Berkman Alumni, Friends, and Spinoffs

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

October 21, 2014

Global Voices
Why Talking About Pizza Can Land You in Trouble in Thailand
The Pizza Company hotline 1112 has become a code word to refer to Article 112 of the criminal code

The Pizza Company hotline 1112 has become a code word to refer to Article 112 of the criminal code

If you are in Thailand and you suddenly crave for pizza, it is highly likely that you will be referred to The Pizza Company, the largest pizza fast food chain in the country. And when you dial the company hotline “1112”, be aware that there are some activists in Thailand who use the word pizza to refer to the notorious Article 112 of the criminal code.

Khaosod English, a Bangkok-based news site, explained that the word pizza came to be associated with the particular section of the penal law simply because of The Pizza Company's nearly identical phone number with the law's name.

Article 112 deals with the Lese Majeste or anti-royal insult law, which criminalizes any behavior deemed insulting to the royal family. The king of Thailand is the country’s most revered public figure aside from being the world’s longest reigning monarch. Some scholars believe Article 112 is the world’s harshest and needs to be overhauled. Several individuals have been detained already for allegedly insulting the king through SMS or posting online comments

Some activists have accused the government of using the law to harass critics. There have been various petitions to reform Article 112 but authorities have rejected these proposals.

Activist Red Shirts used this sticker to refer to Article 112

Activist Red Shirts used this sticker to refer to Article 112

To avoid prosecution under Article 112, some Thais are using the word pizza to refer to the “draconian” law instead of directly mentioning the measure:

If a discussion begins to veer dangerously towards insulting the monarchy, someone may teasingly ask, “Are you ordering us a pizza?” or “I hope they serve pizza in prison.”

After the army took power last May, the new government has filed more than a dozen Lese Majeste cases. A recent issue involved a scholar who was reported by a retired army officer to have insulted a dead king.

Those who are found guilty of Lese Majeste can be detained for up to 15 years.

So next time you dial 1112 in Thailand, be sure you are really referring to The Pizza Company. Otherwise, you might get to eat pizza in a prison cell.

by Mong Palatino at October 21, 2014 12:38 AM

October 20, 2014

Global Voices
Chatting with Tony Iribor, Nigeria's Social-Chatter Curator

With nearly 11 million Facebook users (more than anywhere else in Sub-Saharan Africa) and the third most Twitter users on the entire continent, it's safe to say that Nigeria has a vibrant social media presence. Nowhere is Nigeria's netizen activity stronger than on Twitter, which has fast become the country's most robust platform for social chatter.

Nwachukwu Egbunike (NE) of Global Voices caught up with Tony Iribor (TI), who curates a new weekly production on Twitter called “Nigeria — the Twitter Round Up.”

NE: We know that Tony Iribor tweets at @tonypox, curates the weekly Nigerian Twitter Round Up and is a social commentator. Can you tell us about the Tony we don’t know about?

Tony Iribor (@tonypox) curates a weekly Round Up of Nigerian Twitter Conversations. [Image  used with his permission]

Tony Iribor (@tonypox) curates a weekly Round Up of Nigerian Twitter Conversations. Image used with his permission.

TI: Tony is a happy guy who loves to laugh. The first of six children from Ebonyi State in Nigeria. A singer, song writer, a rookie instrumentalist, a lover of music and shoes.


NE
: What’s the story behind the weekly presentation of conversations in Nigeria’s TweetVilla, the Twitter Round Up?

TI: To be very honest, it was born out of the need to meet up a deadline for a friend’s website. I was introduced to the editor of the website that hosts the round-up. And one of the expectations was to contribute content to the site. I could not meet up as often as expected so one day the thought just dropped. How about I put together a summary of events on Twitter Nigeria? Especially for those who are not always there when they happen. I had not seen it done by anyone before so I decided to give it a try. I spoke to the editor and he liked the idea and the rest is what we have now.

NE: How do you choose your theme or story each week?

TI: The stories are usually picked from the various topics discussed on Twitter daily. Twitter being what it is, gives people room to say what they think about anything. So it could be politics, religion, etc. Even though some topics get recycled from time to time.

NE: What has the feedback from your audience been like?

TI: It has been good. At first I was not sure how it would be received, but now I feel I am under some kind of pressure to meet the need for my regular readers. There are Mondays when I get tweets from people asking why the weekly round-up has not been published yet. There are those who read and go “Wow! I never knew all of that happened this week!” it makes me happy that I meet a need, if we can call it that.

NE: Which roundup has generated massive interest (measured by retweets, favorites and conversations)?

20140407200626covertr-e1401106540874

TI: Hmmmmn. I think there a few. I am not sure but I know there was one I did during the world cup where we had tweeps leading prayer sessions before one of our games (Weeks 15, 16 and 17) and the one that had the issue of the ponmo ban (Week 27). They were hilarious

NE: How will you describe the milieu of Nigerian Twitter – is it warm, aggressive, friendly or…?

TI: For me, it is that and even much more. It depends on your views on issues and how people see you.

NE: There has been an on-going conversation among media scholars and practitioners on the impact of social media conversation. Some think that it is irrelevant while others think it has been impactful. What are your views, especially but without limiting it to social media in Nigeria?

TI: Social media has been impactful no doubt. It has given people the chance to get their voices heard easier that what it used to be. It has also helped give momentum to causes. It has in a way, made it easy for people to gather and make things happen, both positively and negatively. However, I feel that people should not get carried away by social media alone. There is a time for social media and there is a time to hit the road and put action to whatever it is that needs to be done. It has become flesh or made real.

NE: In your opinion, has Twitter conversations been helpful in effecting social and political change in Nigeria?

TI: In a very small way, I would say yes. We are not yet at the point where what happens on twitter really brings the kind of political change we sometimes seek.

NE: Being an avid Twitter user, have you been able to morph your online ‘friendships’ into offline interactions?

TI: Yes, I have.

NE: Nigerians will go to the polls early next year for another general election. Will the social media be a potent flame or a damp squib in determining who wins or loses?

TI: Potent flame for awareness and propaganda for those online, yes. But the majority of those who will guaranty political parties’ victory are not on twitter. The serious politicians will have to appeal to those and look for how to get them to vote in their favour. Like I stated earlier, we are not yet at the stage where we can say social media will determine things like these.

NE: Any last words?

TI: No, there will be no last words. Why last words? I am still here. I am going nowhere. LOL. Whatever you do, make sure your life has a positive impact on someone else’s. 

by Nwachukwu Egbunike at October 20, 2014 10:57 PM

Barbados Muslims Reject ISIS, but Still Face Anti-Islam Bigotry Online
Mosque at sunset in Dow Village, Trinidad; photo by Taran Rampersad, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. Muslims comprise about 6% of the population in Trinidad and Tobago, with some regional territories having a higher representation and others, like Barbados, having a smaller percentage.

Mosque at sunset in Dow Village, Trinidad; photo by Taran Rampersad, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. Muslims comprise about 6% of the population in Trinidad and Tobago, with some regional territories having a higher representation and others, like Barbados, having a smaller percentage.

ISIS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that has grown to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using brutal and violent tactics, is allegedly recruiting fighters from the Caribbean. A recent report in the Trinidad Guardian stated that the organisation is paying as much as US $1,000 a day to new recruits.

In an interview with the newspaper, Nasser Mustapha, the president of the Trinidad Muslim League, said he was shocked by the development: “They are using our religion for their misguided aims. Scholars have written a lot about this but joining Isis is not the way to paradise. These fighters are taking things out of the proper context…”

Many prominent Islamic scholars around the world have similarly condemned ISIS, but that unfortunately hasn't stopped some from conflating the militant group with the religion of Islam. Barbados Free Press, a popular blog so named because of its desire to state its opinion without being fettered in any way, followed that mistaken line of thinking in a recent post. The blog was unapologetic about its stance, saying:

We must abandon Iraq and the Middle East. Let them slaughter each other over words and ideas… but we must take steps in the Caribbean to ensure that these violent people – fueled by their violent Koran – never gain a foothold in our countries.

The Islamist apologists and their lackeys are far more concerned with their public relations campaign for Islam than they are for the teachings from the Koran that promote ultra-violence to spread their religion.

To those who say that ISIS doesn’t represent ‘true Islam’…

Tell it to ISIS, not me.

Barbados, like most other Caribbean territories, predominantly comprises people of African descent, most of whom are descended from slaves who were brought to work the sugar cane plantations. The island's Muslim community is small — anywhere from 0.7-1.5 percent of the population.

Barbados’ first Muslim, a silk trader from West Bengal, reportedly arrived on the island's shores about a hundred years ago. Later, Muslims from villages in Gujarat (West India) arrived; others came as indentured labourers post-Emancipation. As a minority, and perhaps to create a support system for their faith and way of life, Barbadian Muslims have built mosques, schools and even a controversial housing development that critics accused of being for Muslims only. Though the developers deny this, the issue has exposed underlying social tensions on the island and created a climate for Islamophobia to thrive.

The Barbados Muslim Association has attempted to clarify such misconceptions, making the point that you can be both Muslim and Barbadian. When asked about anti-Muslim sentiment on the island in a recent interview with Antillean Media Group, the association's secretary, Suleiman Bulbulia, said:

We don’t generally experience it. Usually it will raise its ugly head when there are issues like these or some international occurrence which the media highlights.

Driving this is probably a vocal minority who by and large may not be Barbadian but persons living here and who have their own axe to grind.

I definitely think there is a need for greater public education on Islam, Muslims and specifically the faith and the followers in Barbados.

Social media has helped to bring out more persons and their opinions, positive and negative, although usually very negative.

Like Bulbulia mentioned, some commenters echoed Barbados Free Press‘ negative view of Islam, but others pushed back against the ignorance. One, who was of the opinion that hate only begets more hate, responded:

I am an apologist. I do not believe that the vast majority of Muslims think that ‘the Koran verses about slaying infidels and imposing Islam through force have (any) place in today’s world'. Nor do I believe that the Biblical injunctions to, for example ‘kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16′ have any place either.

Another reader, using the name MistaBlack, called out the blog for its own extremism. Quoting a paragraph from the post, he countered:

“But there is a dark side to the Internet when it comes to spreading the destructive and violent supremacist ideology of Islam. The Saudis distribute their supremacist hate via satellite and internet to private Muslim schools throughout the Caribbean – including in Barbados.”

And the same Saudis have an unbreakable alliance with both Britain and the United States and are dropping bombs on ISIS, go figure. The above is a convoluted extraction from this alarmist article.

User Harry took the argument right back to home base, discussing the violence that has been taking place on Barbadian soil:

Sometimes i think that yall crazy. We bajans killing each other everyday [...] and yall out worrying about a few muslims who livin [with us] for so much years and who is our neighbours and [go to school with] us etc. Yall need to stop watchin cnn and fox. I guess we can call our own black [people] ISIS cus we killin each other out hay !!!

Violent crime has been on the increase in Barbados and there is conjecture that some of it may be linked to the drugs and arms trade now rampant throughout the region. Caribbean islands are viewed as critical trans-shipment points between South and Central America, where many powerful drug cartels operate, and the American and European markets which are heavy consumers of cocaine and other illicit substances.

In the same interview, Bulbulia addressed the situation simply by saying:

No Muslim to date has bought shame to Barbados. Judge us by these criteria, not the actions of so-called ‘Muslims’ in other parts of the world who act contrary to the teachings of their faith. Barbados has been a fair, tolerant society. We live here and practice our faith without hindrance or interference.

by Flora Thomas at October 20, 2014 10:09 PM

Trailblazing ‘Soda Pop Anthology’ Showcases Comics by Puerto Rican Women

2014-Anthology-Cover-250

The “Soda Pop Anthology” is a collection of comics illustrated and written by a large group of Puerto Rican women, in turn created and published independently by the studio of female comics writers, Soda Pop Comics

The anthology was born as a vehicle to document this growing community of artists and is concerned mainly with establishing greater visibility and acceptance for its female creators. Beyond the world of comics, few volumes published on the island share such a noble (and difficult) task — and within it, a similar effort simply does not exist. As such, it is important to address the “Soda Pop Anthology” as the beginning, although it is certainly a culmination of sorts. 

After founding Soda Pop Comics in 2007, Rosa Colón and Carla Rodríguez searched for a way to push other women to create their own comics. These initial efforts resulted in six collections of work under the stamp of “Anthology,” and gave way to four additional ones that were digitally distributed in 2013. “The Soda Pop Anthology,” which you can now have in your hands, gathers the best material from last year in 152 color pages and also includes stories created specifically for this print edition. 

2014-Anthology-01-700

“Opus Operática” by Rosaura Rodríguez; “El lemur y el pulpo” by Mónica Parada. Used with permission.

A total of 26 collectives and artists are participating in the effort, from beginners to more established and experienced voices, offering a fairly comprehensive and complete panorama of the current comic's production on the island. Beyond the central concept — Puerto Rican women creating comics — there is no forced narrative nor theme that structures the collection (as was the case with ”Ehpoty,” an anthology also published by Soda Pop Comics). 

Each pair of pages takes the reader down a different path — from Rosaura Rodríguez's semantic games in watercolor to Mónica Parada's raw absurdity, from the light and playful spirit that characterizes Soda Pop's work, to Ivia E. Pantoja's sci-fi imagination with a Japanese influence. These works are complemented by an assortment of interviews, articles on the history of comics, and tutorials. 

2014-Anthology-02-700

“Aventuras en el mar” by Soda Pop Comics; “Niveles” by Supakid. Used with permission.

The “Soda Pop Anthology” is an essential document for collectors of Puerto Rican comics and the hope is that it results in a greater appreciation of the medium, as with the publication of “DÍAS“ in 2013 (by Rosaura Rodríguez and Omar Banuchi) through the Libros AC editorial. Those who know Soda Pop Comics's work know very well that the anthology is more than a link in the grand chain of initiatives — between exhibits, art classes, festivals, scholarship opportunities, and other social activities — aimed at promoting the production of comics on the island. But it is an important link, because it will introduce the work of new artists — and beyond that, it's an invitation to join and participate.  

Get your copy for a limited time at Libros AC in Ponce De León Avenue in Santurce or order it online at Soda Pop Comics and Amazon.

by Marianna Breytman at October 20, 2014 08:51 PM

Mexicans Demand President Peña Nieto Resign With Trending Twitter Hashtag
Emrique Peña Nieto, presidente de México. Imagen en Flickr de la Presidencia de la República Mexicana  (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Enrique Peña Nieto, president of México. Image on Flickr by Presidencia de la República Mexicana (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Before his annual state of the union address on September 2, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his administration were already sliding in popularity, with 47 percent in a Pew Research Center survey giving a negative rating of the president's influence (up from 38 percent a year earlier). Energy, education, telecommunications reforms and permanent insecurity were all targets of criticism from the public. 

Three recent cases of high-profile violence have only intensified the anger and frustration that Mexicans are feeling towards their government, especially towards the head of state: the Tlatlaya execution, which occurred on June 30 and resulted in 22 gangsters were killed at the hands of the army. Then came the deadly ambush and forced disappearances of dozens of student teachers from Ayotzinapa on September 26, as reported by Global Voices. Finally, the discovery of the illegal mass graves in Iguala some days later on October 6.

It's still not known if the mass graves in Iguala are related to the student teachers. The authorities claim the first mass graves discovered were not related to the students, but at least 19 have been found to date. Investigators are still working on them.

The hashtag #DemandoTuRenunciaEPN (I demand your resignation Enrique Peña Nieto – EPN) became a worldwide trending topic and is still topping lists in Mexico after several days. Under this hashtag, Mexicans have expressed their reasons why they want their president to leave office. Here we share some of them:

[The poster in the photo reads: "Today we aren't all here. We're missing 43, but they aren't just statistics. They are young people like us."]

I demand your resignation EPN. They took them alive, we want them alive!

“They took them alive, we want them alive!” is a popular chant in protests asking for the safe return of the Ayotzinapa students.

Because the people didn't elect you for the poverty, unemployment and disappearances that you have allowed.

I demand your resignation EPN because you are incapable of stopping the violence and you don't even care.

[The poster in the photo reads: "I demand your resignation EPN because there's another person missing in Mexico who's dead and will only revive if the PEOPLE want it (said in reference to the figure of justice)]

For the sake of Mexico, to dignify politics and vindicate the human community. I demand your resignation EPN.

“People from Guerrero will decide Aguirre's ousting: Peña” And all of Mexico will decide yours EPN. I demand your resignation EPN

Angel Aguirre Rivero is the current governor of Guerrero, the southern state, where the convoy of students were attacked.

[The image reads: Traitor to the nation for buying five million votes with money stolen from state budgets; for handing over national resources to private parties; for serving multinational companies; for harm done to the environment and national heritage; for condemning millions of Mexicans to misery and slavery.]

I demand your resignation EPN for TREASON TO THE NATION!!!

Some remembered the controversial Time cover from February 24, 2014 where Peña Nieto appeared under the headline “Saving Mexico”. 

There were some who spoke about the rotten political class in general.

Mexico is a great country, nonetheless citizens’ apathy/submission is outrageous. The political class has stripped us from everything. I demand your resignation EPN.

I demand your resignation EPN. But, who would be the president? Every politician is equally corrupt and incompetent. We need well-prepared politicians.

Also, there were reminders of the national strike and protests planned for October 22.

We said on the 8th with #AyotzinapaSomosTodos (We are all Ayotzinapa), today we stand by it with “I demand your resignation EPN”. See you on the 22nd on the streets.

And it was discussed how to turn virtual protests into concrete legal actions against the president, making references to the country's constitution.

I demand your resignation EPN under article 39 of the Mexican political constitution.

I also demand your resignation EPN. Remember that you are not my boss, you are our representative and the constitution allows me to demand this.

OK… I demand your resignation EPN is already the no. 1 TT. Now, what are the REAL LEGAL ACTIONS to demand his RESIGNATION? DO THEY EVEN EXIST?

Follow our in-depth coverage: Bring Back Mexico's Missing #Ayotzinapa Students

by Elizabeth at October 20, 2014 08:48 PM

Creative Commons
Open Access Week 2014 is underway

oaweeksmall

Today begins the 8th annual Open Access Week. Open Access Week is a week-long celebration and educational opportunity to discuss and promote the practice and policy of Open Access to scholarly literature–“the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.” Open Access Week has become a huge international initiative, including dozens of in-person and virtual events, the launch of OA-related projects, and the development and publishing of materials and tools supporting education about the benefits, challenges, and opportunity for open access to scholarly research. This year’s Open Access Week theme is “Generation Open”:

The theme will highlight the importance of students and early career researchers as advocates for change in the short-term, through institutional and governmental policy, and as the future of the Academy upon whom the ultimate success of the Open Access movement depends. The theme will also explore how changes in scholarly publishing affect scholars and researchers at different stages of their careers.

Check the feed at openaccessweek.org for hundreds of posts about the variety of activities hosted this week, and share what you’re doing on Twitter using the hashtag #OAWeek2014. There’s already many interesting things happening, with more to come this week! Follow the CC blog, Twitter, and Facebook for more.

by Timothy Vollmer at October 20, 2014 07:34 PM

Andrew McAfee
This Saturday: The Glass Cage Match at the Boston Book Festival

Screenshot 2014-10-20 13.21.32I’ve been involved with the Boston Book Festival since Deborah Porter founded it in 2009, and it’s become one of my favorite events of the year. And since I had a for-real mainstream published book come out this year (as opposed to a self-published glorified pamphlet) I get to participate this year as a full-fledged author in the session titled “Technology: Promise and Peril

What makes this especially exciting to me is the fact that I’ll share the stage with Nick Carr, who’s one of my favorite writers and thinkers about technology. I don’t praise Nick because I agree with him so often. Over the years, in fact, we’ve pretty reliably argued about some big questions, including whether IT matters for competitive differentiation and whether Google makes us stupid.

This time around promises to be no different. Nick’s new book The Glass Cage made me think a lot, but what I usually thought was “I don’t agree with that.” I do think that today’s breathtaking technological progress is bringing some serious challenges along with it, but they’re not the ones that Nick highlights.

To hear very different views on tech’s promise and peril, I suggest that you come to our session this Saturday at 11 in the Old South Sanctuary on Boston’s Copley Plaza. It’ll also feature as a panelist David Rose, whose new book Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things is, for obvious reasons, on my short-term reading list. WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer will moderate.

Hope to see you there…

by Andrew McAfee at October 20, 2014 05:47 PM

Info/Law
The Cambridge University Press decision and Educational Fair Use

The Eleventh Circuit released its 129-page opinion in Cambridge University Press v. Patton (which most of us probably still think of as the Becker case) last Friday. Although the appeals court reversed what I thought was a pretty solid opinion of the district court upholding Georgia State University’s practice of distributing digital “course packs” of reading materials to its students, it is very far from a big win for the publishers who challenged the practice. There is a lot to like in the opinion for advocates of educational fair use, and it is difficult to imagine that the district court on remand will rule in favor of the publisher plaintiffs with respect to very many of the works at issue even though the appeals court directed changes in some aspects of its fair use analysis. Although it found some errors in the district court’s treatment of the second and third fair use factors, the appeals court sensibly and correctly rejected several arguments that would have materially constricted the scope of educational fair use in the digital arena. (Full disclosure: I joined Jason Schultz’s excellent amicus brief on behalf of Georgia State.)

Although the Court of Appeals’ opinion deserves a close look, I’ll confine myself here just to noting a few highlights.

  • Dodging the “circularity” bullet. The fourth fair use factor requires courts to consider “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” Plaintiffs, however, always have an argument that any uncompensated use damages a “potential market,” namely, the market in which they could have licensed to the defendant the right to engage in the very use that is the subject of the litigation. If harms to those markets weigh against fair use, then very few uncompensated uses will ever be fair. Many courts don’t recognize this problem; sometimes, the very existence of a market for licensing the types of uses in which the defendant engaged is essentially conclusive against the defendant (I’m looking at you, American Geophysical Union v. Texaco; but even more remarkable was the district court’s opinion in Perfect 10 v. Google, which extended the same principle to a “market” created during the litigation of the case—an analytical error that, thankfully, did not survive appellate review). On the other hand, the court “got it” in Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley, declaring that “a copyright holder cannot prevent others from entering fair use markets merely ‘by developing or licensing a market for parody, news reporting, educational or other transformative uses of its own creative work.’” Happily, the court of appeals in this case recognizes and attempts to avoid the “circularity” problem (p. 70), and declares that “Plaintiffs may not head off a defense of fair use by complaining that every potential licensing opportunity represents a potential market for purposes of the fourth fair use factor” (p. 98).
  • Congress really wants educational copying. Even though it finds the copying here was nontransformative (at least colorable) and even arguably for-profit (a few alarm bells started ringing for me here), it still doesn’t matter because, in the court of appeals’ view, the fact that the excerpts are actually being used in a university for educational purposes makes all the difference in the world. In the court’s words, the fair use statute by its literal terms “highlights the importance Congress placed on educational use” (p. 73), and this consideration “favors a finding of fair use under the first factor, despite the
    nontransformative nature of the use” (p. 74). The court’s determination that Congress expressly meant to promote educational copying exerts continuing force throughout its opinion; for example, it declares that the pedagogical purpose served by the copying is relevant to the amount that may permissibly be taken under the third statutory factor (pp. 85-86).
  • The Classroom Guidelines establish a floor, not a ceiling, for fair uses. This isn’t controversial; the Guidelines expressly so state. But it’s nice to see another court reject (p. 89) the canard that Congress meant to limit uncompensated educational copying to the amounts stated in the Guidelines.
  • It is going to be really hard for a plaintiff to demonstrate adverse effects on licensing markets where it never offered to license the work. As did the district court, the court of appeals finds it highly probative that the publisher plaintiffs elected to offer licenses for some uses of their works but not others. In keeping with the avoidance of “circularity” in the fourth-factor analysis as sketched out above, the court then concludes that the plaintiffs can’t pretend that they have lost revenues from a market in which they decided not to participate.

The district court went astray, in the appeals court’s view, in considering “the nature of the copyrighted work” and “the amount and substantiality of the portion used.” Here, though, the problems identified in the appeals court’s opinion appear unlikely to lead to a different conclusion on remand.

  • Regarding the second factor, the appeals court’s primary concern appears to be that the district court gave insufficient weight to expressive materials (“evaluative, analytical, or subjectively descriptive material that surpasses the bare facts necessary to communicate information, or derives from the author’s experiences or opinions”—p. 81) that were bound up with the factual information contained in the copied works; nevertheless, as even the court of appeals recognized, the second statutory factor “was of relatively little importance.”
  • Regarding the third statutory factor, the court of appeals concluded that the district court erred in establishing a presumption of fairness with respect to any use of less than 10% of an individual work, and that the district court was instead required to consider how much copying was permissible with respect to each work individually. I didn’t read the district court’s opinion as establishing such a bright-line rule; its reference to the 10% figure appears for the first time in its conclusion where it applies the four factors to each work, not in its discussion of the third factor. But, OK. On remand, the district court isn’t allowed to presume that copying of less than 10% (or one chapter from a multi-chapter work) is fair. So long as it avoids applying a bright-line rule of that type, apparently, the district court is free to reach the same conclusion with respect to the fairness of any challenged use. The court of appeals nowhere suggests that copying such a small amount is necessarily unfair, and it’s not hard to imagine the district court reaching essentially the same outcome with respect to most of the works at issue in the case while saying a few more words about why copying 10% of each particular work was acceptable.

The court of appeals also determined that a couple of the “nonstatutory factors” articulated by the district court really should have been considered as part of the analysis under the first and fourth factors. Perhaps that’s not really required, but it does fit into the courts’ broader historical practice of shoehorning everything into the four statutory factors whether they really make sense there or not. Again, however, I saw nothing in this portion of the court of appeals’ opinion that caused me to question whether the district court may simply reach the same conclusion as its original opinion while simply moving the corresponding portions of its analysis to the location within its opinion where the court of appeals thinks they belonged.

The opinion left me with a few concerns going forward:

  • “Transformativeness” is still an ungoverned mess. Campbell requires courts to consider whether a proffered fair use is “transformative,” but two decades later, nobody still knows what that means. The digitized excerpts here are word-for-word identical to the corresponding portions of the underlying works from which they were taken, but then so were the (fairly used) complete works that were copied in cases like Perfect 10 v. Amazon and Authors Guild v. HathiTrust. The appeals court here finds the literal copying ipso facto nontransformative, but thankfully that doesn’t end the matter. Nevertheless, the fact that “transformativeness” lacks any sort of associated test, framework, methodology, or standard twenty years after the Supreme Court declared it the “central purpose” of the first factor inquiry seems like it ought to be a bigger scandal than it apparently is.
  • Why does it matter whose finger presses the copy button? Rejecting, as the district court did, the earlier generation of “course packs are unfair” cases (including Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services and Basic Books v. Kinko’s Graphics Corp.), the court of appeals finds it relevant both that (1) Georgia State University “is a nonprofit educational institution” (p. 67) and (2) creating the electronic course packs redounds neither to GSU’s financial nor reputational advantage (pp. 71-72). Those factors, in turn, lead the court to conclude that the copying here was for “nonprofit educational purposes.” Does that mean that a university may never outsource the creation of its coursepacks to a for-profit copy shop?  Judge Merritt’s dissent in Princeton University Press, among others, noted the incongruity of having the fairness of a given use turn upon such factors; it would be odd to say that (for example) a student could fairly copy a book themselves, but couldn’t hire someone to make that exact same copy for them. The court of appeals’ opinion here nevertheless carries the implication that what a university may lawfully do for itself it may not lawfully hire others to do.

On the whole, however, if you have to lose a case, this is how you want to lose it; despite the reversal of the district court’s judgment in their favor, I imagine the defendants are feeling pretty good about their prospects on remand.

by Tim Armstrong at October 20, 2014 05:32 PM

Global Voices
False Ebola Alarm Provides Convenient Distraction for Macedonia From Unflattering EU Report
"Ebola" graffiti in Caen, France. Photo by F. S., CC-BY.

“Ebola” graffiti in Caen, France. Photo by F. S., CC-BY.

The publishing of a critical EU report on Macedonia coincided with the spectacular arrest of several Macedonian judges and an over-dramatic reaction to an alleged case of Ebola in the small country, and some speculated that the timing was no accident.

On October 8, 2014, the European Commission (EC) issued its annual Progress Reports, delineating the progress of countries participating in the process of joining the European Union. In the case of Macedonia, the report noted significant backsliding in the areas of freedom of expression, media, and the independence of the judicial system, apart from the ongoing country name issue, as summed up by Enlargement Commissioner Füle in this video:


Subtitled statement by Füle via 24vesti

As previously reported, both local and international political analysts did not express optimism regarding the response of the Macedonian government:

However, on the same day, Macedonian authorities staged a massive police action leading to the arrest of 14 judges and 11 officers of the Skopje Basic Court, in front of several television cameras. The apprehended judges stand accused of delaying implementation of sanctions against perpetrators of misdemeanors. In some media, this action overshadowed the conclusions of the EU report, which was given much less attention. Several television stations also decided to devote more time in the evening news to traffic accidents and local political squabbles, with reporters claiming that the Macedonian public was uninterested in the EU report. (While the latest IRI survey found out that 72 percent of the population support Macedonia becoming a member of the EU.)

