It’s interesting to note that with all the concern about Mali as a haven for terrorists, the New York Times doesn’t even seem to have a correspondent there. A page one story on March 18, talking about possible U.S. involvement is datelined Mauritania, which is on Mali’s northwest border. The French made headlines by sending in troops in January to push back Al Qaeda forces from the cities of Gao and Timbuktu. There were stories of grateful citizens thanking the arriving French troops, but beyond that nothing much except puffery about how President Francois Hollande’s poll numbers have shot up. Paris Match reported that Monsieur Flan had become Mr. Big after the lightening fast and unexpected move. There is such a lid on battlefield reports that Reporters Sans Frontieres claims that at one point, 50 journalists were rounded up and flown out of the country. No one else seems to have reported that or confirmed that, but with no one there to report on it, who knows? The French weekly, Le Point says “the French Army has confirmed its nickname of ‘grand mute’ by locking up information on its operations.”
For many the Vietnam War is no more than history. For those of us for whom it is a vivid memory, the 45th anniversary of the Tet Offensive this year is a time to wonder if we’ve learned any lessons from the war.
Photographers on assignment in Oakland, Calif., are robbery targets to such an extent that they need security guards to accompany them. The New York Times reports that the Oakland Tribune’s chief photog, Laura Oda, has had her cameras taken twice at gunpoint. Police say they have no idea where the secondary market is for the equipment, because it’s not showing up through the usual fences.