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.

May 20, 2015

Global Voices
From #GoHomeIndianMedia, Nepal Turns to #ComeBackIndianBarber
People are leaving the capital city and going back to their own villages after the massive earthquake in Kathmandu. Image by Sunil Sharma. Copyright Demotix (28/4/2015)

People are leaving the capital city and going back to their own villages after the massive earthquake in Kathmandu. Image by Sunil Sharma. Copyright Demotix (28/4/2015)

The mass exodus from the Kathmandu Valley after two back-to-back earthquakes has dealt a severe blow to daily life in the area. Daily wage labourers, vegetable vendors, shopkeepers, drivers, and professionals from all walks of life have left the valley to return to their homes. Some go back to help rebuild, or to check on relatives and loved ones, while most people are simply frightened and frustrated by the continuous tremors beneath their feet.

Within a week after the first tremor, almost 800,000 people left the Kathmandu Valley. Afterwards, as the situation was returning to normal, people started coming back. Following the second quake on May 12, however, the exodus began anew.

As a result, the valley is facing a shortage of manpower just as the need for labourers to make repairs spikes. Likewise, the local economy has suffered, though the situation is normalising once again. As reported by Republica Daily, shortages have in turn slowed Kathmandu’s recovery.

Interrupted supplies of essential goods continue to keep several local factories out of service, and commodity prices have skyrocketed, as labor grows more scarce and transport costs more expensive.

Motorcyclists drive next to debris of collapsed houses in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Image by Sunil Sharma. Copyright Demotix (15/5/2015)

Motorcyclists drive next to debris of collapsed houses in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Image by Sunil Sharma. Copyright Demotix (15/5/2015)

Many of the area's barbers, mostly coming from the southern plains of Nepal and neighbouring India, have also left the valley. Due to this, many barber shops have closed and Kathmanduites are having an unusually hard time getting a haircut. The hair salons that are still open have witnessed long queues of customers with the barbers getting no time even for lunch breaks.

Confronted by the scarcity of barbers, Internet users have started using the rapidly-popular hashtag #ComeBackIndianBarber on Twitter:

[My] hair has grown. To get a haircut [I] don’t see any salon open. Now need to call barber from here by saying #ComeBackIndianBarber

Cartoons showing men with long unkempt hair have been making the rounds on social media, as well. One image shows a before-and-after scenario, where a man after the earthquake is shown sporting a grown mustache, beard, and hair.

Likewise, another cartoon by Barun Pokhrel shows men with long hair, beards, and mustaches roaming the streets, navigating the rubble aftermath of the earthquakes:

The height of dependency. Kathmandu after the barbers left for Motihari and Darbhanga [India].

Responding to the scarcity of barbers, the Ministry of Industry is reportedly considering launching a new program to provide haircutting training to local youth in Kathmandu. Officials are also planning to offer mason training in villages to help prepare technicians to rebuild houses in quake-affected villages.

Called by the moniker “Bhaiya,” meaning “brother” in Hindi, Kathmandu's barbers were typically looked down upon. With the earthquake, however, they've become one of the area's most sought-after professionals. This is the right time to respect the profession and call them with alternate names (like “dai” meaning elder brother in Nepali) that are pleasing to the barbers. So that they don’t feel offended. I tweeted:

by Sanjib Chaudhary at May 20, 2015 02:03 AM

May 19, 2015

Creative Commons
CC Tanzania expands OER and CC training to more primary schools

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Aristarik is an Assistant Lecturer at the Open University of Tanzania and Creative Commons Tanzania volunteer.


CC Tanzania SOO Training Training
SOO Tanzania Training by CC Tanzania under CC BY

Creative Commons Tanzania through School of Open programme trained 50 pupils from Kumbukumbu primary school on the benefits of the Internet, computer programmes information/knowledge sharing, and Open Education Resources (OER). This is one of the planned activities for School of Open (SOO) Tanzania where this training was preceded by a donation of computers, chairs and tables to the computer lab as part of CC Tanzania’s initiative to enable public schools’ use of ICTs in teaching and learning.

This event was officiated by Prof. Tolly Mbwette, the former Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), who agreed to be the patron of CC Tanzania. The university supported the training by providing two training labs that were used by the pupils. Open and Distance Learning (ODL) computer labs were used in the training.

Steven Lukindo, Acting Director of the Institute of Educational Technology & Management (IETM) kicked off the 3-day program on 17, April 2014. 50 pupils were introduced to the open web to aid teaching and learning and the use of Google, Microsoft Word and Excel. The concept of the commons, copyright, and how CC licenses have enabled the global OER movement was also introduced.

A one-month teacher training for 40 primary school teachers was also launched, commencing on 20, April 2015. The training equips teachers from the same school with ICT skills in teaching and learning. Internet, OER and the concept of the commons were introduced to comply with school’s ICT syllabus. This training was SOO Tanzania’s follow-up activity after the donation of computers by CC Tanzania to the same school.

SOO Tanzania has planned for additional training to the school’s pupils on the benefits of sharing OER and the use of different teaching and learning tools customized to local content.

Challenges and lessons learned

A number of challenges were encountered by SOO Tanzania, including: lack of funding to carry out some of its key planned activities, time to merge busy schedules of facilitators work and volunteering activities, publicity, inadequate ICT facilities in most public schools, and low understanding of ICT in teaching and learning in most schools and perception change in sharing of innovations and creativity within the community. More publicity and training is required to take School of Open to the next level in the country.

CC Tanzania through its School of Open planned activities is planning to approach more donors and volunteers to support its 2015 road map, in addition to publicizing its activities to teaching and learning institutions to attract awareness of how CC affiliates work for a better and brighter future of sharing.

by Aristarik Maro at May 19, 2015 06:41 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Russia Launches ‘Predictive System’ for Monitoring Protest Activity Online
A group of people hold banners with the name of opposition leader Alexey Navalny at an unsanctioned rally at Manezhnaya Square in the center of Moscow in December 2014. Image by Nickolay Vinokurov on Demotix.

A group of people hold banners with the name of opposition leader Alexey Navalny at an unsanctioned rally at Manezhnaya Square in the center of Moscow in December 2014. Image by Nickolay Vinokurov on Demotix.

A Russian pro-government political think tank has launched what they term a “predictive and monitoring system” to monitor unsanctioned rallies and protest actions on social networks. While similar systems have been developed around the world, experts doubt this particular system is as dangerous as it sounds.

The software began a test run on May 18, crawling a section of an unidentified social network, Yevgeny Venediktov, director of Center for Research in Legitimacy and Political Protest, told pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia. Venediktov said the system would only monitor key targeted segments of networks, like groups or user profiles, collected by volunteers into a database and filtered by “sociologists and politologists.” Those collecting targets for monitoring would pay special attention to politically oriented groups, civic protest communities, and local discussion forums, watching likes and retweets of content posted by “extremist groups.”

Venediktov claims the new software, called “Laplace's Demon,” (a name borrowed from a mathematical thought experiment by 19th-century French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace describing an omniscient “demon”) will be able to spot preparations for protests long before they happen, and could supply that information to law enforcement, academics and state officials.

How does predictive monitoring work?

Jay Ulfelder, a political scientist and research affiliate with Data-Pop Alliance, told RuNet Echo it is possible to develop systems that use social-media posts and other raw content to anticipate protest activity “with some accuracy, especially close the time of the event.”

The simplest version of this is old-fashioned eavesdropping—watch specific social media feeds or group forums for planning activity—and that probably still works in many cases. More sophisticated versions would watch those spaces and possibly many other forms of unstructured data, convert those streams to structured data through things like natural language processing and imagery analysis, and then use statistical models or machine learning to generate forecasts about the activity of interest.

Ulfelder cites the examples of EMBERS (short for Early Model Based Event Recognition using Surrogates), a predictive system funded by the US government, and the Chinese government's monitoring of social media, which anticipates collective action and censors discussions that might trigger it. Egyptian law enforcement has also attempted to build comprehensive surveillance systems to monitor social media for expressions of dissent and content “harmful to public security.” While the predictive algorithms in each case are different and not always obvious, Ulfelder says there is at least “circumstantial evidence that this can be done reasonably well.”

What will be monitored?
Although it's unclear which social networks the software is able to monitor at the moment and what the systems’ capabilities are, Venediktov told Izvestia they were planning to start monitoring Twitter in September, and called the platform one of the worst offenders in terms of hosting “extremist content.”

Мы провели исследование и выяснили, что именно эта соцсеть является не только лидером среди других социальных медиа по числу размещенных на нем ссылок на экстремистский контент, но и к тому же не удаляет их по требованию Роскомнадзора.

We did some research and found that this particular network is not only the leader among other social media in terms of the number of links to extremist content, but it also doesn't delete these links at the request of Roscomnadzor.

Twitter, Facebook, and other online social networks have been used by activists and opposition members in Russia as an alternative to mainstream media, largely co-opted by the Kremlin, to organize protest rallies and facilitate discussion of key social and political issues. While Russian media watchdog Roscomnadzor routinely demands these networks take down content related to political activity that it classifies as “extremist,” these demands often go unfulfilled and only some pages are taken down. Roscomnadzor has been especially unhappy with Twitter as the company refuses most of their demands to remove problematic content.

How serious is the threat?
Although the new software is presented as a sparkling innovation, Russian security services already have tools in their arsenal to monitor public expression on the web, like the Semantic Archive software, used by the security services and law enforcement to monitor mainstream media and the Internet, including blogs and social networks.

Andrei Soldatov, editor of the Russian intelligence watchdog site Agentura.ru, told RuNet Echo that Russian monitoring systems were first developed for monitoring structured information, such as media reports, so making them work with unstructured data such as social media content requires them to be relatively small and tuned to specific tasks. Another issue, according to Soldatov, is that these systems are only able to work with open accounts, (not private profile pages or locked Twitter accounts), and even then they often have trouble accessing content and metadata, as is the case with Facebook.

With the multitude of monitoring tools already in place at various government agencies, Soldatov believes the new Laplace's Demon software “doesn’t look very serious,” and says the think tank and Venediktov, whom he dubs “a low-level spin doctor from Novgorod” are simply looking to cash in on a lucrative trend.

This Center [for Research in Legitimacy and Political Protest] is not a big thing. It seems to me that it’s an effort to raise the public profile of the Center and find a way to government funding. Russian secret services have their own systems, like Semantic Archive, the [Presidential] Administration and the ministries use their own systems, and this Venediktov is merely trying to find his way to this profitable market.

While we wait for the details about the new predictive monitoring system to emerge, there is plenty to worry about with existing cases of social media users sanctioned for posting undesirable content and “extremist materials.” With the Kremlin pressing on social media and other websites to store users’ data inside Russia and asking them to take down increasingly more politically charged content, it seems predictive monitoring might be only one of the things Russian activists might have to contend with as they struggle with finding a place for their work and opinions online.

by Tetyana Lokot at May 19, 2015 06:41 PM

Global Voices
Morsi's Death Sentence: The International Community Is Anything but Silent
Cairo, Egypt. 1st July 2013 -- Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi wave national flags and his posters during a rally in Nasser City, in Cairo, Egypt, before he was ousted. Photograph by Mohamed Mostafa. Copyright: Demotix

Cairo, Egypt. 1st July 2013 — Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi wave national flags and his posters during a rally in Nasser City, in Cairo, Egypt, before he was ousted. Photograph by Mohamed Mostafa. Copyright: Demotix

Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death and the international community is not happy. The Egyptian government, too, is unhappy that the world is not too pleased with its mass death sentences.

Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, along with more than 100 other people, were sentenced to death on May 16, 2015, for collaborating with foreign militants to free Islamists during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison amid the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. Among his 105 co-defendants were some 70 Palestinians, accused of being members of Hamas, who were charged and tried in absentia. And among the Palestinians sentenced to death, Hassan Salameh has been in an Israeli prison since 1994, and Raed Attar is already dead.

The former president, a top Muslim Brotherhood member, is already serving a 20-year sentence for ordering the arrest and torture of protesters while in power.

Morsi was the president of Egypt for one year after the revolution, which overthrew Hosni Mubarak early 2011, who ruled Egypt for more than 30 years. Morsi's reign was cut short in July 2013, following massive protests calling for his ouster. Then, the Egyptian Army took command, under the leadership of Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence General Abdul Fattah El Sisi, who is now Egypt's president.

Since being deposed of power, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement was banned in Egypt, and thousands of its supporters arrested.

Head of Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) Dr Maha Azzam called on the international community to act in an article on Ikhwan Web:

democratic governments have failed the people of Egypt by supporting a military regime that kills its own people and now has passed a death sentence against the first democratically elected President of Egypt in a farcical trial that has no legitimacy.

She claims that torture and rape has become a pattern since the military, headed by Al Sisi, took power. Over 40,000 political activists remain in Egyptian prisons today. Several thousand protestors have been killed.

Mohamed Soudan, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood who fled Egypt and moved to the United Kingdom after Morsi's overthrow, told Al Jazeera:

They're insisting on issuing these verdicts against anyone who participated in the January 25 Revolution … all of the verdicts fail to meet international standards of law … they are farcical and will be dismissed as a failing of the coup.

Turkey, also emerged as a primary supporter of Morsi, condemning the verdict and echoing the ERC in urging the international community to speak up. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the silence of the international community over the court's decision, asking the West to take a stance on capital punishment as pioneers in abolishing the sentence. Erdogan labeled the verdict by Egyptian court as “capital punishment against the ballot box.”

The Turkish government is for once backed by the Turkish people in their position, creating a Twitter buzz of mass support for Morsi. People started their own Turkish hashtag to support Morsi #MursiYalnızDeğildir — Morsi You Are Not Alone — which was trending number one in Turkey and third worldwide the day of the sentencing.

The “Rabaa” hand sign with four fingers refers to Rabaa Al Adawiya mosque, the site of a violent confrontation between Morsi’s followers and the Egyptian army. On August 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces opened fire at a sit-in protest in Rabaa Al Adawiya Square, killing more than 800 people opposed to the ousting of Morsi.

Pakistan joined Turkey in raising the “Rabaa” sign in support of Morsi:

Contrary to the ERC and Turkey's claims that the international community is silent, there has been public statements of condemnation around Morsi's verdict.

Amnesty International condemned the sentences saying the verdict followed ‘charade trials’.

Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement released by the organization:

His trials were undermined even before he set foot in the courtroom. The fact that he was held for months incommunicado without judicial oversight and that he didn’t have a lawyer to represent him during the investigations makes these trials nothing but a charade based on null and void procedures.

The US, UN, UK and EU speak up

The international community agreed that the latest verdict and mass death sentences are not consistent with Egypt's obligations under international law.

The United States has expressed alarm and condemned the death penalty. A State Department spokesperson said:

We have consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences, which are conducted in a manner that is inconsistent with Egypt’s international obligations and the rule of law.

The European Union (EU) also called the decision “cruel and inhumane” and called on the Egyptian government to provide the defendants with “the right to a fair trial”.

Britain's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Tobias Ellwood said in a statement:

The UK government is deeply concerned by the sentencing to death of former President Morsi and over 100 others yesterday. We note that there are further stages in the legal process, and will continue to follow this case closely.

However, the government of Egypt sees otherwise. According to a statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Justice “comments by foreign countries concerning the judiciary decision has violated all international conventions which respect sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of another country.”

Twitter craze over Morsi

The Twitter craze in support of Morsi has gotten louder through the hashtags #MorsiTrial , #WeStandWithMorsi and #MorsiIsNotAlone, to name a few.

Some even used revolutionary icon Che Guevara's quotes to describe the injustice:

People are criticizing the justice system in Egypt:

Others are slamming current President Sisi:

Morsi faces a separate trial with nine others on charges of endangering national security by leaking confidential and sensitive information to Qatar. He is also facing another trial with 24 others for insulting the judiciary. The first hearing is scheduled for May 23, 2015.

Saturday's case has been referred to the Grand Mufti, the country's top religious scholar, for review. A final hearing is scheduled for June 2.

by Faten Bushehri at May 19, 2015 05:16 PM

Thailand’s Section 44 Could Be Worse Than Martial Law
A year has passed when martial law was declared in Thailand by the army.  Last month, martial law was revoked but a new law gave the army 'unlimited' powers to rule the country.

A year has passed since martial law was declared in Thailand by the army. Last month, martial law was revoked but a new law gave the army ‘unlimited’ powers to rule the country.

This article is from Prachatai, an independent news site in Thailand, and is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Martial law, which had been in force since May 2014, was finally revoked in Thailand on 20 March 2015. However, instead of returning Thailand to civilian rule as it had promised, the Thai junta replaced martial law with its new protocol, Section 44 of the Interim Charter, which significantly broadens its authority while still retaining the power to crush political dissent with arrests and detentions.

According to Brad Adams, the Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, invoking Section 44 of the Interim Charter provision gives Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, unlimited power without safeguards on human rights:

General Prayut’s activation of Section 44 of the Constitution will mark Thailand’s deepening descent into dictatorship. Thailand’s friends abroad should not be fooled by this obvious sleight of hand by the junta leader to replace martial law with a constitutional provision that effectively provides unlimited and unaccountable powers.

The following are 15 facts about the sweeping powers the junta has acquired through the imposition of Section 44.

1. Areas under the martial law prior to the May 2014 coup d’état, which cover four districts of the southern province of Songkhla and three provinces of the restive Deep South, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, are still under martial law.

2. Civilians are still subjected to trial by military courts in cases related to national security, such as possessing or carrying unauthorised or illegal weapons in public and instigating rebellion, and those constituting offences under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, in accordance to the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcements Nos. 37/2014, 38/2014, and 50/2014.

3. Defendants can appeal verdicts handed down by a military court. However, cases under the jurisdiction of military courts which took place between 25 May 2014 and 31 March 2015 cannot be appealed under Section 61 of the 1955 Military Court Act.

4. Under Section 15 of the 1914 Martial Law Act, military personnel can detain individuals for up to seven days, after which suspects are to be sent to the police for investigation. However, NCPO Order 3/2015 under Section 44 assigns ‘Peace and Order Maintenance Officers’ (POM), which are defined as military personnel with the rank of sub-lieutenant up, to act as investigating officers for suspects charged with offences related to national security.

5. Section 44 gives military personnel complete judicial power over detaining, investigating, indicting, and judging in military tribunals, cases related to national security in accordance to the junta’s NCPO Announcements Nos. 37/2014, 38/2014, and 50/2014.

6. POMs can detain individuals for up to seven days in places which are not detention facilities such as police stations, remand prisons and detention centres, and detainees shall not be treated as suspects of criminal offences. Similar to the practice under martial law, detainees are not alleged criminal offenders. Therefore, they are not granted rights to see their families, relatives, or lawyers.

7. While detaining suspects accused of defying junta orders within the seven day time frame, security officers can 1) issue restriction orders, 2) demand payment of guarantees, 3) detain individuals in hospitals, 4) forbid detainees from engaging in certain occupations, 5) ban overseas travel, and 6) freeze financial transactions of detainees. These conditions are more severe than those under NCPO Announcement No. 40/2014.

8. POMs can arrest, detain, search, confiscate, and carry out actions under NCPO orders in all cases related to national security mentioned in NCPO Announcement No. 37/2014.

9. POMs can issue orders to prohibit the circulation of information and news from any source which might cause fear or distort facts or is intended to have a negative impact on national security and public order.

10. Political gatherings of five people or more are prohibited. However, if persons suspected of political gathering charges voluntarily participate in seven day training under POMs, the suspects can be released with or without conditions, free from liability of criminal charges. This POM-run training is based on Section 21 of the 2008 Internal Security Act (ISA). But unlike training under the ISA, which includes a certain level of judicial oversight, the authority to conduct seven days training under this order lies with the military POMs alone.

11. The actions of authorities under Section 44 are not covered by Thailand’s Administration Act and civilians cannot file complaints with the Administrative Court.

12. Section 44 of the Interim Charter gives authority to the leader of the NCPO alone. However, NCPO Order 3/2015, which replaces martial law with Section 44, delegates these powers to other military personnel and NCPO officers. In other words, it broadens the authority of military officers and the NCPO.

13. POMs and their assistants who act impartially in accordance with the authority bestowed by the junta cannot be held responsible for actions to prevent threats to national security.

14. Section 14 of NCPO Order 3/2015 to impose Section 44 does not prohibit affected parties from claiming compensation from the government in accordance with the Public Officials’ Responsibility and Conduct Act. However, Section 44 of the Interim Charter states that orders or actions under the junta’s directives are completely legal and constitutional.

15. In conclusion, the junta’s NCPO Order No. 3/2015 still gives the junta the authority they had under martial law. However, it adds procedures to handle political dissent based on the Internal Security Act, exempts state officials from their responsibilities under the 2005 Public Administration in a State of Emergency Act, and authorizes them to carry out investigations under the Criminal Procedure Code, all of which becomes constitutional and legal in accordance to Section 44.

by Prachatai at May 19, 2015 05:05 PM

Lawrence Lessig
Wow. How many mistakes can you fit into 325 words

Elizabeth Drew has a piece in the New York Review of Books — How Money Runs Our Politics. I’m…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 19, 2015 04:08 PM

Wow. How many mistakes can you fit into 325 words

Elizabeth Drew has a piece in the New York Review of Books — How Money Runs Our Politics. I’m…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 19, 2015 04:08 PM

Wow. How many mistakes can you fit into 325 words

Elizabeth Drew has a piece in the New York Review of Books — How Money Runs Our Politics. I’m…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 19, 2015 04:08 PM

Wow. How many mistakes can you fit into 325 words

Elizabeth Drew has a piece in the New York Review of Books — How Money Runs Our Politics. I’m…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 19, 2015 04:08 PM

Wow. How many mistakes can you fit into 325 words

Elizabeth Drew has a piece in the New York Review of Books — How Money Runs Our Politics. I’m…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 19, 2015 04:08 PM

Wow. How many mistakes can you fit into 325 words

Elizabeth Drew has a piece in the New York Review of Books — How Money Runs Our Politics. I’m…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 19, 2015 04:08 PM

Global Voices
Despite Protests, Malaysia Still Plans to Build a Mega Dam That Could Displace 20,000 Indigenous People
View of Baram, Sarawak that will be affected by a dam project. Photo from Jettie Word, republished with permission

View of Baram, Sarawak, that will be affected by a dam project. Photo from Jettie Word, republished with permission

The local government of Sarawak in Malaysia is building a mega dam despite the fierce opposition of residents and indigenous peoples who will be affected by the project. Sarawak is part of Borneo Island, which is famous for its rich natural resources.