The next day, another media blitz followed: the death of a British national in a Skopje hotel was suspected to have been caused by the Ebola virus. Skopje authorities sealed off the hotel and neighborhood with heavy police forces, imposing strict quarantine to dozens of guests trapped inside. Media buzzed with warnings about the disease, even though its existence remained unconfirmed by any evidence at all.

The alleged Ebola case put Macedonia on the map of world news organizations, thanks to speedy and meticulous Reuters news service's continuous coverage. UK media in particular picked up the story, but also many in the US and elsewhere around the world.

In Macedonia, a continuous stream of news items about the case flooded the media, “revealing” various aspects such as the role of the British businessman, who allegedly served as an adviser to the prime minister, his ties to the national government, and its efforts to attract foreign investors, among other details.

Macedonia health authorities sent samples to a competent laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, which after three days confirmed that the Ebola virus was not cause of death of the unfortunate British national. Foreign follow up coverage was far less spectacular than it was to the initial reports.

Even before the official results of the German lab were made public, Macedonian social media users expressed doubts about the propaganda being used around the whole case. As early as October 9, one Twitter user pointed out that the victim seemed to have suffered from chronic alcoholism.

Foreign journalists did not know that swine flu, bird flu, or #ebola usually attack Macedonia after each EC Report. No matter, at least they'll enjoy a bit of traveling.

Is the harsh criticism by the EU a reason for the “occurrence” of ebola in Macedonia?

Everybody used to talk about the Report, now everybody talk about ebola.
- The Prime Minister likes this.

Tonight on Sitel: Macedonia with largest economic growth of all ebola-affected countries.

Seasoned journalist Erol Rizaov expressed his outrage in a column titled “There is no Ebola, but there are plenty of idiots”:

Да се пушти непроверена вест во провладина телевизија дека во државата, најверојатно, умрел човек болен од заразна болест од која се плаши цел свет е невозможна мисија без амин од власта. А, да се пласира три дена и три ноќи ударно како да удрил страшен земјотрес со епицентар меѓу градскиот стадион, Арената „Филип Втори“ и зградата на Владата и тоа без асистенција и логистика на политиката е незамисливо. На некого страшно му требаше „ебола во Македонија“, па макар ја ставил во карантин целата земја како што кај нас се стави хотелот на „ужасот“. Држава со болен од ебола е како епидемија на чума по која херметички се затвораат сите врати кон и од Македонија. Ете ваков голем подвиг направија високите професионалци. Им ја замрзнаа крвта на граѓаните откривајќи ни ја лагата на годината дека Британецот што починал во хотел ги имал симптомите на ебола.

Некому многу му се брзаше да ги оддалечи луѓето од вистинската драматична вест за иднината на земјата која е доведена во прашање според оценките на европската влада од Брисел. По веста за апсење на цел еден суд, подметнувањето на еболата дојде како вишна врз шлагот за пренасочување на вниманието на јавноста.

It would be mission impossible for a pro-government television channel to air unconfirmed news that a man suffering from infectious disease that scares the whole world died in this country, without a blessing from the government. It is unthinkable to continue propagating the same news as primetime for three days and three nights, as if a catastrophic earthquake hit somewhere between the Phillip the Second Arena [the seat of Sitel TV] and the Government building, without political assistance and logistical aid. Somebody sorely needed “Ebola in Macedonia,” even if that would quarantine the whole country, as they quarantined the “hotel of horror.” If a real Ebola patient exists in a country, than the procedure is akin to plague epidemics, with hermetic closing of all doors in and out of Macedonia. This is the big accomplishment of these high professionals. They froze the blood of our citizens by spreading the lie of the year, that the Brit who died in a hotel had Ebola symptoms.

Someone was in a real big hurry to distance the people from the real dramatic news affecting the country's future. This future is jeopardized, according to the European authorities from Brussels. After the news of wholesale arrest of an entire court of law, planting the ebola story came as a cherry on a cake for redirecting the public attention.

by Filip Stojanovski at October 20, 2014 04:02 PM

DML Central
Connecting Learners Through Hashtags, Focal Points
Connecting Learners Through Hashtags, Focal Points Blog Image

Like others who have become important co-learners in my personal learning network, I met Dr. Maha Bali, associate professor of practice of the Center for Learning and Teaching at American University in Cairo, through a hashtag. I can’t remember whether it was #ds106 or #etmooc or #clmooc, but it was one of those Twitter conversations that can serve as doorways into new communities of practice. (Hashtags, like the clock in Grand Central Station or Hachiko’s statue outside Tokyo’s Shibuya Station, are what sociologist Thomas Schelling called “focal points” that can help coordinate and introduce strangers in physical or social space.)  I recognized her right away as a “lead learner” among educators. In my own face-to-face and online classes, I’ve come to recognize the lead learners who emerge at the beginning (if you’re in luck) and inspire other learners who may be reluctant at first to jump into more active, public ways of learning. 

Bali is an educator of educators — she teaches educational technology to in-service school teachers. Far from being confined to a technical support role, Bali’s pedagogy — and her writing about it — is expansive and multifarious.  She wrote a sentence I could have written myself in her article on critical pedagogy that I recommend to all who are interested in classrooms as learning communities: “Critical pedagogy, for me, is not about knowing how to do everything right, or getting it right the first time, or every time. It is about putting faith in our learners to take control of their learning, and teach us, each other, and themselves in the process.” 

I remember how scary it was to “put my faith in our learners to take control of their learning” the first time I did it, and how the fear receded as student enthusiasm, engagement, and ingenuity kicked in, surpassed my expectations, and taught me a few things every time.

Maha Bali’s position at the American University is only one of many nodes in her network of influence and discourse. She’s one of the facilitators of Edcontexts, an “international network of educators” that Bali cofounded in order “to amplify voices of educators from nondominant parts of the world.” Dr. Bali is a prolific blogger at Reflecting Aloud and contributor to Hybrid Pedagogies. The tag cloud in her blog sidebar reveals her role in #rhizo14 and #clmooc. She was one of the first, most enthusiastic, articulate, and prolific lead co-learners in Connected Courses.

Inspection of the social network structure of the first week of Connected Courses showed clearly what social network analysts call the socially catalytic “centrality” of Maha Bali in the conversations around #ccourses.

You could organize a wide-ranging curriculum around Bali’s publications: She made a case for abandoning the syllabus as we know it, encouraged her students to blog reflectively about learning to design educational games, commented on Arab MOOCs, published in the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching about “MOOC Pedagogy: Gleaning Good Practice from Existing MOOCs.

Some people reflect in public in ways that help other people think, some people connect people and ideas (“bridge structural holes”), some people stimulate and help evolve public conversations, some people set examples in the early days of an online community. Maha Bali does all of the above. We touched on a few of Bali’s current concerns in our brief video interview. As always, seeing and hearing the person behind the words brings her writings to life.

Banner image credit: Tamari 09

by mcruz at October 20, 2014 04:00 PM

Global Voices
Beyond an Ebola-free Nigeria
A screenshot of TIME magazine's tweet about Nigeria's containment of the Ebola virus.

A screenshot of TIME magazine's tweet about Nigeria's containment of the Ebola virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday, 20th October declared Nigeria to be free of the Ebola virus. A statement from the organization headlined “Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission reads: 

“The lines on the tabular situation reports, sent to WHO each day by its country office in Nigeria, have now been full of zeros for 42 days. WHO officially declares that Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission.

“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained. The story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail. Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case and eager to improve their preparedness plans. Many wealthy countries, with outstanding health systems, may have something to learn as well.”

Ebola's ravaging of West African countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone and its recent outbreak in Texas has generated global panic and hysteria. Some infected healthcare workers who were administered a vaccine that is yet to undergo full clinical trials have recovered, The unavailability, however, of any true and tried treatment or vaccine has made the Ebola epidemic a cause of anxiety. In light of these facts, Nigeria's successful curtailment of the disease is cause for hope and excitement, not only for that country, but for others as well.

In July we reported on the panic generated by Nigeria’s index case, where Patrick Sawyer,  an American-Liberian lawyer infected with the virus died in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial city. Upon arrival from Liberia, where he had taken care of a sick Ebola relative, Mr. Sawyer collapsed in the airport. He was rushed to hospital, where he was initially treated for malaria. He died some days later. Mr. Sawyer was diagnosed of Ebola some days before his death.

World-class Epidemiological Detective Work

Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh, the consultant who treated Sawyer, was instrumental in preventing Ebola from becoming an epidemic in Nigeria. Dr. Adedevoh placed Mr. Sawyer in quarantine and refused to discharge him despite pressure from high quarters. She was reported to have contacted Ebola on August 4, 2014, and died from the disease on August 19, 2014.  

Lagos is Africa’s most populous city, and for a disease outbreak of this dimension it was a powder keg waiting to explode. The explosion, however, never occurred. According to Scientific America, Nigeria's success was based on the following:

  • Fast and thorough tracing of all potential contacts
  • Ongoing monitoring of all of these contacts
  • Rapid isolation of potentially infectious contacts

“The swift battle was won not only with vigilant disinfecting, port-of-entry screening and rapid isolation, but also with boot leather and lots and lots of in-person follow-up visits, 18,500 of which were undertaken to find possible new cases of Ebola among a total of 989 identified contacts. Such ground-level work may sound extreme: even the usually measured WHO declared the feat ‘a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work.'”

Nigeria's effective public health response hinged on an existing Incident Management Center established for Poliomyelitis which was deployed for Ebola management. According to the Centers for Disease Control

Directly linked to the contact tracing was the Social Mobilization strategy. This included teams of three social mobilizers who were trained and deployed to conduct house-to-house, in-person visits within specific radii of the homes of the Ebola contacts. For high-density areas, house-to-house teams covered a 500m radius, 1km in medium density areas and 2km for low density (7). As of September 24, approximately 26,000 households of persons living around Ebola contacts had been reached with house-to-house visits in Lagos and Rivers states.

Besides the epidemiological response, some Nigerian professionals used social media for information dissemination. One such initiative was the Ebola Alert, “an evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals working on Ebola Virus Disease Interventions”. They used a Twitter feed to keep people informed and dispel rumors, as rumor-mongering can be devastating in a crisis like this.

 The Lagos State government plans to send health professionals to Sierra Leone to aid in the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease there. Nonetheless, Nigeria should not rest on this current certification from WHO of being Ebola free. Nor should we get caught up in petty squabbles such as the one between the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Government over who deserves credit for Nigeria's containment of the disease.

The prize of freedom is eternal vigilance. Ebola is not dead until it is eradicated from all parts of the globe and can no longer pose a threat to humanity.

by Nwachukwu Egbunike at October 20, 2014 04:00 PM

Cambodia's Police Are in the Market for Water Cannon Trucks ‘to Be Used Against Demonstrations’
Police notice for the bidding of water cannon trucks. Photo from Facebook page of Sopheap Chak

Police notice for the bidding of water cannon trucks. Photo from Facebook page of Sopheap Chak

The Cambodian police has released a public bidding notice for the procurement of two water cannon trucks which they specifically mentioned are going “to be used against demonstrations.”

It reads: 

To supply two water cannon trucks to be used against demonstrations. The said trucks are manufactured in Korea in 2014, with 100% quality, to be provided to national police forces for use in security, safety and social order protection operation.

The notice, published in two local newspapers, alarmed human rights activists who fear that authorities might resort to violence again as garment workers have recently revived their petition to increase their monthly minimum wage.

Garment workers held a nationwide strike last January, which was violently dispersed by the police. The protest camp of the political opposition at the Phnom Penh Freedom Park was also removed by authorities. For several months, the government has banned public demonstrations to maintain peace and order in the country.

Sopheap Chak of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights asked about the budget source of the proposed purchase and criticized the police for trying to undermine free speech:

People tax payment or aid support? Instead of strengthening its effort in using water cannon to rescue people from fire, the government is focused on how to fight against freedom.

On Facebook, John Weeks, a communications officer for Swedish development organization Forum Syd in Cambodia, also questioned the priorities of the government:

Now if only the government put *land concessions* out for competitive bidding instead of riot control equipment, there would be a lot more trust. Sigh.

While water cannon trucks are commonly used across the world, this could be the first time in Cambodia that a government agency has explicitly admitted that the trucks will be used against rallies and not for fire control.

by Mong Palatino at October 20, 2014 11:34 AM

#Fails of the Tunisian Electoral Campaign in One Hilarious Blog
Campaigning by the 'Current of Love', a political party in Tunisia

Campaigning underway by the ‘Current of Love', a political party in Tunisia

Tunisian netizens are crowdsourcing the funniest and most ridiculous moments of the election race on a Tumblr blog called #TnElecFails.

Campaigning for Tunisia's parliamentary elections kicked off on October 4. More than 5 million registered voters are set to elect 217 members of the Assembly of the People's Deputies on October 26.

Two of the strongest contenders in this year’s legislative elections are the Islamist Ennahda Movement, which emerged as the winner of the 2011 election; and Nidaa Tounes, founded in 2012 and led by 86-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi, who served under the previous autocratic regimes of Habib Bourguiba and Zine el-Abidin Ben Ali

But with a number of electoral lists exceeding 1,300 and a number of candidates estimated at 13,000, there are plenty of things to laugh about in this year's election race including the logos, names and mottos of electoral lists.

Here are some photos:

"I like" is the logo of this list

“I like” is the logo of this list

Name of the list: "the miserables", motto: "the hope of generations"

Name of the list: “the miserables”, motto: “a hope for generations”

This independent list 'I want my country to be clean' was hanged on a wall near a high school, without the photos of its candidates, with the following note: "our photos do not matter, what matters is achieving our promises to you". The list did not remain with photos for long, and this note was written in answer: "we do not need your faces anyway".

This independent list ‘I want my country to be clean’ was hung on a wall near a high school, without the photos of its candidates, with the following note: “Our photos do not matter, what matters is achieving our promises to you”. The list did not remain without photos for long, and this note was added: “We do not need your faces anyway”.

Scissors is the logo of the Tunisian party because they want to "circumsize the security [institution], the judiciary and the administration"Most probably, they meant to purge or cleanse from corruption. But, they opted for "circumcise".

Scissors is the logo of the Tunisian party because they want to “circumsize the security [institution], the judiciary and the administration”. Most probably, they meant to purge or cleanse from corruption. But, they opted for “circumcise”.

But why the derision of the Tunisian elections?

Well, it is not really a choice. Who would not laugh at “the miserables, a hope for generations” or at a party seeking to “circumcise the security and judicial institutions and the administration”?

“A day without laughter, is a lost day”, this is the motto implemented by our politicians for the good of the people.

But at the same time, this mockery reflects the popular dissatisfaction with the political class in Tunisia, which nearly four years after the ousting of the Ben Ali regime, has done little to respond to the urgent socio-economic aspirations of Tunisians.

This was reflected by the protest of a group of unemployed graduates in Metlaoui, an impoverished town in the province of Gafsa in southwestern Tunisia. They hung their university diplmoas with “for sale” written on them, on a wall allocated for electoral lists.
for sale

by Afef Abrougui at October 20, 2014 11:31 AM

Ashkan Soltani
Announcing Floodwatch
Most web users are now pretty aware that their browsing and searching habits are constantly tracked. This tracking data is captured by advertising companies that then feed our information into ever-growing profiles that presume to know our age, gender, income strata, as well as our preferences and shopping habits. It’s exactly these profiles that generates […]

by ashkansoltani at October 20, 2014 12:10 AM

October 19, 2014

Miriam Meckel
Die ICH-Aktie

WiWo_Titel_43_14_KaufMich_FIN9

Der Mensch als Investment, Erfolg und Lebensglück als Assets: Anleger investieren heute in einzelne Personen – und verdienen daran.

Nehmen wir den Kapitalismus endlich persönlich! Nicht in dieser weinerlichen oder affirmativen Abwehrhaltung gegenüber all den Argumenten, die sich auf der Soll- und Habenseite anführen lassen. Ganz konkret vielmehr: Wir sind das Kapital. Wir lassen nicht handeln, wir lassen uns handeln als Ich-Aktien an den Kapitalmärkten dieser Welt. Leben lohnt sich – jetzt auch finanziell.

Mike Merrill, der junge Mann auf unserem Titel, ist nur ein Beispiel von vielen für eine ganz spezielle Variante der Share Economy, die aus den USA zu uns nach Europa dringt: Der Mensch hat nicht nur ein Aktienportfolio – er ist jetzt auch eins. Die Idee dahinter ist einfach: Junge Menschen müssen in Ausbildung und Entwicklung investieren, um eine berufliche Position, Erfolg, Partnerschaft und Familie aufzubauen. Das kostet Geld, und davon haben wir in den Anfangsjahren individueller Lebens- und Karrierewege meist nicht genug. Warum nicht andere investieren lassen, um so die eigene Ausbildung zu bezahlen?

Die Idee ist eine kreative Antwort auf die zentrale ökonomische Frage des Bildungssystems. Jeder hat es nun selbst in der Hand, sich genug Geld für die eigene Ausbildung zu beschaffen. Nicht Herkunft und Familienvermögen zählen. Die richtige Idee, verknüpft mit einer brillanten Investmentstory für Ego und Alter Ego, gibt den Ausschlag. Das kann zum Beispiel den hochpreisigen exklusiven Bildungsmarkt der Business Schools öffnen und das Gut Ausbildung demokratisieren. Statt nach dem Studium Zigtausende an Schulden mit durchs Leben zu schleppen, lässt man andere zahlen: Du kaufst Anteile an mir, ich nutze dein Geld für mein Fortkommen – und die Rendite teilen wir uns.

Aber der Ansatz hat seinen Preis. Die Risiken, die mit der Anlageklasse Aktien im bekannten Börsengeschäft verbunden sind, gibt es auch hier. Ausbildung und Lebensplanung sind Langfristprojekte. Was tun, wenn aktivistische Investoren auf den Plan treten, die je nach Ego-Kurs heute dieses, morgen jenes Ziel ins Auge fassen? Dagegen helfen Absicherungen im Ich-Prospekt. Aber wenn es auf der Hauptversammlung dann rundgeht, kommt der Ich-Emittent schnell ins Schwitzen. Lässt sich der individuelle Kurseinbruch durch ein Aktienrückkaufprogramm stoppen oder gar ins positive Gegenteil verkehren? Wenn ja, woher nehme ich das Geld dafür, das ich schon vor meiner Anteilsausgabe an mir selbst nicht hatte? Und wie lange wird es dauern, bis clevere Fondsmanager die ersten Derivate der Ich-Aktie entwickelt haben und beginnen, mich zu shorten, also auf den Preisverfall meiner Aktien zu wetten?

Bildung und Lebensglück sind allemal eine wacklige Angelegenheit. Mit den Ich-Investments werden sie noch volatiler. Individuelles Glück und persönlicher Erfolg geraten zu Spekulationsobjekten. Wer Aktien an sich selbst ausgibt, unterwirft sich den Entscheidungen anderer. Der Einzelne ist so frei, auf Freiheit zu verzichten. Als Geschäftsmodell ist das unmenschlich – eine moderne Form der Sklaverei.

Theodore W. Schultz, Wirtschaftsnobelpreisträger 1979, der sich intensiv mit der Humankapitaltheorie befasst hat, sagte dazu: „Der bloße Gedanke, Menschen als Investment zu betrachten, ist für einige von uns anstößig. Unser Glaube und unsere Werte verbieten uns, Menschen als Kapital zu sehen.“ Milton Friedman sah das schon 1955 anders. In Deutschland ist bislang verboten, was in den USA möglich scheint. Nach dem Börsengesetz kann eine natürliche Person nicht an der Börse gehandelt werden.

Das mag sich ändern. Eine Konstante aber bleibt: In Sachen Risikoabwägung ist der Mensch verlässlich. Für den Investitionszeitraum Ausbildung hat er nur eine Ausfallwahrscheinlichkeit von 0,1 Prozent und wird damit zum Top-Asset. Hinter diesen 0,1 Prozent jedoch liegt der Schatten der 100 Prozent: Jeder wird irgendwann zum Totalausfall, rein biologisch betrachtet. Wir verkaufen, was wir nie ganz besitzen – die Ich-Aktie als Leerverkauf.

by Miriam Meckel at October 19, 2014 10:32 PM

Lawrence Lessig
Ebola: treating it there

Great dinner with friends last night, one of whom had just returned from Liberia. It seems obvious,…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at October 19, 2014 10:09 AM

Ebola: treating it there

Great dinner with friends last night, one of whom had just returned from Liberia. It seems obvious,…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at October 19, 2014 10:09 AM

Global Voices
Kashmir Witnesses ‘Worst Violence in a Decade’ Between India and Pakistan
Indian villagers carry the dead bodies of Akram Hussain who was killed in alleged Pakistan mortar firing at Jeora village of R.S Pura border sector about 32 km from Jammu, India. Image by Amarjeet Singh. Copyright Demotix (23/8/2014)

Indian villagers carry the dead bodies of Akram Hussain, who was killed in alleged Pakistan mortar-firing at Jeora village of R.S Pura border sector about 32 km from Jammu, India. Image by Amarjeet Singh. Copyright Demotix (23/8/2014)

Tensions are spiking again in Kashmir, this time along the Line of Control, the “LOC,” between Indian and Pakistan. Over the past few days, the two neighbors have exchanged gunfire at the border, killing 17 civilians and causing thousands more to flee the area.

The new hostilities began roughly two weeks ago, on October 7, when Indian and Pakistani soldiers killed nine bystanders, while shooting at each other. Following the confrontation, both sides blamed each other for inciting the violence. Calm proved elusive over the next few days, as India and Pakistan traded mortar fire and machine-gun bullets, killing another six locals, including three children.

In an effort to relieve tensions, military commanders in India and Pakistan established a telephone hotline to keep each nation's armed forces in regular contact. So far, the effort hasn't accomplished much.

India and Pakistan created the LOC in 1972, following violent clashes over the Kashmir. The geographical invention failed to bring peace, but the two countries did sign a formal ceasefire in 2003, after a particularly long 14-year stretch of gun battles along the border.

The latest unrest in the LOC has been called the region's “worst in a decade,” and many fear it could destroy the 2003 ceasefire altogether. Efforts to repair ties have fared poorly. India refused to join Pakistan in meetings with Kashmir's separatists, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ominously cancelled plans to speak with his counterpart in Pakistan earlier this year, in August.

According to Pakistani officials, Islamabad did nothing to provoke Indian attacks. “We fail to understand why the Indians are targeting Pakistani civilian populations,” a Pakistani major general told the press on October 8.

Indian forces tell a similar tale, with the roles reversed.

Mass media coverage about the skirmishes has been polarized. The Times of India, for example, has published articles like “Pakistan May Continue Border Firing Until Diwali,” where the newspaper accuses Islamabad of “violating the ceasefire once again.” The Express Tribune, on the other hand, has proven to be more pro-Pakistani, publishing work like “Escalating Tensions: As India Resumes Shelling, Pakistan Warns of Payback,” implying that India instigated the recent violence. The strongly liberal newspaper Karachi Post has also blamed Indian troops for shooting first.

On Twitter, many have commented on the disparate news coverage. A degree of cynicism colors many of the responses. Omar Waraich, for instance, writes of the LOC border crisis:

The media's inconsistency has angered Internet users, as well. Salman Akram Raja argues that the information war in the press is aggravating the shooting war in the streets.

Since the beginning of October, the LOC ceasefire has been violated 11 times, and neither India nor Pakistan formally acknowledges responsibility for initiating the conflict. Without an end in sight, the region can only sit by idly and hope the conflict between these nuclear-armed rivals doesn't escalate further.

by Nikhil Dhingra at October 19, 2014 12:10 AM

October 18, 2014

Global Voices Advocacy
Hong Kong's Journalists Battle Self-Censorship, Intimidation and Police Violence to Report Umbrella Revolution
Staffs from Apple Daily News showed their determination to keep the news room operating after the mob attack on October 13. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook.

Staff from Apple Daily News showed their determination to keep the newsroom operating after a mob attack on October 13. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook page.

Journalists working in Hong Kong have come under tremendous pressure in recent weeks for covering news on the Umbrella Revolution, the pro-democracy protests demanding free and fair elections. Not only have they exposed themselves to violence while covering clashes between police and protesters, when they return to the office from the field, some of them have to endure the push for self-censorship from the newsroom or even harassment from pro-Beijing thugs.

Since police began removing barricades set up by protesters at the sites of the massive sit-in dubbed Occupy Central, confrontations between protesters and police officers have happened almost every day. Standing between the police and protesters, photojournalists have become vulnerable to injuries themselves. It is not uncommon to see TV station cameramen being pepper sprayed or pushed away by police officers during the news report. In some cases, the police do not differentiate between protesters and reporters and assault them when they take photos of the front-line.

Four independent news sites — inmediahk.net, SocREC, USP and Local Press — issued a joint statement condemning the police for intentionally attacking reporters on October 15 when they dispersed protesters on Lung Wo Road outside government headquarters:

凌晨三點,SocREC一名攝影記者則在添馬公園採訪清場,被持防暴裝備的警察強行拉入警員堆之中,拳打腳踢接近30秒,記者的眼鏡、頭盔以及眼罩被打至飛脫。一輪暴打後,兩名警員把該名記者拖行近30秒,送上警察押送犯人的旅遊巴上。拖行期間,受傷記者不停向警察展示記者證,但警察依然没有停止毆打,更用粗口辱罵記者。記者在旅遊巴上,有負責應付傳媒的警員確認SocREC記者身份後,著令他下車。記者事後已去瑪麗醫院驗傷,證實面部、額頭、鼻、嘴角、頸部以及左手手臂都有明顯傷痕。

同一時間,獨媒其一中名攝影記者在龍和道隧道內採訪期間,一名警察突然上前用胡椒噴霧指嚇他,記者遵從警員指示後退,但警察仍然在毫無警示下多次正面對準記者面部發射胡椒噴霧;後來,該記者雖然多次重申記者身份,警察仍然把他雙手扭轉並押走。其後警察更對記者吆喝:「記者又點,記者大哂?」、「記者又點,記者唔可以行前影相架嘛!」,警察確認記者身份之後放行。而另一名獨媒記者在後退時,亦遭警員用圓盾撞傷頭部。

At 3 a.m., when covering the clearing of Tamar Park, a reporter from SocREC was pulled into the side of the riot police's line and beat up for about 30 seconds. Later, two police officers dragged him along the road for 30 seconds and threw him into a police detention van. The wounded reporter repeatedly displayed his press badge during the ordinal, but it did not stop them. Instead, they abused him verbally. Only after a police press officer confirmed his identity inside the van was he allowed to leave. The reporter sought treatment at the Queen Mary Hospital and the clinical report found obvious injures on his face, forehead, nose, mouth, neck and left arm.

Similarly, a reporter from inmediahk.net covering the news inside a tunnel on Lung Wo Road was suddenly threatened by a police officer with pepper spray. He followed the officer's instruction and backed off, but was sprayed in his face without warning; although he showed his press badge many times, he was arrested and handcuffed. In the process, the police officer yelled: “Reporter? So what?” “Even reporters cannot take photos from the front.” He was released after his identity was clarified. Another inmediahk.net reporter was hit in the head by a riot police officer with his shield while he was backing off.

Even if reporters at the front-line risk physical injuries to cover the news, their stories might not be published because of self-censorship practices in the newsroom. Many news organizations in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, were already fearful of losing advertising revenue from their business ties in the mainland or angering the Beijing government. This trend has only increased with the recent protests calling for an open nomination system of candidates for the city's chief executive, which goes against the mainland's wish for a largely pro-Beijing nominating committee. 

On October 15, the chief news executive of TVB, the city's most popular television station, ordered the news team to edit a voice-over describing a video report on alleged police brutality. The footage clearly showed a handcuffed protester punched and kicked by several police officers in a dark corner for four minutes.

The next day, 28 staff members from the newsroom issued a joint statement expressing regret over the management's decision. So far more than 100 staffs from the station's news branch have co-signed it.

A former TVB reporter Au Ka Lun explained how the TVB newsroom operates after he read the joint statement:

這份行文平淡的聲明,一字一句,都是血與淚;我讀到了,我記起了,我們這一代記者,無止境的屈辱與掙扎,理想與現實的差距,去與留之間的徘徊。[...]
很多時,前綫記者,就只負責採訪,他們是「車衣女工」,只是新聞製作過程的一環。很多時,採訪完畢,片段送回公司,稿不是他們寫的,內容的編輯與選材,也不是前綫記者全權決定的,新聞部裡,有很多編輯,有很多採主,編輯採主之上,還有一個人;一個人之上,有強橫的勢力。記者最自由自主的時間,就是那一個人睡覺的時間,而他睡很少。

Every word in this plain statement is written in blood and sweat. I read it and remembered the endless humiliation and struggle our generation of reporters has faced. The huge gap between ideal and reality and whether one should stay or leave is always a struggle. […]
Most of the time, the reporters on the front-line are only responsible for interviews and recording what happens onsite. They are like the workers in the sweatshop, responsible for a part of the news making. After they have done their work, the footage would be sent back to the newsroom. They won't be responsible for the script. The content and the focus cannot be decided by the reporters. In the newsroom, there are many news and assignment editors, and above them there is one more person in charge. Above that person are even greater forces. Reporters are not free and autonomous; they are only free when that single person is asleep, but he sleeps very little.

