Saturday, November 16, 2013

On Thursday, with 110 days until the start of the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Wikinews interviewed Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership, Sport Studies and Educational/Counseling Psychology at Washington State University Simon Li?en about attitudes in United States towards the Paralympics.

Licen has recently joined the Sport Management Program at Washington State University to develop its sport media and communication research and teaching contents. Originally from Slovenia, he served as the Director of Media and Communications of a WTA Tour event and was a member of the UNESCO Slovenian National Commission. He was also the Team Manager of the Slovenian wheelchair basketball national team.

((Wikinews)) : Why do you think the Paralympic movement has so little visibility in the US compared to other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and even Canada?

Simon Li?en: Sports in the United States largely reaffirm existing relations of power in society. It emphasizes consumerism, the belief that success always goes to people who merit it due to their abilities, dedication and qualifications, and reinforces, rather than changes, existing ideas related to gender, ethnicity and nationality. Paralympic sport brings attention to athletes who are typically overlooked in American society because the majority of the population does not want to identify with people who are disabled. Although disability is not contagious, interest in disabled sports might put into question the masculinity of the males following it. Disabled athletes also challenge existing relations of power by displaying dedication, hard work and perseverance in different contexts than those most sports fans are accustomed to.
Other countries, including the ones you mention, have stronger social orientations in all aspects of society. Even though legislative support may be less strong than the one provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, many social institutions including the media are more receptive to this form of diversity.

((WN)) : What do you think the impact will be for the Paralympic movement will be with the Games being televised live in the United States for first time?

Simon Li?en: The impact depends on a number of aspects. One of them is the channels that NBC as the broadcasting rights owner for the United States will use to air the Paralympic Games on. Will they be shown nationally or regionally, on NBC or on any of the company’s multiple cable networks? A second aspect is the parts or hours of the day the Paralympics will be shown. Remember that there is a nine-hour difference between Sochi and New York, and a 12-hour difference between Sochi and the US West Coast. So daytime events will be shown live in the United States in the middle of the night, and evening prime-time events will be shown — indeed live — in the morning U.S. time. So showing the Paralympics live on United States television might turn out to be less glamorous than it appears. A third important factor is the way the event will be mediated: will NBC have its best sports broadcasters following the event after having worked the Winter Olympics? Will they treat and announce the competitions as they do all others — for better and worse? Will they take it as an opportunity to educate viewers about disability and diversity while showing superb athletic performances without engaging in a discourse of pity? All in all, I think this is a terrific opportunity to improve sports coverage in a multitude of aspects; but we will have to wait until after the event to assess to what extent the broadcasters will meet these expectations.

((WN)) : What role should the media be playing in promoting the Paralympic Games? Why does the US media provide so little coverage of the Paralympics compared to other sports?

Simon Li?en: I don’t think the media should be promoting any sports event. I think the role of the media is to inform about the event and to cover it fairly. It is not just the Paralympic Games, or disable sports in general that yield very little media coverage; a recent study has shown that women’s sports only account for 1.3%–1.6% of televised news media. The situation improves considerably during the Olympic Games and prime-time Olympic coverage comes close to equal coverage of both men’s and women’s sport. Outside of that, however, U.S. media coverage is largely limited to the men’s four major leagues, college football and college basketball. Again, the media decide which sports to cover based on their perceived entertainment value and its potential of generating sponsor revenues. The Paralympic Games are complex to understand and its participants hard to identify with because there are less instances of dominating performances and long-standing rivalries, which are concepts that are understandable even to the casual fan.

((WN)) : What role does the fact that the Paralympics are about people with disability competing at sport play in the American public’s reception of the Paralympics?

Simon Li?en: I would speculate that the American public is largely indifferent to the event as it is currently represented in the media. The majority of people are oblivious of the Paralympic Games. They might greet an American medal winner as this would reaffirm the success, supremacy and tenacity of an American representative in a global field. In more general terms, however, the American public chooses to largely overlook disabled sports as the average able-bodied person likely does not want to be represented by, and thus identify with, a disabled person.

((WN)) : Is the fact the US Olympic Committee is the national Paralympic Committee a hinderance or help in the development of the Paralympic movement in the US?