A proposed dam in Baram, located in the northern part Sarawak, is expected to generate 1, 200 megawatts of electricity, but many fear that it will submerge 412 square kilometers of rainforest. In addition, about 20,000 people from 27 settlements of Kayan, Kenyah, and Penan indigenous groups will be forcibly displaced during the construction of the dam. The Baram Dam is one of the 12 mega dams that the local government is planning to build in Sarawak.

Peter N. J. Kallang, a local leader and anti-dam activist, warned that the dam will wipe out the core population of Baram’s indigenous groups:

It is built for the benefit of others rather than those who live in Baram and for the long term good of the Baram.

As one of those affected I just can’t understand this injustice and this outrageous and abusive exploit. This seems to be a senseless exploitation which is primarily driven by avarice coupled with immorality. For us who are directly and adversely affected parties, no one can blame us in thinking that this is a calculated, intentional and purposeful maneuver to wipe out our races.

Since last year, local residents have put up a blockade to prevent the construction of the dam. They have also appealed to other communities in Malaysia and environmental networks all over the world to support their campaign against the dam.

Protest against the Baram Dam project. Photo from the Facebook page of Save Rivers

Protest against the Baram Dam project. Photo from the Facebook page of Save Rivers

A blockade was set up by local residents to stop the dam construction. Photo from the Facebook page of Save Rivers

A blockade was set up by local residents to stop the dam construction. Photo from the Facebook page of Save Rivers

Rally against Baram Dam project. Photo from Sarawak Report

Rally against Baram Dam project. Photo from Sarawak Report

Blockade protest continues in Baram. Photo from Jettie Word, republished with permission.

Blockade protest continues in Baram. Photo from Jettie Word, republished with permission.

Last week, during the 555th day of the community-led Baram Dam blockade, a documentary was released by The Borneo Project which explained why the dam project in Sarawak is not necessary and how it will not benefit the local population. The film also probed if corruption was a big factor in implementing the dam project.

Protests are expected to intensify after the government ordered the construction of the Baram Dam a few days ago.

by Mong Palatino at May 19, 2015 02:30 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
The Media is the Message: E-Diplomacy in Egypt
Egypt goes offline, January 27, 2011. Graphic by Committee to Protect Journalists.

Egypt goes offline, January 27, 2011. Graphic by Committee to Protect Journalists.

The original version of this post appeared on the Future Challenges blog.

On January 27, 2011, Egyptian authorities ordered a total blackout on all digital communications in order to stem the growing calls for protests in the street to topple former President Hosni Moubarak. The blackout went on for six days during which Egypt completely disappeared from the Internet. This was unprecedented in scale and in duration. The strategy eventually backfired, demonstrating the regime’s inability to tackle popular anger.

The digital technology was not only a political paradigm shift for the Egyptian officials, it was also an alien and probably risky one as well. Social media tools were used by young Arab activists to voice dissent and spread it in a very effective way, so effective that the Arab spring was labelled a digital revolution. The mere fact that there was social media created a new rapport de force between the regime and the people. This new media, by its simple existence, created a counter weight to the power of the regime. And ever since, its presence has affected the way Egyptians consume information. The authorities were seen as digital migrants, not at ease in these new territories where control and censorship were more complicated than on traditional media.

Egyptian authorities today must figure out how to communicate effectively in the wake of four years of constant regime change.

Over the last four years, Egypt has witnessed a series of regime changes. Before the 2012 presidential elections that led to the election of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the first regime change came with the installation of a Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) as an interim government. The second regime change came when Morsi was ousted by a popular revolution backed by the army during the summer of 2013. Then in May 2014, a former Field Marshal by the name of Abdelfattah Al Sissi was elected President.

Despite the regime changes and their impact on diplomatic issues, a non-Arabic reader would not be able to really know what was going on. Digital tools were barely used by Egyptian authorities and when they were, it was exclusively in Arabic. Take for example the following websites, the official page of the Egyptian Army spokesperson, the official YouTube channel of the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the official Twitter account of former President Muhammad Morsi and the official Twitter account of current President Abdelfattah Al-Sissi, these provide important updates on the situation in Egypt. But updates are written only in Arabic, despite the fact that most of the world does not read this language.

native-lang1

Is Egypt missing out by only communicating in Arabic?, source: U. Ammon, U. of Dusseldorf, Population Reference Bureau (includes bilingual speakers).

The population addressed by such e-diplomacy efforts already had access to traditional media tools in Arabic as well. But, the rest of the world, be it English, French or Spanish speakers, was left in the dark. The only English-language media available is https://twitter.com/MfaEgypt. It began in January 2015 and has less than 700 users.

Welcoming digital technology into the political space?

Now compare this with the creative “e-diplomacies” of the region, for example Israel, who have developed targeted social media accounts and strategies for regions in which they have no official diplomatic presence. Even ISIS has been implementing very elaborate digital strategies, using multilingual digital tools such as social media, online newspapers, high-definition video cameras, slick graphics and refined editing techniques. As scholars Gregory Payne, Efe Sevin and Sara Bruya write,

Old methods of diplomacy based on behind-the-scenes diplomacy,  relying heavily on one-way communication methods where the audience usually plays a passive role. However, given the possibilities for active engagement that exist in today’s media landscape, individuals are less likely to accept this passive, submissive role.

Egypt seems to be stuck in this old way of doing diplomacy.

Yet Egyptian authorities are capable of addressing the “international community” in a clear and professional manner, as demonstrated during the Egypt Economic Development Conference in March 2015. They had a fully functioning website, including a dedicated Twitter account and hashtag (#EEDC2015)  and a YouTube channel specifically for videos from the conference.

The Egyptian government has demonstrated the ability to fully implement a social media strategy, for example, in the recent Egyptian Economic Development forum. This saw a targeted, successful and open mode of communication accessible to many people. However, this same openness isn’t translated to its own international diplomatic efforts, which begs the question: Why not?

Why can’t this be replicated throughout Egypt’s global e-diplomacy? Why not take advantage of social media platforms to build a successful digital diplomacy strategy? What’s preventing the authorities from taking part in a broader, more open conversation regarding the kind of societies we want and the interactions among them and within them? Technology and social media have provided diplomacy with additional tools to do just that, but it entails a complete overhaul in Egypt’s communications strategy.

by Global Voices Advocacy at May 19, 2015 02:07 PM

Lost in the Web: Navigating the Legal Maze Online
"All Rights Reserved." Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, released to public domain.

“All Rights Reserved.” Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, released to public domain.

A few weeks ago in Berlin, I spoke at re:publica about threats to free speech online such as technical censorship,  the use of copyright laws to curtail free speech, liability for user comments, and the right to be forgotten. It’s not always easy to get people interested in talking about the law, so I was happy that people showed up.

As one audience member put it on Twitter, “law ain’t fun, but it’s important.”

I framed my talk using the 2009 Internet Manifesto which envisions an Internet on which information can flow freely without undue restrictions on false grounds (see declaration #4). Anyone who uses the Internet to express themselves should know about these threats so that they can protect themselves and their work online. So I've written a summary of the talk here, for anyone who is interested but couldn't attend the event.

Website blocking in India, Pakistan, and France

The wholesale blocking of websites and Internet platforms is often justified on serious grounds, such as the protection of national security. An example is India’s Article 69A of the IT Act, under which the Indian government can order the blocking of a website when it finds it “necessary or expedient” to do so. If the order is not complied with, this is punishable by a maximum of 7 years’ imprisonment plus a fine for the Internet service provider. A decision to block a website cannot be appealed. There is a review process that determines whether or not the blocking decision was taken properly, but, the body conducting the review is a government panel and the only guideline for the review process is Article 69A itself.

The language of Article 69A is overly broad, which makes it open to multiple interpretation and therefore abuse. The data indicate that the provision is applied regularly. In December 2014, over 60 websites were reported to have been blocked under this provision, including Vimeo, Github, Daily Motion and Sourceforge. Notwithstanding these obvious shortcomings, the Indian Supreme Court in a recent decision declared that it considered Article 69A to be perfectly in line with the Constitution. It described the article as “narrowly defined” and “constitutionally sound.”

Imperfect as India's policy may be, it is better than having no policy at all. This is the case in Pakistan, where YouTube has been blocked in the country since September 2012, even though the video that caused this, the Innocence of Muslims, no longer is available on it for copyright reasons. YouTube is just one of the many sites that have been blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority without any basis in law, decree or even a guideline.

Pakistani NGO Bytes for All has challenged the blocking of YouTube before the High Court in Lahore. In addition to requesting an order to unblock the site, they requested that a proper regulatory mechanism be set up to prevent any ad hoc blockings in the future. While there have been moments of hope in the proceedings, the case has yet to reach a final conclusion.

France

Image: French Interior Ministry

There are many more examples that can be mentioned, including in Europe. France adopted a decree following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, empowering the Interior Minister to order the blocking of any website containing “terrorist” or “pro-jihad” content. No court order is required. There are no clear numbers available on the number of sites blocked under this new law, but the information available suggests that the decree is being interpreted broadly. This fits in with the wider crackdown on free speech in the country and beyond that is sadly taking place post-Charlie Hebdo.

Copyright: A Double-Edged Sword

Copyright is a double-edged sword when it comes to free speech. It is intended as an incentive to put valuable ideas and images onto the market, but at the same time it restricts their dissemination.

Within the European Union, Italy is a country where copyright laws are being used very effectively to remove online content. In May 2014, Freedom House reported that at least 450 websites had been blocked on copyright grounds. Interestingly, Italy is also the first European country where a telecom regulator, AGCOM, can order hosting providers to take down content for having violated copyright provisions. This decision is taken by an internal administrative panel and if the order is not complied with, AGCOM can have the website in question blocked by the ISP within 72 hours without a court order. The regulations under which AGCOM operates have been referred to the Constitutional Court, which will consider the matter in October 2015. It will be the first Constitutional court in Europe to consider the effect administrative copyright enforcement has on the right to freedom of expression.

Walter Scott

Screen capture from Walter Scott video

Copyright restrictions have long been balanced with the concept of “fair use”, a policy provision that allows for the limited use of copyrighted material for news reporting, criticism, education, research and other purposes. An interesting debate has emerged in the US, however, where reports surfaced in April 2015 that cease and desist letters had been sent out to news outlets worldwide regarding the footage of the shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott by a police officer. A bystander filmed the incident using his mobile phone and the footage was broadcast worldwide on the news and shared via the Internet. Now, his legal representatives have contacted a number of news outlets, charging a USD 10,000 fee for any further use of the footage. Some are now asking whether something that qualifies as news at one point, at a later time wouldn’t any longer, triggering copyright protection of the footage in question.

Who is Liable for Comments?

Many online media invite their readers to engage with the news by leaving comments. This enables readers to have their voices heard, adds a different dimension to the news and can create a community of readers around a news outlet. It transforms the media from a one-way flow of communication to a more participatory form of speech which recognises the voice of the reader and allows different viewpoints to be aired.

In January 2006, the Estonian news portal Delfi posted a news item on the change a big ferry company was making in its ferry routes. The news hit a nerve with a great number of readers: an avalanche of comments followed the news story, many of which where insulting or threatening to the ferry company’s major shareholder. The lawyers of the shareholder asked Delfi to remove the comments and pay damages to the shareholder. While Delfi removed the comments, it refused to pay damages as it did not consider itself liable for comments made by others.

But national courts thought otherwise. The court held Delfi liable for the user comments placed under the article, considering that the portal could not claim protection of the safe harbor provided by the EU's E-Commerce Directive as it should be considered to be a publisher, rather than an ISP. In a much-criticised decision, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the Estonian courts’ reasoning, exemplifying their poor understanding of the realities of online publishing and news reporting. The case was referred to the Grand Chamber (the appellate chamber of the European Court) in February 2014, where MLDI led a 28-party coalition of news outlets and press freedom organisations, including Global Voices, arguing that the Court should consider previous rulings on the issue, the liberal regime applied in the US, and the best practices developed by news outlets worldwide in moderating user comments. The case was heard on 9 July 2014 and a decision is currently pending.

The Right to Be Forgotten

European media widely covered the EU Court of Justice's ruling the case of Google Spain SL and Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja González  in which the plaintiff argued that search engine activity amounted to the processing of personal data and that a search engine’s operator is considered a “data controller” or the party responsible for processing personal data in that context. An intriguing feature of the March 2014 decision is that the Court did not once refer to the right to freedom of expression. While the judgment emphasized that the EU Data Protection Directive should be interpreted in light of the fundamental rights listed in the EU Charter (which includes the right to freedom of expression in Article 11), it merely referred to the right to privacy and right to protection of personal data. Only in passing was reference made to the impact the removal of links from search results could have on the interest (not right) of internet users in accessing information via search engines.

Information does not get removed from the Internet based on this decision, but it does get de-indexed by the search engine. So if the information still exists and is available, what is the problem? First, it infringes upon an essential component of the right to freedom of expression, namely the right to access the information and ideas disseminated by others. Second, there is an enormous lack of transparency on what gets de-indexed and why. The latest numbers indicate that Google de-indexed around 307,000 links since the March 2014 decision. But how it came to the decision to do so in these individual cases is unclear. While Google has provided some more information on the process, the criteria applied in its decision making, are broad and can be interpreted in many ways.

There is some light on the horizon, however, with some national courts giving a restrictive reading of the CJEU judgement. One example is the Netherlands, where a court recently found that the Google Spain ruling is not applicable to news stories.

Know Your Rights

Why is it important to look at all these examples of repression of speech online? The short answer is that knowledge is power. If we want the Internet to remain a place where information and ideas can be shared freely, it is important to know what obstacles you may encounter in doing so. This allows you to come up with creative solutions for dealing with them. Is your website blocked in your jurisdiction? Set up an IP proxy or find someone to set up a mirror site for you. Is your content de-indexed because someone made a claim to the right to be forgotten? Let the world know: write, tweet and Facebook about it to make sure your story gets out regardless. It is good to think these things through beforehand. If you have something important to say, make sure you have a plan for defending your words.

Nani Jansen is the Legal Director of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, a global organization that helps journalists, bloggers, and independent media outlets defend their rights by offering both financial assistance and substantive litigation support.

by Nani Jansen at May 19, 2015 12:25 AM

May 18, 2015

Global Voices
For Venezuelans, Job Opportunities Lie Just Over the Border in Brazil
Foto tomada de la cuenta barloventomagico en Flickr bajo licencia Creative Commons.

On the border with Brazil. Photo from Flickr account barloventomagico. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This post was originally published on the blog Las Crónicas de la Frontera.

Vicner, Raquel and Eva never thought that they would end up working abroad to make a living. But as the opportunity arose, they made their calculations and headed for the other side of the border to work and make money in Brazilian reais.

At the moment of writing this post, the currency exchange rate in the market was 55 Venezuelan bolivars for 1 real, even if the official exchange rate is 2.19 bolivars for 1 real.

This does not mean that Vicner, Raquel and Eva are emigrants. None of the them live in Brazil. They work, eat and sleep there until they are paid, when they return to Santa Elena de Uairen in Venezuela, to exchange the money and use it to pay for whatever they and their families need to buy.

Vicner, separated from her husband and with two daughters, was looking for work at the beginning of the year, when a friend came to her house to ask if she wanted to work in a restaurant in Villa Pacaraima, on the Brazilian side of the border. She works a stone's throw away the village’s main shopping street.

Pacaraima, also known as BV8 or La Línea (The Border), is the closest Brazilian town to Venezuela, home to 5,000 people, most of them government employees, farmers or traders.

BV8 flourished between 1990 and 2005, while the currency exchange favored Venezuelans, who bought products like Brazilian sausage, beauty products, hammocks, hats, Havaianas sandals and T-shirts with the colors of the Brazilian flag. In those days, it was Brazilians who would come from Boa Vista and other places in the Roraima state to work in Santa Elena on the Venezuelan side of the border.

Vicner has a higher technical university degree in industrial hygiene and safety. But she has never pursued her profession. Her friends at university who managed to get a job are paid about 8,000 to 9,000 bolivars per month (the equivalent of about two US dollars). Once, she worked in a pharmacy as a saleswoman, making minimum wage. She was a full-time mother and housewife.

This afternoon, as she has been doing for the last month and a half, she will start working at five. With her hair tied up and a chef's hat on her head, she will wash her hands and prepare to serve about 25 dinners.

Although her mother has a restaurant, when she got married she did not know how to fry an egg. Now, she makes burgers and homemade food, rice and beans, meat, pasta and salad. She has learned how to cook without using too much seasoning. She says that Brazilians like their food plain.

Around 10 p.m., she will tidy up, clean and leave the business ready for the next day. She will finish by 11.

She works throughout the week, and she doesn't know when her day off is going to be yet. She worked for the last month and a half every day, without a single day off. She makes 700 reais (about 235 US dollars) plus room and board.

Tomorrow morning she is planning on going to Santa Elena, 15 kilometers away, to spend some time with her daughters and cook for them. Both of them, 5 and 11 years old, are living with their grandmother because in Pacaraima it is increasingly difficult to get a place in school for Venezuelans. It used to be easier — there are around 200 Venezuelan children studying in BV8 — but now those who want an enrollment have to place their names on a waiting list and manage to get a student visa. Vicner will probably be able to enroll them in 2016.

“I heard that some Venezuelans complain of mistreatment, but I did not had any problems (…) I'm happy here, I love what I do and I like the atmosphere. I love the weather, people are nice and the salary is not bad.” They make the equivalent of 40,000 bolivars with no expenses.

In those six weeks, she has met four other Venezuelans in similar circumstances: a girl who works in a lingerie store, who makes 500 reais (around 170 dollars) per month and works part-time; a man who works in supermarket cashier and makes 1,000 reais (around 340 dollars) working full-time, plus a woman that works in a beauty salon. “The boy told me that he came from Valencia (a city in the north of Venezuela) because of the lack of security and also because he was unemployed.”

As of January 1, 2015, the Brazilian minimum wage is 788 reais (about 330 dollars). A person must be paid at least 27.27 reais for a day work, or 3.58 per hour.

Venezuela implemented rigorous and complex regulations on currency exchange in 2003. Currently, it has four different exchange rates, three of them regulated by the state, and the fourth is the free dollar exchange rate.

‘It suits me to work here’

Raquel and Eva alternate caring for an elderly lady in Boa Vista, the capital of the Brazilian state of Roraima, which is a city of about 350,000 people, located 220 kilometers from Santa Elena.

Right now, Eva is working and Rachel is back in Santa Elena.

Today, Eva will rise around 6 a.m., help the woman get out of bed and wash up, then she will prepare coffee with milk and bread for breakfast. They will spend the morning together. Eva will probably tidy up the house; make lunch, cooking fish from the river, chicken or steak, rice, salad and fruit juice; then they both will take a nap; afterword they will get up and pass the time talking; Eva will make dinner, cooking perhaps some vegetable soup, and finally she will help the woman go to bed.

“En Boa Vista me siento muy bien, no tengo necesidad de pagar comida ni habitación y por la situación que tenemos aquí, en Venezuela, que el dinero no da, esto me sirve. Yo allá no gasto nada. La señora hasta me paga el pasaje y en diciembre me regaló ropa para estrenar”, contó Raquel.

“I feel good in Boa Vista, I do not need to pay for room and board. And with the difficult situation we have in Venezuela, where one cannot make end meets, it suits me to work here. I do not spend any money while working in Brazil. My boss, she even pays for my commuting expenses, and in December she gave me brand new clothes to wear,” said Rachel.

Rachel makes 1,000 reais (around 350 dollars) a month, although she has heard that a Brazilian woman asks for around 50 reais ( around 18 dollars) a day to work from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The second time she traveled on public transportation from Pacaraima to Boa Vista, she met a girl from Maracay, in the Venezuelan state of Aragua, which is located approximately 1,500 kilometers from the border. The girl said that she had an uncle working in the Santa Elena airport and that he put her in touch with the owner of a food kiosk in Boa Vista. She makes 700 reais (250 dollars) per month.

Soto, a professional musician, travels to Boa Vista each time a nightclub hires him. They pay him for the gig, food, board and transportation. In one night he can make between 200 to 300 reais (80 to 100 dollars). People tease him y saying that with this amount of money, a person may live for two weeks in Venezuela.

“En el por puesto, ya he conocido a varios obreros calificados, soldadores, albañiles, que están trabajando allá. Van durante el tiempo que dure el contrato y regresan”, dice.

“I have met many skilled workers, welders, bricklayers, who are working there. They cross the border for the duration of the contract and come back,” he says.

At its headquarters in Pacaraima, the Brazilian Federal Police areusually rigorous when checking the entry of foreigners. Usually, they grant residence permits for 30 days, which don't include the right to work. Those who leave the country after the visa has expired must pay a fine — in Brazilian reais.

by Liliane Tambasco at May 18, 2015 05:42 PM

Online Platform Alerts People in Mexico's Jalisco State to Organized Crime Violence
Helicóptero de la policia de Guadalajara iniciando con el patrullaje diario sobre la ciudad de Guadalajara. Foto tomada de la cuenta en Flickr de Alex Lomix bajo licencia Creative Commons.

Guadalajara's police helicopter beginning its daily patrol over Guadalajara City. Picture taken from Alex Lomix's Flickr account . CC BY-NC 2.0

After a Mexican air force helicopter was destroyed on May 1, 2015, supposedly at the hands of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel—now considered to be the most dangerous since Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, Servando Gómez “La Tuta,” was captured—local authorities introduced an online platform that sends out alerts about events threatening public security.

The state of Jalisco is located on the west coast of Mexico; its capital, Guadalajara, is one of the country's largest cities. As has happened in other states like Michoacán (read the story here) and Guerrero (where the students of Ayotzinapa lost their lives), law enforcement in Jalisco has been overrun by criminal organizations.

