helen Branswell of the Boston-based science and medical news site STAT wins the award for Public Service for relentless coverage of all aspects of the pandemic that became must reading for the medical community and the general public. From her first posting January 4 alerting readers to a "growing cluster of unexplained pneumonia cases"in Wuhan to her December 31 take on experts' frustration over how little they knew about a new variant of the virus, Branswell tracked the spread of the virus in 161 articles — more than three a week —that were almost uniformly timely and astute.
The award for Health Reporting goes to ProPublica for two series examining the pandemic's disproportionate impact on Black Americans and meatpacking workers. Using data and anecdotal evidence, a team of reporters revealed high rates of infection in Black communities because of limited access to proper medical care. In another series, reporters Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung found global corporations exposed low-wage food handlers to conditions that caused widespread Covid-19 outbreaks, even lobbying the federal government to declare them essential workers.
Eli Saslow of the Washington Post has been recognized in a first-time category, Oral History, for "Voices from the Pandemic," 25 compelling personal narratives he crafted based on extensive interviews with individuals deeply affected by the virus. Saslow chose each to represent a segment of the American populace coping with grief, fear, guilt, bitterness, frustration, tension, dejection and other emotions, relating their stories in their own words while keeping his role invisible to the reader.
Matthias Gafni, Joe Garofoli and Tal Kopan of the San Francisco Chronicle have been honored with the Military Reporting award for disclosing the Pentagon's punishment of Navy Captain Brett Crozier who sought to evacuate nearly 5,000 sailors in tight quarters aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt to protect them from exposure to Covid-19. The Chronicle story forced the Acting Navy Secretary to resign and called into question the military's approach to the pandemic. In the end a crewmember died and a thousand others tested positive for the virus, including Crozier, who lost his command, was almost reinstated and finally lost it for good.
The award for Magazine Reporting goes to Katie Engelhart of the California Sunday Magazine for "What Happened in Room 10?". Focusing on one room in the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, scene of the nation's first deadly Covid-19 outbreak, which led to 46 deaths, Engelhart's seamless 17,000-word narrative was at once riveting storytelling and a deft analysis of what went so wrong in nursing homes across the country.
Luke Mogelson of The New Yorker has received the award for National Reporting for three magazine articles putting his extensive experience as a foreign war correspondent to use with firsthand accounts of domestic upheaval that sometimes turned violent. He produced probing portraits of Black Lives Matter activists in Minneapolis, anti-lockdown militia members in Michigan and competing left and right militants on the streets of Portland.
The staff of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has won the Local Reporting award for coverage of the death of George Floydand its aftermath, starting with spot-on deadline work by police reporter Libor Jany and then delving into the background on Floyd and the officers indicted for killing him. Other articles explored the unsavory history of a precinct, destroyed by protestors, that was considered a breeding ground for renegade cops. The articles portrayed an ineffective police disciplinary process and reported on attempts to rethink the role of police and pick up the pieces in neighborhoods ravaged in the protests.
"George Floyd's America," a six-part series by a team of Washington Post reporters illustrating how uncanny a match Floyd's life and death were for the national movement he came to symbolize, has won the award for Justice Reporting. Based on more than 150 interviews, the Post series detailed how entrenched poverty, structural racism, inferior education, police intimidation and a rigged criminal justice system dogged Floyd's life from beginning to end.
The award for Television Reporting goes to correspondent Roberto Ferdman and his VICE News Tonight crew for breakthrough coverage of the shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in a "no-knock" police raid in Louisville and the investigations that followed. Their reports revealed a pattern of over-heavy police enforcement amid a culture that condoned misconduct and called into question official accounts of the raid and ensuing probes, including a highly suspect grand jury investigation.
The award for Political Reporting is presented to Stephanie McCrummen of The Washington Post for deftly capturing Georgia's shifting political winds in three perceptive profiles in the run- up to the election. One highlighted the conversion of a suburban woman whose turn away from President Trump presaged his ultimate defeat. Another portrayed the re-election of a 76-year-old Democrat-turned-Republican sheriff as a reflection of resistance to change in the rural South. And the third chronicled the collapse of a Democratic Congressional campaign against a far-right conspiratorialist whose outlandish views would soon make her a pariah for many colleagues on Capitol Hill.
The award for Business Reporting goes to Ryan Mac and Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News for a series demonstrating how Facebook exposes the public to disinformation, fraud and violence. They found the $800 billion social media giant was slow to remove extremist content, fired a whistleblower who determined it favored right-wing publishers and disregarded another who detailed how fake accounts were undermining the democratic process in India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador as well as the U.S. In one egregious example, Mac and Silverman revealed that Facebook ignored 455 requests to remove an event page urging militants to bring weapons to a Wisconsin protest where two people were later shot to death.
Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire of The New York Times are honored with the Financial Reporting award for accessing and analyzing a trove of Donald Trump's income tax information, a reportorial coup suggesting why Trump went to such lengths to hide it from public view. They reported that in 11 years before 2017, he paid no federal income tax, benefitting from such questionable write-offs as $70,000 for hair care, over $2 million in property taxes on a family retreat and almost $800,000 in "consulting fees" paid to his daughter. Perhaps their most stinging revelation was the amount Trump remitted in each of two years he did pay tax: $750.
Ian Shapira of the Washington Post has won the award for State Reporting for laying bare overt racism at the state-supported Virginia Military Institute. Among other things, he persuaded aggrieved Black cadets to open up about their experiences at the hands of whites. His series of articles led Governor Ralph Northam (an alumnus) to order an independent investigation. They pressured VMI's board to remove a statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson and forced the resignation of VMI's superintendent, who was succeeded by the first Black to lead the 181- year-old institute.
