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Entries in Wikipedia (5)


EA Audio: Scott Lucas with BBC on SOPA & Wikipedia's 24-Hour Strike

In a protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), now working their way through Congress, Wikipedia and hundreds of website are going "dark" on Wednesday.

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of the on-line encyclopedia, said the legislation would make "something like Wikipedia essentially impossible...if the provider has to police everything that everyone is doing on the site."

Speaking with BBC West Midlands, Scott Lucas explains why SOPA is being proposed and why it is considered by many as a threat to freedom of expression on the Internet.

The discussion starts just after the 1:42.00 mark.


Iran Feature: The EA Story That Made It Big in Iranian Media

Picturing EA's Story on Gerdab: Bahrain's King Hamad & Britain's David CameronWe have been informed in the past that EA WorldView is not necessarily the favourite site of those in the Iranian establishment. Although many officials read our coverage, they deny this to others in Iran, blocking the website.

So imagine our surprise when we learned this morning that one of EA's stories --- Josh Shahryar's "Bahrain Opinion: 'Loonies' and The Sins of Bell Pottinger" --- is racing across the Iranian media. Apparently, for all the dislike of EA's coverage of Iran, the regime can reconcile with us on a story which is about the Bahraini monarchy, not particularly liked by Tehran, and about a company based in Britain, also not liked very much.

The tribute begins with --- "In the Country Where the US Has No Embassy" --- set up two years ago to take aim at the US President. Its summary headlines, "Bahrain Regime Pays Money to Have Wikipedia's Articles", or in the Persian version,  "Removal of Al Khalifa Crimes from Wikipedia by the British".

There are other differences between the English and Persian entries. The former is pretty much a straight summary of Josh Shahryar's opinion. The latter --- whether from issues in translations or from mischief --- has notable changes. Shahryar, who is from Afghanistan, is now a "Western researcher". His Twitter message becomes the prompt for bloggers and The Independent of London --- those who actually broke the Bell Pottinger story --- to look into the matter. Perhaps most significantly, the PR firm is portrayed as having acted after getting a green light from the British Government and doing so in co-operation with Wikipedia.

It is that Persian re-writing about "the English company that has a higher power to whitewash clear cases of crimes in the State of Bahrain"  that is on the hard-line Raja News, the conservative Jahan News, 2009 Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei's Tabnak, Khadem News, Shia Online, and other websites. EA even makes it to Gerdab, linked to the Revolutionary Guards.


Bahrain, Uzbekistan (and Beyond) Special: Bell Pottinger, PR Agency for the Regimes, is Busted

Since this summer, we have been closely following the story of the high-profile US and British public-relations agencies hired by the Bahraini regime to turn its line into "news" and "analysis". Others have caught onto the story: today Salon profiles Tom Squitieri, one of the most prominent --- in persistence, if not quality --- consultants posing as a journalist.

Now a combination of The Independent of London, the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, and blogger Tim Ireland have exposed the activities of one of Bahrain's choice agencies, Bell Pottinger, as it cleans up the images of regimes around the world. Among the revelations are Bell Pottinger's re-writing of Wikipedia entries for Bahrain in the service of the "right" narrative about the kingdom.

A personal note: I had the chance to chat with one of Bell Pottinger's top executives in October. With a straight face and determined line, he explained to me that the agency was pursuing "reform" through its work with the leaders of Yemen and Bahrain. If that effort stumbled, it was not for lack of effort and goodwill by Bell Pottinger; instead it was the failure of those like Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to follow through on the agency's advice. In Bahrain, the executive continued, Crown Prince Salman was the spearhead for political change, and Bell Pottinger would be failing --- in its service to him and to the greater good --- if it did not help him.

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The Latest from Iran (4 October): More of the Same

2100 GMT: Execution Watch. The death sentence of Kurdish activist Habibollah Golparipour, on charges of waging war through propaganda and membership in an illegal group, has been upheld.

2025 GMT: Musical Moment. US National Public Radio posts a profile of famous Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian, whose renditions of classical Persian songs have become the music of post-election protest.

2005 GMT: Come Together Right Now. Mehr has picked up on the "unity" theme in Ali Larijani's remarks at Mazandaran University (see 0725 GMT): "Given the current circumstances, the country will stand to lose from any dispute over unimportant issues, and thus officials should try to avoid making statements that would create discord."

I'm not sure about the meaning of the website's English translation of the Speaker of Parliament's remarks on sanctions: "The economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program should be viewed as an opportunity to make up for shortcomings in the country."

2000 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates has frozen some Iranian bank accounts in line with UN resolutions, according to Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, the head of the Central Bank's anti-money laundering unit.

Al Awadi announced, "The UAE, with its commitment towards the UN, implemented all UN resolutions against Iranians."

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The Latest from Iran (3 October): Sedition's Gonna Get Ya

2020 GMT: Economy Watch --- Revised. An EA source makes a vital correction to our [portrayal of the article in Peyke Iran that 48 million of Iran's 75 million people "live below the poverty line" (see 1900 GMT):

There is no official poverty line in iran.  All the article says is that 2/3 of Iranian families have incomes under $800 a month.  That is almost $10,000 a year/household. We know that Iran is a middle-income country, so that should not shock anyone.

2010 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Revolving Door Edition). So as Alireza Beheshti Shirazi leaves detention, Saeed Noormohammadi, a member of the youth branch of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, goes back to prison.

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