Organized crime followed up the helicopter's destruction with road blocks and the burning of vehicles, which frightened the community, according to the local government:

La autoridad estatal está cierta de que estos bloqueos generaron temor e inquietud en la población y desencadenaron que el propio gobierno local activara el Código Rojo.

Las indagatorias llevadas a cabo por la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) arrojan que el modus operandi para ejecutar estos bloqueos fue a través de personas -que a cambio de una cantidad de dinero ofrecida por operadores de esta organización delincuencial- procedieron a la quema de vehículos particulares y del transporte público, rociando gasolina en su interior.

El Gobierno de Jalisco ratifica que detrás de estos actos de bloqueo a las vías de comunicación estuvo la delincuencia organizada y que el objetivo de los mismos fue generar alerta en la población; pero sobre todo, distraer a las corporaciones policiacas que, al tener que atender los bloqueos, dividían elementos y recursos que facilitaban la huida de los delincuentes.

The state authority is certain that these blockades created fear and restlessness amongst the community and triggered the local government to active a code red alert.

The district attorney's investigation shows that the modus operandi of setting up the blockades was by individuals, whom after receiving payment from this criminal organization, proceeded to burn cars and public transportation vehicles by dousing their interiors with gasoline.

Jalisco's government confirms that it was organized crime behind the road blocks with the purpose of providing a warning to the community; but above all, it was to distract the police, whose forces and resources were divided as a means of having to deal with the road blocks; therefore, making it easier for the criminals to escape.

Due to the fear and uncertainty caused by the excessive violence, the government of Jalisco, lead by the district attorney, presented the Ciudadano Informado (Informed Citizen) platform with the purpose of being the official source that will inform the community on these four events: blockades, the burning of vehicles, the burning of businesses, and confrontations.

Developing the platform came at no cost to public funds; according to a press bulletin, it was donated by a software company.

The Mexican news portal SinEmbargo mentioned this about the platform:

Además, implementarán una aplicación para teléfonos inteligentes que estará lista en cuatro o cinco semanas. Finalmente crearán una base de datos para generar un registro de teléfonos donde la ciudadanía recibirá información.

La Fiscalía también emitió una serie de recomendaciones para el uso de las redes sociales, para evitar encontrarse con personas que sólo se conozcan mediante las redes sociales y pusieron teléfonos para denunciar acoso por Internet. Además recomendaron no crear cuentas falsas, porque representa una suplantación de identidad y es un delito.

In addition, they will introduce a smart phone application, which will be ready in four or five weeks. Finally, they will create a database in order to generate a phone list where citizens will receive information.

The district attorney also sent out a list of recommendations on how to use social media, such as to not meet up with people whose acquaintance was only made online, as well as providing telephone numbers in order to report online harassment. In addition, the D.A. also advised against creating fake accounts because it is seen as a form of identity theft, the latter being a crime.

On Twitter, Adam Ortiz voiced his opinion on what this tool seeks to achieve:

Guadalajara's government wagers that #InformedCitizen will combat the lack of information and spread of false security reports.

Cecilia Márquez made a sarcastic remark, skewering commentary made by authorities in the past about violence being an “isolated event”:

Buen Ciudadano GDL wrote:

Like other applications, how useful technology is depends on how it is used. In the meantime, the community (those who have Internet access) have been given an additional tool to use in an area besieged by violence.

by Kelley Johnson at May 18, 2015 05:21 PM

Join the Gathering to Connect Indigenous Language Digital Activists in Colombia
Photo of Plaza Bolívar en Bogota, Colombia by Daniele Pieroni and used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Photo of Plaza Bolívar en Bogota, Colombia by Daniele Pieroni and used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Colombia is linguistically diverse with more than 60 indigenous languages spoken by approximately 1 million people across the country. These living languages contain rich cultural traditions and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Many indigenous communities face unique challenges as they seek to ensure that the next generation maintains their native languages. However, the rise of technology and the Internet has provided a special opportunity for communities to create new digital content in their native language, while connecting with others that share their same objective of language revitalization.

Internet users in Colombia actively utilizing the web and digital media tools to promote and revitalize their native languages online will have the opportunity to gather in Bogotá for a Gathering of Indigenous Language Digital Activism on June 18-19, 2015. This event, which is co-organized by Global Voices through its Rising Voices initiative, the Caro and Cuervo Institute, alongside research group Muysccubun with the support of Hivos, will bring together 15-18 participants from across Colombia to share experiences, learn and teach new digital skills, and take part in conversations about the challenges and strategies for indigenous language revitalization through the use of the Internet.

This event continues the work of the Indigenous Language Digital Activism network that started with a similar event held in Oaxaca, Mexico, in October 2014, when 25 digital activists from across Mexico came together to share their digital projects and connect with one another.

Please visit the open call for participants for more information about the event. Interested individuals can submit their applications using the online form. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 21:00 Colombian time. Partial and full scholarships are available to help pay for travel and accommodation costs for participants that live outside of the Bogota metro area.

by Rising Voices at May 18, 2015 03:20 PM

DML Central
Why Theory is Practical

A recent editorial by Jason Ma in Forbes documents a fascinating array of experiential learning programs. While I am not against experiential learning, it concerned me that Ma made the case for this learning by placing it against theory. As he puts it:

As a college student decades ago, I generally disliked overly theoretical and impractical courses without real-world references or applicability that were taught by professors with seemingly minimum experience working in the real world. I really enjoyed the more creative or practical ones taught by engaging professors who have experience outside academia.

As his concerns about his professors’ “real world” experience make clear, the practical information that Ma craved was that which was practical in the context of the business world and would enable him to market what he had learned as skills that would get him a job.

On the surface, Ma’s critique of the academy seems reasonable: directing our pedagogical practices to practical ends that will enable students to be successful in contexts outside of school is a pretty reasonable goal. Ma’s frame, however, only recognizes a particular kind of practicality: That which makes one worthy to be hired in the “real-world” (I use quotes here and throughout this post not simply to acknowledge Ma’s use, but also to emphasize that there is nothing more inherently “real” about the business experience privileged by Ma than the academic experience of his professors).

In his book, “Cognition in the Wild,” Edwin Hutchins demonstrated that tools can only be tools if they fit within what he called a cognitive ecology, a system of independent parts that work together, constraining each other’s action while also enabling new forms of action. This theoretical insight led Hutchins to claim that arguments about a particular tool’s ease of use are in fact arguments about the tool’s fit for these ecologies.

Hutchins used the term tool to refer to a wide range of objects, from computational instruments like slide rules to conceptual tools such as symbolic interactions and mental processes. From this broad perspective, arguments like Ma’s could be framed in this way: that the cognitive ecology of the classroom — and schooling in general — should be one that seamlessly integrates with that of the “real world” of business, mimicking and reproducing its tools, culture, and assumptions. Indeed, the experiential learning Ma documents exclusively exists outside of traditional universities in contexts created by business and entrepreneurs.

Again, on its face this seems eminently reasonable. In fact, in the professional writing program in which I teach, we routinely attempt to model writing situations and experiences that students would face in the workplace to prepare them to make effective choices in those situations when they leave the classroom.

But, if this approach places all theory in service of the “real-world,” what chances exist for the critique or improvement of that cognitive ecology? One hallmark of a cognitive ecology is that it constrains action. An example Hutchins gives of such constraint in the context of his subject, ocean navigation, are maps or charts. Maps like the Mercator projection were designed within the context of a particular cognitive ecology — that of sailing by compass heading — to allow for simple calculation of ocean routes by translating the curves of the globe into straight lines that could be easily drawn on the flat surface of a two-dimensional map.

The Mercator projection was able to achieve this feat only by distorting features of the globe, and, as Barton and Barton argue in their essay “Ideology and the Map” (contained in Blyler and Thralls’s “Professional Communication: The Social Perspective”), this map, in its distortion, was decidedly Eurocentric, rendering land mass in Europe more prominently than that of continents like Africa. As they point out, the Mercator projection depicts Russia, which is smaller than Africa, as nearly twice as large as the continent, and this depiction, along with other distortions in the map, served to reinforce the notion that Europe was more important in the world than Africa.

My point here is that the critique of maps as ideological instruments did not emerge from within the cognitive ecology of navigation described by Hutchins. Indeed, if we were to simply focus on the practical use of maps in navigational contexts, there would be very little reason to critique — or even question — the ways in which maps like the Mercator projection function ideologically.

It is similarly unlikely that critiques of the accepted practices and assumptions that make up the cognitive ecology of the “real-world” would emerge from that ecology. Rather, such critiques require an outside perspective, and within the academy, that perspective is represented by theory, the purpose of which is most often to not conform to the assumptions represented by existing cognitive ecologies.

Such questioning is not simply critique; it can have benefits for those who might otherwise struggle to see the use of theoretical work. If there is no need — or opportunity — to question a given ecology, where will innovation come from? It is the changing nature of tools and our use of them — both through theoretical questioning and practical tinkering — that leads to changes in our cognitive environments, and this change should be seen as a good thing.

To sum up, the “practical” needs the “theoretical,” if for nothing else than to shake it from its doldrums by questioning the usefulness and impact of the assumptions made within existing cognitive ecologies. This is why all teachers, especially those engaged with digital learning, should not only focus on understanding technology but also on the wider theoretical questions — questions about ideology and culture — that are provoked by digital technologies.

Banner image credit: Mimi Ko Cruz/DML Reserach Hub

Author: 

by mcruz at May 18, 2015 02:57 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Atena Farghadani Goes on Trial Tomorrow in Iran for Her Cartoon About Access to Contraception
Atena Farghadani stands trial on Tuesday May 18 for charge that include insulting members of parliament and spreading propaganda against the system. Image taken from the 'Free Atena' Facebook page.

Atena Farghadani stands trial on Tuesday, May 19 for charges that include insulting members of parliament and spreading propaganda against the system. Image taken from the ‘Free Atena’ Facebook page.

Activist and artist Atena Farghadani is scheduled to stand trial on Tuesday, May 19 for a cartoon that criticized the Iranian government. The 28-year-old faces charges of spreading propaganda against the system; insulting members of parliament through paintings; and insulting the supreme leader.

The image that led to her arrest depicts Iran's members of parliament as animals voting on law that will restrict access to contraception and criminalise voluntary sterilisation, severely curtailing women's rights.

Her initial arrest came in August 2014, when she was held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time in Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by the prison guards.

Athena's cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament as animals voting on the prohibition of voluntary permanent contraception, or vasectomies. Image taken from ‘Free Atena’ Facebook page.

Three weeks after her second confinement, Atena went on a hunger strike to protest the poor prison conditions, which her lawyer told Amnesty International resulted in her heart attack and brief loss of consciousness in February. Amnesty International has reported Atena has since been moved to another detention centre and stopped her hunger strike, but advocates remain concerned about her health.

Amnesty International is leading a call to action here, while the hashtag #freeAtena is being used to raise support and awareness on social media.

by Mahsa Alimardani at May 18, 2015 12:04 PM

Global Voices
Atena Farghadani Goes on Trial Tomorrow in Iran for Her Cartoon About Access to Contraception
Atena Farghadani stands trial on Tuesday May 18 for charge that include insulting members of parliament and spreading propaganda against the system. Image taken from the 'Free Atena' Facebook page.

Atena Farghadani stands trial on Tuesday, May 19 for charges that include insulting members of parliament and spreading propaganda against the system. Image taken from the ‘Free Atena’ Facebook page.

Activist and artist Atena Farghadani is scheduled to stand trial on Tuesday, May 19 for a cartoon that criticized the Iranian government. The 28-year-old faces charges of spreading propaganda against the system; insulting members of parliament through paintings; and insulting the supreme leader.

The image that led to her arrest depicts Iran's members of parliament as animals voting on law that will restrict access to contraception and criminalise voluntary sterilisation, severely curtailing women's rights.

Her initial arrest came in August 2014, when she was held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time in Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by the prison guards.

Athena's cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament as animals voting on the prohibition of voluntary permanent contraception, or vasectomies. Image taken from ‘Free Atena’ Facebook page.

Three weeks after her second confinement, Atena went on a hunger strike to protest the poor prison conditions, which her lawyer told Amnesty International resulted in her heart attack and brief loss of consciousness in February. Amnesty International has reported Atena has since been moved to another detention centre and stopped her hunger strike, but advocates remain concerned about her health.

Amnesty International is leading a call to action here, while the hashtag #freeAtena is being used to raise support and awareness on social media.

by Mahsa Alimardani at May 18, 2015 12:02 PM

The Stateless of the Dominican Republic: The Story of Juliana Deguis
Haitian workers are transported to the Dominican Republic. (CC BY 2.0)

Haitian workers are transported to the Dominican Republic. (CC BY 2.0)

This post was written by Nicki Fleischner and originally published on NACLA, a Global Voices partner. An edited version appears below.

In September 2013 the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court passed a ruling that effectively rendered stateless some 200,000 Dominicans with Haitian roots. In “La Sentencia” (find the soundcloud below), Radio Ambulante explores the story of just one of the multitude affected by the ruling, a Dominican-born woman named Juliana Deguis who’s experience reflects the vulnerable situation of individuals of Haitian descent and the extensive challenges of their daily life.

Following the 2013 Dominican Supreme Court ruling, NACLA investigated how the decision fits into a larger picture of antihaitianismo or Anti-Black, Anti-Haitian sentiment, that not only has “deep roots in the Dominican Republic,” but has also been fueled by neoliberalism in recent decades. Historically, Dominican nationalism has relied on a categorical rejection of the country’s African roots in favor of their white, Hispanic-colonial ones; a distinction enforced by Dominican politicians and elites. Such construction of national identity has translated to anti-immigration stances in modern Dominican society: In 2001 the expulsion of Dominicans of Haitian descent reached such an extreme that the United Nations Human Rights Commission equated it to racial profiling.

Racist ideology has been exacerbated by economic and political disparities between the two countries. In 1987, Michael S. Hooper, an advocate for Haitian refugees, wrote a piece for NACLA that examined the severe socioeconomic problems in the country and how it spurred immigration to the Dominican Republic. Such economic disparities and immigration waves have generated a highly tense border between the two countries.

For more information on relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, read Todd Miller’s piece for NACLA regarding the increased militarization of the Haiti-Dominican border.

by NACLA at May 18, 2015 11:47 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Digital Citizen 2.9
Sanaa,_Yemen_view_evening_september

Photo of Sanaa, Yemen, by Alexandra Pugachevsky on Wikimedia Commons.

Digital Citizen is a biweekly review of news, policy, and research on human rights and technology in the Arab World.

Algeria

On 20 April, cartoonist Tahar Djehiche was summoned by police for investigation over cartoons he published on facebook. Djehiche was accused of defaming and insulting Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, over cartoons opposing the exploitation of shale gas in In Salah, a town in the center of the country.

Bahrain

On 26 April, Bahrain once again extended the detention of activist Nabeel Rajab. Rajab, who has been in and out of prison over the past few years, was arrested on April 2 for comments made on Twitter denouncing alleged torture in a prison where Shia activists are held. Rajab is currently awaiting appeal from an earlier case.

Egypt

A court set 27 May as the trial date of poet and columnist Fatima Naoot, accused of insulting Islam on social media. Naoot is facing trial for publishing on Twitter and Facebook posts critical of the sacrifice of animals during the religious festival of Eid al-Adha.

The Egyptian government has approved a cybercrime bill that many say would undermine freedom of expression. Writing for the Atlantic Council, Ragab Saad claims that the bill is being “publicized as [a tool] in Egypt’s war on terror” and that Egypt is currently collaborating with other Arab states on fighting cybercrime.

A Cairo court acquitted photojournalist at Yaqeen Online News Network Ahmed Gamal Ziyada after he spent more than a year in pre-trial detention. Ziyada was arrested in December 2013 while covering protests by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Jordan

On 23 April, journalist and opinion writer Jamal Ayyoub was arrested by police for publishing on the web an article critical of the Saudi led air-strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Ayyoub will remain in prison for 15 days pending investigation. He is accused of disrupting the kingdom's relationships with foreign states.

Jordan is set to adopt four new laws regulating the telecommunication industry, electronic transactions, cybercrime and personal data.

Kuwait

A court sentenced in absentia activist Sager al-Hashash to ten years in jail for calling for protests and showing how to make a Molotov cocktail is made in a series of tweets posted last July. Hashash who is currently based outside Kuwait was convicted of inciting attacks on policemen, providing training on the manufacture of Molotov cocktails, taking part in an unlicensed protest, and disobeying police orders. In January, Hashash received a twenty month jail sentence for insulting the country’s ruler.

At the request of Saudi authorities, Kuwait is prosecuting twenty-five of its nationals for insulting the kingdom on twitter. The tweets were critical of the late Saudi king Abdullah, the role of the kingdom in the war against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and a decision by Kuwait to deport activist Saad al Ajmi to his native country Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon

March NGO hosted a conference on the illegal practices of the cyber crime unit in Lebanon. The organization posted on YouTube testimonies of Internet users who were questioned by the country’s cybercrime bureau for expressing themselves online.

Morocco

The director of news site badil.info Hamid Mahdaoui is facing trial over the publication of a breaking news story on the explosion of a car in a neighborhood in Meknes, a city in northern Morocco. He stands accused of publishing false news over and publishing an unlicensed newspaper. His trial is set to take place on 18 May.

On 28 April, an appeal court referred the case of journalist Hicham Mansouri back to the primary court that originally sentenced him to 10 months in jail him over trumped up adultery charges. The appeal court claimed that Mansouri’s case does not fall in its subject matter jurisdiction. A new trial date has not been fixed. Prior to his arrest, Mansouri, who is the project manager of Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), was investigating internet surveillance by his country’s authorities.

A report from Belgian site Mondiaal Nieuws tells the inside story of Mamfakinch, the Moroccan news site that, after being targeted by malware, shut down last year. Another recent report, from Privacy International, delves into the effects of surveillance on four Moroccans.

Palestine

MADA, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, has released an app for reporting and getting information on violations of media freedom in or related to Palestine.

Saudi Arabia

Waleed Abu Khair, the prominent rights attorney who was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment in February, was reportedly beaten in prison. The Gulf Center for Human Rights has called for Abu Khair’s immediate release.

Syria

Istanbul-based blogger and Global Voices contributor Assad Hanna was stabbed four times in the stomach at his home on the night of 20 April. Hanna reported receiving threats from different factions in his war-torn country. ‘I don't accuse anyone but I cannot say it was a coincidence as the assailant knocked on the door, attacked me and did not steal anything from the house’, he said following the attack.

United Arab Emirates

UAE’s telecom operators have blocked Whatsapp’s new VoIP-based free voice calling feature, in compliance with local telecommunication regulations that allow VoIP services to be provided in the country only by licensed operators.

US citizen Shezanne Cassim is seeking a pardon over his role in a parody video of a Dubai martial art school posted on YouTube in late 2012. Cassim was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to one year in jail, a fine and deportation for taking part in the video. UAE later freed him.

Yemen

As the Saudi led airstrikes against Houthi rebels continue, Yemen is facing internet shutdowns due to fuel shortages and electricity blackouts. On 27 April, the country’s Houthi-controlled telecommunications authority warned from a total disruption in local and overseas calls and internet services, as its fuel supplies are dwindling.

Two major disruptions were already noted in the southern seaport city of Aden in early April as fighting intensified there. Aden has a submarine cable that connects Yemen to Djibouti, one of only two cables that connect the country to the global Internet.

On Global Voices, Fahmi Albaheth warned that these disruptions will only ‘isolate Yemen from the world’, since ‘social networking sites are an important source for foreign media outlets’ that rely on content posted by local activists in their coverage of the war.

In addition to disruption, internet users in Yemen face the challenge of filtering by Houthi rebels who are controlling government offices including the ministry of communications and information and the National Security Bureau. On 14 April, the bureau ordered telecom operators to suspend SMS news services of a number of local and international media outlets including those of Aljazeera, CNN and Mareb Press.

New research

In other news

  • New research indicates that hackers have penetrated Israeli military networks. The hackers are thought to be Arabic-speaking.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Tom Lowenthal writes that “surveillance forces journalists to think and act like spies.
  • An Israeli company has been contracted to install a civil surveillance system in Abu Dhabi, reports MEE

From our partners

  • Global Voices has published an excellent guide to understanding copyright in the Arab world.
  • AJ+ has released a series of videos, based on the EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense, demonstrating how to be safer online.

Digital Citizen is brought to you by Advox, Access, EFF, Social Media Exchange, and 7iber.com. This month’s report was researched, edited, and written by Afef Abrougui, Fahmi Albaheth, Jessica Dheere, Abir Ghattas, Mohamed ElGohary, Wafa Ben Hassine, Amira Al Hussaini, Dalia Othman, Thalia Rahme, and Jillian C. York, and translated into Arabic by Mohamed ElGohary.

by Digital Citizen at May 18, 2015 11:24 AM

May 17, 2015

Miriam Meckel
Nummer sicher

WiWo_Titel_21_15_DeutscheBank_Web

Führungskräfte sind zu oft Verwalter statt Unternehmer. Um zu führen, bedarf es des Muts zu Haltung, Risiko und Verantwortung.

Die Luft ist nicht dünn an der Spitze von Unternehmen. Sie ist auch nicht dick. Sie ist einfach da zum Atmen. Das aber muss jeder selbst übernehmen. Es liegt nicht an dünner oder dicker Luft, wenn es Führungskräften schwindelig wird. Es liegt meist an ihnen selbst, daran, dass sie das Wort in ihrer Statusbezeichnung nicht ernst nehmen oder nicht mit Inhalt zu füllen wissen. Eine Führungskraft ist jemand, der bedacht mit Kraft führen kann, nicht aber den anderen unbedacht die letzte Kraft raubt. So jemand wie Virgin-Gründer, Richard Branson, der schlicht „Dr Yes“ heißt, weil er immer wieder Neues ausprobiert, jenseits aller Regeln und Standards. Davon gibt es in Deutschland zu wenige.

