Authoritarian regimes dream through propaganda and so, to see what they're fantasizing about, we regularly check in on what state-controlled media outlets have been churning out
China: Liu Xiaobo's peace prize was so last year
Oftentimes, what state-run news outlets don't say is as important as what they do say. Today, for example, the Xinhua news agency only has a three-paragraph brief on the Liberian and Yemeni women who won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning, and other major sites aren't covering the news at all. The Xinhua item includes "Backgrounders" on past winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Physics. But there's no Backgrounder on Peace. Why? Last year's winner was dissident Chinese writer and human rights advocate Liu Xiaobo, who remains in prison (the picture above shows Liu's empty chair and photo at last year's Nobel ceremony).
When Liu was awarded the prize last year, state media outlets initially ran quotes from Chinese officials lambasting the Nobel committee for awarding the Peace prize to a convicted "criminal" and warning of strained ties between China and Norway. A Xinhua editorial later declared that thee "once prestigious prize has degenerated into a political tool of some Western powers." Liu "has been imprisoned for agitation aimed to subvert the Chinese government," the news agency wrote. "What he has done goes against Alfred Nobel's will of peace." There's no such language today, but it appears China still holds a grudge against the Nobel committee. AFP reported earlier this week that China is exacting revenge for last year's award by ordering stricter veterinary controls on--of all things--Norwegian salmon.
The Taliban chats with a Jihadist
We learned earlier this week that the Taliban is increasingly using modern technology to wage its war against NATO. A case in point: On Tuesday, the Taliban Twitter user @ABalkhi tweeted a link to an interview Al-Somood magazine had conducted with Maulavi Ahmed Mustafa bin Ghulam Hadrat, a "deputy jihadist official" for Afghanistan's Kapisa province, which had subsequently been posted to the Taliban's website and translated into English. Ever wonder what an interview like this might sound like? Here's a couple excerpts:
Al-Somood: What is the extent of the Mujahideen’s popularity on the front and the people's solidarity with them?
Maulavi Ahmed Mustafa: ... [The people] are the ones who deal with the problems, who are killed and dispossessed. They are those whose homes are destroyed and whose orchards and crops are burned. They therefore bear a great hatred for the invaders and on the other hand see the Mujahideen as their sole salvation from the yoke of occupation and the evil of the occupiers.
Al-Somood: What are the most effective means of fighting you conduct?
Maulavi Ahmed Mustafa: We engage the enemy through all types of combat, including: guerilla warfare, assaulting enemy bases, hit and run operations, planting mines, laying ambushes, long-range rocket attacks on enemy bases, and other kinds of combat which are appropriate according to the time and place.
For the record, Al-Somood might want to ask fewer softball questions.
'Beheaded' Syrian Woman Appears on TV
We've written before about the mysterious confessions Syrian television often airs to to advance the regime's narrative of the country's uprising and discredit the opposition and foreign news outlets. Last month, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reported that the mother of Zainab al-Hosni had found her 18-year-old daughter's body in a morgue in Homs, and that Hosni appeared to have been decapitated and torturted by Syrian security forces. But this week a woman claiming to be Hosni and flashing an ID card appeared on Syrian TV to refute the story, as you can see in the clip below. Hosni's family now believes Hosni is alive, according to The New York Times. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, meanwhile, is all over the story. Headlines include "Zainab al-Hasni Appears Quite Alive to Belie News on Her Death," "Instigative Channels Deny Zainab Al-Hasni Right to Life," and "Al-Hasni Story Uncovers Lies of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch."
North Korea steels itself for U.S. nuclear attack
Bellicose language and grave warnings about threats emanating from the U.S. and South Korea are hallmarks of the state-run Korean Central News Agency. Today KCNA reports that the U.S. is establishing a system on South Korean islands to "for commanding a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula in real earnest." The system, the agency explains, "is aimed at containing great powers in the Asia-Pacific region and holding supremacy in the region. The DPRK can never remain a passive onlooker to the dangerous military moves sparking an arms race in the region and driving the situation to the brink of war." We can't figure out from a news search what system North Korea is referring to here, but it certainly sounds scary.