The “greater forces” referred to by Au are the different forms of political pressure coming from Beijing, such as smears or even violent threats. Most media outlets in Hong Kong have compromised by incorporating self-censorship into their newsroom management like TVB. For those who refused to comply, the threats are more explicit.

Since October 12, pro-Beijing mobs were mobilized to surround pro-democracy Apple Daily's headquarters and stop the media outlet from distributing their papers. They blocked the entrance of Apple Daily on October 13 and obstructed the papers from being loading onto the trucks. In addition, Apple Daily's website has suffered from cyber attacks that knocked the site offline and the telephone lines of its office were jammed with abusive phone calls.

Despite the fact that the media outlet quickly obtained a restraining order from the court, the mobs continued roaming outside the entrance. As the Hong Kong police did not take action to disperse them, staff from Apple Daily took matters into their own hands and confronted them in the street.

Staffs from Apple Daily confronted with the mobs outside the media outlet's headquarter by holding up the newspapers. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook.

Staff from Apple Daily confronted the mobs outside the media outlet's headquarters by holding up their newspaper. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook page.

Ever since Beijing insisted that weeding out “undesirable” candidates for Hong Kong's first direct vote of its top leader was a national security issue, its representatives in Hong Kong have resorted to extreme measures to clamp down on dissenting voices. Such measures have not only obstructed the development of democracy, but also undermined press freedom, which is the foundation of the financial city.

by Oiwan Lam at October 18, 2014 04:15 PM

Bloggers Behind Bars: Ethiopia's Zone9ers and Threats to Online Speech Across the Globe

CENSORSHIP“We want more openness, more transparency,” Ethiopian writer Endalkchew Chala told me in a phone interview. “People deserve choice; people deserve access to the world’s knowledge.” For expressing views like these online, his friends were scheduled to go on trial for terrorism in early August—though the trial was later adjourned to October 15. It briefly reconvened last week then adjourned again until early November.

In July, Ethan Zuckerman wrote a detailed post here on Global Voices describing the origins of the Zone 9 bloggers collective, and why they chose that name, and the implications of their case in Ethiopia. In a nutshell, two years ago Endalk (as his friends and colleagues like to call him) got together with several like-minded young Ethiopian writers and journalists to launch a hard-hitting blog called “Zone9.” The blog’s name derives from Addis Ababa’s infamous Kaliti prison, divided into eight zones with political prisoners confined to Zone Eight. They chose the name Zone9 intending to suggest that the entire nation was becoming a virtual prison—effectively a ninth zone. “All of Ethiopia is part of it,” explains Endalk. In 2011, one inmate, journalist Eskinder Nega, was arrested for the seventh time after writing a column, which ironically criticized the Ethiopian government’s habit of arresting journalists on terrorism charges.

Such edginess was too much for their government to take. Six of the Zone9 bloggers were arrested this past April. Three months later, they were formally charged with terrorism and “related activities.” Endalk, pursuing a graduate degree in Portland, Oregon when the arrests took place, is now their informal spokesperson, blogging and tweeting the latest developments. The group’s alleged crimes include attending trainings by international technical experts on how to use software tools to shield themselves from electronic surveillance. They are also accused of clandestinely organizing themselves into a blogger collective—a bizarre accusation given that Zone9 is a public website. 

For the past two years, Endalk and four other Zone9 members also ran the Amharic edition of Global Voices Online. The group translated to Amharic (the dominant local language in Ethiopia) Global Voices posts written by contributors from around the world—particularly those related to activism, freedom of expression, and censorship— of strong relevance to an Ethiopian audience whose state-controlled media is heavily censored.

Bars around the world

The Zone9 bloggers are not the only Global Voices contributors who recently found themselves behind bars, as governments in a growing list of nations have recognized that modern-day connectivity can prove a lethal challenge to their legitimacy and very existence.

Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian computer engineer and open Internet advocate, has been imprisoned in Damascus since March 2012. Alaa Abd El Fattah, an Egyptian activist and blogger arrested in November 2013 for violating Egypt’s new Protest Law, was dealt a 15-year jail sentence along with 25 other activists this past June. He is currently free on bail, but already facing new legal challenges allegedly due to his behavior while in prison. Tajik author Alex Sodiqov—a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto—was arrested while carrying out academic research in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikstan. Eventually he was accused of espionage. While he has since been released and allowed to return to Canada, he has yet to be cleared of the charges.

The idea for the Global Voices network came out of a 2004 meeting of bloggers from around the world. It was a time of heady optimism, when bloggers seemed poised to break down barriers and help create a better world. We created a website with the tagline “The world is talking. Are you listening?” As our manifesto put it:

“Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world.” 

We recruited editors and volunteers from across the globe who helped to curate, translate, and contextualize what bloggers were saying about their countries and regions—what they were observing in their communities, and how people around them were reacting to world events. Eventually, the site came to be translated back and forth in over two dozen languages, mainly by volunteers like the Zone9ers.

Digital connectivity can indeed be revolutionary. In the 21st century, networked technologies are a necessary condition for social and political change. But over the past decade we’ve learned they are insufficient on their own to prevent widespread and systematic human rights violations–let alone bring about a more democratic and just world.

Battling empowerment

Governments are fighting back against the Internet’s empowering, decentralized character. They are upgrading their own institutional, military, and technical power. They are passing laws criminalizing various forms of online speech and enforcing those laws with police, security, and intelligence forces. Law enforcement and intelligence services of democracies, as well as dictatorships, are pushing their powers of surveillance to the limit. Many governments are also finding new and creative ways to control through their legal and technical powers what people can and especially cannot do on the Internet and with mobile devices.

The Ethiopian government is a case in point. It has revised the law so that practically anybody who uses the Internet to build a movement around a common ideal, or conduct independent journalism, can potentially be charged with terrorism. Internet access is available only through the state-controlled monopoly, Ethio Telecom, which keeps prices artificially high and beyond the reach of most. Those who can access the Internet do so through heavily monitored cybercafés. They must navigate censorship of overseas dissident websites, and face pervasive surveillance thanks to technologies purchased not only from Chinese companies but from European firms like Gamma, a German company that sells remote monitoring systems, and Hacking Team, an Italian firm specializing in spyware.

Anything the Zone9 bloggers ever did online can potentially be used against them without constraint.

The attack by governments on Internet freedom is by no means limited to authoritarian dictatorships. This year, alongside the usual suspects like North Korea, Cuba, and China, Reporters Without Borders listed the Indian government’s Centre for Development of Telematics as one of the 20 biggest “enemies of the Internet,” thanks to its role in developing a clandestine mass electronic surveillance and data mining program for deployment on nationwide networks.

The United Kingdom also made the list, winning the title “world champion of surveillance,” due largely to the work of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which has developed the world’s largest data collection and communications-monitoring system. Last month the British authorities invoked emergency powers to pass a new law allowing the government to issue warrants to companies for data stored outside UK jurisdiction—effectively legalizing its already sweeping technical power to spy on much of the world. As former NSA contractor Edward Snowden put it, “they are worse than the U.S.”

The problem has been compounded by Internet and telecommunications companies pursuing short-term business interests 
without considering 
the impact of their 
behavior on Internet 
users’ rights. We have 
all unfortunately allowed companies to 
track, collect, and
 sell vast amounts of
 personal information
 without even realizing what was happening. As American
 security guru Bruce
 Schneier likes to say: “Surveillance is the 
business model of the Internet.”

How convenient for the NSA, which, until Snowden blew the whistle, had relatively easy access to the communications and stored data of U.S. Internet companies. Now many of these companies have recognized that this situation is not actually sustainable for their business in the long run. Without basic levels of trust from individuals and businesses that rely on the Internet, its platforms, and networks, the economic value of the Internet (along with its political and social value) will diminish over time. That is precisely why major companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are now calling publicly for legal limitations on the NSA’s powers, as well as increased government transparency on matters of surveillance.

Cybersovereigns

These sovereigns of cyberspace—an apt term because of the rules and parameters they set on their services, on which we have come increasingly to depend—have become a form of transnational private governance. The Internet is replete with corporate and government gatekeepers. It’s patrolled by a variety of virtual police seeking to enforce government laws and company terms of service. These gatekeepers and police must be held publicly accountable in a way that can constrain them from abusing their power.

It is up to all of us, as citizens of nations and as denizens of a globally interconnected Internet, to keep pushing for accountability in how our digital lives are shaped and governed by all who wield power over us. If digital connectivity is to fulfill its clear potential, nations’ legal frameworks governing Internet companies, as well as users, must embrace the protection and exercise of basic human rights. The technical standards and business practices of companies must be compatible with the kind of open, democratic world we seek to create.

We are far from reaching that goal, but some important steps are being taken in the right direction. Legal reform efforts to curb government surveillance powers in the United States are making headway. Initiatives are being built to hold tech companies to basic human rights standards, including freedom of expression and privacy. Global Voices is working with a worldwide community of people ready to fight for their online freedoms, working with other trans-national groups advocating an open Internet. 

As we think globally, those of living in democratic countries must not forget that Internet freedom starts at home. If we cannot figure out how to constrain government and corporate power over digital networks people depend on, we should prepare to join our Ethiopian friends in Zone9.

Also read: The Zone 9 Bloggers Are Writing From the Outer Ring of the Prison, the Nation Itself

This post was originally published in the World Policy Journal's 2014 Fall edition Connectivity. 

by Rebecca MacKinnon at October 18, 2014 04:13 PM

Global Voices
More Than 40 Million People Await the Launch of Odia Wikisource
Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Speakers of Odia will soon have mountains of books to read online in their mother tongue, following the launch of the Odia Wikisource, which will make accessible many rare books that have entered the public domain. Authors and publishers are also invited to donate their copyrighted work, possibly bringing open access to large volumes of books and manuscripts, creating a vast archive of educational resources. And everything will be in Odia. 

One of the biggest advantages of Wikisource is that all its books are available in Unicode, meaning that Google's search engine indexes the texts’ entirety, and readers are able to copy easily what they wish. (Most conventional archival systems lack this feature.) A volunteer community administers Wikisource. To upload a book's content, volunteers either retype the books word-for-word, or, when possible, use Optical Character Recognition (commonly known as “OCR“), which converts scanned images into editable text. Available at or.wikisource.org, Odia is Wikisource's eleventh Indic language. 

There are more than 40 million native Odia speakers in the world. Most live in the Indian state of Odisha and its neighboring states, but there is a large diaspora in countries like the US, UK, UAE, and across South and East Asia. Despite being spoken by so many people, Odia's online presence is relatively small.

As of October 2014, Odia Wikipedia hosted 8,441 articles. The state government's websites have Odia-language content, naturally, but none of the text is in Unicode, making the materials invisible to search engines and difficult to share. Thanks to individual and organizational efforts, some Odia-language websites have recently emerged with Unicode content. 

With support from the non-profit organization Pragati Utkal Sangha and the National Institute of Technology Rourkela, a Bhubaneswar-based outfit has digitized about 740 books through the Open Access to Oriya Books (OAOB) project. Most of these texts were published between 1850 and 1950. The OAOB project is the largest existing digital archive of Odia literature, but the archived books are only available as scanned PDFs, restricting readers’ ability to search within the texts.

As a Wikimedia project, Odia Wikisource underwent a long approval process, after running as an active incubator project for nearly two years. Both the Language Committee and the Wikimedia Foundation's Board reviewed and endorsed the project. 

Odia Wikisource has already digitized and proofread three books entirely. In collaboration with the Wikimedia-funded Centre for Internet and Society‘s Access to Knowledge, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has partially digitized another book, as well. KISS is also busy digitizing another Nine books by Odia-language author Dr. Jagannath Mohanty that were relicensed to CC-BY-SA 3.0 earlier this year.

In response to posts on Twitter and Facebook, four new contributors recently joined Wikisource to help digitize “The Odia Bhagabata,” a literary classic compiled in the 14th century. “Content that have already been typed with fonts of non-Unicode encoding systems could be converted by converters which was the case of Odia Bhagabata. New contributors did not face the problem of retyping the text, as the book was already available on a website Odia.org and is out of copyright”, says Manoj Sahukar, who (along with yours truly) designed a converter that helped to transcribe “Bhagabata”.

Rising Voices contacted some of those whose efforts made this happen.

Mrutyunjaya Kar (MK), Long time Wikimedian who has proof-read the books on Odia Wikisource
Rising Voices (RV): Youre there with Odia Wikisource since its inception. How you think it will help other Odias?
MK: Odias around the globe will have access to a vast amount of old as well as new books and manuscripts online in the tip of their finger. Knowing more about the long and glorious history of Odisha will become easier.

Nihar Kumar Dalai (NKD), Wikisource writer
RV: How does it feel to be one of the few contributors to digitize Odia Bhagabata. How you want to get involved in future?
NKD: This is a proud opportunity for me to be a part of digitization of such old literature. I, at times, think if I could get involved with this full time!

Nasim Ali (NA), Oldest active Odia Wikimedian and Wikisource writer
RV: Do you think any particular section of the society is going to be benefited by this?
NA: Books contain the gist of all human knowledge. The ease of access and spread of books are the markers of the intellectual status of a society. And in this e-age Wikisource can be helpful by not just providing easy access to a plethora of books under free licenses but also aiding the spread of basic education in developing economies. Together with Wikisource and cheaper internet this could catalyze a Renaissance of 21st century.

Pankajmala Sarangi (PS), Wikisource writer
RV: You have digitized almost two books, are the highest contributor to the project and also one of the main reasons for Odia Wikisource getting approved. What are your plans next to grow it and take to masses?
PS: I would be happy to contribute by typing more books on Odia so that they can be stored and available to all. We can take this to masses through social, print and audio & visual media and organizing meetings/discussions.

Amir Aharoni (AA), Wikimedia Language Committee member and Software Engineer at the Language Engineering team at the Wikimedia Foundation
RV: What you feel Wikisource could do to a language like Odia with more than 40 million speakers?
AA: In schools in Odisha, are there lessons of Odia literature? If the answer is yes, then it can do a very simple thing – make these lessons more fun and help children learn more! Everybody says that in Kerala this worked very well with Malayalam literature.

Clearly, strong passions motivate Odia Wikisource's volunteers, like Nihar Kumar Dalai, who writes on Facebook:

Hindi and English are fine, but our native language is bit more special! Who of us does not now about the art, culture, noted personalities, tourist spots and festivals of Odisha? But if you search online about all of these then there is very little available. There comes a simple and easy solution Odia Wikipedia. Like Odia Wikipedia, Odia Wikisource is another great place and this is my small contribution to bring Odia Bhagabata on Odia Wikisource.

Subhashish Panigrahi is a volunteer contributor for Wikipedia and in past worked as a community and program support consultant for the Wikimedia Foundation.

by Subhashish Panigrahi at October 18, 2014 01:17 PM

October 17, 2014

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
Global Voices
When Journalism Isn't Quite Enough
Zainab Al Khawaja is once again in prison. This photograph taken by Rebellious Feb14 is of a protest in Budaiya, Bahrain,  on 18th May 2012 calling for her release. Copyright: Demotix

Zainab Al Khawaja is once again in prison. This photograph taken by Rebellious Feb14 is of a protest in Budaiya, Bahrain, on 18th May 2012 calling for her release. Copyright: Demotix

This headline must be one of the worst things a journalist could write, and this topic must be one of the least written-about, but for the subject I'm writing about I felt it necessary to abandon everything I've been taught and write primitively.

This article was going to be about the arrest of Zainab Alkhawaja, a prominent activist in Bahrain. I was going to start with the background, which is that she was arrested for a speech tweeted by her sister Maryam:

I would then have shared some of the reactions Maryam inspired, like how many started doing the same to the picture of the king, in solidarity with her:

Or this YouTube video that shows how Hitler would have reacted to such an act:

But that is not what I think this should be about. I think that in this article I should have to face my demons and confess that despite of how comfortable that style of writing is for someone who tries to avoid trolling and PR hit-men, it is also a flawed way to draw the scene. I use the word “draw” because I think that a good journalist is like an artist: though a painter might draw a perfect likeness of a lady, it's still the painter's own reflection of her aura, her character and her smile, and that tells us more and drives us to think.

We journalists are not encouraged to write about our own feelings, but to report what the subjects of the actions do and say. But what Zainab Alkhawaja did wasn't an act meant to make headlines—the target was each of us, in any place on earth and in any job. It was to remind us that defiance is not only a means of survival, but the very reason we are human. It's the original sin that we will always inherit. Defiance, for Zainab, was not a tool to attract attention: all the attention in the world will not help you in prison, and those who want attention will only make use of it it when they leave prison. Zainab was not posing on podiums, she didn't travel to stand in front of mics and take pictures with the elites among the politicians. For her, defiance was a lifestyle.

I find no words better to express what I'm trying to say than this poem by Amal Dunqul:

يا اخوتي الذين يعبرون في الميدان مطرقين

منحدرين في نهاية المساء

في شارع الاسكندر الأكبر :

لا تخجلوا ..و لترفعوا عيونكم إليّ

لأنّكم معلقون جانبي .. على مشانق القيصر

فلترفعوا عيونكم إليّ

لربّما .. إذا التقت عيونكم بالموت في عينيّ

يبتسم الفناء داخلي .. لأنّكم رفعتم رأسكم .. مرّه !

” سيزيف ” لم تعد على أكتافه الصّخره

يحملها الذين يولدون في مخادع الرّقيق

و البحر .. كالصحراء .. لا يروى العطش

لأنّ من يقول ” لا ” لا يرتوي إلاّ من الدموع !

.. فلترفعوا عيونكم للثائر المشنوق

فسوف تنتهون مثله .. غدا

و قبّلوا زوجاتكم .. هنا .. على قارعة الطريق

فسوف تنتهون ها هنا .. غدا

فالانحناء مرّ ..

و العنكبوت فوق أعناق الرجال ينسج الردى

فقبّلوا زوجاتكم .. إنّي تركت زوجتي بلا وداع

و إن رأيتم طفلي الذي تركته على ذراعها بلا ذراع

فعلّموه الانحناء !

علّموه الانحناء !

Oh brothers crossing the square while looking down
Defeated by the end of day
Be not ashamed and look up at me
Because you are hanged by my side on the gallows of the cesar
Raise your eyes and look at me, for if your eyes met the death in mine
The desolation in you will smile for you have raised your head for once in your life
Atlas has thrown his burdens
now it's on those born in slavery
The sea is just like the desert, fills no thirst
Because the thirst of the rebels is only filled with tears
Behold the hanged rebel
Tomorrow you will end up like him
And kiss your wives here in the mid of the road
because here is where you will end
for kneeling is bitter
and the spider spinning a curse over the shoulder of men
Kiss your wives .. I left my wife without a kiss
And if you see my kid who I left on her arm missing an arm
Teach him how to kneel
God didn't forgive Satan when he said no
The meek
They inherit the earth
Because they don't get hanged
So teach him how to kneel

I would continue writing my clearly biased/inspired/unorthodox article, but the list of dead people and dead dreams, killed because they declared defiance, doesn't fit within the 1,000-word limit. For now I leave you with one name: the unborn Abdulhadi, who will be born free, whether in prison or out.

Join us on October 21, Tuesday, for a conversation with Zainab's sister Maryam Al Khawaja about the arrest and the state of activism and protest in Bahrain, on our Hangout series GV Face.

by Noor Mattar at October 17, 2014 09:15 PM

Bloggers Behind Bars: Ethiopia's Zone9ers and Threats to Online Speech Across the Globe

CENSORSHIP“We want more openness, more transparency,” Ethiopian writer Endalkchew Chala told me in a phone interview. “People deserve choice; people deserve access to the world’s knowledge.” For expressing views like these online, his friends were scheduled to go on trial for terrorism in early August—though the trial was later adjourned to October 15. It briefly reconvened last week then adjourned again until early November.

In July, Ethan Zuckerman wrote a detailed post here on Global Voices describing the origins of the Zone 9 bloggers collective, and why they chose that name, and the implications of their case in Ethiopia. In a nutshell, two years ago Endalk (as his friends and colleagues like to call him) got together with several like-minded young Ethiopian writers and journalists to launch a hard-hitting blog called “Zone9.” The blog’s name derives from Addis Ababa’s infamous Kaliti prison, divided into eight zones with political prisoners confined to Zone Eight. They chose the name Zone9 intending to suggest that the entire nation was becoming a virtual prison—effectively a ninth zone. “All of Ethiopia is part of it,” explains Endalk. In 2011, one inmate, journalist Eskinder Nega, was arrested for the seventh time after writing a column, which ironically criticized the Ethiopian government’s habit of arresting journalists on terrorism charges.

Such edginess was too much for their government to take. Six of the Zone9 bloggers were arrested this past April. Three months later, they were formally charged with terrorism and “related activities.” Endalk, pursuing a graduate degree in Portland, Oregon when the arrests took place, is now their informal spokesperson, blogging and tweeting the latest developments. The group’s alleged crimes include attending trainings by international technical experts on how to use software tools to shield themselves from electronic surveillance. They are also accused of clandestinely organizing themselves into a blogger collective—a bizarre accusation given that Zone9 is a public website. 

For the past two years, Endalk and four other Zone9 members also ran the Amharic edition of Global Voices Online. The group translated to Amharic (the dominant local language in Ethiopia) Global Voices posts written by contributors from around the world—particularly those related to activism, freedom of expression, and censorship— of strong relevance to an Ethiopian audience whose state-controlled media is heavily censored.

Bars around the world

The Zone9 bloggers are not the only Global Voices contributors who recently found themselves behind bars, as governments in a growing list of nations have recognized that modern-day connectivity can prove a lethal challenge to their legitimacy and very existence.

Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian computer engineer and open Internet advocate, has been imprisoned in Damascus since March 2012. Alaa Abd El Fattah, an Egyptian activist and blogger arrested in November 2013 for violating Egypt’s new Protest Law, was dealt a 15-year jail sentence along with 25 other activists this past June. He is currently free on bail, but already facing new legal challenges allegedly due to his behavior while in prison. Tajik author Alex Sodiqov—a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto—was arrested while carrying out academic research in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikstan. Eventually he was accused of espionage. While he has since been released and allowed to return to Canada, he has yet to be cleared of the charges.

The idea for the Global Voices network came out of a 2004 meeting of bloggers from around the world. It was a time of heady optimism, when bloggers seemed poised to break down barriers and help create a better world. We created a website with the tagline “The world is talking. Are you listening?” As our manifesto put it:

“Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world.” 

We recruited editors and volunteers from across the globe who helped to curate, translate, and contextualize what bloggers were saying about their countries and regions—what they were observing in their communities, and how people around them were reacting to world events. Eventually, the site came to be translated back and forth in over two dozen languages, mainly by volunteers like the Zone9ers.

Digital connectivity can indeed be revolutionary. In the 21st century, networked technologies are a necessary condition for social and political change. But over the past decade we’ve learned they are insufficient on their own to prevent widespread and systematic human rights violations–let alone bring about a more democratic and just world.

Battling empowerment

Governments are fighting back against the Internet’s empowering, decentralized character. They are upgrading their own institutional, military, and technical power. They are passing laws criminalizing various forms of online speech and enforcing those laws with police, security, and intelligence forces. Law enforcement and intelligence services of democracies, as well as dictatorships, are pushing their powers of surveillance to the limit. Many governments are also finding new and creative ways to control through their legal and technical powers what people can and especially cannot do on the Internet and with mobile devices.

The Ethiopian government is a case in point. It has revised the law so that practically anybody who uses the Internet to build a movement around a common ideal, or conduct independent journalism, can potentially be charged with terrorism. Internet access is available only through the state-controlled monopoly, Ethio Telecom, which keeps prices artificially high and beyond the reach of most. Those who can access the Internet do so through heavily monitored cybercafés. They must navigate censorship of overseas dissident websites, and face pervasive surveillance thanks to technologies purchased not only from Chinese companies but from European firms like Gamma, a German company that sells remote monitoring systems, and Hacking Team, an Italian firm specializing in spyware.

Anything the Zone9 bloggers ever did online can potentially be used against them without constraint.

The attack by governments on Internet freedom is by no means limited to authoritarian dictatorships. This year, alongside the usual suspects like North Korea, Cuba, and China, Reporters Without Borders listed the Indian government’s Centre for Development of Telematics as one of the 20 biggest “enemies of the Internet,” thanks to its role in developing a clandestine mass electronic surveillance and data mining program for deployment on nationwide networks.

The United Kingdom also made the list, winning the title “world champion of surveillance,” due largely to the work of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which has developed the world’s largest data collection and communications-monitoring system. Last month the British authorities invoked emergency powers to pass a new law allowing the government to issue warrants to companies for data stored outside UK jurisdiction—effectively legalizing its already sweeping technical power to spy on much of the world. As former NSA contractor Edward Snowden put it, “they are worse than the U.S.”

The problem has been compounded by Internet and telecommunications companies pursuing short-term business interests 
without considering 
the impact of their 
behavior on Internet 
users’ rights. We have 
all unfortunately allowed companies to 
track, collect, and
 sell vast amounts of
 personal information
 without even realizing what was happening. As American
 security guru Bruce
 Schneier likes to say: “Surveillance is the 
business model of the Internet.”

How convenient for the NSA, which, until Snowden blew the whistle, had relatively easy access to the communications and stored data of U.S. Internet companies. Now many of these companies have recognized that this situation is not actually sustainable for their business in the long run. Without basic levels of trust from individuals and businesses that rely on the Internet, its platforms, and networks, the economic value of the Internet (along with its political and social value) will diminish over time. That is precisely why major companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are now calling publicly for legal limitations on the NSA’s powers, as well as increased government transparency on matters of surveillance.

Cybersovereigns

These sovereigns of cyberspace—an apt term because of the rules and parameters they set on their services, on which we have come increasingly to depend—have become a form of transnational private governance. The Internet is replete with corporate and government gatekeepers. It’s patrolled by a variety of virtual police seeking to enforce government laws and company terms of service. These gatekeepers and police must be held publicly accountable in a way that can constrain them from abusing their power.

It is up to all of us, as citizens of nations and as denizens of a globally interconnected Internet, to keep pushing for accountability in how our digital lives are shaped and governed by all who wield power over us. If digital connectivity is to fulfill its clear potential, nations’ legal frameworks governing Internet companies, as well as users, must embrace the protection and exercise of basic human rights. The technical standards and business practices of companies must be compatible with the kind of open, democratic world we seek to create.

We are far from reaching that goal, but some important steps are being taken in the right direction. Legal reform efforts to curb government surveillance powers in the United States are making headway. Initiatives are being built to hold tech companies to basic human rights standards, including freedom of expression and privacy. Global Voices is working with a worldwide community of people ready to fight for their online freedoms, working with other trans-national groups advocating an open Internet. 

As we think globally, those of living in democratic countries must not forget that Internet freedom starts at home. If we cannot figure out how to constrain government and corporate power over digital networks people depend on, we should prepare to join our Ethiopian friends in Zone9.

Also read: The Zone 9 Bloggers Are Writing From the Outer Ring of the Prison, the Nation Itself

This post was originally published in the World Policy Journal's 2014 Fall edition Connectivity. 

by Rebecca MacKinnon at October 17, 2014 06:24 PM

Citizen Journalist Kidnapped and Killed in Mexico for Reporting on Organized Crime
ddd

Image from Valor por Tamaulipas’ Google Plus account. “For you we will be strong. In memory of: María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, 15-16 October 2014 in Reynosa. Kidnapped on 15 October in the Reynosa area. Rosario was a doctor dedicated to informing the community about dangers, with a heart as big as her courage, our Miut3.”

Citizen groups in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas reported yesterday that Twitter user María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio​​ had been kidnapped and murdered. Although it is unknown who was responsible for her death, photographs of Fuentes Rubio's body appeared on her Twitter stream.

Her Twitter account ​@Miut3 ​was suspended shortly thereafter​. After María del Rosario supposedly asked for forgiveness for facing the drug lords, photos of her own murder were published, as well as a posthumous message that warned other citizen journalists to remain quiet about Reyonsa's violence because “you won’t get anything out of it.”

A​ Reynosa​ medical doctor, Fuentes Rubio volunteered as a contributor with Valor por Tamaulipas (Courage for Tamaulipas), a citizen media platform that allows users to file anonymous reports on violence, particularly incidents concerning organized crime and the drug trade. She also served as an administrator for Responsabilidad por Tamaulipas (Responsibility for Tamaulipas), a similar project associated with the first. ​The last post by “Valor for Tamaulipas” described her as “an angel who gave everything, her life, her future, her safety and peace (…) for the good of the people of the state.”​

This is not the first time individuals associated with these networks have been punished for their reporting. Since it was established in 2012, Valor por Tamaulipas has faced a range of threats and incidents of violence that at times have forced administrators to pause their activities.