Führung ist der Dreh- und Angelpunkt für Erfolg in Wirtschaft und Politik, oft auch dann, wenn wir glauben, andere Ursachen seien für die Probleme verantwortlich. In Deutschland versteckt sich das kleine, bürokratische Wort „Führung“ gerne hinter dem größeren, schöner anmutenden englischen „Leadership“. Das klingt nach mehr. Auch nach mehr, als manche Führungskräfte können. „Führung muss man wollen“, hat der ehemalige Vorstandssprecher der Deutschen Bank, Alfred Herrhausen, einmal gesagt. Damit hat er nicht gemeint, man müsse einen Top-Job, hoch in Hierarchie und Gehalt, wollen. Sein Satz zielt auf die innere Einstellung. Führung heißt, mehr bewegen zu wollen als sich selbst auf der Karriereleiter, und das aus Überzeugung.

Der Aufsichtsratsvorsitzende der Deutschen Bank, Paul Achleitner, ist Teil des deutschen Aufsichtsräderwerks, aber nicht neben-, sondern hauptberuflich. Er ist vor allem Chefkontrolleur der Deutschen Bank, denn die ist in der Krise. Hohe Strafen wegen Libor-Manipulation, ein Gerichtsverfahren in München, aber auch die Revolution an den Finanzmärkten durch Regulierung und Digitalisierung verlangen vollen Einsatz und Vertrauen in die Veränderbarkeit von Gegebenem. Auch das steckt im Herrhausen-Satz: Überleg es dir gut, leicht wird es nicht. Sich intellektuell und gestaltend an die Spitze zu setzen verlangt eine Haltung zu sich selbst und den anderen und die Erkenntnis: Jeder ist ersetzbar.

Eine Haltung einzunehmen fällt schwer, weil der Mittelweg die deutsche Rennstrecke zum Erfolg ist. Wer sich randwärts bewegt, gerät in Gefahr, mit der Umgebung zu kollidieren. Aufgeblähte Aufsichtsräte sind in der Wirtschaft ebenso Zeichen dafür, wie es die gefühlt unendlich regierende große Koalition in der Politik ist. Beides auch eine Folge der gelernten Erkenntnis: In der Mitte ist man im Kreis vieler immer gut gepuffert. Nummer eins ist Nummer sicher. Führung geht so nicht. Wer führt, dehnt die Denk- und Belastungszone eines Teams über das Bekannte und Vorstellbare hinaus. Wenn es gut geht, entsteht neuer Spielraum. Wenn nicht, platzt man krachend aus der eigenen Komfortzone.

Damit das nicht passiert, lieben Führungskräfte, die Verwalter statt Unternehmer sind, Regelwerke. Wo eine Regel ist, kann man Verantwortung für das eigene Werk abgeben. „Im Rahmen des Möglichen“ ist die Formulierung dazu. Regulierung ist das Entschuldigungsschreiben für Reformschwänzer, Compliance der Keuschheitsgürtel derjenigen, die eigentlich wollen, aber nicht dürfen.

Henkel-Chef Kasper Rorsted sagt: „Wenn man langfristig nicht erfolgreich führt, kann man bei Henkel nicht im Spiel bleiben. So einfach ist das.“ Einfach ist es eben nicht. Aber einfach nötig.

wiwo.de

by Miriam Meckel at May 17, 2015 08:23 PM

Global Voices
Rohingya Boat Refugees Rejected by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia
Non-recognition of Rohingya by Myanmar government / Artwork by AK Rockefeller

Non-recognition of Rohingya community from Myanmar government. Artwork by AK Rockefeller

Thousands of Rohingya boat refugees from Myanmar have sought asylum in nearby countries in Southeast Asia but those countries have all told them to seek help elsewhere.

The Myanmar government has refused to recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group and treats them as illegal immigrants. Most Rohingyas are Muslims living near the borders of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Escaping persecution by the military-dominated government, many Rohingyas have crossed borders to seek shelter and work in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Some have been victimized by human trafficking groups.

Prior to the current ‘boat crisis’, a mass grave was discovered in Thailand which is suspected to be a ‘death camp’ for Rohingya illegal settlers in the country. More than 30 dead bodies were retrieved from the jungle grave early this month, which the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has blamed on ruthless smugglers.

Last week, there were reports that boats carrying Rohingya refugees were apprehended by coastal patrols of Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. But instead of rescuing the refugees, the coastal authorities ordered the boats back to sea.

In Thailand, a helicopter dropped supplies into the sea instead of delivering them directly to the refugees. Later, the boat carrying about 300 Rohingya was turned away. Major General Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a spokesman of the military-backed government of Thailand, said the boat was sent back to the sea after its engine was fixed and after water and food were given to the refugees.

He defended the government's decision to reject the refugees:

Under Thai law, all illegal migrants must be repatriated or sent to a third country. They cannot settle here. We've done our best based on humanitarian principles. If we are to be criticised for this, we'd like to ask our critics to ask themselves what they would do if this happened in their own countries.

Meanwhile, the government of Malaysia has denied that it failed to provide humanitarian aid to the Rohingya despite its poor record of providing protection to refugees.

Mr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who is the Deputy Home Minister, said authorities have treated the Rohingya humanely despite their illegal entry in Malaysia. He added that the refugees and migrants should not be entering the country:

We have to send the right message, that they are not welcome here.

Nearby Indonesia has admitted to pushing back a refugee-packed boat earlier this month and re-directing it towards Malaysia, according to Human Rights Watch.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, criticized Myanmar for the persecution of the ostracized Rohingya and deplored the governments of Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia for refusing to give assistance to the boat refugees:

Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have made things much worse with cold-hearted policies to push back this new wave of ‘boat people’ that puts thousands of lives at risk.

The UNHCR has expressed similar concerns. Volker Türk, the organisation's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, explains that sea crossings are a symptom of desperation as people are left with no other choice but to risk their lives:

The first priority is to save lives. Instead of competing to avoid responsibility, it is key for States to share the responsibility to disembark these people immediately.

Charles Santiago, who is a Member of Parliament in Malaysia, condemned the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in a Facebook statement for its failure to take collective action to address the issue:

ASEAN is already lagging behind- the heads of states should have ironed out the thorny issue of the mass exodus of the Rohingya, which escalated further in June 2012 following state-sponsored violence, at the recently-concluded ASEAN summit. They failed to discuss about this crucial issue as it would entail looking at Burma's gross human rights violations against the Rohingya.

On Facebook, a pro-Rohingya group  lashed out against the “racial prejudice” of Malaysian officials:

Racial prejudice plays a part in Malaysia's decision to not allow marginalized Rohingya refugees into the country for protection, food, water and sanctuary. Maybe some aspects of our society prefer that Rohingya return to Bangladesh and Myanmar to face the genocide, persecution.

Many Twitter users from around the world shared the same sentiment about the unjust victimization of the Rohingya:

Some are angry that regional leaders are not confronting the government of Myanmar:

As public outrage spreads over neglect of the rights of the Rohingya minority, it is hoped the international community will urge regional leaders to confront the government of Myanmar and end the abuse suffered by the ‘forgotten’ citizens of Southeast Asia.

by Zashnain Zainal at May 17, 2015 11:33 AM

Along Morocco’s Border With a Spanish Enclave, Women Shoulder Twice Their Weight ‘to Earn a Morsel of Bread’
Moroccan women wait at a border crossing with loads of 100-200 pounds of commercial goods on their backs. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Moroccan women wait at a border crossing with loads of 100-200 pounds of commercial goods on their backs. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

This article and radio report by Maggy Donaldson and Thalia Beaty for The World originally appeared on PRI.org on May 14, 2015, and is republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

The North African enclave of Ceuta is a little piece of the European Union just an hour by boat from mainland Europe. Its land border with Morocco is the gateway for a brisk trade. Commercial goods delivered to the Spanish port are sold in Moroccan souks, just beyond the high dividing fence.

It’s on this border that Moroccan women line up in the middle of the night for the chance to earn $5 a day carrying huge, heavy packages of goods.

These women — known in Spanish as porteadoras, or in French as femme mulets, “mule women” — do not pay any official customs fee or tax at the border. Thanks to a legal loophole tolerated by both the Spanish and Moroccan governments, the goods they carry, which could include anything from Red Bull to cheap diapers, are considered “personal luggage” and are therefore untaxed.

Women wait in hopes of getting a package to carry across the border. Spanish guards keep them in a strict line. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Women wait in hopes of getting a package to carry across the border. Spanish guards keep them in a strict line. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

The profits on both sides of the border are high. The American Chamber of Commerce in Morocco estimates that this irregular trade represents a third of the economic activity of the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The trade also directly supports tens of thousands of Moroccans in the surrounding areas.

Men who work in the Spanish warehouses strap a bundle onto the back of a porteadora, so she can carry it to markets in Morocco. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission.

Men who work in the Spanish warehouses strap a bundle onto the back of a porteadora, so she can carry it to markets in Morocco. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Aicha Al Azzouzi has been coming to the border to work on and off for 20 years. Along with hundreds of other Moroccan women, she crosses into the Spanish city as early as possible to secure a spot in line. Many women actually arrive the night before, and sleep in the road outside the warehouses on pieces of cardboard. Al Azzouzi says that more and more women have been coming to work at the border, escalating the competition between them.

Ceuta is one of two Spanish enclaves on the African continent that share land borders with Morocco. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Ceuta is one of two Spanish enclaves on the African continent that share land borders with Morocco. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Spanish border guards oversee the women’s work. Both parties share at least one concern: holding an orderly line. When commotion breaks out among the women, the guards intervene. Many women, including Al Azzouzi, point to places on their bodies where guards have hit them.

“It’s humiliating; they are treated like mules,” says Mohamad Chtatou, who researches women and economic development in Morocco’s capital, Rabat. “They are not humans. They are used for their muscles.”

Women who make it to the front of the line strap huge bundles wrapped in plastic, weighing anywhere from 100-200 pounds, across their shoulders. Bent over at their waists, they hobble through a narrow chain-link fence, often carrying additional packages in their arms. It’s a half-mile walk through the border crossing to the Moroccan side.

Women wait with their loads to cross the border. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Women wait with their loads to cross the border. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

The Spanish border guards close the gates at some point in the early afternoon, at their discretion. Many women leave having earned no money. Or, as Al Azzouzi puts it, “a morsel of bread.”

On days when she comes home empty-handed, she says she kisses the walls of her apartment, which she owns. Al Azzouzi lives with her four children, two of them still in primary school, in the seaside town of Mdiq, a half-hour shared cab ride from the border.

Aicha Al Azzouzi with her four children in their home in northern Morocco. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Aicha Al Azzouzi with her four children in their home in northern Morocco. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Her youngest children have to study at their aunt’s house because Al Azzouzi has not been able to pay her utility bills. They have not had water or electricity in four months.

She’s considered sleeping outside the gate to ensure that she’ll get work, but her youngest son, Ilias, begs her not to go.

“Sometimes I come back, and I am crying, and I say to them, ‘Tomorrow I will sleep in Ceuta,’” she said. But she’s never done it, in part because of Ilias. “My son cries, and says, ‘No Mama, stay here with me.’”

Al Azzouzi hopes her daughter Salma can avoid ever working at the Spanish-Moroccan border. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

Al Azzouzi hopes her daughter Salma can avoid ever working at the Spanish-Moroccan border. Credit: Maggy Donaldson. Published with PRI's permission

At 21, Al Azzouzi’s oldest daughter, Salma, says she’s also looking for work. She did well in school, but can’t afford to finish college.

A technical college nearby allowed her to enroll, for a nominal fee, in a course for operating machinery like forklifts. She’s applied for jobs at the nearby Moroccan port, where such skills are needed, but they told her they don’t hire women.

Salma has been to Ceuta just once, to see where her mother works. She’s determined never to return.

But the next day, Al Azzouzi will return to the border, as she’s been doing for nearly half her life. She has to, she says, to earn a morsel of bread.

Reporting for this article was supported in part by a grant from the global and joint studies program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University.

by Public Radio International at May 17, 2015 06:00 AM

May 16, 2015

Global Voices
Egypt's Former President Mohammed Morsi Sentenced to Death for 2011 Prison Escape
A cartoon by @Khalidalbaih comparing between ancient Egypt and Egypt today, shared by  @_amroali  on Twitter

A cartoon by political cartoonist @Khalidalbaih comparing between ancient Egypt and Egypt today, shared by @_amroali on Twitter

Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi, along with more than 100 other people, were sentenced to death on May 16, 2015.

The case of the Muslim Brotherhood member, who is already serving a 20-year sentence for ordering the arrest and torture of protesters while in power, has now been refered to the country's top religious authority, the Mufti, to be rubberstamped, before the sentence can be carried out. The next hearing is set for June 2.

Today's sentence was handed to Morsi for collaborating with foreign militants to free Islamists during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison amid the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. Among his 105 co-defendants were some 70 Palestinians, accused of being members of Hamas, who were charged and tried in absentia. And among the Palestinians sentenced to death, Hassan Salameh has been in an Israeli prison since 1994, and Raed Attar is already dead.

According to the case brought against Morsi, Hamas militants used tunnels from Gaza to enter Egypt, where they besieged prisons, freeing Islamists jailed by Mubarak. Among those freed were 30 top Muslim Brotherhood members, including Morsi, as well as up to 20,000 inmates.

Morsi was the president of Egypt for one year after the revolution, which overthrew Hosni Mubarak early 2011, who ruled Egypt for more than 30 years. Morsi's reign was cut short in July 2013, following massive protests calling for his ouster. Then, the Egyptian Army took command, under the leadership of Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence General Abdul Fattah El Sisi, who is now Egypt's president.

Since being deposed of power, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement was banned in Egypt, and thousands of its supporters arrested. Among them are brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie and MB leader Mohamed Beltagy, who have also been sentenced to death.

According to journalist Sarah El Sirgany, who has 85K followers, and who was at the trial:

She adds:

News of Morsi's sentence drew a storm of reactions online, with commentators across the religious and political spectrum denouncing the trial as politically motivated.

From Prisoner to President

The turn of events in Morsi's life from prisoner to president is not lost on Rana Allam, who wonders how someone who had escaped from prison was allowed to run for president in the first place. She tweets:

Many predict that Morsi would not be executed, as such cases can be appealed and can take years in court.

Egyptian Amr tells his 4.5K followers:

And Fustat, with 3.9K followers, adds:

Human rights organisations described the trial as a sham.

After the verdict, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth tweeted:

His colleague, HRW European Media Director Andrew Stroehlein added:

Netizens from across the region followed suit.

Omar Ghraieb from Gaza notes:

And Bahraini Adel Marzooq writes to his 39.1K followers:

Define shame? The answer is: The Egyptian judiciary, and the laws, mechanisms and procedures it has instilled and exported to the other Arab countries (including Bahrain) which follow Egyptian laws and appoints Egyptian judges

by Amira Al Hussaini at May 16, 2015 09:17 PM

Afghan Rapper Escaped Teen Marriage by Singing About It
Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh narrowly escaped a forced marriage at 14 by writing the song "Brides for Sale." She recently visited West Oakland, California, and was surprised that the US, like Iran and Afghanistan, has poor neighborhoods and homeless people.   Credit: Shuka Kalantari. Published with PRI's permission.

Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh narrowly escaped a forced marriage at 14 by writing the song “Brides for Sale.” She recently visited West Oakland, California, and was surprised that the US, like Iran and Afghanistan, has poor neighborhoods and homeless people. Credit: Shuka Kalantari. Published with PRI's permission.

This article and radio report by Shuka Kalantari for The World originally appeared on PRI.org on May 12, 2015, and is republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

I met Sonita Alizadeh when she flew into town to perform her first US concert. We were talking a walk when she suddenly stopped and stared at a man playing with his two daughters.

“Here in America a dad sets aside time to take his daughters to the park,” she said. “Where I come from, you don’t see that.”

Sonita comes from Afghanistan. She’s 18-years-old, has long black hair and a small frame. If things had gone according to her parent’s plan, she’d have been married by now. “I sometimes I think about the fact that I could have been a mother right now — with a few kids. It’s not a thought I like.”

Sonita grew up in Tehran, Iran’s capital city. Her family fled Afghanistan when she was 8 years old because of war. She found a non-profit that taught undocumented Afghan kids. There she learned karate, photography, guitar, and she started singing and rapping.

Her music quickly got recognition. Sonita met an Iranian director who helped her polish up her style and make music videos, and that led to a few awards. Everything was perfect. Until it wasn’t. “One day my mom told me, ‘You have to return to Afghanistan with me. There’s a man there who wants to marry you. Your brother’s engaged and we need your dowry money to pay for his wedding.’”

Sonita was devastated. So she wrote the song “Brides for Sale.” The song starts “Let me whisper, so no one hears that I speak of selling girls. My voice shouldn’t be heard since it’s against Sharia. Women must remain silent… this is our tradition.”

The video shows Sonita wearing a wedding dress — with a barcode on her forehead. Her face is bruised. She pleads with her family not sell her off.

Sonita was worried what her parents would think about the video — but they actually loved it — and they also told her that she didn’t have to get married.

“It means so much to me that my family went against our tradition for me. Now I’m somewhere that I never imagined I could be.”

The attention around Sonita’s music landed her a full scholarship to an arts academy in Utah, and that led to the concert here in the San Francisco Bay Area. But before the show, Sonita needs to rehearse. We hop into my car and drive to nearby West Oakland.

Sonita was shocked by this neighborhood in West Oakland. "Are you telling me in America there are places where you can’t walk alone at night?" she asked. Credit: Shuka Kalantari. Published with PRI's permission

Sonita was shocked by this neighborhood in West Oakland. “Are you telling me in America there are places where you can’t walk alone at night?” she asked. Credit: Shuka Kalantari. Published with PRI's permission

The rehearsal studio is in a neighborhood covered in graffiti. Both sides of the street are lined with homeless people. Sonita is shocked — because it reminds her of home.

“I grew up in a neighborhood where everybody was poor and the houses were run-down,” Sonita says. “I couldn’t go outside at night because it was really dangerous. Are you telling me in America there are places where you can’t walk alone at night, too? Then where else can a person find refuge?”

Not long after the concert, Sonita read about a woman named Farkhondeh who was stoned and beaten to death in Afghanistan for allegedly burning a Koran. Sonita was heartbroken. So she did what she knew best: wrote a song about it.

“Rap music let’s you tell your story to other people. Rap music is a platform to share the words that are in my heart.”

And sometimes rap music is a way to express a sadness, an anger, that Afghan women are told they’re not supposed to show. Even though Sonita now lives over 7,000 miles away from home, she says she’ll always sing about what’s closest to her heart: The people of Afghanistan.

by Public Radio International at May 16, 2015 05:00 AM

For Pakistan's Struggling National Airline, Balochistan Comes Last
PIA's staff posing for a picture in front of a newly acquired ATR-72. A small plane that carries 72 passengers, which has been assigned to most routes in Balochistan.  Image tweeted by @Official_PIA on April 10, 2015.

PIA's staff posing for a picture in front of a newly acquired ATR-72. A small plane that carries 72 passengers, which has been assigned to most routes in Balochistan. Image tweeted by @Official_PIA on April 10, 2015.

This is an edited version of a post originally written by Adnan Aamir for The Balochistan Point and is published according to a content sharing agreement. 

Like thousands of other Pakistanis, Sajid Baloch works as a construction worker in Dubai. Every six months he visits his family in Quetta, Balochistan province's capital and largest city.

Sajid used to fly directly to his hometown from Dubai on the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Life was easy for him back then.

When he visited Pakistan in April this year, Sajid had to fly an extra hour and a half covering the 680 kilometers between Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and Quetta. PIA had closed down all of its Quetta-Dubai flights.

“I work tirelessly to meet the ends of my extended family. I cannot afford extra expenses, which I have to bear now when I travel to Karachi to board a Dubai-bound flight,” lamented Sajid in a desperate tone.

The extra travel can cost him between $250-550.

Sajid Baloch is one of many people in Balochistan who say they suffer due to the incompetence, discrimination and apathy of PIA administration towards Pakistan's vast southwestern province. Balochistan makes up about 44% of Pakistan's land mass, but is home to less than 5% of the country's population. The province is Pakistan's least developed and poorest. Many turn to the Middle East for employment.

On the other side, with 17,000 employees and only 36 planes, some say PIA is one of the world's worst managed airlines. It ran losses as high as 207 billion rupees (US$2.03 billion) in 2014. Despite this PIA services 70 percent of the domestic market in Pakistan, overshadowing three smaller commercial airlines.

The Balochistan Point dug deeper into PIA's operations in Balochistan, one of Pakistan's four provinces. We found six troubling issues with the national airline.

The PIA administration based in Karachi and Quetta was not available for comment when we contacted them. Many of the issues below were corroborated by sources within PIA that want to stay anonymous. If you have more information or a correction you'd like to share, please add it in the comments section.

1. Smaller planes

PIA is the only airline that services six cities in Balochistan. Besides the Quetta route, PIA replaced all of its planes in Balochistan with small ATR-72 aircrafts. Previously, PIA operated large aircrafts B-737, A-310, A-320 and B-777, which could carry hundreds of passengers. ATR-72 planes can only carry 72 passengers.

Over the years, PIA has also cut down the number of flights that serviced the province. Some airports only receive two flights a week.

As a result, not as many people from Balochistan can avail aviation services. Private airlines operate only a few flights a week from Quetta. No private airline services other cities.

Another issue with ATR-72 planes is that it has to reduce the weight it carries when temperature rise to 35C (95F). So on a warm day, passengers have to fly without their luggage. They have to wait several hours as their luggage is transported by road.

2. International flights

The national carrier provides no international flights from Balochistan's largest city Quetta. There is not even a direct pilgrimage flight from Balochistan to Saudi Arabia, the most popular traveling destination in the country.

As of now, there are five international flights that PIA operates from two small cities that are only 76 miles a part in massive Balochistan, which covers 134,050 square miles. They use those small 72-seat airplanes.

Once a week, a small PIA aircraft flies back and forth between Gwadar, Pakistan's over-invested and under-developed port city, to Muscat, Oman. Close by in Turbat, every week, another small aircraft flies to Muscat, and three small planes fly to Sharjah in the UAE.

