The Bush administration's policy of barring news photographs of the flag-covered coffins of service members killed in Iraq won the backing of the Republican-controlled Senate on Monday when lawmakers defeated a Democratic measure to instruct the Pentagon to allow pictures. \nThe 54-39 vote came after little formal debate, with seven Democrats joining 47 Republicans to defeat the provision. \nTwo Republicans, senators Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and John McCain of Arizona, voted in favor of letting news photographers have access to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where coffins containing the war dead from Iraq arrive. \n"These caskets that arrive at Dover are not named; we just see them," said McCain, a former Navy pilot who was a prisoner of war for five years in Vietnam. He added, "I think we ought to know the casualties of war." \nBut President Bush has insisted that the policy banning the photography protects the privacy of the families of the dead, a view reiterated by lawmakers who opposed the measure. \nSome Republicans, including Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, complained that Democrats were trying to score election-year points with the effort. Grassley noted that the policy had been in place since the first Bush administration, in 1991. "This policy has been in place for 13 years," he said. "Nobody has raised a complaint about it until now." \nBut the policy has not been consistently followed; President Bill Clinton took part in numerous ceremonies honoring dead servicemen. In March 2003, just as the US embarked on its war with Iraq, the Pentagon issued a directive stating that there would be no news coverage of "deceased military personnel returning to or departing from" air bases. \nThe measure defeated on Monday was proposed by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, as an amendment to a US$447.2 billion Pentagon spending plan for 2005 now under consideration in the Senate. Lawmakers hope to finish work on the bill on Tuesday. \nLautenberg's amendment would have instructed the Department of Defense to work out a new protocol letting the news media cover the arrival of the war dead in a manner that protected families' privacy. \n"A majority of the Senate are now working on behalf of the president to conceal from the American people the true costs of this war," Lautenberg said in a statement after the vote. He said his amendment "would bring an end to the shroud of secrecy cloaking the hard, difficult truth about war and the sacrifices of our soldiers." \nThe issue of pictures of the war dead has been a delicate one for the administration in recent months. In April, a collection of more than 300 images of coffins landing at Dover were made available after a Web site, www.thememoryhole.org, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for any pictures of coffins arriving at Dover from Iraq. \nThe images were taken by Air Force photographers and released by the Air Force Mobility Command. The Pentagon later said the release of the pictures was wrong. But Senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, who voted against Lautenberg's amendment on the ground that it would interfere with families' privacy, said he thought the Air Force photographs "were fine." He added, "I thought that was done very respectfully."
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,