Valor por Tamaulipas has been using social media to crowdsource reports from citizens in the state of Tamaulipas, which has been riddled with drug-related conflict and corruption since 2006. In February of 2013, an unidentified drug organization circulated a pamphlet offering MX$600,000 (about US$44,000) for information on the whereabouts of the administrator(s) of the Valor por Tamaulipas social media accounts. Shortly afterwards, @ValorTamaulipas announced plans to suspend reporting. But the network has since taken shape once more — violent crime continues to plague Tamaulipas and citizens continue to report on it.​​

This conflict has forced many traditional news organizations to curb their reporting on drug violence; the Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that sixteen journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2006, mostly due to their coverage of drug-related crime and corruption. ​As Darío Ramírez, general director of Article 19 in Mexico and Central America, said: “The violence against the press in Tamaulipas and the lack of protection for freedom of expression by the Mexican authorities has generated information vacuums in issues related to public security, for which social media has become an effective citizen tool to be freely informed about this acts.”​

As citizen and social media users work to fill this silence and report on what they see and hear on the ground, groups like VxT and individuals like Fuentes Rubio have become prime targets for drug organizations.

by Guest contributor at October 17, 2014 05:15 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Citizen Journalist Kidnapped and Killed in Mexico for Reporting on Organized Crime
ddd

Image from Valor por Tamaulipas’ Google Plus account. “For you we will be strong. In memory of: María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, 15-16 October 2014 in Reynosa. Kidnapped on 15 October in the Reynosa area. Rosario was a doctor dedicated to informing the community about dangers, with a heart as big as her courage, our Miut3.”

Citizen groups in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas reported yesterday that Twitter user María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio​​ had been kidnapped and murdered. Although it is unknown who was responsible for her death, photographs of Fuentes Rubio's body appeared on her Twitter stream.

Her Twitter account ​@Miut3 ​was suspended shortly thereafter​. After María del Rosario supposedly asked for forgiveness for facing the drug lords, photos of her own murder were published, as well as a posthumous message that warned other citizen journalists to remain quiet about Reyonsa's violence because “you won’t get anything out of it.”

A​ Reynosa​ medical doctor, Fuentes Rubio volunteered as a contributor with Valor por Tamaulipas (Courage for Tamaulipas), a citizen media platform that allows users to file anonymous reports on violence, particularly incidents concerning organized crime and the drug trade. She also served as an administrator for Responsabilidad por Tamaulipas (Responsibility for Tamaulipas), a similar project associated with the first. ​The last post by “Valor for Tamaulipas” described her as “an angel who gave everything, her life, her future, her safety and peace (…) for the good of the people of the state.”​

This is not the first time individuals associated with these networks have been punished for their reporting. Since it was established in 2012, Valor por Tamaulipas has faced a range of threats and incidents of violence that at times have forced administrators to pause their activities.

Valor por Tamaulipas has been using social media to crowdsource reports from citizens in the state of Tamaulipas, which has been riddled with drug-related conflict and corruption since 2006. In February of 2013, an unidentified drug organization circulated a pamphlet offering MX$600,000 (about US$44,000) for information on the whereabouts of the administrator(s) of the Valor por Tamaulipas social media accounts. Shortly afterwards, @ValorTamaulipas announced plans to suspend reporting. But the network has since taken shape once more — violent crime continues to plague Tamaulipas and citizens continue to report on it.​​

This conflict has forced many traditional news organizations to curb their reporting on drug violence; the Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that sixteen journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2006, mostly due to their coverage of drug-related crime and corruption. ​As Darío Ramírez, general director of Article 19 in Mexico and Central America, said: “The violence against the press in Tamaulipas and the lack of protection for freedom of expression by the Mexican authorities has generated information vacuums in issues related to public security, for which social media has become an effective citizen tool to be freely informed about this acts.”​

As citizen and social media users work to fill this silence and report on what they see and hear on the ground, groups like VxT and individuals like Fuentes Rubio have become prime targets for drug organizations.

by Tlanonotsalistli at October 17, 2014 05:06 PM

Global Voices
Hong Kong's Journalists Battle Self-Censorship, Intimidation and Police Violence to Report Umbrella Revolution
Staffs from Apple Daily News showed their determination to keep the news room operating after the mob attack on October 13. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook.

Staff from Apple Daily News showed their determination to keep the newsroom operating after a mob attack on October 13. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook page.

Journalists working in Hong Kong have come under tremendous pressure in recent weeks for covering news on the Umbrella Revolution, the pro-democracy protests demanding free and fair elections. Not only have they exposed themselves to violence while covering clashes between police and protesters, when they return to the office from the field, some of them have to endure the push for self-censorship from the newsroom or even harassment from pro-Beijing thugs.

Since police began removing barricades set up by protesters at the sites of the massive sit-in dubbed Occupy Central, confrontations between protesters and police officers have happened almost every day. Standing between the police and protesters, photojournalists have become vulnerable to injuries themselves. It is not uncommon to see TV station cameramen being pepper sprayed or pushed away by police officers during the news report. In some cases, the police do not differentiate between protesters and reporters and assault them when they take photos of the front-line.

Four independent news sites — inmediahk.net, SocREC, USP and Local Press — issued a joint statement condemning the police for intentionally attacking reporters on October 15 when they dispersed protesters on Lung Wo Road outside government headquarters:

凌晨三點,SocREC一名攝影記者則在添馬公園採訪清場,被持防暴裝備的警察強行拉入警員堆之中,拳打腳踢接近30秒,記者的眼鏡、頭盔以及眼罩被打至飛脫。一輪暴打後,兩名警員把該名記者拖行近30秒,送上警察押送犯人的旅遊巴上。拖行期間,受傷記者不停向警察展示記者證,但警察依然没有停止毆打,更用粗口辱罵記者。記者在旅遊巴上,有負責應付傳媒的警員確認SocREC記者身份後,著令他下車。記者事後已去瑪麗醫院驗傷,證實面部、額頭、鼻、嘴角、頸部以及左手手臂都有明顯傷痕。

同一時間,獨媒其一中名攝影記者在龍和道隧道內採訪期間,一名警察突然上前用胡椒噴霧指嚇他,記者遵從警員指示後退,但警察仍然在毫無警示下多次正面對準記者面部發射胡椒噴霧;後來,該記者雖然多次重申記者身份,警察仍然把他雙手扭轉並押走。其後警察更對記者吆喝:「記者又點,記者大哂?」、「記者又點,記者唔可以行前影相架嘛!」,警察確認記者身份之後放行。而另一名獨媒記者在後退時,亦遭警員用圓盾撞傷頭部。

At 3 a.m., when covering the clearing of Tamar Park, a reporter from SocREC was pulled into the side of the riot police's line and beat up for about 30 seconds. Later, two police officers dragged him along the road for 30 seconds and threw him into a police detention van. The wounded reporter repeatedly displayed his press badge during the ordinal, but it did not stop them. Instead, they abused him verbally. Only after a police press officer confirmed his identity inside the van was he allowed to leave. The reporter sought treatment at the Queen Mary Hospital and the clinical report found obvious injures on his face, forehead, nose, mouth, neck and left arm.

Similarly, a reporter from inmediahk.net covering the news inside a tunnel on Lung Wo Road was suddenly threatened by a police officer with pepper spray. He followed the officer's instruction and backed off, but was sprayed in his face without warning; although he showed his press badge many times, he was arrested and handcuffed. In the process, the police officer yelled: “Reporter? So what?” “Even reporters cannot take photos from the front.” He was released after his identity was clarified. Another inmediahk.net reporter was hit in the head by a riot police officer with his shield while he was backing off.

Even if reporters at the front-line risk physical injuries to cover the news, their stories might not be published because of self-censorship practices in the newsroom. Many news organizations in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, were already fearful of losing advertising revenue from their business ties in the mainland or angering the Beijing government. This trend has only increased with the recent protests calling for an open nomination system of candidates for the city's chief executive, which goes against the mainland's wish for a largely pro-Beijing nominating committee. 

On October 15, the chief news executive of TVB, the city's most popular television station, ordered the news team to edit a voice-over describing a video report on alleged police brutality. The footage clearly showed a handcuffed protester punched and kicked by several police officers in a dark corner for four minutes.

The next day, 28 staff members from the newsroom issued a joint statement expressing regret over the management's decision. So far more than 100 staffs from the station's news branch have co-signed it.

A former TVB reporter Au Ka Lun explained how the TVB newsroom operates after he read the joint statement:

這份行文平淡的聲明,一字一句,都是血與淚;我讀到了,我記起了,我們這一代記者,無止境的屈辱與掙扎,理想與現實的差距,去與留之間的徘徊。[...]
很多時,前綫記者,就只負責採訪,他們是「車衣女工」,只是新聞製作過程的一環。很多時,採訪完畢,片段送回公司,稿不是他們寫的,內容的編輯與選材,也不是前綫記者全權決定的,新聞部裡,有很多編輯,有很多採主,編輯採主之上,還有一個人;一個人之上,有強橫的勢力。記者最自由自主的時間,就是那一個人睡覺的時間,而他睡很少。

Every word in this plain statement is written in blood and sweat. I read it and remembered the endless humiliation and struggle our generation of reporters has faced. The huge gap between ideal and reality and whether one should stay or leave is always a struggle. […]
Most of the time, the reporters on the front-line are only responsible for interviews and recording what happens onsite. They are like the workers in the sweatshop, responsible for a part of the news making. After they have done their work, the footage would be sent back to the newsroom. They won't be responsible for the script. The content and the focus cannot be decided by the reporters. In the newsroom, there are many news and assignment editors, and above them there is one more person in charge. Above that person are even greater forces. Reporters are not free and autonomous; they are only free when that single person is asleep, but he sleeps very little.

The “greater forces” referred to by Au are the different forms of political pressure coming from Beijing, such as smears or even violent threats. Most media outlets in Hong Kong have compromised by incorporating self-censorship into their newsroom management like TVB. For those who refused to comply, the threats are more explicit.

Since October 12, pro-Beijing mobs were mobilized to surround pro-democracy Apple Daily's headquarters and stop the media outlet from distributing their papers. They blocked the entrance of Apple Daily on October 13 and obstructed the papers from being loading onto the trucks. In addition, Apple Daily's website has suffered from cyber attacks that knocked the site offline and the telephone lines of its office were jammed with abusive phone calls.

Despite the fact that the media outlet quickly obtained a restraining order from the court, the mobs continued roaming outside the entrance. As the Hong Kong police did not take action to disperse them, staff from Apple Daily took matters into their own hands and confronted them in the street.

Staffs from Apple Daily confronted with the mobs outside the media outlet's headquarter by holding up the newspapers. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook.

Staff from Apple Daily confronted the mobs outside the media outlet's headquarters by holding up their newspaper. Photo from Chan Pui Man's Facebook page.

Ever since Beijing insisted that weeding out “undesirable” candidates for Hong Kong's first direct vote of its top leader was a national security issue, its representatives in Hong Kong have resorted to extreme measures to clamp down on dissenting voices. Such measures have not only obstructed the development of democracy, but also undermined press freedom, which is the foundation of the financial city.

by Oiwan Lam at October 17, 2014 05:05 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Building an Internet Fast Lane in Russia Could Be a Great Way to Stifle Independent Media
The Net neutrality paradise of information equality may be coming to an end in Russia. Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

The net neutrality paradise of information equality may be coming to an end in Russia. Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) may soon allow Internet Service Providers to collect fees from websites willing to pay a premium for prioritized content delivery. 

The popularity of websites and services content requiring high bandwidth, like YouTube and Skype, has led to a dramatic increase in the amount of data traveling through the Internet, FAS says. The increased load on Russia's telecommunication network necessitates new investment in the national infrastructure, but ISPs complain that they're short on funds.

As is the case around the world, Russian Internet service providers are vocal opponents of net neutrality, which exists in Russia largely de facto, without being legally enshrined. Rostelecom, a leading local telcom that is majority-owned by the Russian government, has blamed Skype for gobbling up too much of its bandwidth and in turn allowing users to make calls for “free,” rather than using Rostelecom's telephone services. According to the company, customers’ use of Skype cost it 6.7 billion rubles ($166 million USD) in 2009 alone.

Although network neutrality is not explicitly protected under Russian law, Russian ISPs effectively treat all Internet traffic equally when it comes to its “size” or the amount of bandwidth it requires for transport. It should be noted that Russian ISPs do block some traffic on political grounds—a practice that goes against the principle of net neutrality, which is to treat all traffic equally, without exception.

Details about the plan to end Russian net neutrality are still few and far between. So far, FAS has merely submitted its proposal to the government, which will deliberate for nobody knows how long. In fact, FAS’ announcement itself was quite unexpected. Just a few months ago, agency head Igor Artemyev expressed his support for the principles of net neutrality, saying that ISPs should treat all content equally. 

И мы можем ещё раз подчеркнуть, что ликвидация мобильного рабства, технологическая нейтральность, сетевая нейтральность, конкуренция между стационарной электросвязью, развитие её с мобильной и так далее являются фундаментальными вопросами, о которых мы мечтали 10 лет.

We can stress once again that the end of “mobile slavery” [the introduction of portability for mobile telephone numbers] and the arrival of technological neutrality, Net neutrality, competition between landlines and mobile networks, and so on, all represent fundamental things we dreamed about for the last decade.

Now, however, FAS officials are citing the Federal Communications Commission in the United States for arguments against net neutrality. FAS’ new proposal would require ISPs to maintain a service “baseline,” but companies would be allowed to charge more money to deliver faster speeds for premium content.

Net neutrality remains an unresolved issue in the US, as well, where the FCC's position seems irresolute, despite President Obama's statement on October 9 that he opposes “creating two or three or four tiers of Internet.” When it comes to Internet regulations, Russian officials often model policy on approaches tried in the United States. By “copycatting” the US, Moscow is able to defend itself as “behaving like the Western democracies.”

Depending on what the FCC does with net neutrality, Russia's FAS might need to reexamine its justifications for policy reform. 

In Russia, where the online space for independent media is fast shrinking, the prospect of filtering Internet content poses additional dangers. Indeed, if Russian ISPs are permitted to play favorites, when it comes to delivering websites and services, ordinary Internet users might wake up one day to find that Kremlin-friendly online media load much more quickly than the scrappy free press.

by Global Voices at October 17, 2014 05:03 PM

Global Voices
São Paulo Is Running Out of Water, But Authorities Say There's No Need for Rationing
The Cantareira System, which supplies 7 million people with water, has reached record lows yesterday with 4,1% of its total capacity. Image by Flickr user Fernando Stankuns.

The Cantareira System, which supplies 7 million people with water, has reached record lows yesterday with 4.1 percent of its total capacity. Image by Flickr user Fernando Stankuns. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The most populous state in Brazil, São Paulo, is going through its worst water crisis in decades. The summer season, the driest in 84 years, has triggered a drought that has hit 70 cities so far, affecting the lives of 13.8 million people.

From those cities, 38 have started a water rationing plan, where the supply is alternated between neighborhoods every week. One of the most concerning situations, however, is in São Paulo city, the state capital and Latin America’s largest metropolis. The Cantareira System, a four-lake complex of reservoirs responsible for providing water to 45 percent of the city’s metropolitan area (about 6.5 million people) and other surrounding cities, is now running at record lows of 4.1 percent of its total capacity.

In spite of that, for months the state government and Sabesp, the state utility that manages the Cantareira System, have denied the risk of a water shortage in the capital and the need to enact a rationing plan, like other cities have done. But since earlier this year people from several neighborhoods in São Paulo have been complaining about weekly or even daily interruptions. Just this week, 34 public schools in the city have had problems with the water supply – and at least one had to cancel classes because of it.

Some people believe they're going through unofficial rationing. On the website Faltou Água (Water was missing), a collaborative map shows locations where users have reported interruptions to their water supply.

Below is a selection of the messages posted to the website in August and September:

Corte de agua das 00:00 as 6:30 no jardim sao paulo zn de sp. Acontece a pelo menos 1 semana”

Water interruption from midnight to 6 a.m. at Jardim São Paulo, North Zone. Has been happening at least for a week

Aqui na Vl Monumento falta água toda noite, começou faltando à partir das 0h depois foi aumentando o período, hoje dá 21h e já não tem mais água.

Here in VI Monumento there are interruptions every night. It started at midnight but they have been cutting it off it earlier every day. Today beginning at 9 p.m. there's no water anymore

Na v Madalena cortam todas as noites. Isso faz quase 2 meses

In Vila Madalena they have been cutting it off every night for the past two months

Still, many people in São Paulo haven't experienced any problems with their supply. For that, Vinícius Duarte has an interesting theory, which he posted on Facebook:

Boa parte da população paulistana AINDA não sente a falta d'água (e acredita no governo, e continua gastando a rodo, e fazem piadinha com o tema) por uma razão simples: mora em prédio de apartamentos. Quando a Sabesp desliga o fornecimento (todo dia), o morador não vê a torneira seca e fica tranquilão. Afinal, ela continua a ser abastecida pela caixa d'água do edifício, que é coletiva. (…) Como algumas unidades consomem menos que outras, a coisa vai meio que se compensando. Mas isso só enquanto TEM água na caixa.

Most of the population of the city of São Paulo STILL doesn't feel the water shortage (and believes in the state government, and keeps wasting water and making jokes on the subject) for a simple reason: they live in apartment buildings. When Sabesp cuts off the supply (every day), they keep getting water from their taps and think it's all good. But this water is coming from the building's water tower, which is collective. As some apartments use less water than others, they naturally compensate each other. But that will last only if there's still water in the collective tank.

Cantareira System on the verge of collapse

It was revealed this week by the State Prosecutor’s Office that Sabesp knew the reservoirs were at risk of water shortage since 2012. At that time, the company had sent a report to its investors in New York – it has 25.4 percent of its shares negotiated at the New York Stock Exchange – warning that a drought predicted for April 2014 might impact its finances. Sabesp, however, only decided to take measures about eight months ago: a discount to users who saved water was its main strategy to combat the imminent collapse of its main reservoir.

Since May, the company has been using the first quota of the “dead volume” (the remnants of water that lie in the bottom of the lake). Regulators had prohibited it from collecting from the second quota of that volume over concerns it was mismanaging supplies, but that decision was revoked yesterday due to the emergency of the situation, since the first quota will only last for the next few weeks.

The second quota comprises of 106 billion liters and should last until March 2015 without water rationing. After that, it is over: there is no “third” dead volume quota at the Cantareira. All there is left is to hope that the rainfall during the wet season, which peaks in December through February, will be enough to provide more water for the rest of 2015. 

As blogger Camilla Pavanelli put it for her 1,600+ followers on Facebook:

O plano do governo do estado é um só: captar até a última gota de volume morto e torcer para que chova. Não há plano B. Sendo assim, eu diria que já passou a hora de reconhecermos o seguinte: O tempo de pensar no uso racional e consciente de água já passou. O assunto, agora, é outro. O assunto não é “usar com parcimônia para que não acabe”. O assunto é que está acabando – ou, se considerarmos que a água do Sistema Cantareira que estamos consumindo é volume morto, já acabou.

The state government's plan is only this: to drain the reservoirs until the last drop and to pray it will rain. There is no plan B. That being said, I think it's time we recognize something: the time to think about the rational and conscious use of water is over. That ship has sailed. The main discussion now is not “use it wisely so it won't end”. It is ending nonetheless – or, if we consider we've been consuming the “dead volume” water, it has ended already.

Specialists believe it’ll take at least four years for the system to return to normalcy, but that estimate depends on rainfall meeting historical averages. The main construction plans to start draining water from other rivers and reservoirs in the country are only due to be ready in 2016, according to Sabesp’s own schedule. 

In the countryside

There are 38 municipalities in the countryside who are going through official water rationing. Those cities are not attended by Sabesp, but rather have their water supplied by small, local companies.

The main advantage of going through an official rationing is that people are able to know when and at what time they’ll have their water interrupted – so they can take precautions and are not caught by surprise.

That doesn’t necessarily prevent rallies and revolts, though. Itu, a city with 163,000 inhabitants, has experienced rationing since February and has been supplied poorly, with the district having to buy 3 million liters of water daily from nearby cities. On Sunday, residents attended a fourth rally against the water shortage, blocking a highway and setting fire to a bus.

by Taisa Sganzerla at October 17, 2014 01:28 PM

Outrage Over Transgender Woman's Suspected Murder by US Marine in the Philippines
CCTV footage of Jennifer Laude with alleged murder suspect PFC Pemberton entering an Olongapo City lodge. Photo Credits: kapederasyon.wordpress.com

CCTV footage of Jennifer Laude with suspect PFC Pemberton entering an Olongapo City lodge. Photo Credits: kapederasyon.wordpress.com

The death of a Filipina transgender woman in an Olongapo City motel, allegedly at the hands of a US marine has unleashed a flood of outrage and raised questions as to the benefits of US-Philippine military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) to the country.

According to reports, Jennifer Laude died of drowning and there are signs that her face was pushed down the toilet bowl, leaving injuries and lacerations on her head and neck. Her lifeless body was found 11:30 p.m. in the evening of October 11, less than an hour after she stepped out of a disco bar and checked in the motel just across the street with a US serviceman.

Kapederasyon, a sectoral organization of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in the Philippines, condemned the Laude's killing and expressed alarm that the crime was purportedly elicited by the victim’s gender:

Hate crimes have been a persistent nightmare of the LGBT sector. Every day, hundreds of our kapederasyon are subjected to hate speech, discrimination, and violence. We are victimized physically, emotionally, and psychologically amidst the backdrop of the prevailing patriarchal and “macho” culture.

PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US marine suspected of killing Laude, is one of over 3,000 US troops who are in the Philippines as part of the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX). The American soldiers were on board the USS Peleliu and the USS Germantown, which docked in the country last month.

Laude’s sister Marilou Laude is demanding that the US ships, which are on port call in Subic Bay after the naval exercises, be prevented from leaving in order to make possible the unhindered investigation into the murder.

Pemberton is said to be detained aboard the USS Peleliu. According to the local police, the VFA has limited their authority in carrying out investigation of US servicemen involved in crimes. The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is said to be investigating the crime.

Under the VFA, custody over US troops charged with violating Philippine laws “shall immediately reside with US military authorities.” However, the Philippine government may request for a handover of custody of the suspected US serviceman in its favor.

Veteran journalist Ellen Torsedillas writes that US custody over Pemberton denigrates Philippine sovereignty:

The DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] and the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] chief’s subservient stance on U.S. custody over Pemberton denigrates Philippine sovereignty – the supreme right of the state to command obedience within its territory.

With a diminished sovereignty, what does that make of the Philippines?

Activists burn a US flag during a protest action in front of the US Embassy. Photo Credits: Richard James Mendoza.

Activists burn a US flag during a protest action in front of the US Embassy. Photo Credits: Richard James Mendoza.

In a Facebook status, professor Judy Taguiwalo, former University of the Philippines faculty regent and women rights activist, compared the country’s situation to the days when the US military bases in Subic and Clark were still intact before their withdrawal in 1991:

Nothing has changed since American soldiers killed Filipinos and considered them wild pigs so powerfully depicted in Nora Aunor's film “Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo” [Once a Moth]. The sorry excuse that is the so-called Philippine government instead of asserting our right to have custody of the Marine who violated our kabaro and our laws justifies the continued custody of the suspect by the Americans !

The blog Jumping Jolens also compared Laude's killing to the rape case of a Filipina woman involving US serviceman Daniel Smith ten years ago:

It was Gloria Arroyo [former president of the Philippines 2001-2010] leading the Malacañang [presidential palace] at that time, and [she] turned over Smith’s custody to the Americans. Now we have BS Aquino who’s much less ballsy than Arroyo. I don’t think he’d even try to assert our right to the custody of whoever killed Jennifer, much less fight tooth and nail to convict him. No Filipino leader in my lifetime has ever been bold enough to kick Uncle Sam’s ass — all they do is kiss it.

Filipino activists condemned the Philippine government for refusing to assert jurisdiction over Laude’s murder case. In a fiery rally at the US embassy, protesters called for the junking of the VFA, EDCA, and other military agreements which they say will only lead to the rise of crimes committed by US troops in the country.

by Karlo Mikhail Mongaya at October 17, 2014 09:50 AM

Mexico's ‘Corona Capital’ Music Festival Played On Despite Heavy Rains
Corona Capital Festival. Photo taken by the author, J. Tadeo.

Corona Capital Festival. Photo taken by the author, J. Tadeo.

Poor weather and complaints from fans about the concert's faulty electronic bracelets marked the fourth annual Mexican music festival, Corona Capital, which took place on October 11 and 12, 2014 at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (Rodríguez Brothers Racetrack) in Mexico City.

The festival featured popular bands and international musicians such as the Black Kids, MGMT, Weezer, Belle & Sebastian, Jack White, and Damon Albarn. On the first day, Massive Attack, one of the most awaited performances, had to wrap up early due to inclement weather, upsetting many attendees. Giggy Zúñiga made the following comment on Twitter:

Meanwhile, Armando Prssr E stated:

The best of #cc14, that is, #MassiveAttack, is canceled for “technical reasons”, this made @CoronaCapital look really bad.

As it rained on Saturday, Twitter user D a m expressed her disappointment:

Nevertheless, there were some that enjoyed the weather, such as Ana Laura Calzada:

The severe climate conditions, heavy rains, and muddy terrain recalled the experience at Glastonbury Festival, the planet’s biggest and most important music festival, where performances are hardly ever canceled due to bad weather.  

Another reason for people’s dissatisfaction were the electronic bracelets that organizers, among them a renowned beer company, introduced to the Mexican concert industry. All attendees had to have them activated when turning in their tickets upon admission.

Sergio Villalobos noted that donning the bracelet did not help speed up entry to the event:

UserCynthia mentioned a “failed bracelet system”, meaning they no longer worked as designed, resulting in cash and credit cards being used as a substitute in order to purchase food and drink.

The bracelets would be the used as a system to get access to the event as the only payment method for food, drinks and official merchandising, and for checking in at the different locations for the festival. They ended up working only for entering and not that well.

Jack refers to Jack White, another artist that took part of the festival. Oscar Ro wrote to OCESA, a Corona Capital organizer and the ones responsible for the bracelets, the following message:

At the end of the festival, Andrés Olascoaga pointed out the problems he faced when trying to remove the bracelet:

Last year’s festival experienced a letdown when John Talabot canceled his performance a few days prior to the event due to the insecurity posed by the country’s organized crime, becoming yet another one of its victims. 

by Kelley Johnson at October 17, 2014 06:00 AM

October 16, 2014

Creative Commons
CC News: Let’s change the internet.

Stay up-to-date with CC by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Twitter.

Let’s change the internet

“CC and its licenses are part of the infrastructure that powers the web we know and love. But building the licenses is just the first step; the next step is to use those licenses as a tool for change. All of us can work together to demonstrate the value of sharing to individuals, governments, policy-makers, institutions, and corporations, and to build a future in which everyone is more free to participate in society.”

Read CC board chair Paul Brest’s letter from our annual report.

Obama highlights open education
White House
CC BY (cropped)
 

In his address on open government at the United Nations, US President Barack Obama underscored the importance of open educational resources.

Our Digital Future
Our Digital Future
OpenMedia.ca / CC BY-NC-SA
(screengrab, cropped)

OpenMedia.ca’s Our Digital Future lays out a set of common-sense recommendations for restructuring copyright law in a way that benefits everyone.

Creative Commons Thing of the Day
Casey Fyfe / CC0
 

Your daily awesome from the internet. Check out the Creative Commons Thing of the Day.

SOO Tanzania launch
SOO Tanzania launch
CC Tanzania / CC BY (cropped)

The School of Open is taking off all over Africa. Find out what’s next and how to get involved.

by Elliot Harmon at October 16, 2014 10:21 PM

Global Voices
It's Blog Action Day: Let's Talk About Inequality
Photo by Flickr user duncan c. CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo by Flickr user duncan c. CC BY-NC 2.0

Today is Blog Action Day – and this year we're joining pens, pads and keyboards to discuss inequality.

Blog Action Day has existed since 2007. It's a yearly event that sparks awareness and important discussions by uniting thousands of bloggers, focusing on one theme, and reaching a collective audience of millions. Over 1,500 bloggers have joined the initiative this year, coming from over a hundred different countries.

Have a thing or two to say about inequality?

Then participate in #Blogaction14 by registering your own blog. Write in any language, from any country. Also remember that a blog is a wide definition: Vlogs, podcasts, photos, design and social media sites all count. On Twitter, keep an eye on the hashtags #Blogaction14#Inequality and #Oct16

Global Voices’ compilation

Once again, Global Voices is an official partner of the event, and some of our great contributors have joined in with their personal blogs. See their posts below:

inequality

 

by Maria Grabowski at October 16, 2014 04:45 PM

Creative Commons
School of Open Africa’s Launch and Future

In September, the School of Open Africa launched with nine programs distributed across four jurisdictions: Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa. Kayode from CC Nigeria announced in the launch in August, and now we want to give you an update on how the programs (some ongoing) and launch events fared! We also want to preview more events to take place during Open Access Week and tell you our plans for the future of School of Open in Africa.

School of Open Kenya

SOO Kenya popjam
SOO Kenya Popjam / Jamlab / CC BY-SA

Simeon from Jamlab says, “We hosted 20 girls from Precious Blood Secondary School, Riruta for the [launch] event. The goal was to work with these students to map out education as they currently experience it in their school and figure out how best to incorporate Open Education in their learning. For most of the afternoon, the emphasis on the workshop centered on figuring out how the students could incorporate Open Education in their learning. After a brief discussion, we mapped out learning and education activities as follows:

  • Lectures/Class instruction
  • Private study/prep
  • Group study
  • Revision of past examination papers
  • Student Symposiums

We asked them if we could add aspects of Open Education to this list. Very few of the students had heard about Open Education or understood its value at this point. We discussed Open Education in a little more detail: We explored the concept of the commons, copyright and copyleft and how the Creative Commons suite of licenses has enabled the Open Education movement globally.”