People from Quetta, Zhob, Noshki and Chaman and other cities in Balochistan travel in high numbers to the Middle East for business and employment. They are forced to travel via Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city or the two smaller cities in Balochistan.

3. Limited services

Besides the capital Quetta, PIA flies to these smaller cities: Dalbandin, Panjgur, Zhob, Gwadar, Quetta and Turbat.

A source within PIA told The Balochistan Point on condition of anonymity that, “PIA can shut down the flights from smaller stations of Balochistan just like it close down international flights to Dubai and replaced larger planes with ATR-72.” PIA source further added, “Shutting down smaller stations would be a catastrophe for people of Balochistan and people would strongly protest.”

The source estimated that of PIA shuts down these routes, every day about 1,000 passengers could be affected.

4. Medical emergencies

Health services in Balochistan are abysmal. Critical patients are often flown to Karachi, which has better medical facilities for treatment.  Aviation sources told The Balochistan Point that ATR-72 doesn’t have the facility of carrying stretcher patients. Other airlines already don’t provide this facility. So, effectively, the PIA administration has also cut down medical facilities to the people of Balochistan.

Before the change, Maqbool Zaheer, a 48 year-old trader told The Balochistan Point how flying his ill mother to Karachi saved her life. “She was very ill and doctors in Quetta told me to take her to Karachi for further treatment. I booked a stretcher for her on a PIA flight and managed to take her to a hospital in Karachi just on time,” said Mr. Maqbool. “Depriving us from the facility of stretchers in planes is equivalent to homicide,” added Maqbool.

5. Cargo

Balochistan is known for its dry and fresh fruit. Traders in Balochistan used PIA flights to send their fruits to countries around the world. With the prevalence of ATR-72, most cargo needs to be transported to Karachi by road and then booked from Karachi's airport as cargo. This increases transportation costs and the likelihood of perishable fruit going bad.

6. Accusations of employee discrimination

Some employees of PIA in Balochistan also claim they face discrimination at the hands of PIA's administration. Out of a total staff of 17,000, about 400 employees are from the province.

PIA has over 30 international stations where employees of PIA are posted for two-three years. These postings are considered to be life-changing and lucrative. According to anonymous sources at PIA, at the moment, there is not a single PIA employee from Balochistan posted in any international station. Employees are supposed to be selected on the basis of seniority but our sources tell us this is the case for employees from Balochistan.

In addition, our sources tell us that PIA employees from Balochistan are often ignored for promotion. Like other provinces, Balochistan is allocated a “human resource” budget. Our sources claim this budget is over used in the rest of Pakistan but it’s under used in Balochistan.

Furthermore, Gilgit-Baltistan, like Balochistan, is a remote area where PIA employees prefer not to go. PIA offers extra pay to employees stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan, as an incentive to work there. There is no such incentive for PIA employees working in Balochistan.

PIA training centers are located in all major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad but not in Quetta. These training centers teach courses of aircraft engineering, aircraft technicians, flight operations and passenger handling. Students of Balochistan have to travel to other cities to study these courses. This pushes up their living expenses increase and under-privileged people can’t afford this education.

PIA is the national flag carrier and it has a duty to serve all provinces without discrimination. It’s quite clear that PIA administration is treating Balochistan as a less important part of the country, which is unacceptable to people of the province.

The people of Balochistan urge the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Civil Aviation Authority and all the concerned authorities to investigate all these issues at PIA.

by Balochistan Point at May 16, 2015 01:31 AM

May 15, 2015

Global Voices Advocacy
Ethiopian Blogger Atnaf Berahane: Young, Courageous, and in Jail
Atnaf Berhane, member of the Zone 9 Bloggers was jailed for blogging about human right violations in Ethiopia. (Digital drawing by Melody Sundberg)

Atnaf Berhane, member of the Zone 9 Bloggers, was jailed for blogging about human right violations in Ethiopia. (Image Credit: digital drawing by Melody Sundberg. Image used with her permission)

In April 2014, nine bloggers and journalists were arrested in Ethiopia. Several of these men and women had worked with Zone9, a collective blog that covered social and political issues in Ethiopia and promoted human rights and government accountability. And four of them were Global Voices authors. In July, they were charged under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. They have been behind bars ever since, their trial postponed time and again.

Last week, we featured our debut post from a series – “They Have Names” – that hopes to highlight the individual bloggers who are currently in jail. We wish to humanize them, to tell their particular and peculiar stories. This week, Ghanaian author, Kofi Yeboah, writes about the youngest of the Zone9ers, Atnaf Berahane.  

Atnaf Berahane, 26 years old, is the youngest of the Zone9 bloggers. He was arrested in Ethiopia on April 25 and 26, 2014 alongside Abel Wabela, Befeqadu Hailu, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kibret, and Natnael Feleke (all members of the Zone 9 blogging collective) and journalists Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye.

Ethiopia is a country where freedom of expression is repressed by the government. There is strict media regulation in the country, especially when it comes to discussions of politics and human rights. As a result, citizens read news mostly from the Internet.

Atnaf's passion for civic engagement and interest in disseminating information to citizens to understand what the constitution says about their right and freedom led him to co-found the Zone9 Blog: his passion for human rights activism ignited the interest to co-found the organisation. But his passion for human rights and freedoms left him in chains.

In real life, Atnaf is an ICT specialist who works with Addis Ababa city administration at Bole sub-city. The trailtrackerblog, where supporters post regular updates about the case and the bloggers’ condition, describes him as a young Ethiopian who is “known for his use of Twitter handle for hyper local updates.” Atnaf also runs his own blog and is a digital security expert.

The sad reality of the muffled aspirations of one so young as Atnaf is best captured by this post:

Is it the “Federal Republic of Ethiopia” or the “Republic of Dystopia” (police state)?

Has Ethiopia crossed into the Twilight Zone, the Fifth Dimension?…

Ethiopia today might as well be called the “Republic of Dystopia”. Young men and women barely in their 20s are arrested and jailed for “terrorism” merely for blogging on Facebook and speaking their minds on other social media.

Atnaf, together with other incarcerated Zone 9 bloggers, deserve praise and not a jail sentence. It is not only the future of Atnaf that is on trial but that of every aspiring young man/woman who dares take a repressive government to task on free speech.

by Global Voices Advocacy at May 15, 2015 09:17 PM

Under a Shaky Ceasefire, Yemenis Struggle to Stay Connected to the World
A picture taken of a shutdown gas station due to the lack of oil - Photo by Fahmi Al Baheth.

A picture taken of a shutdown gas station due to the lack of oil – Photograph by Fahmi Al Baheth.

Rebels and Arab coalition forces in Yemen are currently under a ceasefire agreement, but violent clashes between the groups have left much of the country in great disrepair. Along with architectural and municipal infrastructure, the conflict has had a disastrous impact on communication technologies in the country. Cuts in electricity and telecommunications services have become commonplace, and some fear that communication infrastructure in the country could begin to collapse altogether, leaving Yemenis literally cut off from the global Internet.

Arab coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia began pounding Yemen with airstrikes on March 26. More than 1400 people, mostly civilians, were killed in 7 weeks. Their assault has gone far beyond military sites and the main target of the campaign, the tribal militia Houthis, who took control of Yemen's capital Sana'a in January. There is also massive destruction in the southern port city of Aden, where the Houthis have been retaliating along with militias loyal to Yemen's former president, Ali Abdulla Saleh, who was forced to step down after three decades in power, following popular protests in 2011.

Power plants and both fixed line and mobile telecommunications networks are out of service in many cities in Yemen, with more joining the list everyday. Engineers are not able to reach stations to maintain them and put them back in operation. The country is also being forced to ration oil, on which power plants and telecommunications stations operate. In many areas, this has meant cutting all telecommunication services, including the Internet.

Even before this conflict, Yemen had a weak infrastructure in both telecommunications and energy sectors. Oil pipelines, power plants and fiber optic cables have long suffered repeated attacks by armed and tribal groups over the past years.

Yemenis fear that they will soon face longer periods of electricity and telecommunications cuts. In some areas, these have already stretched as long as four weeks at a time. If this happens, it could leave millions of Yemenis cut off from the rest of the world in a situation where offenses on civilians are continuously increasing. An Internet activist who preferred to remain anonymous told us:

نحن قلقون بأننا لن نتمكن من نشر وتوثيق انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان والوضع الإنساني الصعب بشكل مباشر على الإنترنت خلال الأيام القليلة القادمة، لا إنترنت، لا اتصالات، حتى هواتفنا المحمولة لن نستطيع استخدامها لعدم توفر الطاقة الكهربائية.

We are worried that we will not be able to document and publish human rights violations and the difficult humanitarian situation live on the internet in the coming few days. No internet, no telecommunications, even our mobile phones will become useless, we will not be able to use them if there is no electricity.

Social media has become a very important tool for international media outlets that could not stay in Yemen to cover the events there. They have instead come to depend on local activists who film and publish videos and reports of what they are seeing and hearing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

According to officials at telecommunication companies, phone and internet traffic has dropped by over 30 percent. Other sources also confirmed that the number of peak time internet users has dropped by over 60 percent in the past few days compared to previous months. These numbers continue to grow as the current situation heads to the worst.

Dr. Ali Nosary, the Chief Executive Officer of TeleYemen, expects that Internet and telecommunications sector will face great disturbance in the coming few days. He says:

مع استمرار الوضع الحالي وانعدام المشتقات النفطية لفترة أطول ربما لن تتمكن معظم شبكات الاتصالات من العمل لأكثر من بضعة أيام وليس أسابيع.

If the current situation and the lack of oil continue for longer maybe the majority of telecommunications networks will not last few days, let alone weeks.

TeleYemen offers internet services via satellites but the service prices are very high ($600-$1400 to set up, $48 for 5GB and $1110 for 100GB). Clearly only a limited number of users can benefit from it. The number does not exceed 1,000 subscribers, the majority of which are employees of private companies and banks.

As the owner of YemenNet and TeleYemen, are both subsidiaries of the government's Public Telecommunications Company, the Yemeni government has a monopoly on fixed line telecommunications services in the country. This arrangement has held the Yemen back from developing a more robust telecommunications sector, leaving it to rely on fragile infrastructure that depends on copper cables and old infrastructure which was made for voice, not data communications.

As for mobile services, three of the four operating companies work on GSM, offering 2G technology. The fourth which is a public company, with the government as a share holder, works on CDMA, offering very limited 3G internet service in some areas.

Despite the accelerated growth in the numbers of internet users in Yemen, the percentage is still too low compared to neighboring countries. Various reports state that the percentage of Internet users in Yemen fluctuate between 14 and 20 percent.Thus one can see that digital isolation is a not-so-remote possibility.

In the face of a disastrous humanitarian situation, widespread poverty, and persisting armed conflict, isolation from the Internet could be disastrous. The Internet is a crucial tool for journalists who work on reporting conflicts, and for activists who spread the news and document human rights violations and the overall humanitarian situation, and for regular people to know what's happening on the ground and communicate with loved ones outside of the country.

by Lara AlMalekeh at May 15, 2015 08:54 PM

PayPal Blocks Donations for Printing Boris Nemtsov’s Ukraine War Report
Boris Nemtsov was murdered in February 2015  before he could finish the report on the war. His photo is seen here at a memorial rally in St. Petersburg on March 1, 2015. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Boris Nemtsov was murdered in February 2015 before he could finish the report on the war. His photo is seen here at a memorial rally in St. Petersburg on March 1, 2015. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

PayPal, the US-based electronic payment service, has blocked the account set up by Russian activists to collect donations for the print publication of the “Putin.War” report. Based on material gathered by the late opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered in Moscow in February 2015, the report presents evidence of Russia's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and asserts that at least 220 Russian soldiers have been killed in fighting in Donbass.

Russia-focused independent news outlet Meduza reports that one of the activists behind the report, Vsevolod Chagaev, tweeted a screenshot of the message from the PayPal support team, which states that PayPal does not allow using the service for “collecting funds to finance the activities of political parties or for political aims in Russia.” Chagaev later told RFE/RL that employees of the Russian PayPal office confirmed that “this is the official position of the company.”

Now it's official: PayPal has blocked the account for collecting funds to print the Putin.War report on political grounds. [Excerpt from Paypal's email screenshot: “We've analyzed the information connected to the account and we regret to inform you that the limitations on the account cannot be removed at present. This is connected to the fact that today PayPal does not offer the opportunity to use its system for collecting funds to finance the activities of political parties or for political aims in Russia.”].

In a comment to Russian news website RBC, a PayPal spokesperson said Russian users were not allowed to collect funds for political parties or projects in Russia because of the “complications of implementing the applicable control procedures.” The spokesperson did not specify how PayPal determined that the money from this particular account was intended to fund a “political project.” Yandex.Money, the Russian electronic payment service that the activists also use to collect donations, told RBC they had no issues with the project, since Russian law allows citizens to raise funds for printing books.

Update: A PayPal spokesman provided this statement to Global Voices to clarify the company's position on the incident: “PayPal Russia does not currently allow any political parties or political causes in Russia to receive donations due to the complexity of complying with local rules which require validating the identity of donors. We regret any disappointment this may cause our customers.”

Internet users in Russia speculate that PayPal may have caved to pressure from the Russian authorities simply because it did not want to lose its business in the country.

Well PP (PayPal) just doesn't want to leave Russia.

PayPal wasn't alone in this. Prior to their decision, 14 different printing houses refused to print the Russian opposition's report citing “the situation in the country.” One printing house agreed to print did so on conditions of anonymity.

PayPal has blocked accounts that could be deemed political in Russia before: in May 2014 the accounts of RosUznik, a human rights organization advocating for the rights of Bolotnaya square protest prisoners, were blocked by PayPal and Qiwi, another e-payment service. At the time, PayPal cited “security concerns” as the main reason for blocking the account.

In 2010, PayPal famously froze the account collecting donations for whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, claiming that WikiLeaks (presumably by leaking classified information) violated the service's Acceptable Use Policy that forbids users to “encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.”

All the while, Russian-supported separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics continue to use electronic payment systems for collecting donations to fund their activities. On May 12, Ukraine's State Security Service announced they were able to expose and block 17 accounts connected to DPR/LNR, although they did not specify which service the accounts belonged to, saying only that they cooperated closely with an “international electronic payment system” to find and block the accounts. Although this was touted as a success, Ukraine's civic hackers led by Eugene Dokukin report they have been blocking separatist accounts on various e-payment systems for many months, and claim they were able to block over 200 “terrorist” accounts since June 2014 on systems like WebMoney, Yandex.Money, PayPal, and others.

PayPal's message to “Putin.War” account holders explicitly states that they don't offer support for financing political activity “in Russia.” So it is unclear if the same rules apply to PayPal accounts registered in other countries. PayPal's current Acceptable Use Policy (both its US and international version) does not mention collecting funds for political parties or political aims among restricted or unacceptable activities.

by Tetyana Lokot at May 15, 2015 08:53 PM

Global Voices
Under a Shaky Ceasefire, Yemenis Struggle to Stay Connected to the World
A picture taken of a shutdown gas station due to the lack of oil - Photo by Fahmi Al Baheth.

A picture taken of a shutdown gas station due to the lack of oil – Photograph by Fahmi Al Baheth.

Rebels and Arab coalition forces in Yemen are currently under a ceasefire agreement, but violent clashes between the groups have left much of the country in great disrepair. Along with architectural and municipal infrastructure, the conflict has had a disastrous impact on communication technologies in the country. Cuts in electricity and telecommunications services have become commonplace, and some fear that communication infrastructure in the country could begin to collapse altogether, leaving Yemenis literally cut off from the global Internet.

Arab coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia began pounding Yemen with airstrikes on March 26. More than 1400 people, mostly civilians, were killed in 7 weeks. Their assault has gone far beyond military sites and the main target of the campaign, the tribal militia Houthis, who took control of Yemen's capital Sana'a in January. There is also massive destruction in the southern port city of Aden, where the Houthis have been retaliating along with militias loyal to Yemen's former president, Ali Abdulla Saleh, who was forced to step down after three decades in power, following popular protests in 2011.

Power plants and both fixed line and mobile telecommunications networks are out of service in many cities in Yemen, with more joining the list everyday. Engineers are not able to reach stations to maintain them and put them back in operation. The country is also being forced to ration oil, on which power plants and telecommunications stations operate. In many areas, this has meant cutting all telecommunication services, including the Internet.

Even before this conflict, Yemen had a weak infrastructure in both telecommunications and energy sectors. Oil pipelines, power plants and fiber optic cables have long suffered repeated attacks by armed and tribal groups over the past years.

Yemenis fear that they will soon face longer periods of electricity and telecommunications cuts. In some areas, these have already stretched as long as four weeks at a time. If this happens, it could leave millions of Yemenis cut off from the rest of the world in a situation where offenses on civilians are continuously increasing. An Internet activist who preferred to remain anonymous told us:

نحن قلقون بأننا لن نتمكن من نشر وتوثيق انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان والوضع الإنساني الصعب بشكل مباشر على الإنترنت خلال الأيام القليلة القادمة، لا إنترنت، لا اتصالات، حتى هواتفنا المحمولة لن نستطيع استخدامها لعدم توفر الطاقة الكهربائية.

We are worried that we will not be able to document and publish human rights violations and the difficult humanitarian situation live on the internet in the coming few days. No internet, no telecommunications, even our mobile phones will become useless, we will not be able to use them if there is no electricity.

Social media has become a very important tool for international media outlets that could not stay in Yemen to cover the events there. They have instead come to depend on local activists who film and publish videos and reports of what they are seeing and hearing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

According to officials at telecommunication companies, phone and internet traffic has dropped by over 30 percent. Other sources also confirmed that the number of peak time internet users has dropped by over 60 percent in the past few days compared to previous months. These numbers continue to grow as the current situation heads to the worst.

Dr. Ali Nosary, the Chief Executive Officer of TeleYemen, expects that Internet and telecommunications sector will face great disturbance in the coming few days. He says:

مع استمرار الوضع الحالي وانعدام المشتقات النفطية لفترة أطول ربما لن تتمكن معظم شبكات الاتصالات من العمل لأكثر من بضعة أيام وليس أسابيع.

If the current situation and the lack of oil continue for longer maybe the majority of telecommunications networks will not last few days, let alone weeks.

TeleYemen offers internet services via satellites but the service prices are very high ($600-$1400 to set up, $48 for 5GB and $1110 for 100GB). Clearly only a limited number of users can benefit from it. The number does not exceed 1,000 subscribers, the majority of which are employees of private companies and banks.

As the owner of YemenNet and TeleYemen, are both subsidiaries of the government's Public Telecommunications Company, the Yemeni government has a monopoly on fixed line telecommunications services in the country. This arrangement has held the Yemen back from developing a more robust telecommunications sector, leaving it to rely on fragile infrastructure that depends on copper cables and old infrastructure which was made for voice, not data communications.

As for mobile services, three of the four operating companies work on GSM, offering 2G technology. The fourth which is a public company, with the government as a share holder, works on CDMA, offering very limited 3G internet service in some areas.

Despite the accelerated growth in the numbers of internet users in Yemen, the percentage is still too low compared to neighboring countries. Various reports state that the percentage of Internet users in Yemen fluctuate between 14 and 20 percent.Thus one can see that digital isolation is a not-so-remote possibility.

In the face of a disastrous humanitarian situation, widespread poverty, and persisting armed conflict, isolation from the Internet could be disastrous. The Internet is a crucial tool for journalists who work on reporting conflicts, and for activists who spread the news and document human rights violations and the overall humanitarian situation, and for regular people to know what's happening on the ground and communicate with loved ones outside of the country.

by Lara AlMalakeh at May 15, 2015 08:53 PM

Global Voices Partners With Thai News Site Prachatai
prachatai

Image from the Facebook page of Prachatai

Global Voices’ new partner in delivering independent news is Prachatai, a non-profit online newspaper from Thailand.

Prachatai was established in 2004 by senior journalists and NGO leaders to provide alternative reporting of news and current events in Thailand. In the past decade, it also focused on human rights issues and other advocacy championed by civil society movements and organizations.

Prachatai, which means ‘Free People’ in Thai, has consistently promoted the protection of free speech in Thailand. In 2011, its director was arrested at Bangkok airport for allowing the posting of ‘offensive’ comments by anonymous readers on the website.

Prachatai has defied authorities by making a stand against martial law, which was declared by the army a year ago. The coup regime has enforced severe restrictions on the media, but Prachatai continued its mission of informing the world about the situation in Thailand and the various efforts of Thai citizens to restore democracy in the country.

Through this partnership, Global Voices will focus on the delivery of news and commentary that the mainstream media in Thailand are not able to give adequately because of the continuing media regulations imposed by the military-backed government. We will continue to highlight anti-coup voices and other perspectives which are either repressed, silenced, and distorted by censors.

by Mong Palatino at May 15, 2015 04:18 PM

Not Everyone in Nepal Is Happy with the Indian Media
Nepalese victims of April 25, 2015 earthquake pictured inside an Indian Airforce aircraft as they are evacuated from Trishuli Bazar to Kathmandu airport in Nepal. Image via hemantrawat1234. Copyright Demotix (28/4/2015)

Nepalese victims of April 25, 2015 earthquake pictured inside an Indian Airforce aircraft as they are evacuated from Trishuli Bazar to Kathmandu airport in Nepal. Image via hemantrawat1234. Copyright Demotix (28/4/2015)

Just after a week of the April 25 Nepal earthquake, the hashtag #GoHomeIndianMedia began trending on Twitter in India. While the Nepalis thanked India for the immediate help offered after the earthquake, the Indian media has been criticised largely in Nepal for its insensitive reporting.

Some thought that the relief work has been used as a public-relations opportunity for the Indian government.

Others accuse the coverage itself of being insensitive and sensationalist. In one prominent example, an Indian reporter asks a Nepali mother crying uncontrollably over her dead child’s body, “How does it feel—what are your emotions right now?”

Angered by the irresponsible reports in the Indian media, Nepalis online have started using the hashtag #GoHomeIndianMedia, which trended on Twitter for several days.

