Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Today's Headlines: The demon in the machine




The Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab held a conference in Mexico City Monday to accuse the U.S. National Security Agency of embedding spyware in the hard drives of computers sold in more than 30 countries. According to Excelsior, one of those countries is Mexico.
    The story pushes all the right buttons — conspiracy, a local setting, and an apparent confirmation of perceived gringo malevolence aimed at Mexico. But only Excelsior plays it up, leading with the story under the headline “U.S. is placing spy-computers n Mexico.” You can read in English the New York Times version, which runs on the inside pages and doesn’t mention Mexico, other than as the host of the conference.

THE EXPLOSION'S CAUSE: BAD MAINTENANCE

All papers except La Jornada front in one way or another, but none lead with, the results of an investigation by the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office and the federal Energy Secretariat into the gas explosion last January 29 at a maternity and children’s hospital in the southwest Mexico City borough of Cuajimalpa that left five people dead, including three babies. Milenio’s No. 2 headline sums it up: “Explosion from ‘deficient’ care of the gas truck.” Excelsior uses the active voice: “Gas company caused the tragedy in Cuajimalpa.”
    Two fractured screws in the gas transfer pump caused gas to leak as the hospital’s tanks were being filled. The gas accumulated in a cloud within the installations, which eventually, and probably inevitably, was ignited and exploded.
    Reforma took things further with its head: “Gas company manipulated truck that caused explosion.” In addition to the broken screws, Reforma informs us in its lead graf, duct tape was used on the pump, some parts were held together with wire, and some valves were sealed with paste.
    The upshot: Maintenance by the  company, Gas Express Nieto, is at fault, not operator error. That  adds relevance to a headline over a story inside Excelsior: “My husband is also a victim: wife of gas truck driver.” The driver, Carlos Ch├ívez Hern├índez, who suffered burns in the accident and continues hospitalized, is facing manslaughter charges, but his legal status is expected to change soon.

MORE PRESS INTIMIDATION?
Both La Jornada and Reforma front stories about themselves, and both involve attacks against them. La Jornada’s head appears over a photograph of a burned-out Jeep Rangler in the city of Zacatecas: “Vehicle of La Jornada Zacatecas photographer burned.” Noting that the fire was set in a well-policed area near the governor’s home, the paper is calling it an “act of intimidation.”
    Reforma, meanwhile, fronts this head: “HRW and Article 19 call for an investigation into the attack on Reforma.” On Sunday, shots were fired at a Reforma distribution center in the State of Mexico city of Tlalnepantla, bordering Mexico City on the northwest. One person took a bullet in the head and underwent surgery.
    Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling for a federal investigation of the attack, which the organization suspects was meant to intimidate. The Mexico-based chapter of Article 19, a global free-speech organization, is asking both federal and State of Mexico authorities to investigate the crime as an attack against freedom of expression

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