The future of SOO Kenya:

“One of the themes that stood out is getting school administrations and teachers to understand and make an investment in Open Education. This will be Jamlab’s focus in the coming year. While we work with administrators and teachers, we encouraged students to begin to demonstrate the value of Open Education by creating demand for it in the following ways: consume OER’s and integrate them in their learning, and pro-actively create and share OER’s with other students from other schools.”

School of Open Tanzania

SOO Tanzania
SOO Tanzania launch / CC Tanzania / CC BY

Paul from CC Tanzania says, “The program officially launched at Academic International Primary School (AIPS) in Dar es Salaam whereby 15 students from grades four to seven got the opportunity to learn how to code, designing animated picture (cartoons) by using open educational resources through the web.”

The future of SOO Tanzania:

“The event also marked the launch of three other training programs around ICT empowerment training for unemployed youth, teaching persons with disabilities how to use computers, and training educators on using ICT to improve how they teach their students in Tanzania that will be coordinated by CC Tanzania and the Open University of Tanzania.”

CC Tanzania will also highlight the importance of open access to research during Open Access Week in collaboration with the Tanzania Medical Students Association (TAMSA).

School of Open Nigeria

SOO Nigeria
SOO Nigeria Saturday training / K-Why / CC BY

Kayode from CC Nigeria says, “Creative Commons Nigeria with support from Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Linux Professional Institute (Nigerian Master Affiliate) and Mozilla Foundation hosted the School of Open. The School of Open is a five week open course that holds every Saturday between 11am till 4pm. The first week started on September 13th with participants been trained on the basics of Intellectual Property, Linux Operating System and using simple Mozilla tools to design websites.”

The future of SOO Nigeria:

The five-week programs wrapped over the weekend with a discussion on plans for sustaining the community. The next phase will be to take School of Open Nigeria online with the present participants acting as moderators. Meanwhile, people and institutions in two different states (Imo State and Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State) have requested that Creative Commons Nigeria come replicate School of Open in their societies. The aim of School of Open Nigeria will be to have an online learning place where people can go to learn at any time without any cost or time restrictions.

School of Open South Africa

Kumusha bus
Kumusha Bus / WikiAfrica / CC BY-SA

Kelsey from CC South Africa says they already ran their School of Open CC4Kids course as part of Code4CT’s Maker Party back in July, and since then have been planning the next phase of Kumusha Bus, aka Kumusha Bus 2.0, which is “a remix of Libre Bus and designed to ensure collaboration with local members of the open community to have a week of Open Movement chaos and fun that spreads the ideas behind the movement and gets more people and organisations involved in your country.” Kumusha Bus is a collaboration of WikiAfrica, Creative Commons, and School of Open.

The future of SOO South Africa:
Kelsey & co are planning to expand CC4Kids into a full course pack designed to teach kids about Wikipedia, open journalism, open data, and open/citizen science. As part of this expansion, a session will be run at the upcoming Mozilla Festival called “OpenMe – Kids Can Open”.

More about the future

School of Open Africa is hosting another event next week, 22 October, to launch its entrance into the higher education space. Four courses will be developed in collaboration with the C4DLab, the University of Nairobi’s innovation hub, and will be licensed CC BY. The project is a response to ICT playing a critical role in expanding the knowledge economy of Africa; the OER will be developed by and for Africans; and the hope is to replicate the process in other universities. In addition, certificates will be awarded to participants of CC Kenya’s CopyrightX satellite from earlier this year, a panel discussion on OER will be featured, and SOO Kenya will present its work to date. The event and C4DLab OER project is made possible with technical support from UNESCO and generous support from the Hewlett Foundation. Stay tuned for a more detailed announcement of this event next week!

At its core, School of Open is about equipping communities with the tools to help them do what they already do better. Creative Commons licenses and the open resources they enable empowers users around the world to, as Simeon of SOO Kenya says, “build on what we already know.” He says,

I think one thing we often forget to highlight when it comes to education is how we learn… We learn by building on what we already know. We believe Open Education is one sure way of building on what we already know to advance ourselves.

We are seeking to expand School of Open to other regions, in and beyond Africa. The upcoming Mozilla Festival will feature a session on mapping School of Open programs from around the world and hone in on areas with maximum potential for impact — where we can “train the trainers” or otherwise empower student and educator communities to start up programs for themselves. Find out how you can get involved!


About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers that provides free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run courses, workshops, and training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a nonprofit that builds and supports learning communities on the web.

by Jane Park at October 16, 2014 04:42 PM

DML Central
Rethinking the Web as Picture Book and Soundscape
Rethinking the Web as Picture Book and Soundscape Blog Image

I have a dear friend who entered graduate studies in my department a bit after I’d started. I will call him Sam. Sam was different. He was one of the few other people who was not white in my program. He was not American. He was not straight. And his home country was a place where all of these things together posed a risk for him, which is why he’d come to the United States in the first place.

He and I formed a coalition of brown people, and would spend lots of time talking about navigating the sometimes hostile environment of graduate school. He had another barrier though: language. He was fluent in English and was a good writer, but, his mother tongue had more words that better translated what he was trying to say. But, no one in our department spoke his mother tongue, and anything he produced would need to be in English to count. Still, Sam had things he desperately needed to communicate, so he found a way. He created amazing digital sound and moving image scapes. Some were designed for him to dance with, others were designed for an audience to watch alone or in groups. I remember the feeling I had the first time I experienced one of his creations. In three minutes, all those things Sam struggled to find the words to express were alive, moving on the screen, and in turn, moving those who were watching, or maybe, witnessing his in-depth thoughts and reflections. Despite the quality of his work, Sam found that very few people were able to understand it as scholarship. After a year of desperately trying to find a place where his work made sense, he left the program.

Learning Risks

There are many risks to learning. I’ve talked about the risk in terms of student data and privacy, and the need for students to be literate in what it means to engage in connected learning. I’d like to switch gears, though, to talk about a different type of risk. Being in learning spaces of all kinds is a particularly vulnerable position for both the students and the instructor. However, some people are at more risk than others. Things like gender, race, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, class, etc. are all brought into learning spaces, even connected ones.

For a long time, we’ve heard the oft quoted early Internet meme – “On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog” — usually accompanied with a photo of a dog at a computer screen. I think we’ve come to the point where we accept that though that is the case, it does not capture the virtual experience. I always found this problematic because even if the people on the other side of the screen don’t realize a dog is on the other side, the dog still comes to the Internet with all of the social baggage that goes along with being a dog.

This social baggage is something we should be keeping in mind when we ask learners to join us on connected learning journeys. I would like to say that on the Internet, if we choose to connect pseudonymously or anonymously, even if others don’t know that we are who we are, we do, and that is something that has to be taken into consideration. While there is a value in letting people engage in learning pseudonymously or anonymously in digital learning, having some checks in place to ensure that all students are able to engage safely with minimal risk of abuse is just as important.

Digital Baggage

As much as we want to believe that we don’t carry the baggage of our offline identities with us into the online world, we often do. Additionally, differential levels of access means that even though we have these amazing tools to aid in learning, not everyone will be able to use them equally. Power relations, politics, and ideology are part of society and help construct who learners are and how they culturally belong to the various places we might consider to be learning institutions, from family, to peers, to schooling. It seems that one of the biggest determinants of how safe a learner feels in these places is their ability to reflect sameness and minimize difference. This is easier for some than others. Attempting to use online tools and connected learning to ameliorate some of these difference is the responsibility of those who lead learning activities, and it's something that has to be built in by design. Even something as small as needing to have regular connection to the Internet can provide multiple barriers that might be overlooked. Additionally, when you have multiple people, especially in environments where they are not easily identified or where they are interacting with a larger social world, the potential exposure to things outside of the scope of learning might be pulled in. That is something that can, and should be prepared for whenever possible.

One of the easy ways to do this with digital media, not just as a learning tool, but as an environment where learning and knowledge come into being is to move beyond text-based communication and into some of the other digital affordances such as sound and image (both still and moving). The idea that thinking is best reflected through the practice of writing is sort of a dominant ideology. We can see the ways this is built into the digital system when we think about how Internet search works most efficiently: through words. Words work. I am using words now to communicate my thoughts to you, but it has never been the only way we learn or share knowledge.

Meaningful Sharing

As children, early books are often picture books. As the book technology advanced, some picture books with textures and sounds to go along with what is being conveyed through the image. I can’t help but wonder what it would look like if we thought of digital knowledge and connected learning through these more playful models from childhood. If we did this, I wonder if some of the people normally on the margins would feel like they could connect to learning, too. Had we never lost the picture book through age and complex sentences, and thought of the Internet as an extension of the picture book or the soundscape of learning nursery rhymes instead of a textual space, maybe more people like Sam would find their unique learning voice and feel comfortable and empowered to share as something meaningful.

by mcruz at October 16, 2014 03:10 PM

Global Voices
Will Ayotzinapa Case Become Mexico's Political Firestorm or Will It Be Forgotten?
Fotos de algunos de los 46 estudiantes desaparecidos en Guerrero, México

Candles burn for the 46 students who have vanished in Guerrero, México, October 8, 2014. This photo courtesy of Enrique Perez Huerta. Demotix

What lies ahead for Mexico, where the discovery of mass graves in Iguala and dozens of missing school students in Ayotzinapa has led to protests and a tense national debate about law and order? The future is uncertain, but Internet users are busy now discussing what to expect tomorrow. Some say these tragedies will be forgotten with time, while others believe they might serve as catalysts for social change.

Ishtar Cardona, who participated in a march on October 8, shared these reflections on Facebook:

Pienso en cosas que me hacen temer que Ayotzinapa tiene el mismo destino que ABC: después de los gritos, el silencio…

Resentí que durante el mitin al final de la manifestación del miércoles no se hablara de un plan de acción, de un acuerdo sobre puntos a seguir y peticiones concretas entre las que se encontraran:
a) Exigir la renuncia del gobernador Angel Aguirre (la inercia de la política nacional va a permitir que no se responsabilice por lo que le corresponde en lo sucedido).
b) Exigir el esclarecimiento por parte de las autoridades judiciales de Guerrero de las circunstancias en las que se produjo la desaparición de los normalistas y aprehensión inmediata de las autoridades municipales que participaron en los hechos además del presidente municipal y su secretario de seguridad pública (funcionarios, ministerios públicos). 
c) Exigir por parte de las dirigencias nacionales de los partidos políticos la firma de un compromiso de transparencia y profesionalismo en la elección de sus candidatos a puestos de representación pública bajo supervisión ciudadana. 

Era necesario gritar nuestra rabia y arropar a los familiares de los muchachos normalistas, pero ¿y después? ¿Vamos a dejar en manos de los que no hicieron lo que tenían que hacer la solución de lo que ya pasó y puede volver a pasar? [...]

Some of the things I've seen make me afraid that the end result of the Ayotzinapa incident will be the same as what we saw after ABC [Day Care Center fire in Hermosillo, Sonora]: after the protests, silence…

I felt resentful because no one mentioned a plan of action during the rally that followed Wednesday's demonstration, and no one laid out any kind of mutual agreement about the next steps to be taken or specific demands to be made, which should have included the following points:
a) A call for the resignation of Governor Angel Aguirre (the apathy of national politics will allow him to evade responsibility for issues that are clearly his fault).
b) A call for judicial authorities in Guerrero to explain the circumstances that led to the students’ disappearances, and a call for the immediate apprehension of all city officials who participated in the incident (in addition to the city's mayor and his public secretary, staff, and public prosecutors). 
c) A call for political parties’ national leaderships to sign, with citizen oversight, a commitment to transparency and professionalism in the election of their candidates to positions of public representation. 

We needed the chance to shout out our rage and to surround and protect the missing students’ family members, but what will happen now? Are we going to leave the solution to a tragedy that has already happened (and could very well happen again) in the hands of the same people who didn't do their jobs in the first place?  [...]

Around the time of the mass protests, Mexico's federal government suddenly announced it had captured the well-known drug trafficker Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, aka “The Viceroy”. Independent news medium Revolución Tres Punto Cero wrote soon thereafter:

Ya no hay manera de que se sigan montando cortinas de humo con éxito, ni la captura de “el Viceroy” o la del hermano de la esposa del alcalde de Iguala ha logrado detener este descontento popular que está latente, que se deja ver en las manifestaciones, en las marchas que se están llevando a cabo en todo el país y que marcan como un detonante lo ocurrido con los 43 estudiantes de Ayotzinapa. Este caso ha unificado, como no se veía desde hace años, a los ciudadanos quienes ven incrementada su insatisfacción con el gobierno y los partidos políticos [...]

The creation of smokescreens will no longer work; the captures of “the Viceroy” and the brother-in-law of the mayor of Iguala have not been successful in quieting the smoldering popular unrest that is becoming evident in the demonstrations and marches that are taking place throughout the country and marking what happened with the 43 students in Ayotzinapa as a catalytic event. This case has unified citizens in a way not seen in many years as they sense a growing dissatisfaction with their government and its political parties [...]

Some Twitter users have noticed suspicious activity online that they attribute to pro-government bots. The accounts in question echo the state's concerns that social unrest surrounding the Iguala case might threaten foreign investments in Mexico.

So who put this machinery in motion? Who is paying for this?

The tragedies in Mexico have changed the political landscape, as well. Faith in Guerrero's governor and elusive mayor of Iguala has slipped, and their political party faces grim prospects in the next elections.

The #PRD was expecting a victory in the next elections…but the #PRD is finished.

Others have turned their disappointment on President Enrique Peña Nieto:

#Ayotzinapa is not stumbling into oblivion, it is not just spinning in its painful reality. @EPN [Enrique Peña Nieto] will pass into history as the president who couldn't do his job.

So far, the government has spoken out against violence and has promised to bring justice. There are now accusations, however, that the state's investigations have become “chaotic and hostile“, and that the authorities leading the inquest have obstructed the work of international experts. In fact, Mexican officials have contradicted each other quite glaringly on several occasions.

From the official Twitter account of the governor of Guerrero:

Some of the bodies discovered, according to expert reports, are not those of the students from #Ayotzinapa.

#OJO PGR [Mexico's Attorney General] contradicts @AngelAguirreGro: ‘the identities of the bodies cannot be confirmed,’ says #Ayotzinapa

Family members cherish the hope that their loved ones will return. In the meantime, however, they're left waiting for official confirmation about whether any of the tortured remains now being identified match the students kidnapped by narcotics police. If the mass grave turns out to contain the missing students, Mexico will find out if the tension now in the air is enough to cause a large-scale political firestorm.

by Jeff Gotfredson at October 16, 2014 02:22 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
As The Kremlin's Media Crackdown Continues, Blogs Might Be The Final Casualty
Protesters at an opposition rally in Bolotnaya square, Moscow, document the event. Photo from Demotix.

Protesters at an opposition rally in Bolotnaya square, Moscow, document the event. Photo from Demotix.

With independent online media closing down or moving abroad and state-controlled TV following the Kremlin's every move, Russian bloggers now find themselves stranded in a media landscape dominated by the government. While blog platforms and their users still have arguably the greatest freedom for political debates and critiques of the government, and blogs have played a unique and pivotal role in those debates, the freedom has shrunk dramatically in the last year alone. Thus, the political agenda of the Russian blogosphere has also turned inward, with bloggers contemplating their own safety, and access to the Internet itself now at stake.

A study published in April found that Russian blogs were the most independent space for political discussion in 2010-2011, as mainstream Internet, print newspapers, and TV news closely mirrored the Kremlin’s dictated news agenda. The study, conducted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, used word associations to study similar rhetoric and story selection in government websites, state-controlled TV channels, top Russian news sites and political blogs.

Researchers were surprised to find that Russian news sites closely mirrored official government news. While major Russian TV channels are widely known to be obsequious to the Kremlin, in December 2010–December 2011, when the data was collected, mainstream news sites in Russia still enjoyed a relative freedom from editorial control that has led many to believe that they were relatively uncensored. However, researchers found extensive similarities in tone and story selection between Russian mainstream news sites and official government announcements.

The study affirmed however, that Russian blogs continued to function as platforms for independent viewpoints. The topics and tone of these blogs differed greatly from mainstream news sites, state-controlled TV and government news. Russian political blogs addressed issues rarely discussed on state-controlled TV, like corruption, the arrest of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and civil rights. In this relative isolation from mainstream news sources, the Russian blogosphere in 2010-2011 was what researchers called an “alternative public sphere,” fostering an exchange of opinions and information independent of other Russian media.

The story has changed in the last few years however, as many independent online media outlets, like Lenta.ru, have been appropriated by the Kremlin, losing their freedom in exchange for closer government content control, while others faced blocking and blacklisting.

The shrinking space for an independent media agenda in the RuNet has meant less structured discussion platforms, like blogs and social media communities, now play an even greater role in political debate and dissent, permitting Russians to decide which issues concern them and organize themselves for action. Researchers cited the voter-fraud protests of 2012 as a prime example, when blogs enabled rapid organization and distribution of video evidence.

The Kremlin's most recent actions portend a darker future for independent Internet forums and blogs in Russia. Russian lawmakers have unleashed a litany of hostile legislation in an attempt to crack down on politically active bloggers and social media users, using anti-extremist and anti-terrorist laws to silence online dissent. The Kremlin is also expanding its control of the RuNet infrastructure and user data, as it contemplates an autonomous Internet, free from Western influence.

As Russia-based social networks fall under government influence and hand the Kremlin more control over the information agenda of a previously liberal space, media experts fear that alternative platforms (such as Facebook or Twitter) hosting Russian users and their politics may soon find themselves shut out from the RuNet.

Unfortunately, as the Russian government becomes increasingly more paranoid about the dangers of free expression online, most ordinary Russians remain uninterested in the bloggers’ plight or in protecting them, even as they fight on as the last independent voices left standing in Russia. Whether this attitude might change once whole social media platforms become unavailable to the RuNet users remains to be seen. Until then, Russian bloggers and social media users will have to adjust to the new harsh reality of a public sphere which requires you to register with the state as soon as your ‘alternative’ opinions gain any traction.

by Global Voices at October 16, 2014 01:55 PM

Global Voices
Too Late for Jamaican Government to ‘Kiss and Make Up’ When It Comes to Chikungunya
A man from the Dominican Republic bows his head as a child walks into a hospital for treatment. The disease has spread quickly Caribbean-wide. Photo courtesy the Pan American Health Organisation, used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

A man from the Dominican Republic bows his head as a child walks into a hospital for treatment. The disease has spread quickly Caribbean-wide. Photo courtesy the Pan American Health Organisation, used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

As Chikungunya, a mosquito-born virus that causes high fever and acute joint pain, continues to run rampant throughout the Caribbean, regional governments have been grappling with how to deal with the outbreak.

In Jamaica, where the number of Chik-V cases is steadily climbing, the People's National Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, has been coming under fire for letting the situation get out of hand and not being prepared for the fallout. This week, Simpson-Miller said that the country is in the midst of a “national emergency” because of the Chik-V outbreak.

Carolyn Joy Cooper, who blogs at Jamaica Woman Tongue, was irate over the ineffective way in which the Jamaican government has dealt with the situation. The Ministry of Health has not done much in the way of educating the public about the virus and how it is spread; laboratories are running out of reagents to test for the disease and hospitals do not always seem to have access to the medicine needed to treat it.

Cooper noted that “almost a year ago, in December 2013, the World Health Organisation reported that chik-V was in the Caribbean” and wondered why the country's Ministry of Health has been reactive, when it had every opportunity to be proactive:

Even before that, the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) jointly published in 2011 a vital document, Preparedness and Response for Chikungunya Virus Introduction in the Americas. It warned that ‘[t]he resulting large outbreaks would likely tax existing health-care systems and the public-health infrastructure, and could potentially cripple some of society’s functioning'.

That’s when the Government of Jamaica should have taken notice and started a public-education programme on the threat of the virus. Before it got here; not now. Why was our minister of health not paying attention then? 

[...]

I suppose the minister of health will claim that the Government didn’t have the money to launch an expensive media campaign. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been forcing us to cut back on government spending. But in 2011, when those detailed warnings about managing chik-V were issued by PAHO-CDC, we should have told the IMF to ease off. A crippled workforce cannot possibly be productive.

Economically, Jamaica is in a tricky position, partly because it is shackled to the International Monetary Fund, from which it accepted a $932 million loan in 2013, with $68.8 million soon to be released. The government apparently continues to throw money that it doesn't have behind the problem. On Twitter, one user quipped:

Meanwhile, the minister of health, in responding to the country's first fatality from the disease, has said that he would like to be infected in order to understand what people have been experiencing.

In typical West Indian fashion, some netizens decided to look at the lighter side of the situation, sharing popular cartoonist Clovis’ take on the government's response to the outbreak of the virus:

Some have also pointed out that citizens must also shoulder their part of the responsibility for creating environments in which the mosquitoes thrive. Nicole West-Hayles tweeted:

Blogger Cooper addressed the Jamaican prime minister's call for Jamaicans to “help the Government cope with our public-health crisis”:

She should have done that three years ago. Chik-V batter-bruise wi now. It’s much too late to kiss and make up.

by Janine Mendes-Franco at October 16, 2014 12:04 PM

October 15, 2014

Creative Commons
Creative Commons named Knight Prototype Fund recipient

Today, the Knight Foundation announced the selected recipients of its latest Prototype Fund. We’re very proud to be among them, with a new project that probably sounds a bit outside of our normal work to those familiar with CC. Here’s why we’re doing it:

When I joined as CEO, I was tasked with imagining the next phase of Creative Commons. Now that we have the licenses, what do we want to do with them? How do we build a wide-reaching commons of creativity and knowledge, with easy contribution, use, and re-use? After talking with dozens of partners, funders, our global affiliate network, and our staff, I think it boils down to three areas: building a movement, driving content into the commons, and helping creators get content out.

Today’s announcement from Knight works in the first and second categories: pushing content into the commons, while engaging a new group of contributors. We will create a mobile app to encourage people to take photos and share them from a list of “most wanted” images. Organizations and individuals will put out the call, and users will be prompted to respond – including (eventually for those who want them) with geo-tagged notifications (“Ryan, we see you’re at the Mozilla Festival. Would you grab a photo of coders hacking the Web?”). All images will be uploaded to a public repository and licensed under CC BY, so anyone can use them. Creators will see their work used more widely, and maybe even “compete” to take the best photo. Internally, we’re calling it “The List, powered by Creative Commons.”

CC tech lead Matt Lee is working with the talented folks in Toronto’s Playground Inc. to create the prototype, and we will be testing our assumptions over the coming months. Everything will be done in the open – we’ll be at the Mozilla Festival in London, UK, later this month sharing our initial work and gathering ideas.

This is new ground for us, but we’re excited about the potential – for better stock photography, better photos on Wikipedia, better citizen journalism, and a wider pool of contributors who have helped to build the commons. Lots more to come, but we’re grateful for Knight’s support and guidance.

by Ryan Merkley at October 15, 2014 09:54 PM

Guest Post: Boundless Invites You to Write the Future of Education

The following is a guest post by Ariel Diaz, Founder and CEO of Boundless, a platform for the creation of open textbooks that are community-built and CC BY-SA-licensed.


boundless concept
Boundless / CC BY-SA

By empowering a dedicated community of contributors in open resources, Creative Commons has given education a strong foundation for creating and sharing content. Beyond the broadly touted affordability and accessibility benefits of open resources, the flexibility these resources offer makes them practical for students and educators everywhere. Now, Boundless is leveraging the power of these open resources and the community to write the future of educational content — and we invite you to join us!

Universal access to education is a right

The wealth of Creative Commons licensed content is core to our efforts at Boundless to make access to high-quality educational content a universal right. All of our content is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license — which gives us a great combination of openness and flexibility, and assures that derivative works stay in the Commons so others can benefit.

Boundless offers content in more than 20 introductory-level college subjects for free on our website and mobile app. Using the CC BY-SA license on our content means an educator can use an article about Long-Term Memory, for example, as content in their classroom and adapt it for their syllabus. Students will save money by using open resources, and educators can share their customized version of that content with the greater Boundless community for further re-use.

principles of microeconomics
Boundless / CC BY-SA

Open content succeeds because of a powerful community

We’re seeing a transition in educational publishing from physical to digital. This transition has been slowed by a conservative industry and lack of great products, but we’re now in a time where entrepreneurs, educators, and more are challenging the status quo to create better teaching and learning opportunities. This gives us an opportunity to create communities of learners, educators, and content creators to build a better, more effective learning experience powered by open content.

I believe that open content succeeds because of its powerful community. The educators, researchers, and more who are motivated to share their work with others keep the flow of education materials moving to benefit their teaching and learning communities. The power of this community means we can challenge the status quo in education — and no longer tolerate static, expensive resources.

Over the past three years, the team at Boundless has worked with an internal community of hundreds of subject matter experts to create and curate open resources for our library of 21 subjects. This foundational content has served more than 3 million students and educators.

We’re committed to not only providing universal access to this content, but also building a collaborative, powerful community to create more content. That’s why I’m proud to share that we’ve brought on one of community education’s biggest advocates as a new Boundless advisor: SJ Klein, a veteran Wikipedian. SJ says,

“Tapping the minds of the teaching community brings great power to educational content. I look forward to working with Boundless as its community grows, not just to create more freely-licensed material, but to provide greater access to it, and make it personalizable.”

SJ is helping us grow and hone our cloud-powered community — so Boundless can do to textbooks what Wikipedia did for encyclopedias.

Write the future of education

For the first time, Boundless is opening up our platform to empower a community of educators and open resource supporters to create, improve, and share educational content. And we’re inviting Creative Commons supporters to help us write the future of education.

The new Boundless cloud-powered community allows for collaboration across disciplines, so contributors can create, edit, and customize content. All content created or customized uses a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA) to ensure a greater distribution across platforms — making universal access to education a right, not a privilege.

Be part of the future of education by joining our community!

by Jane Park at October 15, 2014 08:42 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: From Egypt to the EU, Calls for Social Media Censorship in Name of National Security
Twitter account of @w_salahadden, which tweeted updates about actions of the violent extremist group known as ISIS. The account has been taken down by Twitter.

Twitter account of @w_salahadden, who tweeted updates about Al-Qaeda activity. The account has been taken down by Twitter.

Ellery Roberts Biddle, Lisa Ferguson, Weiping Li, Bojan Perkov, and Sarah Myers West contributed to this report.

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. We begin this week’s report in the world of social media, where major platforms are facing pressure to change their practices in order to mitigate threats to state power.

In Egypt, the Cairo Administrative Court is set to hear a case calling for a ban on Facebook and Twitter, allegedly out of concern for national security. Local lawyer Mohamed Hamed Selim claims that the sites are being used as tools in “intelligence plots against the state” and that they played a key role in the uprising that began in January 2011. The case also could pose a major threat to anonymity on social networks, as it calls for all social media users to register their accounts using “verifiable personal details” and for accounts created under fake identities to be banned. Selim proposes that if companies wish to maintain a presence in the country, they should obtain legal permission to operate in Egypt. Although the case has yet to be heard, it has raised particular concern among users who fear increased surveillance and content controls on social media in the country.

Meanwhile, European Commission officials are pressuring Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to more proactively mitigate the presence of violent extremist groups online. Officials suggested that companies pre-screen content posted by users before it becomes publicly visible, or that they ban certain groups from their platforms altogether. Not surprisingly, companies are pushing back, explaining the technical challenges that this would pose and arguing that such practices could create a slippery slope toward much tighter content controls across their platforms.

Whether or not they are allowed to keep accounts on major social media sites, experience suggests violent extremist groups will likely maintain a strong presence on the Internet for as long as they seek to promote their political views and agendas to a global audience.

Journal from an Ethiopian prison

Global Voices’ Endalk Chala translated original testimony from blogger and human rights advocate Befeqadu Hailu, who has been in prison in Ethiopia since April of 2014. Hailu recounts his work as a blogger with the Zone9 collective and describes the brutal interrogation tactics, torture, and other human rights abuses that he and his fellow bloggers have experienced.

Advocates take FinFisher to task on Bahrain spy case

Advocacy groups Privacy International and Bhatt Murphy Solicitors are arguing that Gamma International, the Germany- and U.K.-based maker of FinFisher surveillance software, “ought to be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the commission of a serious crime” by selling the software to the Bahraini government. The groups stated their claim in a criminal complaint filed with the U.K.’s National Cyber Crime Unit, pointing to technical evidence that the Bahraini government had used the software to spy on human rights activists.

Koreans ditch Kakao Talk for secure alternatives

After South Korean President Park Geun-hye threatened to prosecute people spreading rumors about her on popular Korean messaging app Kakao Talk, many Koreans are switching to Telegram, a chat app that offers end-to-end encryption. The Germany-based app has reportedly received roughly 1.5 million new users from South Korea since the beginning of October. “Welcome to exile” has become the official greeting among users who ditched Kakao Talk for Telegram.