The anger has expanded beyond social media, as well. An autorickshaw was seen advertising the hashtag in streets of Kathmandu, for instance.

Others say the Indian media has resorted to dirty gimmicks and showed a lack of basic humility in the earthquake's aftermath. This is not, incidentally, the first time India's reporters have faced such criticism. During the Uttarakhand flash floods, which killed over 5,000 people, some Indian media outlets saturated the airwaves with scenes of extreme grief, depicting flood victims at very vulnerable moments, which some critics said was closer to disaster exploitation than news reporting.

Some Indians have signaled online that they are ashamed of their own media's behavior.

Other Indians have started using the hashtag #DontComeBackIndianMedia.

For some, like Krittivas Mukherjee, who published an op-ed in the Hindustan Times, much of the problem with Indian reporting in Nepal has to do with a “self-serving narrative” and “sense of condescension.”

Not everyone, of course, is eager to close the door on India's news media. Smita Sharma, a journalist based in New Delhi, wrote on Dailyo.in that naysayers should take a moment to consider if they're seeing the bigger picture:

It is time for course correction before #GoHomeIndianMedia hashtags overshadow all the good work done by many journalists, who too are mortals, and brave challenges to tell the world stories of those in pain.

While some grievances might lose perspective, general concerns about the Indian media do raise questions about its sensitivity, or lack thereof, in disaster situations. India has more than 100 news channels, and they all compete with one another in a fierce pursuit of “target rating points“. Every news channel wants to be the first on the ground and with an exclusive report. In the race to be first, especially during major disasters when so many people are tuning in, some media outlets fail to prioritize ethics and professional standards.

Others worry that networks are hiring too many amateurs, putting people in front of cameras before training them properly. Sunita Shakya, a writer of Nepalese origin, complained about this alleged trend in a blog post for CNN, where she compared the Indian media's reporting to soap operas.

Natural disasters present enormous ratings opportunities to the news media, but they can also fundamentally challenge the integrity of the press. The Indian media's struggles in Nepal are a fresh reminder of the difficulties in responding to mass suffering.

Sanjib Chaudhary from Kathmandu, Nepal, contributed to this post.

by Sourabh at May 15, 2015 04:11 PM

Peruvian Girl Finds the Way Back Home, Thanks to Her Dog Perla
Screencapture from YouTube.

Screencapture from YouTube.

The story of a three-year old girl, who left her home in the Peruvian city of Huancayo, had a happy ending thanks to Perla, her faithful pet.

Persistent dog barking drew the attention of two police officers to a little girl crying on the sidewalk. Ángel Quispe, one of the two policemen, approached her as he suspected the girl was lost. Perla's first reaction was to attack the officer, but Quispe managed to pet the dog and ask the little girl where she lived.

The girl was unable to say her name, so the policeman took her hand and started asking around to find out if anyone knew who the girl was, but to no avail.

During their walk, Perla played guide by running ahead of them, and after passing eight blocks, the dog suddenly sat down at the door of a house, that turned out to be the girl's family home.

Nice Huancayan dog… !!!

It emerged that the little girl had escaped when her mother went to the marketplace, without shutting the door properly. The woman believes that her daughter followed her for a time until she lost track and began walking aimlessly.

So, while it is well known that a dog is a man's best friend, this one was a very good friend to a little girl, too.

Apparently, hero dogs are not rare in Huancayo. Back in 2013, three canines refused to abandon their dead owner, a homeless man who had died after falling and hitting his head. The dogs attempted unsuccessfully to climb into the car that took the body to the morgue, and ran alongside the vehicle as people on the streets observed the scene.

The news was so moving that several animal welfare groups began searching for them to try to find a home for the dogs as recognition for their loyalty. No further news was published about this particular search, though.

Back then, Twitter users said:

Today I watched this video again. SIMPLY EXTRAORDINARY! That's why I condemn those people who mistreat animals…

Huancayo: Dogs tried to prevent the dead body of their owner to be taken to the morgue.

by Gabriela García Calderón at May 15, 2015 04:09 PM

Public Anger Only Grows After Guatemala Appoints Controversial Vice President
17270241492_8aff1f185d_k-2

Protests in Guatemala against government corruption on April 25, 2015. Photo by Flickr user Surizar published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial license.

Less than a week after Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti resigned amid a corruption investigation, the Guatemalan Congress elected Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre, former jurist and politician from the country's conservative right, as the new vice president.

He will serve until January 14, 2016.

Guatemalan Congress approves Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre as the next vice president. With 115 votes in favor and 29 against.

His election on Thursday, May 14, 2015, sparked a huge controversy among different sectors, especially those working in transitional justice. Maldonado Aguirre was the judge leading the effort to save former dictator Efrain Ríos Montt from his genocide sentence. He was the one declaring the Guatemalan genocide trial invalid.

Ríos Montt and his then head of military intelligence Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for massacres committed in 1982 and 1983. Prosecutors allege that Rios Montt was responsible for the killing of 1,771 indigenous Mayans, the displacement of 29,000, and the rape and torture of others during 15 massacres. Ríos Montt is due to be retried, but it is not certain when proceedings will get underway.

Maldonado Aguirre's election stirred up heated reactions online.

We have a new vice president to shout at: You must resign because yes, there was a genocide.

OPM [Otto Perez Molina, current president go Guatemala] and his government have been, on top of corrupt, repressive, denying that yes, there was a genocide, supported by the same structures inside the Ministry of Justice.

Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti resigned on May 8 after her closest aide was linked to a big government corruption scheme, known as La Linea. The investigation is still unfolding, with Baldetti stripped of her immunity and two judges potentially involved.

As the new vice president was elected, good news arrived from Switzerland, where Guatemala's ex-police chief Erwin Sperisen got a life sentence for the extrajudicial killings of Guatemalan citizens. The case was prosecuted in Switzerland (Sperisen is a Swiss-Guatemalan dual national) proving how hard is to achieve justice where the judiciary is so close to the powerful.

Philip Grant, the director of TRIAL (Track Impunity Always), whose goal is to put the law at the service of the victims of international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and forced disappearances), mentioned the role played by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in this case:

As citizens take in the news of the appointment, protests are likely to continue online and in the streets in the following weeks and months. The people continue to demand increased justice and accountability, an investigation into the president for suspected crimes against humanity during the 1980s and the president's resignation. Popular sentiment is that no political party is bringing about real change, therefore citizens cannot rely on their elected representatives and must take to the streets, pick up a banner and megaphone and scream, “Enough is enough”.

The Guatemala human rights commission called attention to a planned nationwide protest in the coming days:

by Renata Avila at May 15, 2015 02:28 PM

A Viral Music Video in China Pokes Fun at Xiaomi CEO’s Imperfect English
Screen capture from Youtube.

Screen capture from YouTube.

Lei Jun, the founder and CEO of Chinese tech firm Xiaomi, is the latest public figure to be autotuned.

The company unveiled its latest smartphone, the Mi 4i, which is specially designed for the Indian market, in New Delhi on April 24. Near the end of the launch event, Lei joined Vice President of International Hugo Barra on stage and announced that they would give everyone in the audience one of the brand's fitness trackers called Mi Band. As the crowd cheered, Lei asked the gathered Indian Mi fans in English, “Are you OK?” — a phrase which usually implies something is wrong. Lei probably meant “Do you like that?” or “Are you happy?”

Mr. Lemon, an user on Chinese cartoon video website BiliBili, remixed that phrase and others to the tune of German singer Lou Bega’s “Angelina,” creating a music video titled “Shaking with Boss Lei Jun! Are you OK?” The video has since gone viral on the Chinese web:

Responding to the attention that his English-language address was receiving, Lei wrote three days later on microblogging platform Sina Weibo:

上周四小米印度发布会,@HugoBarra 主讲,我上台讲了几句英文,主要是想娱乐一下印度米粉。万万没想到,视频火速传到国内,全国人民都笑了[吃惊][吃惊][吃惊]

现在国际米粉越来越多,我的确应该把英文学好,不让大家失望!加油!

At the launch event last Thursday, over which Hugo Barra presided, I wanted to delight Indian Mi fans by speaking a bit of English. It never occurred to me that [my speech] video would rapidly spread across the country and amuse my fellow Chinese [Awkward Emoji][Awkward Emoji][Awkward Emoji]

As Mi fans grow in numbers around the globe, indeed, I should learn English well, and I will not disappoint everyone. Cheer up!

Many Chinese netizens have poked fun at Lei's English in the comments section of his post, like this one:

雷总,这不怪你,当年我们隔壁班的英语老师就是这样教的![嘻嘻]

Boss Lei, forget about it. The English teacher next to our classroom back then had a same teaching style as you demonstrated! [Giggle Emoji]

Wang Sicong, the celebrity son of Asia’s richest person Wang Jianlin whose fortune was estimated over $35 billion, even commented on Lei's language skills:

其实英语不好的企业家,我真建议你们就干脆别出国掉这脸。

I advise entrepreneurs who have poor English to not disgrace themselves overseas.

Wang's remark stirred a flurry of responses rebutting his criticism, as “Allen-Running” wrote:

雷军是程序员出生,加入了求伯君的金山,写出了 WPS (求伯君的 WPS 是 DOS下的, Windows 下的 WPS 主要是雷军写的),扛起了国产软件的大旗,虽然被盗版软件逼得差点破产,但是人家成功了!这么个白手起家的人物,那些靠爹吃饭的人有什么资格嘲笑他?没错,我指的就是王思聪!

Lei Jun was a programmer who joined KingSoft, founded by Qiu Bojun. He developed word processing software WPS (WPS for DOS was made by Qiu Bojun, its Windows version largely made by Lei Jun.) and led the domestic software industry at the time. Though pirate software nearly forced [KingSoft] to go bankrupt, the company still succeeded! He is self-made man, do these people who relied on their fathers have the qualifications to laugh at him? Right, I'm talking about you, Wang Sicong!

Soon after, Wang deleted his previous post and apologised:

对昨晚关于雷布斯的微博致歉,毕竟上一代的企业家没有我们这代人的条件。雷总,Are you OK?下次需要翻译你私信我。

I apologise for the post about Lei Jun last night. Earlier generations weren't given the same education as us. Boss Lei, are you OK? Send me a private message if you need help with translation next time.

Is English important for Chinese companies going abroad?

Lei’s poor English did not seem to damp Indian Mi fans’ enthusiasm for the India-tailored smartphone, nor does it seem to have gotten in the way of his pugnaciously global ambition.

When Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, visited China in 2014 and stumbled through Chinese during a talk at the Tsinghua University, the audiences still responded positively.

Though, with Chinese companies increasingly wading into oversea markets, part of their success hinges on how well they convey selling points in an understandable way to reach targeted markets.

Echoing Lei's comment on the importance of learning English for the global market, Machonoki contended:

确实要学好英语。要问为什么不能让全世界学好中文,这是典型的儿童思维。说明现在的中国还不够资格!英语作为国际语言的格局已经形成,由不得你说不。雷军是个成功人士,从自身找问题,要赞一个。至于王思聪,可以不用理会。

Learning English well is necessary. Many people often think, why can’t we just let everyone in the world learn Chinese, which implies Chinese still lack qualifications! English has the lingua franca of the world, you have no right to reject it. Lei Jun is a successful figure realizing one of his shortcomings, which should be praised. As for Wang Sicong, just ignore him.

“More companies should consider how to improve their global reach. Their English websites too often today tend to read like too much “blah, blah, blah,” said Huang Youyi in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. He is a prominent Chinese translator who had translated and interpreted for three Chinese presidents and also participated in translating the book “Xi Jinping: the Governance of China.”

“They know how to speak to 1.3 billion Chinese people but do not know how to speak to the world’s other 5.7 billion people,” Huang added.

by Patrick Wong at May 15, 2015 01:16 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Amid “Intelligent” Censorship Discussions, Iran Affirms Facebook Will Remain Blocked
A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

Discussions regarding the implementation of “intelligent” filtering have proliferated Internet policy within Iran. “Intelligent” filtering is a process whereby they filter select content on a social media platform, rather than the entire site. Our recent research covered the extent of this program on Instagram. In response to “intelligent’ filtering discussions, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, an advisor to the Committee Charged with Determining Criminal Content (CCDOC) told Tabnak news on May 5, “Facebook will definitely not be included in this type of [smart] filtering, and will remain completely blocked.”

Commenting on the policy on May 14, the New York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stated,

The continuation of the Facebook ban reflects the profound fear with which Iranian officials view social media networks, which have proved enormously popular in Iran, particularly among the younger generation.

Previous Iranian discussions of “intelligent” filtering on social networks never breached how the government would implement this program on networks that use HTTPS protocol, such as Facebook. The only known implementation of this program has been through the unencrypted Instagram API.

For further information on this announcement see the International Campaign for Human Right's recent report: “Iranian Officials Re-Affirm Facebook Will Remain Completely Blocked in Iran.”  For technical understanding of “intelligent” filtering, see Frederic Jacob's Instagram testing and analysis on GitHub.

 

 

by Mahsa Alimardani at May 15, 2015 10:34 AM

Global Voices
Award-Winning Photos Capture the Indigenous Tao People on Taiwan’s Orchid Island
This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

The indigenous Tao people on Taiwan’s Orchid Island have long struggled to preserve their home and culture as the world around them changed.

In 2014, the island saw its first chain convenience store open. And in recent years, the island has become a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful coral reef and the Tao people’s distinctive culture.

Many are worried that the increasing number of tourists will only mean more trash and pollution, not jobs and income. The Tao have traditionally relied on fishing for survival, but that way of life is now under threat.

Wen-Yen Wang has regularly visited the island and captured the stories of the Tao people in a photo essay, which recently won awards in several categories in a national photo contest held by Taiwan News Photograph Study Group. Below are some of his photos and descriptions.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

退潮的夜晚,一位蘭嶼人到海邊抓螃蟹。
他在黑色的礁岩上跳躍,浪花不時拍打上來,不見他什麼動作,手中卻已多了幾隻螃蟹。他偶爾也跳進水裡,尋找躲在水底岩縫中的龍蝦。

At night when the tides were low, an Orchid Islander went to the sea to catch crabs.
He jumped on black reef rocks. The waves crashed on the rocks from time to time. I did not see him move, but he had already grabbed some crabs with his hands. Sometimes he jumped into the water to find the lobsters hiding between the rocks under the water.

達卡安是位在蘭嶼新舊時代交替下典型人物,他從小就不愛上學所以識字不多,但卻是漁人部落中有名的海王子,對於海洋的知識極其豐富,許多蘭嶼人都會前來向他討教捕魚技術。 在傳統的達悟文化中,會抓魚的男性是女性絕佳的擇偶對象,但達卡安至今仍然單身一人,因為早已進入貨幣經濟社會的蘭嶼,對於男人的捕魚能力已不那麼看重。而達卡安即使徒手潛水抓魚功夫一流,在蘭嶼也無法靠此獲得什麼金錢收入,所以他也開始在飛魚季過後,到臺灣找尋工作賺錢。

Dakaan is a typical character who represents the transition between old and new ways of life on Orchid Island. He could not read much as he did not like to go to school when he was a kid. However, he is a famous ‘prince of the sea’ in the fishing village. He knows a lot about the sea, and many Orchid Islanders come to him to learn how to catch fish. In the traditional Tao society, a man who can catch fish is the best match for women. However, Dakaan is still single today, because the Orchid Islanders who step into the monetary economy do not value fishing skills anymore. Although Dakaan has a terrific ability to catch fish with his bare hands underwater, he cannot earn much money that way. As a result, he has started earning some extra money on the main island Taiwan after the flying fish season.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

達卡安早上下海巡視他所設置的沉底網。

Dakaan goes to the sea in the morning to check the fishing net he set up on the seafloor.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

達卡安在海浪拍打的岩岸邊,游泳撿拾蠑螺。

Dakaan swims between the reef and surface to collect turban snails.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

達卡安正在將他所網獲的十多尾白毛魚收起。

Dakaan collects a fishing net with a dozen rudder fish in it.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

為了設置沉底網,達卡安必須潛入6米多的海底,搬時[石]頭壓住網底。

To set up a fishing net on the seabed, Dakaan must dive to reach the 6-meter-deep bottom to fix the net with rocks.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

在上浮至海面的途中,達卡安正與他方才捕捉的章魚搏鬥。

Dakaan fights with a freshly caught octopus on his way up back to the surface of the sea.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

夜間潛水的達卡安,正在找出藏在岩洞內休息的魚。

Dakaan searches for fish hiding in the reef caves during a night dive.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

在一個冬天夜潛結束後,達卡安使用山壁間的泉水洗澡取暖,即使在寒流來襲,他下海依然不穿任何防寒衣。

Dakaan washes himself in the river to warm up his body after diving during a winter's night. He does not wear the wet suit even when the cold front arrives.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

在海上開船捕飛魚以及釣魚的達卡安。

Dakaan ridea a boat to catch flying fish and to fish.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

飛魚季過後,在臺灣工作的達卡安沒有機會下海,與朋友吃飯以及唱歌成了唯一的娛樂。

After the flying fish season, Dakaan goes to Taiwan to work. Away from the sea, dining with friends and singing becomes his only entertainment.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

阿文在蘭嶼長大,經營著雜貨店與機車租賃,雖然幾乎不下海,對於蘭嶼的海與土地,他卻比任何人更加關切與擔憂,深怕自己美麗的家鄉土地總有一天會因會環境破壞而消失。他開始續投入島上的資源回收工作,自己接洽的回收廠商,購入一台壓縮機,到全島各處放置網袋,甚至為此還買了一台貨車。每隔幾天就開著這輛貨車,去收回已裝滿瓶罐的網袋,並放置新的空網袋。 為了置放這些瓶罐,他還向那不贊成他作此事的父親要了一塊土地,把本來應該種植芋頭的良田,變成他的儲存場地。別人的田是種出芋頭地瓜,他的田卻是長出一堆垃圾。

Awen grew up on Orchid Island. He owns a grocery store and runs a motorcycle rental business. Although he rarely goes into the sea, he cares about the sea and the island more than anyone or anything else. He is worried that his beautiful homeland will disappear due to environmental destruction. He has started working on recycling: he contacts recycling companies, collects bags full of bottles and cans, and puts in new bags. He even bought a van for the endeavor. He drives the van to pick up the bags filled with bottles and cans and sets up new bags every few days across the island. To store these bottles and cans, he asked his father, who disapproves of his work, to give him a piece of land, which should be good for planting taros, as a storage site. Others’ plots of land grow taros and sweet potatoes, and his land grows trash.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

This work by Wen-Yen Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

江民軍是朗島部落的其中一為大船船主。傳統的蘭嶼船團組織是以家族為單位,而能擔任船主的人,除了要家族興旺,也必須受眾人敬重。現今因為社會文化變遷,傳統的船團組織早已不再,而碩果僅存的幾位大船船主年事都已高。

Min-Jun Jiang is the chief of a big ship in I-Raraley. Traditionally, fishing vessels in Orchid Island are run by family. The chief of a vessel has to be a respectful figure with a big family. As a result of social and cultural change, these kind of family vessels no longer exist. And the few vessel chiefs are all getting old.

Related articles:

by I-fan Lin at May 15, 2015 09:16 AM

Lawrence Lessig
Democracy in small states

So yesterday may have been the most extraordinary political event I have ever seen. Wolf-PAC asked…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 15, 2015 02:36 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Facebook's Zuckerberg Responds to Ukrainians’ Complaints, But Is His Answer Enough?
Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg during his live Q&A. Screenshot from Facebook.

Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg during his live Q&A. Screenshot from Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the appeals of Ukrainian Facebook users for better content moderation and calls to create a dedicated Ukrainian office. His answer? Facebook “might consider” opening an office in Ukraine some time “in the future.”

Earlier this week, numerous users in Ukraine complained of their posts and accounts being taken down or blocked without any discernible violations of Facebook's community guidelines. They claimed these takedowns were politically motivated and the posts were being reported for violations by masses of “Kremlin supporters.” A mass appeal to Zuckerberg even garnered the support of Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, who publicly joined the calls for a Ukrainian Facebook office.

In a Townhall Q&A with the Facebook founder, livestreamed online, Ukraine was the top item on the agenda, with the initial appeal to Zuckerberg gathering 45,000 likes—a record for the Townhall, according to the event moderator. Support for the issue from Poroshenko also got a mention.

Zuckerberg said he “did some research” ahead of the Q&A to “make sure he had the right answer” to Ukrainian complaints. Besides the creation of a Ukrainian HQ, he also addressed the content takedowns and unfair moderation practices that users claimed were “politically motivated.”

Zuckerberg said some of the Ukrainian posts in question did contain content that violated Facebook's community standards, namely the rule against “hate speech,” though he did not give specific examples.

We don't allow content that is overtly hateful, contains ethnic slurs, or incites violence. There were a few posts that tripped that rule, and I think we did the right thing according to our policies by taking down that content.

Acknowledging the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Facebook's founder also addressed the “meme” perpetuated by many Ukrainian users that the content of the Ukrainian segment was moderated from a Russian office by “Russians who were anti-Ukrainian.” He reiterated what other Facebook representatives had previously confirmed: that Facebook has no Russian office, and that the reported content for the Ukrainian segment is reviewed by an international team speaking different languages based in the Dublin office.

Zuckerberg admitted to the Facebook team making one mistake when reported content from Ukrainians was being taken down.

We did make one mistake. When we reached out to people to tell them why we took stuff down, there was a bug in the software: the reason [for blocking] content was given as ‘nudity’ instead of ‘hate speech.'[…] But we fixed that and apologized. And we'll try not do this again.

Zuckerberg then addressed the question of a dedicated Ukrainian office, which many Ukrainians believe would help mitigate unfair blocking. His response, though, was rather vague.

Are we willing to put an office in Ukraine? Over time, it's something we might consider in the future. There are advantages to people working for Facebook not spread out around the world, but in a smaller number of offices. it makes sense to have local teams for sales, marketing, but for engineering and things like that it makes sense to centralize. But as we look to expand over time, we will, of course, consider all of these countries.