Simon Li?en: In general terms, this is both an opportunity and a risk: it can activate its sizable financial, promotional and media influence to bring attention to the Paralympic movement, but at the same time might choose to push disabled sports to the side in order to accommodate influential sponsors. I am not familiar with the specific work done by the US Olympic Committee in terms of supporting, popularizing and expanding the Paralympic movement so I cannot speculate which way the actual work done by the USOC sways.

((WN)) : What conditions need to exist in the US for Paralympic athletes to get sponsorship similar to their Olympic counterparts?

Simon Li?en: Sport sponsorships are indeed strongly influenced by the media prominence of competing individuals. Individual disabled athletes have already been able to secure profitable sponsorship and endorsement contracts; perhaps the most notable example is Oscar Pistorius who was in this sense a true groundbreaker before falling off the pedestal due to his pending trial. This is even more true when one considers that not all Olympic athletes are able to secure profitable or even exaggerated contacts: an Olympic archery champion is less appealing than an Olympic champion javelin thrower, a female javelin thrower is less appealing than a male sprinter, and a Jamaican champion sprinter is less appealing than an American elite basketball player. Sporadic media appearances, such as those during the Paralympic fortnight, will hardly suffice to land disabled athletes major contracts; an athlete has to be in the constant media and popular spotlights to secure lucrative contracts. Until Paralympic athletes […] [are] able to achieve that kind of media presence, high sponsorships are likely to elude them.

((WN)) : Many countries provide federal money to support their Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Should the US consider this as a way of increasing visibility for the Paralympics, supporting increased opportunities for people with disabilities and increasing the US Paralympic medal count?

Simon Li?en: Focusing on the US medal count will successfully keep the Paralympic Games away from mainstream attention! A focus on the medal count as a means to establish supremacy is typical for American professional sports, and the Paralympics will never be able to beat the Olympic Games or the major leagues at their game. This is why the Paralympic Games should involve a different narrative.
Countries typically allocate governmental support to the more vulnerable groups in society because those who are strong can protect their interests through their vast financial and social means. In this sense, the United States should support participation in the Paralympic Games to promote adaptive sports in general and thus increase sports participation among people with disabilities. People with disabilities are among those who most benefit from participating in sports and physical activity due to their health and social advantage; however, they also have much fewer opportunities for sport participation and often require expensive adapted sports equipment. Public funds should contribute to their sport activity in general, and federal funding of Paralympic athletes could certainly provide an excellent example for local communities. Unfortunately, I fear that even the most progressive congresswomen and congressmen will be [reluctant] to increase that funding given the current federal budgetary situation.

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US prisoner in North Korea ‘attempts suicide’

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US prisoner in North Korea ‘attempts suicide’
Author: U5M4mh Posted under: Uncategorized

Saturday, July 10, 2010

File:North korean leader.jpg

According to the North Korean government, a US citizen, Aijali Mahli Gomes, has attempted suicide in a North Korean prison. In April, Gomes was sentenced to eight years of hard labour for illegally attempting to cross into the reclusive country in January, though his reasons for doing so remain unclear.

In addition to the prison term, the man was also fined the equivalent of US$700,000 for a “hostile act”.

“Driven by his strong guilty conscience, disappointment and despair at the US government that has not taken any measure for his freedom, he attempted to commit suicide,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported. This report did not specify where and how Gomes attempted suicide, or his state at present, only adding that Gomes “is now [being] given first-aid treatment at a hospital”, and that Swedish diplomats at their Pyongyang embassy who handle diplomatic affairs between the US and North Korea have been made aware of Gomes’ condition.

Gomes was an English teacher in South Korea before trying to cross into the North. Gomes had also attended rallies that supported human rights activist Robert Park, who crossed into the North to protest the Communist country’s poor human rights record. Park was later expelled from North Korea 40 days after he entered.

North Korea’s international relations remain tense after the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, and this report was issued just hours before the United Nations Security Council was expected to pass a resolution censuring the explosion of the Cheonan. North Korea has denied any involvement in the sinking of the warship and has declared that any sanctions from the international community will lead to war.

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McCain ad questions Obama’s benefit to families

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McCain ad questions Obama’s benefit to families
Author: U5M4mh Posted under: Uncategorized

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The latest advertisement for United States Republican presidential candidate John McCain is questioning Democrat Barack Obama’s benefit to families.