U.K. mobile providers are giving police mobile data — unsolicited

An investigation by the Guardian indicated that UK mobile carriers including EE, Vodafone, and Three are voluntarily giving British police automated access to customer metadata. U.K. data retention laws do not require them to do this.

Social media giants wrestle with European requests to forget

Google issued its first transparency report about the “right to be forgotten,” revealing that Europeans made 144,938 requests for links to be removed from its search results. The companied complied with 42 percent of the requests. According to the report, the French are responsible for the most removal requests at 29,010 referrals, followed by Germans with 25,078 and Britons with 18,304 requests.

WaPo’s suggests “wizardry” could solve online privacy challenges for law enforcement

Members of the cryptography community grimaced this week at a Washington Post editorial that proposed Apple and Google draw upon Harry Potter-style “wizardry” to develop a “secure golden key” that would be able to protect user privacy while being able to give law enforcement officials access in the event of a true emergency. Chris Coyne of Keybase, OkCupid and Sparknotes fame provides a useful explanation of why the back door the Post is proposing is so problematic.

Netizen Activism

The Electronic Frontier Foundation will present a Pioneer Award to visual artist Trevor Paglen for his work producing photographs of state surveillance operations in an effort to “make the invisible visible.” According to Paglen, state surveillance operations should have processes as transparent as those of public libraries in order to strengthen their relationships with citizens. 

Bahraini and Egyptian activists Maryam Al-Khawaja and Alaa Abd El Fattah, both recently released from prison (though not cleared of charges) appeared on GV Face last week to discuss their recent struggles and their ambitions for political change in their respective countries.

The pro-multistakeholder Internet governance network Best Bits issued an open letter to the International Telecommunication Union, urging the organization to be more transparent about its upcoming Plenipotentiary meeting in Busan, South Korea. The letter urged the ITU to open sessions to public interest groups and to create an online public contribution platform.

Cool Things

Carlos Pedro is going where Google’s Street View and the Brazilian Post Office have never gone before by creating detailed digital maps of Rocinha, Brazil’s largest favela. Since most homes in Brazilian favelas do not have legal addresses, their residents have a difficult time receiving letters. Pedro is working to create a functional mail delivery system for local residents.

Subscribe to the Netizen Report by email

by Netizen Report Team at October 15, 2014 05:51 PM

Facebook's Zuckerberg Promotes Greater Internet Access in Indonesia
Indonesia's President-elect Jokowi with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Indonesia's President-elect Jokowi with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “Facebook as social media is able to link the people with leaders who turn to their people for inspiration. -Joko Widodo (Jokowi)”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is visiting Indonesia to campaign for wider Internet access in the country.

On his official page, Zuckerberg talked about his experience visiting the Buddhist temple Borobudur:

Mark Zuckerberg 

I just arrived in Indonesia and hiked up Borobudur to watch the sunrise. Tomorrow for Internet.org I'm looking forward to meeting with developers, operator partners and government leaders in Jakarta.

 Despite his star status, it seems not everyone knew who he is:

 Mark Zuckerberg enjoying the sunrise in Borobudur without VIP treatment

 

Zuckerberg also met the incoming president Joko Widodo (Jokowi):

Ir H Joko Widodo Hari ini saya gembira karena mendapat kesempatan ‘blusukan’ bersama Founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg ke Pasar Blok A Tanah Abang Jakarta Pusat.

I'm happy to get the chance to visit Blok A Market in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta with founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg was impressed to learn that Jokowi maximized social media tools to connect with voters and constituents:

This morning I met with President-elect Joko Widodo and we discussed the opportunities and challenges of connecting everyone in Indonesia.

He has an amazing perspective since he ran much of his presidential election campaign through Facebook and the internet in order to communicate directly with all 250 million Indonesians.

He also highlighted the unique leadership style of Jokowi called “blusukan”:

A hallmark of his style is “blusukan” or impromptu walkabouts to meet Indonesian citizens. After our meeting, I joined him on a walkabout to the Tanah Abang market. It was a wonderful way to connect with people directly. He recently launched an online “e-Blusukan” so that he can connect with all Indonesians online in a similar way across the archipelago.

Then he wrote about the value of the Internet to improve the lives of Indonesians:

I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people here and talk to them about how they’re using the internet. Many are already using the internet to build businesses, improve their communities and connect with the world. If we can connect everyone in Indonesia, these benefits will only continue to grow.

— at Tanah Abang.

Many are hoping that Zuckerberg's visit will encourage Indonesia's incoming government to fast-track the improvement of Internet connectivity in the country, and more importantly, promote greater Internet freedom.

There are high expectations that the Jokowi presidency may reverse some of the Internet regulations implemented by the incumbent government, especially those that undermine free speech in the country. For instance, while authorities extol the importance of the Internet, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemenkominfo) has launched the Trust+ program which obliges service providers to use DNS filtering systems in an effort to filter pornographic content from local networks. Technical and ad hoc testing indicate that the filters also capture perfectly legal, non-pornographic content such as sexual education and LGBT community websites. The government has also blocked video sharing site Vimeo, charging that it hosts pornography, despite the fact that the site explicitly forbids this in its terms of service.

This program was initiated by former Minsiter Tifatul Sembiring who is a member of the Prosperous Justice Party, an Islamist political party, inspired in part by previous leadership of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Roughly 28 percent of indonesians now use the Internet, with the majority accessing the Web via smartphone. There are 69 million Facebook users in Indonesia and they are among the most active social media users in Southeast Asia. Despite Internet connectivity issues, Indonesia seeks to increase Internet literacy in the country by 50 percent in 2015.

by Carolina Rumuat at October 15, 2014 05:00 PM

Global Voices
Facebook's Zuckerberg Promotes Greater Internet Access in Indonesia
Indonesia's President-elect Jokowi with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Indonesia's President-elect Jokowi with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “Facebook as social media is able to link the people with leaders who turn to their people for inspiration. -Joko Widodo (Jokowi)”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is visiting Indonesia to campaign for wider Internet access in the country.

On his official page, Zuckerberg talked about his experience visiting the Buddhist temple Borobudur:

Mark Zuckerberg 

I just arrived in Indonesia and hiked up Borobudur to watch the sunrise. Tomorrow for Internet.org I'm looking forward to meeting with developers, operator partners and government leaders in Jakarta.

 Despite his star status, it seems not everyone knew who he is:

 Mark Zuckerberg enjoying the sunrise in Borobudur without VIP treatment

 

Zuckerberg also met the incoming president Joko Widodo (Jokowi):

Ir H Joko Widodo Hari ini saya gembira karena mendapat kesempatan ‘blusukan’ bersama Founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg ke Pasar Blok A Tanah Abang Jakarta Pusat.

I'm happy to get the chance to visit Blok A Market in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta with founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg was impressed to learn that Jokowi maximized social media tools to connect with voters and constituents:

This morning I met with President-elect Joko Widodo and we discussed the opportunities and challenges of connecting everyone in Indonesia.

He has an amazing perspective since he ran much of his presidential election campaign through Facebook and the internet in order to communicate directly with all 250 million Indonesians.

He also highlighted the unique leadership style of Jokowi called “blusukan”:

A hallmark of his style is “blusukan” or impromptu walkabouts to meet Indonesian citizens. After our meeting, I joined him on a walkabout to the Tanah Abang market. It was a wonderful way to connect with people directly. He recently launched an online “e-Blusukan” so that he can connect with all Indonesians online in a similar way across the archipelago.

Then he wrote about the value of the Internet to improve the lives of Indonesians:

I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people here and talk to them about how they’re using the internet. Many are already using the internet to build businesses, improve their communities and connect with the world. If we can connect everyone in Indonesia, these benefits will only continue to grow.

— at Tanah Abang.

Many are hoping that Zuckerberg's visit will encourage Indonesia's incoming government to fast-track the improvement of Internet connectivity in the country, and more importantly, promote greater Internet freedom.

There are high expectations that the Jokowi presidency may reverse some of the Internet regulations implemented by the incumbent government, especially those that undermine free speech in the country. For instance, while authorities extol the importance of the Internet, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemenkominfo) has launched the Trust+ program which obliges service providers to use DNS filtering systems in an effort to filter pornographic content from local networks. Technical and ad hoc testing indicate that the filters also capture perfectly legal, non-pornographic content such as sexual education and LGBT community websites. The government has also blocked video sharing site Vimeo, charging that it hosts pornography, despite the fact that the site explicitly forbids this in its terms of service.

This program was initiated by former Minsiter Tifatul Sembiring who is a member of the Prosperous Justice Party, an Islamist political party, inspired in part by previous leadership of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Roughly 28 percent of indonesians now use the Internet, with the majority accessing the Web via smartphone. There are 69 million Facebook users in Indonesia and they are among the most active social media users in Southeast Asia. Despite Internet connectivity issues, Indonesia seeks to increase Internet literacy in the country by 50 percent in 2015.

by Carolina at October 15, 2014 04:55 PM

Creative Commons
Our Digital Future: New report and agenda for copyright reform

Our Digital Future
Our Digital Future / OpenMedia.ca / CC BY-NC-SA

OpenMedia.ca just released Our Digital Future: A Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression. OpenMedia developed the publication through consultations and surveys with many organizations that care about free expression on the internet. It’s organized around three principles: Respect Creators, Prioritize Free Expression, and Embrace Democratic Processes.

OpenMedia’s report makes a clear and compelling case for a better copyright framework – one that is authored by all of us, developed in the open, and for the benefit of everyone. Too often, monied interests and secret negotiations work against the commons, and we all lose out as a result. We look forward to working alongside OpenMedia to make its thoughtful recommendations a reality, and we hope that this report inspires many more to join us.

by Ryan Merkley at October 15, 2014 04:46 PM

Global Voices
Powerful Typhoon Vongfong Kills 2, Injures More Than 70 in Japan
A destroyed house saw its walls and roof on the second floor collapse due to the strong winds in Makurazaki region in Japan. 13 October 2014. Photo by rieko uekama. Copyright Demotix.

A destroyed house saw its walls and roof on the second floor collapse due to the strong winds in Makurazaki region in Japan. 13 October 2014. Photo by rieko uekama. Copyright Demotix.

Typhoon Vongfong (aka Typhoon 19) has swept through Japan, leaving at least two people dead and more than 70 people injured.

The super typhoon, described as one of the most powerful storms of the year in the western Pacific, landed on the southern tip of Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island, and made its way all the way up Japan before heading out to sea early on October 14.

The expected path of Typhoon 19 as of 8 a.m. October 13 (NHK Disaster Alerts)

About two million people were evacuated, and damage, while limited, was still significant in isolated and rural prefectures such as Okinawa:

Typhoon 19 causes widespread damage over all parts of Okinawa, injuries and flooding reported – October 12 (ANN News)

Twitter users all over Japan shared images of the typhoon.

One Twitter, a user in Okinawa used time-lapse video to graphically show the dramatically falling air pressure preceding the typhoon storm system:

Here's how a potato chip bag changes shape as Typhoon 19 gets closer and closer… Cool!

By the time the typhoon reached Kyushu, it had all but obscured the western half of Japan from space:

Super Typhoon 19 over Kagoshima Prefecture, as seen from space.

In Fukuoka (the largest city on the island of Kyushu) the storm was powerful enough to uproot trees:

Trees have been toppled over in front of the shops in Fukuoka.

Many towns, such as Saiki in Kyushu's Oita Prefecture, were in danger of flooding from raging rivers and culverts.

Rivers are overflowing in Oita Prefecture's Saiki City, prompting evacuation. River levels are only expected to continue to rise with a high possibility of damage in the vicinity.

The town of Beppu was the scene of a raging cataract through town:

When we went to the river there was a raging torrent! Our little plastic umbrella blew away and we're all wet (LOL). If you happened to fall in the river now it would be the end of you, so best to stay away!

By the time the typhoon reached Kanto and the Tokyo region it had blown itself out, leaving behind beautiful fall weather:

by Nevin Thompson at October 15, 2014 02:41 PM

Bolivian Voters Give President Evo Morales a Landslide Third-Term Win
Presidente de Bolivia Evo Morales. Imagen de Flickr del usuario  Alain Bachellier (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Bolivian President Evo Morales. Flickr photo courtesy of user Alain Bachellier (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

According to exit polls and quick count surveys, the Bolivian media report that President Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS) has won re-election with approximately 60 percent of the votes and will remain president until the year 2020.

There were 6.2 million Bolivian citizens eligible to vote in the 2014 general elections. The most notable change for this particular election has been that, for the first time, 273,000 citizens have been allowed to vote from 31 outside countries. Bolivia, where voting is obligatory, has one of the highest voter turnout records in South America.

The same initial counts anticipate that Morales's MAS-IPSP (Movement Toward Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the People Party) will have control of two-thirds of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

This data is unofficial and will be confirmed within the next 48 hours.

The two most commonly used hashtags for reporting and commentary during the elections have been #EleccionesBo (Election Bolivia) and #BoliviaElige (Bolivia chooses). A few days ago, blogger and digital activist Tonny López (@tonnylp) drew attention to the proliferation of hashtags in the traditional and digital media, where nearly 20 different tags have been put into place:

Think about this: media, citizens, and activists in Bolivia all use their own hashtags for these elections.

The most notorious incident to date was a printer's error on the ballot sheet that read “'Plurinominal’ State of Bolivia”, rather than “‘Plurinational’ State of Bolivia.”

“The PLURINOMINAL State of Bolivia.” Blame it on AutoCorrect? XD

The responsibility for this gaffe rested with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, who responded via Twitter:

#RamiroParedes: The term “Plurinominal” does not affect the legally binding force of the elections. Our safeguard measures will be reevaluated. 

#TSE: The origin of the printing error on the ballot sheet has not yet been determined; The matter will be investigated starting tomorrow.

Just two days before the election, Bolivians looked back on the 32 years since democracy was restored in Bolivia. Since that time, eight general elections have been held in the country.

by Jeff Gotfredson at October 15, 2014 10:39 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Journal from an Ethiopian Prison: The Maekelawi Ceremony

This testimony was written by blogger and human rights advocate Befeqadu Hailu in late August 2014. A founding member of the Zone9 blogging collective and a Global Voices community member, he was arrested and imprisoned on April 25, 2014 along with five fellow members of Zone9 and three journalist colleagues. On July 17, 2014, all nine detainees were charged under the Terrorism Proclamation of 2009. 

This is the second of two installments of an abridged version of Befeqadu’s testimony. It was translated from Amharic to English by Endalk Chala and edited for clarity and context by Ellery Roberts Biddle. The full, unabridged testimony is available in PDF form here.

Aerial view of Maekelawi detention center in Addis Ababa. Source: Google Earth, courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

Aerial view of Maekelawi detention center in Addis Ababa. Source: Google Earth. Originally published by Human Rights Watch.

The first installment in this series recounts the activities of the Zone9 bloggers and the short history of their collaboration prior to their arrest. Read part one.

In this installment, Befeqadu describes the interrogation process at Maekelawi detention center, where he and his fellow bloggers were held following their arrest.

The Standard Maekelawi Interrogation
The standard Maekalawi interrogation methods are more about dominance and submission than confidence or creativity. Instead of extracting information from “suspects”, the police officers usually fool around. They spend a great deal of time pretending that they already know the evils you’ve committed. If they cannot successfully extract information from you in this way, they force confessions by punching, beating, extended physical exercise and flogging.

I have concluded that this is the standard interrogation routine at Maekalawi since I have endured it from five different police officers. Other detainees tell me that they have gone through the same procedures. I spoke with some detainees who had undergone even more wicked procedures that were clear violations of their privacy. Some detainees were forced to strip naked and asked to stand or perform sit-ups until dawn.

I met people who suffered from medieval types of torture in an unnamed detention center before they were brought to their pre-trial detention at Maekalawi. These detainees suffered from diabolical barbarity such as forcible extraction of their nails from their fingers, flogging, and hooding. Among them are students from Haramaya University.[1] The information extracted from detainees in the unnamed detention center is then verified through more interrogation at the pre-trial detention center. Detainees never know where they were taken for this brutal investigation because they are hooded throughout. The unnamed detention centers are like black holes. It turns out that the anguish of Ethiopian prisoners, something that appeared to be so distant in memory, is not that far off after all.[2] 

Befeqadu Hailu. Global Voices profile image.

Befeqadu Hailu. Global Voices profile image.

In our case, finally we were made to plead guilty. We confessed under duress. We could not bear the ceaseless brutal and psychologically degrading pressure. We could not carry on surviving the hell of Maeklawi. We ended up telling our interrogators what they wanted to hear. To their delight, we added as many self-incriminating phrases as possible. But phrases like “yes, we wanted to incite violence” never pleased them. So they rewrote our confessions to fit their frame. Some of us tried to explain. Others had to endure beatings. But at last we succumbed to the pressure and signed the carefully scripted confession pages, with the exception of our colleague Abel, who refused to sign at that time. He has survived the pain he has endured since, and his confession, when finally extracted, is completely untrue, to say nothing of ours.

Read: Journal From an Ethiopian Prison, Part 1

Now we know that torture is the part of the Maekelawi ceremony that reveals the “truth” of a crime. I had long thought police interrogations were complex, involving sophisticated skills, knowledge and psychological tactics to establish facts. I now know that police interrogations in Maekelawi are not so elaborate. In fact they are simple. They are like machines that produce guilt in the detainees.

At Maekelawi, the driving principle of police interrogations is that you are guilty unless proven otherwise. Your pleas for innocence – or even for explanation – fall on deaf ears. Interrogators will cook up a crime for you.

The evidence for each of the confessions to which our guilty pleas were attached include our online campaigns, our plans, the articles we wrote, the trainings we attended, the training manuals, the skills we attempted to impart.

Selected documents presented by the public prosecutor as evidence against the Zone9 bloggers:

  • Stop censorship online campaign
  • “Had Wael Ghonim been an Ethiopian” [an imaginary interview with Egyptian Internet activist] – 18 pages
  • Training manual for defenders of civil liberties
  • “The role of social media in the 2015 Ethiopia election” – 9 pages
  • Digital security manual for human rights defenders – 18 pages
  • Security-in-a-Box book [developed by Tactical Technology Collective]

These and many other documents were confiscated from the bloggers’ homes and computers, all of which were searched by authorities in the months leading up to their trial. Read the full list.

We all expected that their plan was to indict us with the charge of provoking public disorder. We thought the ceiling for our “crime” would be accusing us of violating Article 257/8 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. But no. We were formally charged under Ethiopia’s Terrorism Proclamation, particularly with violating Article 4, which can result in severe punishment of 15 years to life imprisonment.

A Bad Excuse Is Better Than None?
I think our story can be best explained by an Ethiopian folk tale about a hyena and a donkey.

Once upon a time a donkey and a hyena were drinking from the same stream of water. The belligerent hyena whined to the donkey that she was making his water filthy despite the fact that the hyena was drinking upstream. The donkey told the hyena, “stop looking for a reason to prey on me.” This too is our story: we are the donkey.

They arrested us without knowing anything other than our names. We genuinely believed that if they knew what we were doing, they might understand us. In that spirit, we even passed some of our writings to them through one of their agents prior to our detention. But I don’t think they read our writings. Our interrogators just desperately wanted us to plead guilty. Why would they do that? Maybe they want to keep us away from Ethiopian social media until after the upcoming national election in May 2015. 

For now, let me ponder our future. Will they release us? I will not dwell on the legal possibilities of our “acquittal”, but I will examine our hypothetical chances. Even though the Ethiopian Federal Police, which is an apparatus of the government, arrested us without having probable cause, they still thought they would find some sort of transgression.

As a matter of fact, they could not find anything incriminating even in the wildest interpretation of Ethiopia’s already broad anti-terrorism proclamation. But this did not prevent them from using it. The fact that they did not even deliver a coherent statement of our offenses when they appeared in court to charge us demonstrates that they do not have valid suspicion or evidence. Yet I do not believe that they will release us soon.

EPRDF (the ruling party) is bull-headed.[3] When they see that detainees have generated significant outside support and are critical of their governance, they will not release them, at least not without dehumanizing them. EPRDF is foolish like a child. Note that I am not saying the global support we received is not helping us. Your support is our daily bread. It is warming us like sunshine. I am sure the day shall come in which we say thank you. 

They are fearful. In the weeks leading up to our arrest, they accused us of planning a color revolution following the national election using their media. Though they must know our innocence regarding their fear of inciting violence after the upcoming election, they do not want to risk that there will be a backlash from their actions.

And they want us suffer. They want us to spend our time jail because we are strong critics of their policies. They do not have a sense of decency that would prevent them from handing down judgment on innocent people.

Befeqadu’s testimony was translated from Amharic to English by Endalk Chala and edited for clarity and context by Ellery Roberts Biddle. The full, unabridged testimony is available in PDF form here.

Read: Journal From an Ethiopian Prison, Part 1

Learn more about the Zone9 case at the Trial Tracker Blog.

Six of the detained bloggers in Addis Ababa. Photo used with permission.

The six Zone9 bloggers in Addis Ababa, prior to their arrest. Befeqadu is third from left. Photo used with permission.

[1] Haramaya University in Ethiopia is an independent institution of higher education focused on economic development. More: http://www.haramaya.edu.et/about/ 
[2] Prison conditions were notoriously inhumane during the rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former leader of Ethiopia who was ousted by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in 1991.]
[3] The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is an alliance of political parties that formed a join party coalition during the 1970s and 1980s.  The EPRDF has maintained power in Ethiopia’s Congress and Executive branches since 1991.

by Global Voices Advocacy at October 15, 2014 05:39 AM

Global Voices
Beijing Claims Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Protests Are a US-Backed Color Revolution
Occupy Central protesters brought their tents to the sit-in sites to prepare for long term struggle. Photo by PH Yang, non-commercial use.

Occupy Central protesters brought their tents to the sit-in sites to prepare for long-term fight. Photo by PH Yang, non-commercial use.

Days after the debut of a massive sit-in in Hong Kong calling for genuine democratic elections, Beijing began accusing the grassroots movement of being a color revolution backed by the US government.

Since late September, protesters have camped out in central Hong Kong to demand an open nomination process for candidates in the next election of the city's top leader instead of the mainland's plan for a largely pro-Beijing nominating committee. Pro-democracy group Occupy Central With Love and Peace had planned the sit-in as a last resort if the Hong Kong and Beijing governments refused to bend on the nominating committee despite significant popular support for something more democratic. 

At its peak, the sit-in has attracted tens of thousands of participants. The Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, China Daily, has published commentaries since October 4 accusing a small number of instigators of receiving support from the US government and attempting to stage a color revolution in Hong Kong to undermine the central Beijing government's power. The paper further characterized the protests as a ”riot” in a front page news feature on October 11.

Color revolution describes a series of peaceful uprisings in countries of the former Soviet Union. The US government has firmly denied the accusation of having a hand in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. 

Chinese authorities’ use of the term fits with their previously stated belief that Hong Kong conforming to the Beijing-approved election system is an issue of national security. It also implies that it is rather unlikely for China's legislature, the National People Congress, to withdraw or amend the nomination framework set for special administrative region Hong Kong. 

Pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong have also spread the conspiracy theory about the US government's role in the Occupy Central protests. In addition to the claim that Hong Kong pan-democrats have a connection with the National Endowment for Democracy, a US-funded organization that promotes democracy and freedom worldwide, the most bizarre smear is the accusation that Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old leader of high school activist group Scholarism, is being cultivated as a political superstar and received combat training from US Marines. Scholarism is one of the leading groups of the protests. 

While pro-democracy protesters have treated the rumors as jokes, pro-Beijing lawmakers, who hold the majority in the Hong Kong Legislative Council thanks to the current undemocratic “functional constituency” system, built upon the conspiracy theory of foreign intervention and demanded an investigation into the mobilization behind the Occupy Central protests on October 10.

Some of the evidence of foreign intervention that is being pushed is the abundant supply of resources, such as food, drink, stationary, posters and banners at the protest sites. Blogger Sze Ching Cheun laughed at the claim:

在運動進行得如火如荼之際,建制人士忽然高調重提「外國勢力論」,自然是別有用心,祈望以此打擊運動。[...] 於這場運動中,物資充足竟然被追究為外國勢力侵入的證據。[...]香港人很窮嗎?翻看一些報導,以往各地有天災,香港人的捐款數字驚人,就如四川大地震中,香港民間捐款高達130億。既然如此,捐出兩星期的生活必需品究竟有何困難?[...] 每個人都是各按能力,買了自己的一份,又或多捐幾份,最後集腋成裘,有了現在物資充足的景象。所以,不需外國資金,這些物資香港人還是能夠支付。

As the occupy movement carried on smoothly, the pro-government camp reintroduced the “foreign intervention theory” with the intention of discrediting the protests. […] The abundant supply of resources is now turned into evidence of foreign intervention. […] Are Hong Kong people that poor? Let's check past reports. Whenever there has been a natural disaster, the donations from Hong Kong have always been astonishing. For example, following the Szechuan earthquake [in 2008], donations coming from Hong Kong citizens reached 13 billion Hong Kong dollars [approximately 1.9 billion US dollars] […] Everyone contributes to the protests what they can, so adding that all up means we have an abundant supply of resources. We don't need foreign donations. We can pay for our own resources.

In response to being labeled a color revolution and a riot, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism, two key organizations that started a class boycott mid-September, issued an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jingping. In it, they pointed out the antagonism is rooted in the failure of the Hong Kong government to incorporate public opinion in their election reform consultation report:

[…] 特區政府於第一階段諮詢報告,非但未有如實記錄,更謊稱港人不同意改革立法會制度,無意廢除功能組別。此舉完全漠視民意,拒絕回應港人呼聲期待。港府報告不實,造就今天人大常委頒佈的政改框架。如果港府真誠面對民意,必須承認錯誤,自我修正,將港人對民主的真正意願,納入改革方向。

[…] The consultation report put forward by the Hong Kong government did not genuinely reflect public opinion. It even claimed that Hong Kong people did not want reform the Legislative Council election system, in particular the abolition of functional constituency. The report is disrespectful to the Hong Kong people's political aspirations. The political reform framework set by the Standing Committee of the National Congress of People Representatives was misled by the Hong Kong government's misleading report. If the Hong Kong government is sincere towards its citizens, it has to admit its mistake, correct the report and incorporate the people's aspirations for genuine democracy into the political reform.

The groups further mentioned that citizen nomination is a common practice in the election of local representatives in mainland China, hence the Hong Kong people's demand for citizen nomination is legitimate:

更何況,大陸地方政府也有選民提名,公民提名具法理及現實基礎 […] 香港發展至今的佔領運動,絕非顏色革命,而是港人爭取民主的運動。學生當天領頭罷課,至今佔領不同地方,正因梁振英等人一再逆民意而行。[...] 真普選不代表奪權,只是體現《基本法》所載的高度自治、行政管理權。

The fact that local governments in mainland China also accept citizen nomination has provided both legal and practical foundation for the incorporation of citizen nomination into Hong Kong's election of the chief executive. […] The occupy protests are not a color revolution. It is a campaign calling for democracy. The student class boycotts and the sit-in are reactions to the actions of chief executive CY Leung, among other government officials, that go against the people's will. […] Genuine universal suffrage is not about seizing power [from the central government]; it is the realization off a high degree of autonomy and administrative power as written in the Basic Law.

Szeto Tzelong, an online current affairs commentator, further elaborated on the constitutional ground of citizen nomination presented by the two student activist groups in the open letter and stressed that the Occupy Central protests do not mean to undermine Beijing's authority:

雨傘運動的訴求由始至終都是要求民主政制改革,並非推翻內地政權。群眾要求落實「公民提名」、「取消功能組別」,都是不涉及中央的管治。甚至「撤回人大決定」的要求,都是根據中華人民共和國憲法第62(11)條所賦予人大的職權:「改變或者撤銷全國人民代表大會常務委員會不適當的決定」。[…] 內地各級人大選舉法訂明皆有「選民提名」的方式,市民只需十位選民推薦,便能成為候選人。而且,內地的「選舉委員會」只有事務責任,沒有所謂實質提名權。根據一國兩制的精神,香港的法律應該比內地更鬆寛。公民提名一來符合香港的既有方式(立法會、區議會),亦不會超越國家層面的法律。故此,爭取公民提名只是維權運動,稱不上為奪權,更不用說革命。

From day one, Umbrella Movement protesters have demanded democratic political reform. This has nothing to do with overthrowing the government in mainland China. “Citizen nomination” and “abolition of Functional Constituency” will not challenge the central government's authority. Even the call for the “withdrawal of the decision made by the National Congress of People's Representatives” is made in accordance with China's Constitution Article 62 Clause 11, which includes in the authority of the National People Congress to power to “amend and withdraw the decision made by the standing committee of the NPC.” […] In mainland China, the local election of people's representatives allows for “voter nomination”. Any citizen who obtains 10 legitimate voters’ nominations can become a candidate. In addition, in mainland China, the role of an “election committee” is purely administrative and does not enjoy the substantive nomination right. According to the principle of “one country, two systems,” the election law in Hong Kong should be more flexible than mainland China. The practice of “citizen nomination” is consistent with the current practice of the elections in the District Council and Legislative Council and by no means violates the law implemented in China. The struggle for “citizen nomination” is just a civil rights movement and has nothing to do with over taking power [from the central government], nor is a [color] revolution.