These answers are unlikely to satisfy Ukrainian Facebook users, many of whom have come to view Facebook as “a platform where truth can be sought for and found, thoughts shared and discussed and many moves of civil society coordinated.” While they address some of the issues, like why some of the posts were taken down for nudity when they didn't contain any, they fail to explain why content like this photo of a late Ukrainian soldier's daughter or a portrait and a quote from a classical Ukrainian poet were taken down (they hardly qualify as hate speech). Ukrainian Facebook community, it seems, will have to fight harder for their right to free expression and might have to continue their demands for more granular and more sensitive content moderation.

by Tetyana Lokot at May 15, 2015 02:35 AM

May 14, 2015

Global Voices Advocacy
Bahrain Court Upholds Six Month Sentence Against Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Over Tweet
Nabeel Rajab. Photo by Conor McCabe via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nabeel Rajab. Photo by Conor McCabe via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A Bahrain court today upheld a six month sentence against human rights defender Nabeel Rajab over comments he made about ISIS on Twitter.

The Bahrain Human Rights Centre president is already in custody, under investigation for other tweets, and risks a lengthier jail sentence.

A friend, running Rajab's account which has 261K followers, made the announcement, reposting the tweet Rajab was prosecuted for:

This is the latest in a series of legal actions against Rajab, who was initially convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets that likened Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for fighters of the radical group ISIS. The tweet for which he was convicted suggested that Bahrain's security institutions had a number of staff that had joined terrorist groups, including ISIS.

Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights — not recognised as a legal entity by the government — was only released from prison in May 2014 after serving two years for “disrupting public order.” That sentence came after Rajab was arrested for trying to investigate human rights violations that took place during Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.

On April 2, 2015, Rajab was arrested from his home in Bani Jamra, for tweets concerning the welfare of individuals incarcerated in Bahrain's Jaw Prison as well as news about the Saudi-led coalition that has waged airstrikes against Yemen since the end of March.

by Amira Al Hussaini at May 14, 2015 11:22 PM

Global Voices
Bahrain Court Upholds Six Month Sentence Against Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Over Tweet
Nabeel Rajab. Photo by Conor McCabe via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nabeel Rajab. Photo by Conor McCabe via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A Bahrain court today upheld a six month sentence against human rights defender Nabeel Rajab over comments he made about ISIS on Twitter.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights president is already in custody, under investigation for other tweets, and risks a lengthier jail sentence.

A friend, running Rajab's account which has 261K followers, made the announcement, reposting the tweet Rajab was prosecuted for:

This is the latest in a series of legal actions against Rajab, who was initially convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets that likened Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for fighters of the radical group ISIS. The tweet for which he was convicted suggested that Bahrain's security institutions had a number of staff that had joined terrorist groups, including ISIS.

Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights — not recognised as a legal entity by the government — was only released from prison in May 2014 after serving two years for “disrupting public order.” That sentence came after Rajab was arrested for trying to investigate human rights violations that took place during Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.

On April 2, 2015, Rajab was arrested from his home in Bani Jamra, for tweets concerning the welfare of individuals incarcerated in Bahrain's Jaw Prison as well as news about the Saudi-led coalition that has waged airstrikes against Yemen since the end of March.

by Amira Al Hussaini at May 14, 2015 11:20 PM

An Egyptian Official Resigns After Saying Garbage Collectors’ Sons Cannot Become Judges
The social pyramid of ancient Egypt, the higher you went the more important you became and the more your living standards improved. Even in ancient Egypt, upward mobility was possible

The social pyramid of ancient Egypt, the higher you went the more important you became and the more your living standards improved. Even in ancient Egypt, upward mobility was possible

Can the son of a garbage collector become a judge? Not in Egypt, says the country's Minister of Justice Mahfoodh Saber, whose comments spurned a storm of reactions on social media, forcing the minister to resign.

On the May 11, Saber said in a television interview:

The job of a judge requires someone from an environment fit for such a role, with our respect to the janitor and whoever is beneath or above. The environment in which a judge is raised must be suitable. I'm not saying it has to be high but it shouldn't be low. We thank all the janitors who raised their sons to become educated, but giving someone from that background a judge position will make him suffer from a lot, from depression to other problems. It will make him unable to continue.

Even in ancient Egypt social mobility wasn't impossible. The sons of peasants would be sent to learn as apprentices with craftsmen and they would move up to a higher class in the society. The fact that class doesn't only still play a role in Egypt but that upward social mobility is impossible shocked many. The former minister seems to say that even if someone works hard and achieves well in his studies, he will not be able to earn what could improve his social status.

For example, being a doctor is considered as a high-paying job in most of the world. However, Egyptian doctor Riham Abdelstar notes how intern doctors earn about 20 US dollars a month:

After all those years of studying and training, I will become an intern doctor after a year and a half and make 150 Egyptian pounds [20$] a month and pay 5 pounds everyday for transport

The minister's comments made more Egyptian speak out about the growing in inequality and class discrimination in Egypt. On Twitter, Kareem Samy tweeted:

The success stories of janitors’ sons and others that we used to hear are disappearing. For your information, our community is being transformed by classicism and the bourgeois

The reactions to the statements forced the minister to resign. That didn't stop the debate about social classes to become the talk of the Egyptian social media sphere. Cartoonist Islam Jawish made fun of the incident with this sketch:

- It's true, a janitor son isn't fit to be a chancellor – Why? Because of the prestige? -No, Because he's clean.

The resignation, however, doesn't mean the end of discrimination for Egyptians. Bassel Khaled asks a very good question:

So now [after the resignation] can a janitor's son become a judge?

Another Twitter user noted the illegality of such rhetoric according to the Egyptian constitution:

The justice minister doesn't know that he just committed a crime punishable by the law

[picture translation: All citizens are equal before the law. They are equal in rights, freedoms and general duties, without discrimination based on religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographic affiliation or any other reason.

Discrimination and incitement of hatred is a crime punished by law.

The State shall take necessary measures for eliminating all forms of discrimination, and the law shall regulate creating an independent commission for this purpose.]

The debate even drew the sarcasm of diplomats. The British ambassador to Egypt John Casson tweeted:

Do you want to work in the British Embassy? We welcome everyone and we welcome the janitor's son

The reactions to the ambassador's tweet were diverse, between those who wanted to kick him out of the country and those who cheered him for his sense of humour.

This isn't the first time that this matter was discussed in Egypt. The deputy head of the cassation court Ahmed Ali Abdulrahman said the exact same thing before.

The fact that this incident didn't pass like previous incidents did before might mean that there's a rise in role of social media where people are more capable of getting news and interacting with it. This doesn't make up for the void in parliamentary oversight caused by the delay in elections of course. However, the fact that people from various groups are debating the role of class segregation in the structure of the state is uplifting.

Where I come from such things are barely noticed when they happen and pass without repercussions as this Twitter user Abu Omar Al Shafee from Bahrain notes:

The new appointments for the public prosecutors in Bahrain were distributed among the sons of Members of Parliament, former members of parliament and people in power…What discrimination are you talking about?

by Mohamed Hassan at May 14, 2015 10:47 PM

Israeli Professor Shows the World: ‘This Is What a Feminist Looks Like’
(This photo that launched a million "likes" on Imgur, May 11, 2015)

The photo that launched a million “likes” on Imgur, May 11, 2015

The most famous feminist in Israel this week is Dr. Sydney Engelberg, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who shot to internet stardom after his photograph comforting a fussy baby while continuing to teach went viral.

In Israel, where students begin their university degrees at a later age than the rest of the world due to army service and the near-mandatory gap year of travel following, many students are married with children.

The photograph was first posted on Imgur three days ago (May 11, 2015), and has since been shared over a million times on that site alone. A re-post on the personal Facebook page of Engelberg's daughter has garnered 50,000 likes.

In Imgur's comments, user Cbarbz remarks:

I can't even begin to imagine how much that probably meant to her [the student mother] – knowing that someone valued her education and supported her that much.

EveryonesHiro adds:

Good for him for understanding how hard it is for her to be a student and a mother and that she's trying to better herself for her son.

The rapid spread of the story and the overwhelming positivity of the comments, rare for any article with “Israel” in its name, indicate that people are both connecting with it as a tale of human kindness and hungering for real life examples of feminism and support of the daily labor of women's lives. This image provides a rare taste of both within the construct of an institutional setting, revealing a glimpse into a world in which women's lives and responsibilities are organically supported by the community at large; an embodiment of the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

As a grandfather of five and a professor of social psychology for 45 years, Dr. Engelberg told Yahoo! Parenting:

The reason is that education for me is not simply conveying content, but teaching values. How better than by role modeling?

As to how often babies attend his lecturers, he says:

It is certainly not uncommon, but I wouldn’t say it is the norm. It does seem to be much more acceptable in Israel, which is a very family oriented society and culture.

Jonathan Kaplan, vice provost of Hebrew University's Rothberg International School, explains that the university's policies are a reflection of Israeli values:

Israel is a very familial society, and it is not at all strange for young mothers to bring children to classes. Babies are often brought to weddings or formal occasions, and during school holidays it is not uncommon to see children running through the halls of office buildings or university departments.

On the Facebook page New Wave Feminists, women are discussing whether it is more woman-friendly to allow babies in class or if it is too distracting to the class as a whole. Kelly Smith writes:

I was pregnant in high school. [Had] to give a final speech in class. Climbing onto the stool in front of the room was a challenge. There was some whispering, I was embarrassed. The teacher simply offered to deliver if needed. Everyone laughed and calmed down. Best encouragement ever… No need to make a big deal, just be supportive and move on.

On the same thread, Judy Caldor Linderman concurs:

I had an English Prof that told me to let my 14 month old wander around the room. A great guy. That was almost 30 years ago when i was working on my second BS. Guess it paid off since that kid just finished his masters degree.

Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D., President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Photo credit: Dani Machlis

Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D., President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Photo credit: Dani Machlis

Hebrew University's child-friendly policies are not the only ones that deserve recognition. Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D. is the first women to lead an Israeli university and the first to chair Israel's Committee of University Presidents. Upon taking the helm, President Carmi proclaimed one of her top missions was promoting gender equality in the university system, stating:

The whole system is really tailor-made for men. Women have different needs, different lifestyles, and different roles that are not being at all taken care of in the system.

Under President Carmi's leadership, Ben-Gurion University became the first Israeli university to open nursing rooms on campus for breastfeeding mothers, establish an on-site daycare facility (one of only three universities to do so), as well as take significant steps to make the Ivory Tower friendlier to women and families, including providing funds and establishing policies for women researchers to advance in the academy with an understanding of their family needs.

The Facebook page of the Israeli Student Union proves that Israeli professors are more child-friendly than most in the classroom, posting photographs from around the country of the babes of academe.

Among them are this baby being comforted in class by a yellow rubber duck (professor unidentified).

(Source: Israeli Student Union, Facebook)

Source: Israeli Student Union page, Facebook

This infant being cared for by her mother's professor in what appears to be a heavily female class. The photo is aptly labeled by one commenter, “Male multi-tasking.”

(Source: Israeli Student Union, Facebook)

Source: Israeli Student Union page, Facebook

And this photo shared by Hadass Arussi, where she explains:

מכללת בית ברל, המרצה שלי אורית גילור, לקחה את הבת שלי ל'גרעפס’ לאחר הנקה!
Beit Berl College, my instructor Orit Gilor took my daughter to burp her after nursing!
(Source: Hadass Arussi on Israeli Student Union page, Facebook)

Source: Hadass Arussi on Israeli Student Union page, Facebook

by Maya Norton at May 14, 2015 10:21 PM

Lawrence Lessig
Solomon Kahn’s really cool politic$ code

Solomon Kahn was a fellow at the EJ Safra Center for Ethics Lab on Institutional Corruption. (His…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 14, 2015 04:06 PM

Solomon Kahn’s really cool politic$ code

Solomon Kahn was a fellow at the EJ Safra Center for Ethics Lab on Institutional Corruption. (His…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 14, 2015 04:06 PM

Global Voices
Gaza Rolls Out Red Carpet For Film Festival in War-Battered Neighborhood

Jordan-based Karama Human Rights Film Festival has rolled out the red carpet in Gaza's Shuja'iyya neighborhood.

It is highly symbolic for Shuja'iyya, also spelled Shejaiya, to be chosen to host the Karama Gaza Film Festival. One of the poorest and most-crowded neighborhoods in the enclave, Shuja'iyya was the scene of a brutal massacre during Israel's military operation in Gaza last summer. The massacre killed at least 90 Palestinians on July 20, 2014.

The Karama (Arabic for ‘Dignity’) Festival, which started yesterday and ends today, describes itself as “a platform that utilizes screen arts that involve human rights and justice issues as their subject matter in order to create a cross-cultural platform for the wider general public together with filmmakers, artists, activists and other stakeholders, in order to raise public awareness and encourage their engagement in actions that would eliminate violations of Human Rights.”

Among the movies being screened at the Karama Gaza Film Festival are “I'm Human” (Razan Haikal, Jordan/Germany), “Baghdad Messi” (Sahim Omar Kalifa, Iraq) and “Roshmia” (Salim Abu Jabal, Palestine).

Gazans watching a screening during the Karama Gaza Film Festival (Source: Karam Gaza Film Festival Facebook Page)

Gazans watching a screening during the Karama Gaza Film Festival (Source: Karama Gaza Film Festival Facebook Page)

Gaza-based American journalist Dan Cohen interpreted this event as symbolic of Palestinians’ resilience:

A couple of months after the massacre, DemocracyNow! interviewed Eran Efrati, the Israeli army whistleblower who was arrested by Israel after he posted details about the massacre based on interviews he conducted with Israeli soldiers who were in Shuja'iyya. Efrati spoke of the massacre, including the killing of 23-year-old Salem Khaleel Shamaly, whose murder was filmed by the International Solidarity Movement.

by Joey Ayoub at May 14, 2015 04:01 PM

DML Central
Avengers, Privilege and Internet Nerdrage

I want to complain for a minute about a certain Hollywood superhero blockbuster.

Then, I want to complain for a minute about people who complain about superhero blockbusters on the Internet.

Hypocrite? Probably.

(A brief note on the general plot of the film before moving on: there is another DML Central post that should be written about Hollywood’s depiction of evil artificial intelligence, mustache-twirling robots, education and Marc Goodman’s recent book, "Future Crimes." However, I’m hoping someone else will write the ultimate Skynet et al., kiss-off instead of me.) 

Shortly after seeing "Avengers: Age of Ultron," I tweeted the following:

Somehow being a fluke, lost weekend in which the nerdrage of the Internet found its latest target without my noticing, I didn’t realize I was adding to a mounting argument about depictions of women and race in the film (more on that in a minute).

My gripe with "The Avengers" follows a previous rant I made here about "Iron Man." While the film rakes in more and more money, I am feeling dissapointed by the lack of characters of color as little more than ancillary to the sheer awesomeness of white people (and mainly hunky white men) to save the day across the globe. In nearly every continent, the Avengers leave a wake of destruction in their path, leaving governments and small businesses alike to recover from the disaster relief of the high and mighty heroes. There is an implicit argument here about privilege, power, and who gets to rescue whom. As I think about the students of color around the country who watch the digital wizardry of this latest franchise installation, I grow concerned about the lessons they learn about their place in the world. Sure, there are a handful of characters of color, but they are little more than second-string assists to the otherwise impressive theatrics of the Avengers’ A-team.

What is particularly frustrating about this depiction in the film is that the Avengers are in prime position to speak to the diverse viewing audience handing over money to see them protect the universe. 

For example, right now, Captain America is black. But only in comic books.

Right now, Thor is female. But only in comic books. (It should also be noted that recent sales show a significant increase in the of copies of Thor being sold than by her previous, male counterpart.)

Right now, Hawkeye is deaf. But only in comic books. (An issue of Hawkeye last summer, #19, was largely a “silent” issue, finding Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, struggling to find meaning in his hearing-impaired world.)

And, all of these examples only scratch the surface of comic book diversity blooming in mainstream (and independent) comics today. From Ms. Marvel currently depicted as a Muslim teenager in “Jersey City” to Spiderman, represented as the biracial Miles Morales, I am frustrated that the awesome racial diversity of superheroes today is not making it to movie screens and the ways this omission funnels into the beliefs of young people.

In my book on young adult literature, I recount an incident that happened in my mentor’s classroom:

It was midway through the school year when I was talking with my good friend Travis, the ninth-grade teacher down the hall. He was describing a troubling discussion that occurred in his classroom recently. In preparing students to understand the cultural context of Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir "Night," Travis posed a theoretical scenario to his class:

Imagine for a moment that all of a sudden, tomorrow, all of the white people in the country are gathered up and hauled away.

In the discussion that followed, students were excited about living in the “nice houses” deserted by white people in Los Angeles. However, they ultimately grew concerned that “there would be no more doctors. Then, a student said there would be no more PlayStations or inventions.” When youth don’t see and learn of the possibilities of civic and intellectual achievements that they possess (in real and fictitious settings), our society reinforces powerful lessons about what we expect of young people.

The Problem with Being Mad on the Internet

Shortly after tweeting my innocous complaint about Avengers: Age of Ultron, I heard the digital rumblings that the film’s director had “quit Twitter”  because of angry feminists. Though refuted, the notice then fit hand-in-hand with the online discussion that flooded my RSS and Twitter feed over the next week. From fans passionately defending the choices in the latest film to those lambasting the director and the series (and everything in between). Clearly, I wasn’t the only one concerned with sexist depictions in the film or with the lack of diversity in the cast.

But, here’s the thing: when a cultural product has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in it, the vision of a single director is probably flooded out by the demands, interests and pressures of various aspects of the film industry. To blame a single individual for cultural hegemony and systemic racism is assanine. Similarly, at the other end of the spectrum, the ensuing “nerdrage” over deviations from a comic book “canon” are just as troubling. When we consider digital space for democratic discussion, the role of “trolls” in society, and how we listen in a digital age, how are educators fostering meaningful uses of technologies for engagement?

When I speak with preservice teachers, I traditionally emphasize that media production in classrooms can be a powerful space for students to engage in the public sphere. Some students have pointed to the fact that our society is less beholden to mainstream media to communicate and disseminate ideas. However, what I’m reminded of with the Avengers and the ensuing online responses to the film is that Hollywood and large corporations remain very much entrenched in the cultural millieu that young people participate within.

Earlier this year, the online hip-hop community reacted strongly when Kendrick Lamar’s comments about injustice in Ferguson did not align with their vision of the rapper as the “voice” of a disenfranchised generation. Jay Smooth’s discussion of Lamar and the media’s reaction help reinforce why lambasting a director like Whedon is misguided and how the lessons of critical media literacy and activism must be reinforced in young people’s learning.

Author: 

by mcruz at May 14, 2015 03:00 PM

Lawrence Lessig
On the Berkeley “right to know” ordinance

On Tuesday, Berkeley City Council adopted unanimously an ordinance inspired by Councilman Max…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 14, 2015 02:23 PM

On the Berkeley “right to know” ordinance

On Tuesday, Berkeley City Council adopted unanimously an ordinance inspired by Councilman Max…

(Original post on Tumblr)

by Lessig at May 14, 2015 02:23 PM

Global Voices
One Year of #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of Blogs on Global Voices)

LogoGV1

A year ago, Global Voices in Spanish began dedicating the first day of the week to listening to readers’ recommendations about blogs. This idea came out of a exhaustive discussion about whether blogs are endangered or not and what the real reach of what we call citizen media. The Twitter hashtag #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of Blogs on GV) was born, and since then has curated blogs that you, the users, don't want to see lost in the abundance of information offered in cyberspace.

While some Mondays had more participation than others, the truth is that this initiative was maintained throughout the year thanks to everyone's collaboration. From our experience, we can confirm and conclude:

  1. Blogs still are a strategy for communication and community visibility.
  2. On the Internet, there is no final word on the best way to say things. The possibilities are endless.
  3. The most shared topics were: Internet use, the protection of the environment, gender, regional tourism, and politics, among others.
  4. One hundred and forty characters sometimes fall short to share information, which is the reason why blogs exist and will continue existing.
  5. Blogs let us share our thoughts on campaigns for social change that we follow. That's how we learn and share regionally.

The Spanish-speaking blogging community has shown us a great deal of support. For instance, Ivan Lasso, a blogger behind several projects on the web, says:

me parece una iniciativa que ayuda a visibilizar contenido interesante, algo que siempre es bueno con todo el contenido que nos inunda a diario. Además, he visto que un par de enlaces de los que recomendé los habéis convertido en posts, por lo que imagino que es una práctica habitual. Así que añadiría que al tomar algunas recomendaciones y elaborar posts a partir de ellas, ayudáis a resaltar aún más el contenido, realizando así una labor de curaduría bastante completa al ir más allá de la fugacidad de Twitter.

To me, it's an initiative that helps give visibility to interesting content, something that is always good given all the content that we are overwhelmed with every day. In addition, I saw a couple links I suggested turned into posts, which I suppose is common practice. So I would add that by taking some recommendations and developing posts from them, you all help highlight content even more, curating more completley by going beyond Twitter's transience.

Our friends from SocialTic, an organization that promotes good technology uses, also devoted us a few words (thank you Indira!):

#LunesDeBlogsGV es una iniciativa que ha logrado tejer redes entre blogueros a través de la publicación y recomendación de blogs cada semana en Twitter. De corrupción hasta hábitos de lectura, los contenidos que se comparten a través de este espacio semanal muestran lo diversa que es la comunidad de Global Voices. Iniciativas como esta son de gran importancia hoy en día para seguir nutriendo a internet de contenidos diferentes y generando redes entre usuarios, manteniendo a Internet como un espacio de intercambio abierto. Para SocialTIC hemos encontrado muy buenas recomendaciones de blogs en el hashtag y nos alegra ver que la comunidad participante cada vez es más grande.

The #LunesDeBlogsGV initiative has managed to weave connections between bloggers through the publication and recommendation of blogs every week on Twitter. From corruption to reading habits, the content shared by this weekly space demonstrates how diverse Global Voices’ community is. Projects like this are of great importance nowadays to keep encouraging diverse content on the Internet and generating different connections between users, preserving the Internet as an open exchange space. For SocialTIC we have found great recommendations for blogs through the hashtag, making us feel gratified to see how the contributing community keeps increasing.