The Education Reporting award goes to Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone of the Colorado- based regional magazine High Country News for "Land Grab Universities," the result of a two- year investigation exploring the dark side of a federal initiative considered a hallmark achievement, the 1862 Morrill Act. The law transferred nearly 11 million acres to the states to fund the establishment of 52 land grant colleges. Nearly all that acreage, now worth an estimated half-billion dollars, was seized from 250 Indigenous nations, the magazine found. Its well- documented account sent shockwaves through campuses across the country where students and faculty demanded that institutions like MIT, Cornell and Cal-Berkeley find ways to right a 150- year-old wrong.
A Special Award is presented to the late Regina Martinez of Proceso magazine and Forbidden Stories — a global network of investigative journalists whose mission is to continue the work of reporters threatened, censored or killed. Eight years after the 2012 murder of Martinez, journalists following her leads produced "The Cartel Project," which linked politicians to drug traffickers in the state of Veracruz and discovered that she had been preparing to publish an explosive report about thousands of individuals who had mysteriously disappeared. Forbidden Stories reporters interviewed sources who had never spoken on-the-record, revealing how local authorities sabotaged the investigation into Martinez's death and put a scapegoat behind bars without proof — a tactic similar to one used by the Greek government in the aftermath of George Polk's murder.
"This year, the outstanding reporting of these distinguished journalists told unprecedented stories of the greatest challenges our society has faced in generations," said Long Island University President Kimberly R. Cline. "Long Island University is honored to recognize this year's George Polk winners and their exceptional work as part of this long-established tradition."
George Polk Award winners are traditionally honored at a luncheon ceremony in New York in the spring, where each briefly describes their reporting, following an evening seminar on LIU's Brooklyn campus that delves more deeply into some of their stories. Because of the pandemic, this year's luncheon has been cancelled, though winners will record remarks on a video that will be available on the Polk site. A Webinar, titled "The Press & the Pandemic," will be aired at 6 pm on April 8. Laurie Garrett, the award-winning science writer, will moderate a discussion with three of the current Polk winners: David Culver, Helen Branswell, and Ed Yong.
Foreign Press Association USA
Monday February 21st, 2021
Lessons From Carey Gillam & Robert Bilott's Battles to Expose Monsanto & DuPont
How did investigative journalist Carey Gillam expose the health risks of Monsanto’s glyphosate and attorney Robert Bilott, DuPont’s pollution of waterways with PFAS forever chemicals? By a persistent focus on exposing the facts that both companies went great lengths to hide.
In the latest Zoom briefing for the FPA, Gillam and Bilott share how they wrestled with the companies that are now ordered expected to pay billions in costs and damages, the efforts that were made to discredit them, the failures of the Environmental Protection Agency and lessons for journalists.
Interviewed by Foreign Press Association President and award-winning journalist Ian Williams, the Zoom discussion is a must watch for journalists, journalism students, whistle blowers and environmentalists. It is also a warning to corporate leaders of the consequences of reckless attitudes to public health on brands and bottom lines.
Where there may be a lot of grey, hard facts are essential for telling the story, which in these cases involved many years of persistent reporting and investigating. In both the Monsanto and DuPont cases the companies’ internal memos shows they discussed and knew the risks, but covered them up.
Journalists must seek out independent scientific perspectives and not rely on research paid for or supported by corporations which try to dominate the agenda.
The companies went to great lengths to discredit and bully Gillam and Bilott. They engaged PR experts and other organizations campaigns and tried hard to woo and even buy journalists and media organizations.
Despite media coverage, books and even a Hollywood documentary about Bilott’s pursuit of DuPont (Dark Waters), both of them confess surprise at the lack of public attention to these cases despite the millions of Americans at risk from these chemicals.
Gillam shares the importance of journalists doing what they are supposed to do: not to reprint press releases, but to standup and ask the tough questions. She also highlights the challenge for media organizations of not becoming beholden to corporate interests.
As Ian William’s shares in the webinar, when the former FPA President, David Michaels turned down expelled Executive Director Thanos Dimadis’ efforts to give Bayer AG influence over our organization and engage in a secret discussion to compensate himself, Dimadis left, sabotaged the FPA, took membership lists and engaged in an effort to defame the FPA,
(see Gillam’s Guardian article), setting up a Potemkin organization with funding from the pharmaceutical and chemical giant.
Robert Bilott - Exposure
Carey Gillam: The Monsanto Papers
Foreign Press Association recommended event
February 24th, 7PM EST, online
On October 2, 2018, in one of the most heinous attacks on press freedom in recent memory, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Dissident explores the human rights, press freedom, and surveillance issues raised by Khashoggi's murder and highlights efforts by the journalist’s fiancee and global dissidents to expose the killers.
CPJ, the Knight First Amendment Institute, and the Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University are hosting the panel, which will feature U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnès S. Callamard alongside Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. The Knight Institute’s director, Jameel Jaffer, will moderate the discussion, which will include introductory remarks by CPJ’s executive director, Joel Simon. The panel will discuss ongoing international efforts to hold the Saudi regime accountable for Khashoggi's murder and the significance of this case for press freedom worldwide.
The link to screen the documentary will be available from February 22, at 6 p.m. EST, through February 24, at 6 p.m. EST, and will also be provided to those who RSVP here.
This event is co-sponsored by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University; Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University; and the Committee to Protect Journalists.