Teng Biao, a mainland Chinese human right lawyer, however, believes that the fate of Hong Kong and mainland China cannot be detached and the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong will inevitably affect China. He called the dilemma, the unbearable heaviness of revolution:

极权的本质是要控制一切,极权专制之下,不会允许自由制度的存在。让香港人有真正的普选,就是允许专制堤坝出现一个裂缝,这个裂缝将会导致专制的崩溃。[…] 香港人不单是为香港争民主,在客观上也是在为中国争民主。对于本土意识逐渐增强、希望去中国化的香港人来说,这是一个相当吊诡的事实。[…] 现在,香港人承担了不可承受的革命之重,香港人为越来越不认同的那片土地上的人民来争取民主 […]

The nature of dictatorship is to keep everything under control. The authoritarian system will not allow the existence of a free system. It considers genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong to be a crack in the dam, which will eventually lead to the downfall of dictatorship. […] Hong Kong people are not just struggling for their own democracy. The political context has turned their democratic struggle into a struggle for China's democracy. This is a paradoxical reality for Hong Kong people, who have developed very strong local identification and wanted to keep a distance with mainland China. […] The Hong Kong people have taken up the unbearable heaviness of revolution, struggling for democracy for those who live in a piece of land that they do not identify with. […]

by Oiwan Lam at October 15, 2014 01:37 AM

October 14, 2014

Global Voices
Protesting Students and Teachers in Myanmar Reject Law They Claim Will Strengthen Junta-Era Schooling System
Students Protesting Outside the Dagon University in Yangon. Photo from Facebook page of Confederation of University Student Unions.

Students protesting outside the Dagon University in Yangon. Photo from Facebook page of Confederation of University Student Unions.

The new National Education Bill of Myanmar, which was passed in late July this year and is currently awaiting the president's approval, is considered by some students, teachers and civil society organizations as a violation of human rights standards.

The elements of the legislation that are deemed controversial include restriction on the forming of student societies, centralization of the education system and emphasis on government control, marginalization of ethnic education and their languages, and the lack of transparency in the process.

In early September, protests and demonstrations against the bill were organized in front of universities by students in Mandalay, Sagaing and Yangon, among others. The opposition was later joined by several civil societies organization. Aung Myo Min, the director of the Equality Myanmar, thinks that the bill does not meet the human rights standards and failed to incorporate the suggestions of community-based organizations. He said:

Analyzing the bill, we have noticed that the National Education Bill has included [policies] that are not in keeping with the will of community-based organization. As a human rights activist, [I have] found that it’s a little bit slack on human rights standards, so we’ve taken a stand in favor of changes.

The latest support for the campaign came from the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation which plans to join the protests if the bill is not going to be revised in Parliament. In their official Facebook page, Myanmar Teachers’ Federation declared:

We have learned that student associations around the country are determined to accelerate the peaceful protests if the authorities (will force the passage) of the bill, neglecting the wishes of the students, teachers and parents and deviating from the standards of Democracy; we fully support this determination.

Nandar Phone Myint from Irrawaddy Magazine wrote an article, explaining the controversial aspects of the bill and why it revived the centralized control of the education system by the state:

The reason the National Education Bill cannot progress is that it was drafted mainly by the people who had a very influential and major role in the education system during the junta's rule and they have incorporated into the education bill their entrenched predisposition for centralized rule and imposition of restrictions.

The military took power in 1962 and it imposed absolute control in the country for the next three decades. A civilian election was held in 2010 but the government is still backed by the military.

During the junta's era, universities were established outside the city to prevent students from gathering to protest.

Meanwhile, the National Network for Education Reform (NNER), which was formed in 2012 as an independent and diverse network of university professors, lecturers, Buddhist monks, ethnic education groups, opposition groups, teachers and students, has held seminars across the country to discuss education reforms that the country should pursue. They noted in particular that the nature of the Education Bill is discriminatory against students with special needs:

Despite the country's obligation to implement an inclusive education for disabled students in compliance to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD), the proposed legislation of the government states that a separate education will be given to disabled children with “special education programme”, which is a discrimination. This must be amended.

The network also drafted an educational policy and submitted it for parliamentary review. In their statement they also want that three languages, namely, ethnic native, Myanmar and English languages, to be integrated in the school curriculum for ethnic children.

Dr. Thein Lwin from NNER also said that students must be encouraged in the new education system to develop critical thinking skills:

Students need to have the chance to share their life experiences in relation to the lessons they learn inside the classroom. Currently, many teachers don’t approve of students’ answers if they are different from their teaching notes, which prevents students to develop critical thinking skills.

The current education system of Myanmar is long overdue for reform from the tightly controlled schooling system which marginalizes ethnic culture and language. It is also highly criticized for suppressing creativity and critical thinking by emphasizing rote learning and memorization.

The series of protests by students, teachers, academics and civil society groups shows the broad challenge raised against the decades-long authoritarian style education system implemented by the junta; and at the same time it reflects the government's failure to listen to the voices of the people.

by Thant Sin at October 14, 2014 11:36 PM

Artists Create Climate Change Mural in Grenada to Warn of Modern-Day ‘Paradise Lost’
Grenada's Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, the Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel, visits some of the artists working on the "Paradise Lost" mural - Suelin Low Chow Tung, Xandra Shaw and Victoria Slinger. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

Grenada's Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, the Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel, visits some of the artists working on the “Paradise Lost” mural – Suelin Low Chow Tung, Xandra Shaw and Victoria Slinger. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

When it comes to climate change, better late than never. Inspired by the global marches against climate change which took place on September 21, a group of artists and activists in Grenada decided to paint a mural to raise local awareness about this pressing issue.

Climate change and the threat of global warming have, many feel, been ignored for long enough by world leaders who, primarily for economic reasons, have lacked the political will needed to tackle the problem and commit to a changeover to clean energy rather than continuing to extract the earth's diminishing fossil fuels. The Climate Summit that took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 23 was intended to catalyse promises from member countries and turn them into action.

Global Voices spoke to Victoria Slinger and Suelin Low Chow Tung about Grenada's climate change mural and what they hoped it would accomplish. The painting's design elements, conceptualised by Low Chow Tung, include elements such as the population of the island (crowded onto the highest points), Amerindian petroglyphs (in recognition of the country's indigenous people), and fishing boats without fish (a foreboding of one of the possible effects of climate change).

Taking inspiration from the country's Coat of Arms, the mural also contains ships (representing the country's yachting and tourism industry), a gold cross (as recognition of a God consciousness), a lion (as a symbol of strength and unwavering determination to face challenges), Grand Etang Lake as well as cocoa nutmeg and banana trees, a star (symbolic of hope), and the flora and fauna of the island, including seven roses, which represent Grenada's seven parishes. They called it Paradise Lost, a reference to 17th-century English poet John Milton's epic poem, which chronicles the fall of Man.

The Grenada Dove with a spray of Bouganvillea; a nod to the country's national bird and flower. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

The Grenada Dove with a spray of Bouganvillea; a nod to the country's national bird and flower. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

Global Voices (GV): How did you get the idea to paint a mural instead of organizing a march, as happened in other countries, including Trinidad and Tobago?

Victoria Slinger (VS): This was my doing mainly. I am interested in art and also wanted to do something that would be more fun to participate in. There are many people here who are concerned about climate change, but there are too many who are not – mainly because they do not have the exposure to the information and do not know enough science not to be swayed by the nay sayers who just baffle them with bullshit. I felt a mural being permanent would be able to reach more people. Also, a Sunday is no time to do a march in Grenada. St. George's [the capital] is a ghost town and nobody is going to come out to see a lot of people with banners protesting. I did not believe there was anywhere suitable to do [a march].

GV: Tell us about the design for the mural and its dimensions.

VS: The wall is between 6 and 12 feet high and 60 feet long, if we use all of it. That has not yet been decided, but it will be at the very least 6 feet high and 40 feet long. Suelin, as the designer, will decide what fits her design. It is the retaining wall at the back of the GSPCA [Grenada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] car park so many people will see it. I hope, if it gets enough publicity here, people will come specially to see it.

Suelin Low Chow Tung (SLCT): The mural's elements are taken from our Coat of Arms and they speak to the negative impact to the country by rising sea levels due to climate change.

Kai and Anja Niermann and Lene Kilde in process, working on the mural. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

Kai and Anja Niermann and Lene Kilde in process, working on the mural. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

GV: What inspired this particular design concept?

VS: My feeling is that to some extent it should show what could be lost to us forever if something is not done about climate change. A large increase in sea level will be devastating to our main towns, St. George's, Grenville and Gouyave and will destroy tourism, the main earner for the island. Every way you look at it, it will be a disaster.

GV: How many people participated in the event? What type of support did you receive?

SLCT: The participants in the project were Victoria Slinger, Suelin Low Chew Tung, Anja and Kai Niermann, Xandra and Kirby Shaw, visiting Norwegian sculptor Lene Kilde and her daughter, and visiting Haitian artist Prensnelo. We received paint and supplies from St George’s University, Sissons Paints Grenada Limited, Insurance Consultants of Grenada Ltd, Ace Hardware/Bryden and Minors, Ramdhanny’s Hardware, Sherwin Williams, and Renwick, Thompson and Co.

Haitian artist, Prensnelo, paints the armadillo of the Grenada climate change mural. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

Haitian artist Prensnelo paints the armadillo of the Grenada climate change mural. Photo courtesy the artists; used with permission.

GV: Do you feel Caribbean residents are as conscious of the issue as they should be?

VS: Never mind the Caribbean, I don't believe the average resident of any of the developing countries (in which category I include USA for this purpose) are as conscious of the issue as they should be. My feeling is that the main reason is they do not have the science background to understand it properly and to realise that after a certain point it will not be possible to reverse, and then it will just be a matter of time till the earth can no longer support most of life as we know it. It will be back to bacteria as far as I am concerned. Therefore they are too easily satisfied by the flawed science being fed to them by the fossil fuel, mining and other interests who don't want to act.

The Caribbean region, which is primarily made up of small island states and low-lying continental areas with fragile economics, is particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. Initiatives such at the People's Mural are critical to helping the population understand the importance of climate change.

by Matthew Hunte at October 14, 2014 05:47 PM

Some Gambians Don't Feel Like Celebrating President Jammeh's 20 Years in Power
President of the Gambia Yahya Jammeh addresses United Nations General Assembly on 24 September, 2013. UN photo by Erin Siegal. Used under Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND 2.0.

President of the Gambia Yahya Jammeh addresses United Nations General Assembly on 24 September, 2013. UN photo by Erin Siegal. Used under Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A ten-day long celebration marking 20 years since the coming to power of Gambian dictator President Yahya Jammeh is under way in The Gambia. The 49-year-old Jammeh took the position through a military coup he masterminded on 22 July, 1994 after 29 years of civil and “democratic” rule.

Whereas many argue that there is nothing much to celebrate, Jammeh and his supporters often claim that the 22 July coup brought development to The Gambia worthy of sober reflection. The coup celebrations are so important that the independence day celebrating freedom from British colonial rule has been reduced to a minor national holiday officiated by regional governors and mayors.

However, in its submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Gambia, human rights organisation Amnesty International said, “Since Gambia’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2010, the human rights situation in the country has deteriorated. The government continues to stifle freedom of expression and commit other human rights violations with impunity.”

The opening of the celebrations on Friday, 10 October was attended by several other African heads of states, Islamic scholar Dr. Zakir Naik, and foreign dignitaries. Later that evening a state banquet hosted by The Gambian leader at the State House grounds was also attended by the Bissau-Guinean head of state, the speaker of the National Assembly of Gabon, and foreign dignitaries, among others.

In his address to supporters at the Independence Stadium in Bakau also aired by state broadcaster, GRTS, Jammeh listed his development achievements, which he said is unprecedented. He also promised that by September 2015, he will remove all school fees to provide free education for all Gambians. Jammeh dismissed colonialism and reiterated zero tolerance for corruption and homosexuality.

Despite all the progress and so-called development since President Jammeh took power, The Gambia is still among the poorest countries in the world. Statistics from the World Bank show that more than 60 percent of the country’s population live below the global poverty line of $2 a day.

Sarjo Bayang, a regular commentator on issues in the country berated President Jammeh for what he described as death of the national economy and financial systems in an opinion piece widely published in Gambian online media. He wrote:

Deep biting economic hardship and financial meltdown that Gambians continue to suffer is at the extreme situation of thermal death for a nation in grief with no hope of redemption. Refusing to share the excruciating pain that ravages whole society the country’s President Jammeh instead chose celebrating 20 years of 22 July 1994 military coup in lavish spending weeklong party time from 10 October 2014.

In the strongly worded article, Bayang argued that Jammeh has misplaced priorities built on broken pillars of falling economic super structure and criticised Jammeh for lavish expenses:

Most amazingly, President Yaya Jammeh kept the flame of festivals burning from that fateful 22 July 1994. Those who know Kanilai [a village in Southern Gambia] where the president calls home will tell you that it is party time day and night dusk to dawn 247. Animals are slaughtered for sacrifice to demons and meat is distributed for meals. Drumming and dancing is all time social event. Contests are organised between various entertainers including witch craft displays, magicians, and women wrestlers.

Gambian exiled journalist Aisha Dabo complained on Twitter about Jammeh's extravagant donations:

Pa Nderry M'Bai, a US based Gambian journalist and publisher of a controversial online newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, posted five new photos of the celebrations at the stadium indicating low attendance for the event.

M'bai's photos were dismissed as misleading by a Facebook user, Chatti Yayam, who posted a comment and a photo showing a more crowded celebration. He said:

This is the real celebration mr Pa Nderry mbai.. I understand u want a better Gambia an I commen u for the struggle an all your efforts but if u want us to continue to believe in u an what u are doin u have be telling the truth no matter how hard. For The Gambia our home land!

Even though modest progress has been made by President Jammeh's government, many feel that there is no justification for lavish celebrations held annually. After the coup celebrations, more attention will certainly be focused on the promise of free education for all Gambian children come September 2015.

by Demba Kandeh at October 14, 2014 05:41 PM

Following Political Pressure, Citizen-Led Rural Libraries Shut Down in China
Citizen-run libraries forced to shut down. Chinese social media image via China Digital Times.

Citizen-run libraries forced to shut down. Chinese social media image via China Digital Times.

China's rural areas don't receive the same education resources that the country's wealthier urban centers do. This gap is a widely acknowledged problem, and many organizations have been established to improve the facilities in rural China and ensure that the students there aren't left behind.

However, Chinese authorities don't exactly welcome citizen-led initiatives with open arms, and recently an independent library project called China Rural Library (CRL) was forced to close due to political pressure.

CRL announced the closure of its library project on Sept. 18, 2014, on popular microblogging website Sina Weibo and published an open letter explaining the pressure they faced. The letter went viral on Chinese social media and was later censored by the authorities. Independent news website China Digital Times published a copy of the letter on Google Plus.

The letter revealed that the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and the Police Security Bureau started imposing pressure on CRL's library project since June this year. In some cases, the authorities raid the libraries of books that discuss religion. For example, the sociology classic, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by Max Weber was confiscated. Their online volunteer recruitment platform and souvenir shop were also forced to shut down. By September, 19 libraries across the countries were forced to shut down. CRL stressed that “none of its libraries are voluntarily closed for mismanagement reasons”.

Established in 2007, CRL's mission is to “help rural teenagers grow into healthy, normal modern citizens ” by providing free access to books. During the past seven years, it has partnered with local schools and government-owned libraries and set up 22 libraries across 11 provinces in China. The project is supported by donations and volunteer support.

The founder of CRL, Li Yingqiang, received his master degree in economics from Peking University and wished to boost literacy and education through public libraries after having witnessed a lack of quality education in rural China.

There is speculation that foreign donations and Li Yingqiang’s Christian beliefs might have upset authorities. But Li Yingqiang clarified that while the organization received a total of 15,000 euros in small grants from a German foundation, that foundation was founded by a Chinese living overseas, and all the donations are from Chinese citizens and organizations. In 2013, Li left his position as the chief executive of CRL and also resigned as director at the end of 2014.

Since CRL is a non-political and non-religious charity group, the nationwide crackdown on its libraries attracted many online comments. A former volunteer from CRL offered an explanation of its closure on Zhihu, a question and answer platform:

立人的一个问题就是步子走得太快了。原本意义上来说无论是立人乡村图书馆还是大朋友计划还是燃灯者计划还是乡村女生计划都没错,但是在图书馆本身根基并不稳的情况下搞了一个立人大学这本身在我看来就是很作死的行为。立大无论从哪个方面来说右这个字暴露无疑。

CRL’s real problem is that it developed too fast. While most of its projects, including the public libraries, elderly friends [a mentor project], torch and rural school girl projects are still in their infancy, the bold act of launching the Liren University [a summer camp project which was forced to be cancelled] brought the organization down.

As education is a major battlefield for the ideological struggle against western universal values like “citizen right”, any education initiatives which are outside the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party is forbidden.

Weibo user and a former supporter of CRL, “Pursuing empty dream” (@空空追梦), believed the shutdown was a result of management problems rather than political pressure:

出了这么大的事。一个本是消极自由的象征的图书馆成了出头鸟,管理层不去反思,自省。一味的用要对NGO动手,是因为“公民”,为了维持愚民政策等大而无当,没有根据的言辞推脱责任、躲避指责,这才是最令我伤心的地方。所以作为知名立人之友,在这个关头,我要泼冷水,敲丧钟,煽风点火。

Such a big mess. The library project, which was originally a passive symbol of freedom, had become the clamp-down project. Instead of reflecting on what's gone wrong, the management kept talking about NGO principles and “citizens” and blaming the authorities’ policy. It is disheartening to see people not taking responsibility. As a friend of Liren, I have to pour cold water, ring the funeral bell and light up the fire at this critical moment.

Popular Weibo user, “the myth of social work” (@社工迷思), believed the problem was rooted in the relationship between government administration and NGOs:

多家立人图书馆被关一事让人反思和质疑当下“社会组织大发展”的泡沫形式,行政干预公益是当前ngo面临的巨大挑战,它直接影响着公益慈善和社会组织发展是否正常及健康。

The closure of Liren libraries forced us to reflect upon the bubbles of “the big development of social organization”. Administrative intervention is the biggest challenge an NGO faces today. It determines whether the philanthropy and civil organizations can grow healthily in China.

Taiwanese Professor Shih-Hung Lo, who studied the development of civil society in mainland China, wrote on his blog:

在當下的中國大陸,從事民間公益活動已經變成為危險事業,任何自主的民間公益活動,哪怕再怎麼遠離政治,都隨時可能引來當局的粗暴鎮壓。立人鄉村圖書館被關閉的不幸事件,不僅對中國大陸的總體社會發展狀況發出了令人不安的訊號,也將使更多人對漸進改革失去最後一絲希望。

On China’s mainland, philanthropy and civil society have become dangerous professions. No matter how hard they try to shy away from politics, there could be the target of a crackdown by authorities. The closure of China's rural libraries is an unsettling signal of current condition of society on the mainland, destroying the last hope of those who want gradual reform in China.

by Gloria Wong at October 14, 2014 12:31 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Journal from an Ethiopian Prison: Testimony of Befeqadu Hailu

This testimony was written by blogger and human rights advocate Befeqadu Hailu in late August 2014. A founding member of the Zone9 blogging collective and a Global Voices community member, he was arrested and imprisoned on April 25, 2014 along with five fellow members of Zone9 and three journalist colleagues. On July 17, 2014, all nine detainees were charged under the country’s penal code and the Terrorism Proclamation of 2009. Befeqadu mentions in his text the names of several of his fellow detainees including Abel, Mahlet, and Natnael. All are members of the Zone9 collective.

This is the first of two installments of an abridged version of Befeqadu’s testimony. It was translated from Amharic to English by Endalk Chala and edited for clarity and context by Ellery Roberts Biddle. The second installment is here. The full, unabridged testimony is available in PDF form here.

“So, what do you think is your crime?”

My interrogator posed this question after forcing me to recount my work as an activist and progressive blogger. Soon after the interrogation, when my captors reunited me with my blogger friends, we realized that we were all asked this same question:

Befeqadu Hailu. Photo used with permission.

Befeqadu Hailu. Photo used with permission.

“So what do you think is your crime?”

The question is intriguing. It sheds light on our innocence, on our refusal to acknowledge whatever crimes our captors suspect us of committing. Yes, they probed us severely, but each session ended with same question. The investigation was not meant to prove or disprove our offenses. It was meant simply to make us plead guilty.

After two years of writing and working to engage citizens in political debate, we have been apprehended and investigated. Blame is being laid upon us for committing criminal acts, for supposedly being members and “accepting the missions” of [opposition political parties] Ginbot7/May 15 and OLF[1]

The next step is “due process” and our prosecution, but I believe there are still questions to be answered. How did we get here? What was our interrogation like? Are we really members of Ginbot7/May15?  If not, why have they arrested us?  Will they release us soon?

No matter what, boundaries exist in this country. People who write about Ethiopia’s political reality will face the threat of incarceration as long as they live here. 

We believe that everyone who experiences this reality, dreading the consequences of expressing their views, lives in the outer ring of the prison – the nation itself. That is why we call our blog Zone9. [2]

Zone9 was merely two weeks old when the government made our collective blog inaccessible in Ethiopia in 2012. Despite the blockage, we continued to write, but we knew that the fate of our blocked blogs could be our own. We knew we could end up being arrested. 

In the days and weeks leading up to our incarceration in April 2014, government security agents threatened us with imminent arrest, but we were still shaken by what happened to us. The six local members of the blogging collective and our three journalist allies were arrested and detained. With the exception of one of the journalists (Asmamaw Hailegiorgis of Addis Guday newspaper) we were arrested on Friday April 25 at about 11:00 pm and taken from our respective locations. Asmamaw was arrested the next morning. By the time we were seized and taken to the detention center, the search “warrant” that authorized our arrest was well over its time limit, according to Ethiopian law. The unlawful intrusion on our rights began here. Without delay, we became the victims of many violations of Ethiopian law by the authorities.

The idea of setting a foot in the compound of the ill-famed Maekelawi detention center gives a cold shiver to anyone who knows its history. But my sheer optimism and trust that the brutal and inhumane treatment of people was a distant memory saved me from trembling as I was escorted into the compound. The same was true of my friends, I suppose. What is more, we had nothing to be scared of, because we are neither undercover agents nor members of armed forces. We are just writers.

But as soon as I arrived at Maekelawi, detainees informed me that I had been placed in one of the notorious sections of the detention center, known as “Siberia”. In less than a week, I felt like I was living in the middle of an account from the 2013 Human Rights Watch report entitled “They Want a Confession”. [3]

This is the first of two installments of an abridged version of Befeqadu’s testimony. It was translated from Amharic to English by Endalk Chala and edited for clarity and context by Ellery Roberts Biddle. The full, unabridged testimony is available in PDF form here.

Read Part 2: Journal from an Ethiopian Prison: The Maekelawi Ceremony

Learn more about the case Zone9 Bloggers’ case at the Trial Tracker Blog.

Six of the detained bloggers in Addis Ababa. Photo used with permission.

Six of the detained bloggers in Addis Ababa. Photo used with permission.

 [1] Ginbot7 and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) are opposition political parties based in the United States. Both have been accused of terrorism by the Ethiopian government.
[2] “Addis Ababa’s Kality prison is divided into eight different zones, the last of which — Zone Eight — is dedicated to journalists, human right activists and dissidents. When we came together, we decided to create a blog for the proverbial prison in which all Ethiopians live: this is Zone Nine.” From “Six Members of Blogging Collective Arrested in Ethiopia,” by Endalk Chala.
[3] “They Want a Confession” documents serious human rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics, and poor detention conditions in Addis Ababa’s Maekelawi detention center, drawing from interviews with former Maekelawi detainees and their family members. Those detained in Maekelawi include scores of opposition politicians, journalists, protest organizers, and alleged supporters of ethnic insurgencies. Full report here.

by Global Voices Advocacy at October 14, 2014 12:09 AM

October 13, 2014

Miriam Meckel
Kriegsökonomie

WiWo_Titel_42_Terror_FIN2

Geschäftsberichte, Markenkommunikation und Terror als Produkt. Der „Islamische Staat“ agiert wie ein globaler Konzern.

Die Geschäfte der radikalen Terrororganisation „Islamischer Staat“ („IS“) laufen blendend. Das klingt schrecklich, ist aber wahr. Der Kampf um Kobane in Nordsyrien ist nur eine weitere martialische Transaktion. Sie ist ausgerichtet auf eine geopolitische Übernahme – so steigert der „IS“ seinen Macht- und Marktanteil gegenüber der internationalen Anti-Terror-Allianz. Mit bedrückender strategischer und operativer Präzision arbeiten sich die Dschihadisten im Mittleren Osten vor. Der „IS“ ist der reichste und bestorganisierte Terrorkonzern der Welt. Sein Produkt ist der Terror, seine Währung die Angst.

Seit 2011 wurde konsequente Arbeit geleistet. Der „IS“ agiert nicht nur auf schreckliche Weise kompromisslos. Er legt über sein Vorgehen in Geschäftsberichten („al-Naba“, die Nachricht) Rechenschaft ab – in Optik und Anmutung ausgerichtet an Konzernen der Weltwirtschaft und angereichert mit professionellen Infografiken. Ihre KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) heißen: Mordanschläge, Sprengstoffattacken, Enthauptungen.

Das Institute for the Study of War in Washington hat die Berichte systematisch ausgewertet. Allein für das Jahr 2013 verzeichnet das Portfolio der Terroristen 1083 Morde, 607 Granatenangriffe, 4465 Sprengstoffanschläge. Der Bericht liefert die Zahlen nach Bedarf auch noch differenzierter, auf einzelne Regionen der umkämpften Gebiete heruntergebrochen.

Die Geschäfte des „Islamischen Staats“ laufen auch finanziell blendend. Um die 425 Millionen Dollar soll die Terrormiliz allein durch die Plünderung der Zentralbank von Mossul erbeutet haben. Laufende Einnahmen stammen aus Schutzsteuern der Bevölkerung und dem Schwarzhandel mit Öl aus Quellen in den kontrollierten Gebieten. Für uns alle ist der Preis hoch: Menschen werden zu Hunderten brutal abgeschlachtet. Eine Milliarde Dollar hat der Kampf gegen den „IS“ die USA bereits gekostet. Es wird noch viel teurer werden – Kosten der Konjunktureinbrüche, Destabilisierung und des Vertrauensverlusts. In einer Ökonomie der Aufmerksamkeit ist Angst für Terroristen die härteste Währung.

Uneinigkeit und Partialinteressen bei den Stakeholdern im arabischen Raum treiben die Preise hoch. Saudi-Arabien unterstützt offiziell die US-geführte Allianz im Kampf gegen den „IS“. Doch auf versteckten Wegen fließt das Geld von Großfinanziers im Land in die Kassen der Terroristen. Die Türkei dagegen, Nato-Partner, wir erinnern uns dunkel, hat für ihre Panzer an der Grenze zu Syrien Dauerparkplätze eingerichtet. Da stehen sie nun rum. Präsident Erdogan will vor allem eines nicht: die Kurden in Syrien unterstützen – und liefert ein Beispiel für politischen „moral hazard“. Die Türkei will den Nato-Bündnisfall provozieren, um dann vom politischen „Bail-out“ zu profitieren. Diese Uneinigkeit der Staaten in der Region lässt sich durch den „IS“ wunderbar hedgen: als Absicherung seiner Strategie geopolitischer und ideologischer Anteilsübernahme.

Alles, was der „Islamische Staat“ tut, ist durch eine professionelle Kommunikation des Grauens unterlegt. Videos von Enthauptungen und Autobombenexplosionen sind überall im Internet zu finden und verbreiten sich viral. Im Umgang mit Twitter und YouTube schlägt der „IS“ manchen US-Großkonzern. Eine eigene App („Die Morgendämmerung der Freudenbotschaft“), die das Telefon der Nutzer hackt und „IS“-Botschaften am laufenden Bit sendet, wurde durch Google gestoppt. Aber: Ein Twitter-Konto wird abgeschaltet, zehn neue entstehen. Das Internet ist eine große Marketingplattform – auch für Terroristen.

Die Terrormiliz hat eine starke Marke. Sie lässt sich auch für die Rekrutierung von Nachwuchskämpfern effizient nutzen: „Employer Branding“ für potenzielle Selbstmordattentäter und Söldner des grausamen Tötens. Wie weit die Zuversicht in ein gelungenes Leben und eine hoffnungsvolle Zukunft bei denen heruntergewirtschaftet sein muss, die sich davon blenden lassen, will man sich kaum vorstellen.

WiWo 42 v. 13.10.2014

by Miriam Meckel at October 13, 2014 08:41 PM

Rising Voices
Yadiko Uruk – Children of Tobacco, Coca and Sweet Cassava

Corregimiento La chorrera, Amazonas

Corregimiento La chorrera, Amazonas

We are a town council called Milan, located two hours downriver from La Chorrera in Colombia as you can see in the map at the top of this post. Most of us don't know about the use of technology, but it is a must for us, in order to record our songs and to spread the word about our Yadiko ritual, so that it reaches other people. Because Yadiko has healing powers. It cures the stone, the plants, the children, the elder, a world war and anything considered as detrimental to the environment.