Last week the BBC reported that the McCain campaign had released an advertisement comparing Obama to American celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, calling him “the biggest celebrity in the world.”

McCain’s newest advertisement, released early this week, continues along those same lines.

“Is the biggest celebrity in the world ready to help your family?” the narrator asks, according to The Boston Globe and a video of the ad displayed on its website. “The real Obama promises higher taxes, more government spending. So, fewer jobs.” With images of wind turbines in the background, the narrator says, “Renewable energy to transform our economy, create jobs and energy independence, that’s John McCain.”

The Boston Globe reports that McCain’s latest ad does not acknowledge that Obama’s economic policy, especially the proposed rollback of current president George W. Bush’s capital gains tax cuts, would largely affect the wealthiest of America, not the middle class.

Obama, the BBC reports, is quoted as calling McCain “cynical,” “desperate” and “in the pocket of Big Oil.”

The latest Obama video, shown on the USA Today website, touts McCain as “just more of the same” politics employed by George W. Bush. The ad cites a May 22, 2003 Fox News Channel interview where McCain says “the President and I agree on most issues. There was a recent study that showed I voted with the President over 90 percent of the time.” The ad then criticizes McCain’s policies on tax cuts, money for oil companies, and “tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

USA Today does note that “[w]hile the ad shows McCain touting the fact that he had voted “with” President Bush more than 90% of the time, the Arizona senator did criticize the administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq — calling early on for more troops to be sent there. He also voted against the president’s original tax cut plan — though McCain now says he supports extending those tax cuts. And, he proposes cuts in all kinds of corporate taxes, not just those on oil companies.”

McCain is set to appear at an Ohio furniture plant Wednesday to reinforce the messages in his latest advertisement.

“America has the second highest business tax rate in the entire world,” he plans to say, according to prepared remarks issued by his campaign, and released by The Boston Globe. “Is it any wonder that jobs are moving overseas when we are taxing them out of the country? Unfortunately Senator Obama’s plans would raise taxes on businesses even more. He has promised tax increases on income, tax increases on investment, tax increases on small businesses. This is exactly the wrong strategy. Raising taxes in a bad economy is about the worst thing you could do because it will kill even more jobs when what we need are policies that create jobs.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded:

“Is the biggest proponent of George Bush’s tired, failed policies ready to bring about change? Another day brings another dishonest attack from John McCain. While Senator McCain knows that Senator Obama has proposed cutting taxes for 95% of American families, what he’s not telling us is that he wants to give $4 billion in tax breaks to the oil companies, continue giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our job overseas, and provide no direct tax relief for more than 100 million middle-class families. It’s time to retire these old policies and bring new energy to America.”

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Doctor robbed, car-jacked and locked in boot while car set alight

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Doctor robbed, car-jacked and locked in boot while car set alight
Author: U5M4mh Posted under: Uncategorized

Monday, March 19, 2007

A 34 year old obstetrician from Forestville on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has escaped after he was robbed, car-jacked and locked in the boot (trunk) of his BMW, which was set alight. Police say the doctor was locked in the boot while his car was set alight, but was allowed to escape before flames engulfed the vehicle.

The Doctor was believed to have been heading to The Mater Hospital in North Sydney when he was waiting at the intersection of West and Falcon Streets in Chatswood around 3:15AM AEDT when a small red sedan with two men claiming to be police officers signalled him to stop. After crossing the intersection, the doctor stopped his car at the side of the road.

The doctor was then approached by the two men and when he asked to see identification, one man grabbed the keys from his car’s ignition before they both pulled the doctor out of his vehicle, hit him in the stomach with a hammer and stole his mobile phone and wallet. The robbers also demanded his key and credit cards along with their access codes before locking him in the boot.

Police allege that the men drove to several locations to withdraw cash and buy things before driving to Carisbook Street in Linley Point at around 4 a.m. local time where they set the car alight with the doctor still in the boot.

Crime Manager of the Harbourside Local Area Command, Detective Inspector Houlahan said that the doctor then “heard a click in the boot area and he heard someone call out: ‘Get out of the car'”

“When he pushed the boot up he found his car engulfed in flames.”

Det. Insp. Houlahan said the doctor told police he did not unlock the boot himself, and it appeared the man’s captors unlocked it before fleeing.

Det Insp Houlahan said that the doctor appeared to be “very distraught” and tired after the ordeal, and wanted to get home and see his wife and two young daughters.