Through our word for dance, ‘Yadiko’, its empowerment and the bilingual recollection, we will set up a database with our traditions and heritage. The process can be carried out from already existing records that contains the thoughts of our ancestors and forefathers. Besides that, we will produce new content about our lifestyle and about our thoughts and culture, such as music, mode of farming and agriculture, housing, hunting and fishing methods, cooking and food preparation.

This activity will allow us as well to preserve our traditions and safeguard them for our children who will live with inevitable technological context. We believe that new digital technologies are not detrimental to our culture, but are tools that bridge distances and abolish geographical barriers and geopolitical conditions. This way, if our traditions are visible and exposed to the world, we can guarantee that our territory will be preserved.

This is our coordination team:

  • Ever Giralgo Kuiru Naforo
  • Juan Augusto Kuiru Naforo
  • Miguel Angel Kuiru Naforo
  • Calisto Kuiru, propietario de la Maloka.

Our children and youth also represent an important part of the community, and with them we count in total 121 members.

The beneficiaries will be all the members of the town council and netizens of the world as well, who will be able to access our content and get to know about us.

Chorrera1

Jibina, dɨona, farekatofe urikɨ – 
The children of tobacco, coca, and sweet cassava

The Uitoto linguistic family belongs to what today is known as the people of the Center or Children of tobacco, coca and sweet cassava, scattered on the riverbanks of Caquetá, Caraparaná, Putumayo, Igaraparaná and Amazonas Rivers (Leticia e Iquitos). The reasons for that scattering lie in the criminal activities developed by Casa Arana through rubber extraction and the various illegal booms (tigrillada, drug trafficking and lumber).

Our linguistic family is composed by seven ethnolinguistic groups: Uitoto, Ocaina, Nonuya, Bora, Miraña, Muinane, Andoque. Ours belong to the Uitoto group which in turn is divided into four dialects: mɨnɨka, mɨka, búe and nɨpode meaning litterally: “What is it?” However, the term “Uitoto”, however, is stranger to our culture and originates from the ‘’karijona’’ language, and means ‘’Canibal Ant’’

Yadiko uai

Kaɨ Jitómagaro atɨa dɨbenedo.
Bie mei ua moo uai, arera
Uikonide, iemo ɨkoɨfenide
Jiaɨno atɨa dɨbenedo ite
Yadiko uai.

Bie mei baɨna uzumamo
komuide rafue uai.
Dama e jenua baɨmo,
Dama e nɨkaɨa baɨmo
Eri jobide,
Nabefue moo mona.

Dɨnona baɨ kue jɨaɨe uzumamo
afe rafuedo biya,
ua dai kue jiaɨe uzuma afe rafue atɨa.
Dai baɨ kue moo
afe uai yɨnoga.

Meita afemɨe fɨnoka
yadiko rafue iraɨnomo.
iadɨ afe rafue atonomo fɨebide
e tɨiya meinori.

Iadɨ mei kaɨmo
Afe uaiyaɨna fɨebite.
Afe rafue uai
jeire oyena
bie fɨnodɨkue.

Kaɨ naɨraɨ komekɨ
jiyotayena,
Kaɨmataiyena
jietayena.

Yadiko nɨ rafuenɨaɨ mona
ɨere aiyono.
Nɨ moo nanoide jito.
Bie rafue bini ñue
uiñoyena fɨnoka.
Nana kadɨkaɨ ñue iyena
Afe uaiya ite.
Meita jamanomo jitairede.
Afe rafuemo aiyo guye ite,
Jibie, yera,
ñue komɨnɨ kaimataiyena aiyo iga
Ua rua royena afemo
Ñue kaɨ jiyoiyena.
Moo uaiza.
Fɨenidɨnona iñede
Nana kaimafue.

Yadiko uai
The word of yadiko

This is how we bring it, the Jitómagaros.
This is the word of the Moo, extensive
It doesn’t have a starting poiint nor an end
Others have another form of bringing
the word of Yadiko.
Because even before our forefathers
this word of dance was born
At the end, alone he found it
At last, alone he ended up drunk
he got adjusted
Directly from the Moo.
Thereafter, my other grandfather
came with that word of dance
so my other one brought this dance.
Hence after my father
Took that word
and therefore did perform
The Yadiko dance for the last time
so this race remained in the middle
following his death
However,
These words remained in us
This word of dance
to cheer it up
i am doing this
so that the heart of our people
gets cured,
rejoiced,
and enjoy working
The Yadiko dance
is the most important
it is the eldest son of the Moo
This dance is performed
to well preserve this land
so that all beings do well
This is why this word exists
This is why it is quite necessary
In this dance there is plenty of food
Coca plant, tobacco plant
So that people rejoice,
there is enough
so that we all heal.
This is the world of the Moo
Evil doesn’t exist
All is joy and happinness

Translation from Spanish by Thalia Rahme.

by Ever Kuiru at October 13, 2014 07:55 PM

Ian Bogost
Why Anything but Games Matters

A couple months ago, I was talking to a friend in technology media. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m in tech,” he started saying. He paused for a beat. “Then I think, at least I’m not in games.”

He wasn’t even really talking about the Voldemortian “you-know-what” that was indeed the original impetus for our conversation. That’s just the latest example.

Instead, I think he was talking about provincialism.

I don’t just mean the old-hat, stereotypical image of gamers as teenage boys in basements engorging Mountain Dew, although clearly that image is still very much in circulation. Rather, I mean that games have often maintained a separation from other forms of human culture and creativity. And that they—that we—have actively cultured and supported this separation in order to come into our own.

Even as games have become ever more widespread they have also receded further within themselves. And among this community—indie developers at one of a small handful of successful independent games festivals—it’s easy to pat ourselves on the back and say, “but it’s different here.” And it is.

But also, it isn’t.

Think about the ways we distribute and sell games—especially the indie games that are supposedly enacting the expressive revolution we claim. Steam has made independence financially viable at times, but it has done so by recapitulating games retail—the dark, weird, embarrassing game shop recreated as a tiny-text, black-and-gunmetal interface through which all further activity is sieved. One is not even allowed to run games away from Valve’s supervision. Encountering games still requires pledging fealty to gamedom.

That’s an example of what I mean by provincialism.

The downside of having arrived—of having games degrees and games festivals and games retail channels and games communities—is thinking that their influence and their impact extend further than they really do.

Yes, diverse games are here to an extent, lots of people are making games, and some of those games are often reaching substantial audiences. But, like it or not, we are still a niche tricked by the echo chamber of internal success into thinking that we are approaching the mainstream.

The truth is, the general public downloads whatever they heard about from a friend on the App Store, or whatever appears at the top of the charts. The truth is, games have so long wavered between affinity with Silicon Valley and jealousy of Hollywood that they have effectively found home in neither. The truth is, Minecraft is a game for children. The truth is, at the “smart general readership” magazine I write for, an order of magnitude more people read me when I write about the McRib than when I write about Flappy Bird. The truth is, we have to create our own small presses for games writing because you can’t sell a trade book on games like you can sell one on social media or even on Star Wars, because games are considered to have no audience.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem. There’s no reason any art form needs to be mainstream, and indeed it’s easy to argue why one shouldn’t be. But, it’s perilous for our sense of cultural place to be at odds with its reality.

Actually, this isn’t a phenomenon limited to games. In The Washington Post last week, Alyssa Rosenberg wrote about what she calls the “new culture war.” “As the new culture war has widened,” Rosenberg says, “it has also fragmented, turning less into a clash of great powers than into a series of intractable guerrilla conflicts, marked by shifting alliances and the rapid emergence of new players.”

Whereas previously culture fought, won, and lost its battles at the scale of mass media—think of Madonna and Bart Simpson and Murphy Brown—now we do so in isolated pockets of niche media hobbyism. Rosenberg sees this as an unexpected victory. “Everyone can win the new culture wars,” she declares, because “all stories have a chance to be told.”

The problem with Rosenberg’s account is that fragmentation becomes Balkanization, which becomes recuperated into Libertarianism. Mutual hostility becomes “do what you want, just don’t foist it on me.” Pushed to its limits, all fandom becomes apartheid.

Games have come of age—again, I might add—in the age of Rosenberg’s new culture wars. So not only are we fighting civil wars amongst ourselves, we are doing so in a tiny, peripheral, war-torn medium already written off by the “developed” media ecosystem. From outside, people have the same prognosis for videogames that they have about, say, the Sudan.

This state of affairs ought to chasten us. It ought to revise our understanding of the scope of the work before us.

For example: if you want to fight for diversity in games, then absolutely you should fight to broaden representation among players, creators, and characters.

But there’s another kind of diversity: the diversity of our interests and our dispositions, of the company we keep and the influences that inspire us, the people and the groups and the industries and the materials that we contact. It has to do with having dealings enough with the world such that it is no longer possible to be seen as a parochial backwater not even worth opposing let alone supporting.

We have become too comfortable here in games. We have our own dialects now, our own customs via Steam and Twitch and Let’s Plays and festivals and so on.

Before these resources existed, things were worse when they were more nascent, but they were better because it was impossible only to run in the circles of games. We were all here from somewhere else—from painting, from architecture, from advertising, from computing, from systems theory, from toy design, from literature. Sometimes we saw those connections as baggage or even as colonialism, but they also offered grounding. They helped root games amidst broader contexts. They connected us to bedrock.

But here’s the thing about broader contexts: new ones might not be possible anymore. We can’t reject them, we can’t “disrupt” them or ignore them because we have staked out our own little island amidst rising oceans. Games can survive on their own, but perhaps only in the same way that Somalia can—as a world unto itself. There is no games as the dominant medium of the 21st century, because there is no dominant medium of the 21st century. There’s only shrapnel.

We need to stop fighting against this fact as if it were a war we could win, that anybody could. We’ve shoved off from shipwreck desert islands on makeshift rafts to make landfall—on other desert islands. And we can make civilization here. Just look around, this is an amazing community that you could choose to make your only community. The question is, will it be enough? Do we care if people can still get away with saying “at least I’m not in games” and for it to be a reasonable statement that produces knowing nods?

We can be game makers and players without being just game makers and players. And amidst today’s fragmented media ecosystem, it’s even more urgent that we send more envoys outside our circles. Otherwise, it will seem no less perverse to be a maker of games as it already does to be a player of them.

by Ian Bogost at October 13, 2014 07:43 PM

Global Voices
Brazilian Man Accused of High Profile Revenge-Porn Case Only Gets 5 Months Community Service
Image by Flickr user Moyan Brenn. CC.BY - 2.0

Image by Flickr user Moyan Brenn. CC.BY – 2.0

A year ago Brazilian university student Fran let her then boyfriend Sérgio Henrique Alves make a video with his phone while she performed oral sex on him. He proceeded to spread the video through Whatsapp. After memes humiliating 22 year-old Fran popped up all across the Brazilian internet, the case was taken to court.

This week, a verdict was finally reached. Sérgio was sentenced to 5 months of community service. As Brazil does not have a law for revenge-porn, Sérgio was prosecuted on the basis of libel and defamation.

The trial left Fran devastated. After having her life turned upside down – she lost her job at a retail store and had to stop attending university – she believes the sentence was disproportionate to the damage she and her family suffered. She told the TV news station Globo that Sérgio left court “laughing at her face”. Yesterday, she posted a testimony on Facebook page “Apoio Fran” [Supporting Fran] and urged people to help pressure the Congress to approve a law that tackles revenge-porn specifically 

Oi gente! Queria agradecer de coração pelo apoio, que sempre foi fundamental para mim, e falar que a nossa luta não terminou. Desde o início, eu sabia que não ia dar em nada, infelizmente. Mas a esperança é sempre a última que morre e eu continuei por saber que várias mulheres passam e vão passar por isso. Eu vou lutar por uma lei que proteja essas vítimas, para que a pena seja proporcional ao dano causado. 
Vocês serão fundamentais para que isso aconteça! Mais do que nunca preciso de vocês ao meu lado! A lei Maria da Penha Virtual precisa existir ou até a lei Fran Santos, e eu prometo que eu não vou desistir!
A lei pode ser criada se houver 1% de assinaturas do eleitorado nacional. Nós temos a constituição do nosso lado! Mas para isso precisamos de no mínimo 1,36 milhão de assinaturas e um deputado que nos ajude. Onde estão aqueles deputados que tanto disseram que iriam me ajudar ? 
De um jeito ou de outros nós vamos conseguir isso. Pode demorar, mas vamos conseguir!

Hi, guys! I wanted to thank everyone from all my heart for all the support, which was so important to me, and also to say that our struggle isn't over. Since the beginning I knew nothing was going to happen to him. But hope dies last and I held on because I know many women might go through the same as I did. I will fight for a law that can protect those victims and that the punishment to the perpetrators are fit to the damage made. You guys are vital for this to happen! More than ever I need you by my side. We need an internet version of Maria da Penha Law [law against domestic violence], or maybe even a “Fran Santos Law” and I promise I won't give up! The law could be created if we had 1% of the national population in signatures, which is 1,36 million. We have the Constitution by our side! But we also need a legislator to help us. Where are those deputies who said they would help me? One way or another, we'll do this. It might take long, but we can do it.

Image from the Facebook page Apoio Fran. “Because we are all Fran, against sexism as a form of comedy and sex as a taboo.”

Image from the Facebook page Apoio Fran. “Because we are all Fran, against sexism as a form of comedy and sex as a taboo.”

Fran has created a public petition on the Petição Pública website for the creation of a new law. At the moment the petition has 1220 signatures. She also says she will sue her offender (now that the criminal prosecution is over) for moral and material damages, since she hasn't been able to find another job ever since the incident last year. She told the news website G1:

“Já até procurei emprego em outros lugares. Mas quando olham meu currículo, veem meu nome e onde eu trabalhei, se lembram do que aconteceu e não chamam.

I have looked for jobs in other places. But when they look at my CV, when they see my name and where I used to work, they remember what has happened and don't call me back.

Ex-footballer and now re-elected senator Romário has proposed a law project that makes the improper spreading of intimate material a specific criminal offense. According to the project, perpetrators could face up to three years in jail and be obliged to compensate the victim in any material damages resulting from moving houses, losing a job and any medical or psychological treatments they might need to go through.

by Taisa Sganzerla at October 13, 2014 05:37 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Will the Right to Be Forgotten Inspire Repressive Regimes to Expand Internet Censorship?

The original version of this post appeared on the IGMENA blog.

The EU’s “right to be forgotten” has left many advocates in the Arab region fearful that governments will exploit the law to further curtail freedom of information and expression on the Internet.

Ben Ali meets with George W. Bush in Washington, DC, 2004. Photo by Paul Morse, released to public domain.

Ben Ali meets with George W. Bush in Washington, DC, 2004. Photo by Paul Morse, released to public domain.

The ruling allows EU citizens to request that search engines de-index links to personal information deemed “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” so that it does not appear in search results. The court clarified that the right to be forgotten “is not absolute” and a case-by-case assessment is needed to make sure that an individual’s right to be forgotten does not infringe on the public’s right to know. 

But since the ruling, Google reports that it has received over 135,000 requests for removal of links from its search results. In August, the world’s largest search engine announced that it had approved just over 50% of requests received. These included links to legitimate journalistic work and news articles published by the BBC, the Guardian, and the Daily Mail, some of which were reinstated in response to journalists’ objections. The company periodically releases selective data about the process, which can be found here.

What if such a policy were to take hold in the Arab region?
Although its implementation is currently only limited to Europe, the “right to be forgotten” ruling could inspire repressive regimes to expand their Internet filtering practices. “It will be used by other governments that aren’t as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things,” Google’s CEO Larry Page warned in late May.

In an email interview, Dhouha Ben Youssef, a Tunisian net freedom and privacy advocate wrote that she agreed with Page.

“These governments will take advantage from this directive. Powerful people will be able to hide disgraceful actions for their own e-reputation. For example, politicians could ask for the removal of posts that criticize their policies and power misuse,” Ben Youssef explained. “It will largely impact the investigative journalism emerging in the region.”

There is no reason why Arab governments couldn’t put in place their own “right to be forgotten” model, if they wanted to. All they have to do is draft another repressive law or simply order ISPs to block content violating the controversial principle.

Governments in the region already deploy strict libel laws and broad privacy protections with no legal oversight or appeal mechanisms. These policies systematically deny users access to information and serve to prosecute those who reveal misconduct or wrongdoing by state officials and other powerful actors. Last spring, Social Media Exchange conducted an in-depth study on these types of laws — their work could serve as a roadmap for advocates seeking to preclude lawmaking in this direction.

The UAE's Cybercrime Decree lays the groundwork
In 2012, the UAE passed Federal Legal Decree No. 5/2012 on combating cyber crimes, allegedly to “provide legal protection of privacy of all information published online.”

However, like many other repressive laws approved by Arab regimes over the years, this law is yet another tool to legitimize suppression of online speech and political dissent.

The decree includes an exhaustive list of illegal activities, all criminalized under a mantle of privacy protection. It outlaws:

…using an electronic network or any information technology means for the unwarranted violation of the privacy of others by eavesdropping, intercepting, recording or disclosing conversations, communications, audio and video material; taking photographs of others, creating electronic photos of others, disclosing, copying or saving them; publishing news, electronic photographs or photographs or scenes, comments, data and information even if they are authentic.

The right to be forgotten and the UAE’s decree No. 5/2012 have one dangerous point in common: they both restrict the dissemination of authentic content for the purpose of protecting the privacy rights of others. In the Arab region the aim appears to be to conceal evidence of misconduct by politicians and public officials. While in the EU the right to be forgotten is supposedly aimed at protecting private individuals, the fact that former EU politicians are entitled to exercise the right to be forgotten is troubling. 

The Internet and the world should not forget the disgraceful acts and corruption of politicians once they leave office. We have all seen how public officials are tempted again by power shortly after they leave office. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently announced his political comeback despite corruption allegations against him. In Tunisia, where I work as a freelance journalist, officials who served under the former autocratic and corrupt rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali are making a comeback to the political scene and running for legislative and presidential elections. 

One might argue that Internet filtering is already rampant in the region and that the EU’s right to be forgotten ruling is not going to improve or worsen the situation. This is true to some extent, but the level of Internet filtering practices differ from one country to another. While some governments practice extensive Internet filtering, others are keeping it at minimum levels.

In Tunisia, for example, the Internet has remained open and relatively uncensored since the ousting of Ben Ali. Yet a number of government officials still advocate for the reinstatement of filtering practices to combat “defamation” and “terrorism.” Soon, they may begin to call for the filtering of the Internet to protect the right to be forgotten of others, arguing that even “democratic” Europe enshrines this right. 

Dictators have plenty to learn from undemocratic practices of “Western democracies”
“For Reporters Without Borders (RWB), if they show me how France monitors the cyberspace, we will commit ourselves to do better.” Such was the response of former ICTs minister Mongi Marzouk, when RWB criticized the Tunisian government for setting up the controversial Technical Telecommunications Agency, tasked with investigating “ICT crimes.”

“This law took as reference the Budapest Convention [on Cybercrime],” Marzouk said in defence of the decree establishing the agency. Although the Budapest Convention marked a significant step forward in building international legal standards for cybercrime, it is far from perfect — many advocates believe the Convention lacks sufficient protections for non-malicious use of certain technologies.

Arab government officials do not hesitate to claim that their practices or laws are as democratic as those of Europe, even when they are not. They also learn from the undemocratic practices of “Western democracies.” Just as the NSA’s mass spying practices can aid dictatorships, so can the right to be forgotten. 

EU legislators need to keep in mind that each law they draft could either inspire pro-democracy reformers in lesser democratic countries or incite dictators to “do bad things.” It is up to them to choose a side.

by Afef Abrougui at October 13, 2014 04:20 PM

Colombia's “Citizen Porfolio” Program Could Infringe Privacy Rights (And More)
Foto en Flickr del usuario Kevin LaBianco (CC BY 2.0).

Image by Kevin LaBianco via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Under the “Live Digital” initiative, Colombian Minister of Information and Communication Technologies Diego Molano is pushing a policy program under which the government will bestow upon each citizen a “digital portfolio,” where all of one’s personal data held by the state, ranging from state identification and passport numbers to tax information and health data, would be stored together and come with a unique government-issued email address.

Although conceived as a pathway to greater efficiency in communication between government agencies and reduction of paper use, the policy has raised concern that it may leave citizens vulnerable to greater government surveillance or to malicious hacking.

One concerned citizen, a Colombian industrial engineer named Pedro Rivera, filed an information request with the Minister of Information and Communication Technologies in an effort to obtain information on various aspects of the project. Rivera filed the request with the support of the digital rights collective “RedPaTodos”, which advocates for absolute transparency on matters of public policymaking. Rivera argues that the initiative should be repealed or subject to public review and approval before being implemented.

On Pastebin, Rivera acknowledges the potential conveniences offered by the system but rejects certain aspects of the system, noting that they could lead to different kinds of abuse and infringe human rights. This paragraph references the revelations of Edward Snowden, as they relate to Google:

Todo esto significa que básicamente toda tu existencia ante el estado se reduce a una cuenta de “Google”. Como sabemos por las revelaciones de Edward Snowden, “Google” tiene pleno poder de leer información, analizarla, copiarla, venderla o cerrar cuentas sin más ni más. Si sustituimos a “Google” por una empresa privada controlada a través de concesiones por el gobierno colombiano, que nos podemos esperar?

This basically means that your entire existence before the state is reduced to a “Google” account. As we know from the revelations made by Edward Snowden, “Google” has full power to read information, analyze, copy, sell it or close accounts without further ado. If we replace “Google” with a private company [ostensibly controlled by] the Colombian government, what we can expect?

RedPaTodos published “Concerns and Proposals on the Citizen Portfolio initiative,” affirming its support for the petition and broader initiative. They conclude:

Es claro que tenemos demasiadas preocupaciones y pocas claridades, algunas de estas preguntas vienen de la poca información concreta sobre el proyecto y otras más sobre la existencia de contratos que parecieran estar relacionados. Obvio, si ya hay contratos el margen de incidencia es mucho menor que si es una  propuesta abierta para el debate y su mejoramiento. Hemos realizado una recopilación de la información que creemos está relacionada con el proyecto pero sabemos que está incompleta. Ante la falta de certezas e información pública y veraz sobre este proyecto, hemos decidido presentar un derecho de petición a MinTIC solicitando más información y con esta definir una ruta posible para afectar esta propuesta buscando la garantía de nuestros derechos un espacio de diálogo inicialmente de nosotros, la idea es que pueda la sociedad involucrarse en la medida de lo posible y también otros colectivos y sectores.

It is clear that we have too many concerns and little clarity; some of these questions come from the little concrete information about the proposed policy and more about the existence of contracts that appear to be related. Obviously, if there are already contracts, the margin of incidence is much narrower than if it is open for discussion and possible improvement. We have made a collection of information that we believe is related to the project, but we know it's incomplete. In the absence of certainty and truthful information about this project, we have decided to invoke our right to petition and thus to petition the Ministry of Communication Technologies requesting more information about the program. [We propose to work with them] to set plan to carry out this proposal and to invoke our rights to develop a space for dialogue that will take place initially among key stakeholders, but that will ultimately allow society can be involved as much as possible and also another groups and sectors.

Human rights lawyer and Internet advocate Carolina Botero, writing for El Espectador, expressed concern about the silence that the ICT Ministry has maintained surrounding the issue. She also highlighted comments published on the website of Fundacion Karisma, a digital rights organization under her leadership: 

[...] “el Proyecto Carpeta Digital se llevará a cabo mediante una alianza público-privada. Esta metodología no solo es imprecisa, sino que revela una de las mayores preocupaciones que tiene la sociedad civil respecto al derecho a la intimidad”. Como el propio plan decía poco del proyecto, nos quedamos pendientes de la respuesta del MinTic a los comentarios (que aún esperamos) y, sobre todo, a la presentación del documento final que se haga revisando el plan con base en los comentarios de la ciudadanía para analizarlo integralmente.

[…] The Citizen Portfolio Project will be implemented through a public-private partnership. This methodology is not only imprecise, but also it reveals one of the biggest concerns of civil society regarding the right to privacy. As the plan itself said few about the project, we were waiting for the response to comments MinTic (we are still waiting) and, above all, for the presentation of the final document, and that this may be carried out by reviewing the plan, based on public comment to analyze it integrally.

So far, there have been no responses from the national government. For citizens, the wait continues.

by Global Voices at October 13, 2014 04:02 PM

Global Voices
Colombia's “Citizen Porfolio” Program Could Infringe Privacy Rights (And More)
Foto en Flickr del usuario Kevin LaBianco (CC BY 2.0).

Image by Kevin LaBianco via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Under the “Live Digital” initiative, Colombian Minister of Information and Communication Technologies Diego Molano is pushing a policy program under which the government will bestow upon each citizen a “digital portfolio,” where all of one’s personal data held by the state, ranging from state identification and passport numbers to tax information and health data, would be stored together and come with a unique government-issued email address.

Although conceived as a pathway to greater efficiency in communication between government agencies and reduction of paper use, the policy has raised concern that it may leave citizens vulnerable to greater government surveillance or to malicious hacking.

One concerned citizen, a Colombian industrial engineer named Pedro Rivera, filed an information request with the Minister of Information and Communication Technologies in an effort to obtain information on various aspects of the project. Rivera filed the request with the support of the digital rights collective “RedPaTodos”, which advocates for absolute transparency on matters of public policymaking. Rivera argues that the initiative should be repealed or subject to public review and approval before being implemented.

On Pastebin, Rivera acknowledges the potential conveniences offered by the system but rejects certain aspects of the system, noting that they could lead to different kinds of abuse and infringe human rights. This paragraph references the revelations of Edward Snowden, as they relate to Google:

Todo esto significa que básicamente toda tu existencia ante el estado se reduce a una cuenta de “Google”. Como sabemos por las revelaciones de Edward Snowden, “Google” tiene pleno poder de leer información, analizarla, copiarla, venderla o cerrar cuentas sin más ni más. Si sustituimos a “Google” por una empresa privada controlada a través de concesiones por el gobierno colombiano, que nos podemos esperar?

This basically means that your entire existence before the state is reduced to a “Google” account. As we know from the revelations made by Edward Snowden, “Google” has full power to read information, analyze, copy, sell it or close accounts without further ado. If we replace “Google” with a private company [ostensibly controlled by] the Colombian government, what we can expect?

RedPaTodos published “Concerns and Proposals on the Citizen Portfolio initiative,” affirming its support for the petition and broader initiative. They conclude:

Es claro que tenemos demasiadas preocupaciones y pocas claridades, algunas de estas preguntas vienen de la poca información concreta sobre el proyecto y otras más sobre la existencia de contratos que parecieran estar relacionados. Obvio, si ya hay contratos el margen de incidencia es mucho menor que si es una  propuesta abierta para el debate y su mejoramiento. Hemos realizado una recopilación de la información que creemos está relacionada con el proyecto pero sabemos que está incompleta. Ante la falta de certezas e información pública y veraz sobre este proyecto, hemos decidido presentar un derecho de petición a MinTIC solicitando más información y con esta definir una ruta posible para afectar esta propuesta buscando la garantía de nuestros derechos un espacio de diálogo inicialmente de nosotros, la idea es que pueda la sociedad involucrarse en la medida de lo posible y también otros colectivos y sectores.

It is clear that we have too many concerns and little clarity; some of these questions come from the little concrete information about the proposed policy and more about the existence of contracts that appear to be related. Obviously, if there are already contracts, the margin of incidence is much narrower than if it is open for discussion and possible improvement. We have made a collection of information that we believe is related to the project, but we know it's incomplete. In the absence of certainty and truthful information about this project, we have decided to invoke our right to petition and thus to petition the Ministry of Communication Technologies requesting more information about the program. [We propose to work with them] to set plan to carry out this proposal and to invoke our rights to develop a space for dialogue that will take place initially among key stakeholders, but that will ultimately allow society can be involved as much as possible and also another groups and sectors.

Human rights lawyer and Internet advocate Carolina Botero, writing for El Espectador, expressed concern about the silence that the ICT Ministry has maintained surrounding the issue. She also highlighted comments published on the website of Fundacion Karisma, a digital rights organization under her leadership: 

[...] “el Proyecto Carpeta Digital se llevará a cabo mediante una alianza público-privada. Esta metodología no solo es imprecisa, sino que revela una de las mayores preocupaciones que tiene la sociedad civil respecto al derecho a la intimidad”. Como el propio plan decía poco del proyecto, nos quedamos pendientes de la respuesta del MinTic a los comentarios (que aún esperamos) y, sobre todo, a la presentación del documento final que se haga revisando el plan con base en los comentarios de la ciudadanía para analizarlo integralmente.

[…] The Citizen Portfolio Project will be implemented through a public-private partnership. This methodology is not only imprecise, but also it reveals one of the biggest concerns of civil society regarding the right to privacy. As the plan itself said few about the project, we were waiting for the response to comments MinTic (we are still waiting) and, above all, for the presentation of the final document, and that this may be carried out by reviewing the plan, based on public comment to analyze it integrally.

So far, there have been no responses from the national government. For citizens, the wait continues.

by Lully Posada at October 13, 2014 03:43 PM

Feeds In This Planet