He could only provide police with a vague description of his captors, but said the men were both Caucasian males aged in their 20s, and that one of them was about six feet tall (183cm) with short blond hair and medium build said Det. Insp. Houlahan.

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Wikinews Shorts: November 18, 2008

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Wikinews Shorts: November 18, 2008
Author: U5M4mh Posted under: Uncategorized

A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, November 18, 2008.

On Saturday, 2 US soldiers were killed when their OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter crash landed when it hit overhead cables while attempting to land in Mosul. This is one of a number of aviation crashes that have happened in Iraq in recent months.

Sources


At least 66 people are dead after a bus and truck collided with one another on Saturday in the western African country of Burkina Faso. 66 people were reported dead by officials; 30 further victims were being treated in hospital on Saturday.

The bus is reported to have been bound for Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), when the collision occurred near the city of Boromo. Many of the bodies were badly burned.

Sources


After Friday’s counts, Democratic Party candidate Mark Begich increased his small lead over his Republican rival for the US Senate, Ted Stevens, to 1,022 votes. The final counts are scheduled for today. Around 24,000 Alaskan votes remain to be counted from the November 4 election. The State Division of Elections said that it postponed counting of some votes in order to verify questioned and absentee ballots.

Three weeks ago, incumbent Stevens was found guilty of failing to disclose gifts, and so could be the first convicted felon elected to the Senate.

Related news

  • “Three US Senate seats still undecided”. Wikinews, November 12, 2008
  • “US Senator Ted Stevens convicted on 7 counts” — Wikinews, October 27, 2008

Sources


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NASA to launch Discovery despite crack in insulation foam

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NASA to launch Discovery despite crack in insulation foam
Author: U5M4mh Posted under: Uncategorized

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

NASA officials decided late Monday to go ahead with the planned launch at 2:38 p.m. EDT on July 4 of the space shuttle Discovery. The launch, from Cape Canaveral in Florida, had previously been delayed twice due to poor weather conditions. The expected 13-day mission has been described as critical to the future of the International Space Station (ISS) as well as the shuttle and the entire NASA fleet.

There were concerns over a 5″ by 1/2″ crack in the insulation foam that was found late last night. NASA officials dismissed the crack saying it was less than the size required to cause damage at launch.

The Discovery mission is to deliver critical supplies to the ISS, test shuttle-inspection techniques and to drop off European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter for his 6-month stay in the ISS.

Over the last three years, NASA has spent an estimated $1.3 billion to remedy the foam problem. When asked about the foam concern, NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier said, “We’re about the same risk as we were before … I don’t think we’re taking any additional risks.” Officials have said that they expect foam to fall during the launch though. A few senior NASA safety and technical officers have their voiced opposition to the launch, claiming that they need more time to work on the foam-shedding problem. Foam debris coming loose was the cause of the Columbia disaster in 2003.

It is widely expected that another major problem with the launch would lead to the entire NASA fleet being grounded. A grounded fleet, in turn, will put the $100 billion International Space Station in a difficult situation, since the shuttle has been the major means of delivering supplies to it.

This mission is to be one of the last few flights of the space shuttle Discovery, which is set to retire in 2010.

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Fire burns home of late singer Johnny Cash

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Fire burns home of late singer Johnny Cash
Author: U5M4mh Posted under: Uncategorized

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A fast-moving fire engulfed the home of late singer Johnny Cash on Tuesday. The lake-side home, located in Hendersonville, Tennessee, was the home of the late singer and his wife, June Carter, from the late 1960s until their deaths in 2003.

The home was purchased by former Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb in 2006, and was undergoing renovations at the time. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but it is believed that a flammable wood preservative that construction workers had applied contributed to the speed in which the flames spread. Firefighters responded within 5 minutes of the fire breaking out. No workers were killed in the fire, but one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

“Maybe it’s the good Lord’s way to make sure that it was only Johnny’s house,” said Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys, who lived down the road from Cash. Neighbor Marty Stewart said “So many prominent things and prominent people in American history took place in that house—everyone from Billy Graham to Bob Dylan went into that house.” The home was where Cash wrote many of his hit songs, and appeared in the Cash music video for “Hurt“.

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Category:June 11, 2010

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Category:April 23, 2010

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