Mujeres Construyendo (Woman Building), a group of women bloggers who use information and communications technology to encourage women to speak up, lead and participate, was one of the more regular contributors this year. Claudia Calvin, the founder of the project, shares:

Desde hace un año, los lunes han cambiado de significado. En Mujeres Construyendo es el día de darle vuelo a la difusión del talento de las blogueras de nuestra comunidad y de poner una lupa global para que el mundo conozca lo que las mujeres valientes y talentosas dicen, escriben, piensan y proponen. ¿Por qué? Porque es el día que #lunesdeblogs, iniciativa impulsada con visión y asertividad por Global Voices, tiene lugar y es cuando conocemos también a las y los blogueros de otras latitudes que comparten sus bitácoras.

Gracias Global Voices no sólo por pensar en la importancia de magnificar las voces de la blogósfera en español, el tercer idioma más importante en la red, sino por invitarnos a formar parte de esta iniciativa. Compartimos un interés común y una visión: los blogs y su importancia como herramienta de empoderamiento para las voces diversas. El mundo actual no se puede explicar sin ellos y son, sin duda, un factor relevante de cambio, de información y de denuncia.

Un abrazo al equipo de Global Voices y ¡sigamos construyendo historia!

The meaning of Mondays changed since one year ago. On Mujeres Construyendo, it's when the talents of our blogger community take flight and when we have a global audience to let hte world know what brave and talented women have to say, write, think and propose. Why? Because it's when #lunesdeblogs, an initiative driven with vision and assertiveness by Global Voices, takes place and that is when we also know about bloggers from other parts of the planet sharing their own blogs.

Thank you Global Voices, not only for thinking about the importance of magnifying bloggers in the Spanish language, the third most important language on the web, but for inviting us to be part of this initiative. We have a common interest and vision: blogs and their importance as tool of empowerment for diverse voices. The current world cannot be explained without them, and without a doubt they are an important factor of change, information and reporting

A hug for the Global Voices team, and let's keep building history!

Thank you all for joining us in this first year of #LunesDeBlogsGV. There's much more to come!

You can find some of the Spanish-language posts here and their English-translations here.

by Dominic Fernandez at May 14, 2015 02:10 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Suspended Algerian Satirical TV Show Vows to Make a Comeback Online
El Djazaïria Week-End

From the Facebook page of “Eldjazairia Weekend”

From exposing corruption among the ruling elite to denouncing odd practices in Algerian society, the satirical TV show ”Eldjazairia Weekend” has as many supporters as it does opponents.

Up until a few weeks ago, in its signature irreverent and snarky style, the show aired every Friday evening on El Djazaïria, a private television channel in Algeria. On April 24, the Eldjazairia Weekend team were forced to bid farewell to their TV audience. They were in tears.

While it appears that their network was behind the show's closing, according to Reporters Without Borders the satirical show was canceled due to political pressure from above. Their source is Abdou Semmar, editor-in-chief of the citizen media site Algerie-Focus and co-host of Eldjazairia Weekend.

Semmar, who is also a Global Voices contributor, co-hosts the show with journalists Karim Kardache, Mustapha Kessaci and actor Merouane Boudiab. Semmar has vowed that an online version of the program will soon be launched to counter this act of censorship.

Besides Algerie-Focus, Semmar is a member of Envoyés Spéciaux Algériens. If you are familiar with these outlets, you can probably guess the tone of Eldjazairia Weekend.

Why ‘Eldjazairia Weekend’ was stopped

It seems things came to a head on April 17 when Abdou Semmar questioned the wealth and Parisian apartments of several Algerian ministers and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal's daughter. His information was based on the book “Paris-Alger, une histoire passionnelle” (Paris-Algiers, a passionate history), by a French journalist who claims that Sellal's daughter paid for her flat in Paris with money from dubious origins.The government's reaction was immediate and included a phone call from the prime minister, according to Algerie Focus.

The video below shared by Algerian netizens on YouTube is entitled “This is why ‘Eldjazairia Weekend’ was stopped.” It shows the segment of the show that is suspected to have caused the ire of authorities and cancellation of the program.

The next one shows the last minute of the last episode of the program where we can see Abdou crying along with the rest of his colleagues.

The rest of the video shows details of the administrative proceedings, including warnings by the audiovisual regulation authority and direct interventions by the Telecommunication Ministry with requests for the channel to change the form and content of the show and to fire Abdou.

The channel and journalists yielded to their demands. However, authorities subsequently refused to acknowledge their role in the cancellation of the show and insisted that the decision was purely internal. In fact, the decision was officially announced by the channel itself on its Facebook page. In a public statement, El Djazairia TV stated that the show stopped temporarily and will resume after Ramadan in a new format and that they only received oral warnings, not unlike any other television channels in the country.

Call to protest

That decision stirred indignation among the Algerian public and journalists, who expressed their support to the team of ‘Eldjazairia weekend’. International organisations such as Reporters without Borders also denounced the cancellation of the broadcast and called for the immediate reinstatement of the show. A protest was scheduled to take place on May 1.  However, most private Algerian TV channels did not respond to the call for protest with only El Watan speaking up in support of Abdou and his colleagues. Only one parliamentarian Habib Zeggat dared to challenge the authorities and express his sorrow over the state of freedom of expression in Algeria, specifically focusing on the ‘Eldjazairia weekend’ case in his speech.

Incidents like this are not new in Algeria. Abdou has covered many stories where bloggers were imprisoned for merely criticizing the regime or calling for a democratic election.

After the protest, Abdou spoke to many media outlets, mainly French ones, to expose the truth behind the decision to cancel the show. Abdou regretted the lack of solidarity among Algerian media but lauded international media for their full support.

by Thalia Rahme at May 14, 2015 01:02 PM

Global Voices
The Marshall Island’s Momentum-Changing Proposal for Shipping Carbon Emissions
A large cargo ship full of shipping containers sailing into port. Photo: stockarch.com

A large cargo ship full of shipping containers sailing into port. Photo: stockarch.com. CC BY 3.0

This article is based on a piece written by Aaron Packard for 350.org, an organisation building a global climate movement, and is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

UPDATE: The International Maritime Organisation shelved the Marshall Islands’ proposal on May 13 after it failed to win much support among member states.

This week as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meets in London, they’ll be considering a proposal from the Republic of the Marshall Islands calling for a binding global reduction target on shipping carbon emissions. After years of slow movement on reducing shipping emissions, the proposal brings new momentum at a critical time.

The Marshall Islands is in a curious position of on the one hand being the holder of the world’s third largest shipping registry, and on the other hand being at very real risk from the unchecked emissions of shipping. Foreign Minister Tony de Brum highlighted this in a statement:

We are an island nation and shipping is one of our lifelines. At the same time, carbon emissions, including those from shipping, pose an existential threat to our people and our country.

Since 1990, shipping emissions have increased by approximately 70%, and in 2012, represented 2.7% of global CO2 emissions. If these emissions were reported as a country, maritime transport would rank between Japan and Germany on a table of CO2 emitters. Yet these emissions are not held accountable through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and predictions are that emissions will grow even more rapidly in coming decades if left unchecked. It has been left up to the IMO to make progress, which has been slow – as the infographic below from Transport & Environment, an umbrella group representing European environmental and sustainability organizations, highlights.

International-Maritime-Organisation-Timeline22

If the Marshall Islands proposal is adopted by the IMO this week, it would bring a crucial breakthrough for reducing shipping emissions, and beyond that, an important momentum builder as the world builds to the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.

by 350.org at May 14, 2015 09:38 AM

‘Uber Is Doomed to Be Investigated in China’
Photos showing a street confrontation between Uber drivers and traffic police on May 10 in Chengdu. Photos taken by Weiboer Wong Pok.

Photos showing a street confrontation between Uber drivers and traffic police on May 10 in Chengdu. Photos taken by Weibo user Wong Pok.

The latest raid on the offices of popular US-based crowd-sourced taxi service Uber, this time in the southwestern city of Chengdu on May 6, has sparked public criticism of local Chinese authorities. Some accused them of showing a vested interest in the taxi industry while ignoring that same industry's poor service, while others were dismayed to see officials clamp down on yet another foreign Internet company .

Uber has established a presence in about 10 Chinese cities. The crackdown on their offices started in Guangzhou, where officials from the city transportation department, police and business-licensing departments seized cellphones and other equipment, and later spread to other major cities.

An official at the Chengdu city transportation commission said the raids were part of a comprehensive investigation into Uber's role in the unlicensed private taxi business. The Chinese government in January banned drivers of private cars from offering such services through mobile apps.

In addition to the office raids, traffic police have targeted Uber drivers. Wong Pok, a training consultant, described on Twitter-like Weibo a confrontation he witnessed on May 10 in Chengdu:

【成都Uber不哭】今晚成都牛市口海椒市附近,交警吊销Uber司机的驾照并没收手机,众多Uber司机到现场声援斥责钓鱼及暴力执法。顺便提一句,今晚#张惠妹成都演唱会#结束,诸多歌迷打不到车,有出租司机喊出不打表百元起价。世间总有一些事,转发也是力量。我下周将申请成为Uber司机,就这样。

Don’t cry Chengdu Uber: Tonight near Nuishikuo and Haijiaoshi in Chengdu, a traffic police officer confiscated a Uber driver's license and mobile phone. Many Uber drivers arrived at the scene to protest against “fishing operations” [undercover police officers pretending to be customers to lure drivers online]. It happened when the Chang Hui Mei concert finished and Chang's fans could not find any taxis available. Some taxi drivers asked for a RMB100 [approximately US$16 dollars] as a starting price without a receipt. In such a world, forwarding what happened is a show of strength. Next week, I will join Uber as a driver. That's it.

The post was quickly removed, but not before it received about 1,000 comments and was reposted a few thousand times.

Though it was one of the first on the ride-sharing scene, Uber has lagged far behind its Chinese imitators who have grown fast and found backing from major investors.

That doesn't mean, however, that web users haven't complained about the crackdown. A number of commenters argued that the role of the government should be to encourage innovation, facilitate transportation and improve the terrible service in the existing taxi industry, but instead authorities are preventing innovation in order to protect business interests.

MRJERRYZHOU, an auto specialist, was discontented about the reality of the industry:

ZF应该赶紧出台一些游戏规则来合法化这个产业,而不是让某组织通过知法犯法的下三滥手段来执法,在人民心中的标准不是Uber,而是便捷和温馨,如果还是那些拒载、脏乱差、爆粗口的出租车来垄断这个行业,那我(ren)们(min)只能力挺Uber!

The government should release new rules to justify the ride-sharing industry, rather than allow some authorities to enforce the wrong laws. What the people need is convenience and good services for taxis. We, the people, will only support Uber if the market is still monopolized by taxi companies, which often offer dirty cars and awful services and whose drivers often deny or even abuse consumers.

Zhu Hai, an economist, believed local authorities were working on behalf of the taxi industry:

①Uber动了一些地方政府的奶酪,于是被查;②利用权力是地方政府获得利益的最有效方式;③专车打破旧秩序时,不愿失去利益的旧势力进行抵抗

1. Uber was investigated because it threatens the interest that local authorities have in the taxi industry; 2. Abusing power is the most effective way for local authorities to get what they want; 3. The traditional taxi power wants to resist change when special cars break the monopoly.

Some even questioned if the crackdown is part of the government's desire to further restrict the country's access to the internet or even build a state intranet, and that Uber being a foreign internet company is a natural target. Weibo user Mr. Tuixiang Moda shared his thoughts:

继广州Uber被查封之后,成都Uber也刚刚被查封,很多人将之归结于地方交管部门的利益,也有人阴谋论为其国内竞争对手的图谋,但从更大的背景来看,杜绝国外互联网应用的壮大,扶持本土替代应用,乃是国家互联网长期战略,其最终指向的是国家局域网,从这一角度来看,Uber在劫难逃!

Uber’s Chengdu office has been visited by Chinese police after a raid in Guangzhou. Many people attribute it to the interests of local transportation regulators, others link it to the manipulation of Uber’s competitors in China. However, from a larger perspective, it could stem from Beijing’s longtime internet strategy which curbs the growth of foreign internet companies and supports domestic alternatives. All of this would lead to a state intranet. So Uber is doomed to be investigated in China!

This certainly isn't the first time a foreign internet company faced a clampdown. In the past, the Chinese government has curbed access to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and now Uber joins them.

by Jack Hu at May 14, 2015 04:55 AM

Info/Law
The Crane Kick and the Unlocked Door

Cybersecurity legislative and policy proposals have had to grapple with when (if ever) firms ought to be held liable for breaches, hacks, and other network intrusions. Current approaches tend to focus on the data that spills when bad things happen: if it’s sensitive, then firms are in trouble; if not personally identifiable, then it’s fine; if encrypted, then simply no liability. This approach is a little bit strange, by which I mean daft: it uses the sensitivity of the information as a proxy for both harm (how bad will the consequences be?) and precautions (surely firms will protect more sensitive information more rigorously?).

I propose a different model. We should condition liability – via tort, or data breach statute, or even trade secret misappropriation – based upon how the intruders gained access. Let’s take two canonical examples. One exemplifies the problem of low-hanging fruit – or, put another way, the trampling of the idiots. Sony Playstation Network (Sony is a living model for how not to deal with cybersecurity) apparently failed to patch a simple bug in their database server that was widely known (an SQL injection attack, for the cognoscenti). Arthur the dog would have patched that vulnerability, and he is a dog who is continually surprised to learn that farts are causally connected to his own butt. On the other hand, Stuxnet and Flame depended upon zero day vulnerabilities: there is, by definition, no way to defend against these attacks. They are like the Crane Kick from “The Karate Kid”: if do right, no can defense.

So why would we measure vulnerability based on data rather than precautions? The latter is a classic tort move: we look at whether the defensive measures taken are reasonable, rather than whether the harm that resulted is large. I would suggest a similar calculus for cybersecurity (ironic in light of software’s immunity from tort vulnerability): if you get pwned based on something you could have easily patched, then you’re liable for every harm that a plaintiff can reasonably allege. In fact, I’m perfectly happy with overdeterrence here: it’s fine with me if you get hit for every harm a creative lawyer can think of. But if your firm gets hit by a zero day attack against your Oracle database, you’re not liable. (There are some interesting issues here about who can best insure against this residual risk; I’m assuming that companies are not the best bearers of that risk.)

This leaves some hard questions: what about firms that have stupid employees who open e-mails loaded with zero day exploit code? We might need a more sophisticated analysis of precautions. How was your desktop A/V? Did you segment your network? Did you separate your data to make it harder to identify or exploit?

To take up one obvious objection: this scheme requires some forensics. One must determine why a breach occurred to fix liability. But: firms do this analysis already. They have to figure out how someone broke in. We can design rules to protect secrets such as network defenses, and any litigation is likely to take place months if not years after the fact. I think it’s unlikely that firms will be able to game effectively the system to show that intrusions resulted from impossible attacks rather than someone jiggling doorknobs to find unlocked ones. And, we could play with default rules to deal with this problem: companies could be liable for breaches unless they could show that attackers exploited unknown weaknesses. If we’re worried about fakery, we could require that firms prove their case to a disinterested third party, such as Veracode or Fireeye – companies with no incentive to cut a break to weak organizations. Or, we could set up immunity for firms that follow best practices: encrypt your data, patch known vulnerabilities in your installed software base, provide for resilience / recovery, and you’re safe.

I think we should differentiate liability for cybersecurity problems based on how the attackers broke in. Were you defeated by the Crane Kick? If so, then you get sympathy, but not liability. But if it turns out that you left the front door unlocked, then you’re going to have to pay the freight. We can’t expect miracles from IT companies, but it makes sense to require them to do the easy things.

by Derek Bambauer at May 14, 2015 03:55 AM

Global Voices
Bolivia's Civil Service Wracked by a Series of Social Media Slip-Ups
Election Day in La Paz, Bolivia. June 28, 2006. Photo by Rocco Lucia. CC 2.0.

Election Day in La Paz, Bolivia. June 28, 2006. Photo by Rocco Lucia. CC 2.0.

Over the last few weeks, Bolivia's civil servants have been falling like dominos. Some have been temporarily relieved of their duties, while others have been dismissed outright. The reasons vary, but they all share a common thread: an appalling lapse in judgment for individuals occupying such key positions.

In March, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) decided to fire one of the officials in charge of managing its social media presence after he posted a message containing a spelling mistake on the eve of regional and local elections, in which opposition candidates gained ground against the governing MAS party in the country's four biggest cities: La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz.

“Do you know where you will be boting?” [sic]. That was the question officially tweeted by the electoral body and also posted on Facebook—a glaring mistake that generated widespread criticism on the Internet.

TSE Vice President Wilfredo Ovando explained to the online newspaper El Deber that once the person responsible for the error was identified, they were formally given notice for having compromised the institution's image. But the repercussions went beyond a mere fumbled keystroke, and it was suggested that the incident had been a deliberate attempt to subvert the electoral process: 

“Son funcionarios del Sifde los que se encargan de difundir esa información, lo hemos identificado y se lo ha despedido. No creemos que haya sido un error porque es algo muy elemental, por eso nosotros pensamos que ha sido intencionado y que nos querían dañar“, aseveró la autoridad al medio.

It is officials in Sifde [the Bolivian department responsible for strengthening the democratic process] who are in charge of broadcasting this information; we identified him [the culprit] and he was fired. We don't believe that it was an error because it was something so basic; that is why we believe that it was intentional and meant to harm us,” the TSE authority asserted to the newspaper.

This was not the only controversy linked to social media and the TSE. Spokesperson Dina Chuquimia was temporarily recused from the elections for having retweeted comments by Guillermo Mendoza, the government's mayoral candidate in La Paz.

Chuquimia defended herself against the accusation of violating electoral impartiality, stating that her Twitter account had been “hacked.”

Congressman Amilcar Barral published Chuquimia's retweet, dated March 5, 2015, on his Facebook page. The comment originally made by mayoral candidate Mendoza, which Chuqimia allegedly shared, reads: “We were in different markets in Panpahasi publicizing our platform and listening to all the suggestions and proposals.”

Chuquimia questioned why Congressman Barral would publish a message 20 days after it was originally retweeted and accused him of harassing her via telephone. She indicated that a couple of years ago, Barral had called her continuously requesting the TSE issue resolutions in his favor.

More recently, a cabinet-level blunder caused Bolivian President Evo Morales to remove Jorge Ledezma from the Defense Ministry, after he showed up to deliver aid to Chilean flood victims wearing a vest with the slogan “The sea is Bolivia's.”

Bolivian Minister of Defense who sported vest with the words “The sea is Bolivia's” as he offered help to Chile is sacked.

Bolivia has been embroiled in a territorial dispute with Chile for decades, having lost crucial access to the sea during the War of the Pacific at the end of the 19th century. Bolivia has taken its neighbor to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the hopes of resolving the bilateral conflict. Despite nationalist tension following the latest incident, President Morales publicly apologized to Chile and reiterated his commitment to offering humanitarian aid freely and without any political motivation. In the meantime, however, the Chilean Senate passed a motion of protest in which it rejected aid used as propaganda on the part of the Bolivia, accusing the Morales government of “taking advantage of an unfortunate situation” to further its objectives.

by Victoria Robertson at May 14, 2015 03:24 AM

‘They Belong in the Classroom, Not in Prison': Myanmar's Detained Student Protesters
Ei Thinzar Maung, student leader from Mandalay. Arrested last March 10. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Ei Thinzar Maung, student leader from Mandalay. Arrested last March 10. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Seventy students remain in detention in Myanmar for joining protests against the proposed National Education Law, which critics believe would give the central government excessive power in managing the country’s higher education institutions. Most of the detained students were arrested in a police crackdown on March 10, 2015.

There have been several street protests across the country since last year when the parliament introduced the measure. Because of the demonstrations, lawmakers called for negotiations with several student groups. The bill was approved last month, but protesters have continued to oppose the new draft.

The violent dispersal of student rallies last March generated a public outcry that forced the government to announce a probe into the incident. Human rights groups and students from around the world also demanded the release of the detained student protesters.

One of the people supporting the campaign calling for the immediate release of Myanmar's students is San Francisco-based artist Kenneth Wong. As a former student activist from Myanmar who joined the historic 1988 uprising, he deplors the imprisonment of the students who were merely voicing their views on legislation that could affect their schools.

To show his solidarity, he made digital portraits of five of the student prisoners, which have been widely shared on the Internet. In an email interview with Global Voices, Wong urged global leaders to speak up about the issue and demand accountability from the Myanmar government. He added:

25 years later, I'm sad to see these young students — the future of the country — paying a heavy price for demanding reform. I don't want them to have to spend the best years of their lives in prison. I think they belong in the classroom, not in prison. That's why I painted their portraits.

Po Po, 20-year old student leader arrested last April 8. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Po Po, 20-year old student leader arrested last April 8. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Min Thway Thit, student leader from All Burma Federation of Student Unions. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Min Thway Thit, student leader from All Burma Federation of Student Unions. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Phyo Phyo Aung, 27-year old student leader arrested last March 10. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Phyo Phyo Aung, 27-year old student leader arrested last March 10. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Honey Oo, 27-year old student leader arrested last March 13. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Honey Oo, 27-year old student leader arrested last March 13. Portrait by Kenneth Wong, republished with permission.

Digital drawings by Kenneth Wong in Manga Studio on Surface Pro tablet. Used with permission

by Mong Palatino at May 14, 2015 02:03 AM

May 13, 2015

Global Voices
Two Tragic Cases Throw a Harsh Spotlight on Latin America's Abortion Laws
Campaña para futuras madres. Foto en Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Campaign for mothers-to-be. Image on Flickr by Prefectura de la Provincia del Guayas (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Two cases of rape resulting in pregnancy thousands of miles apart have once again have put a face to a taboo topic in Latin America: abortion.

The first involves a Salvadoran woman who was pardoned after serving seven years of a 30-year sentence for aggravated homicide related to a stillborn birth. The second is a 10-year old girl in Paraguay who is pregnant after she was allegedly raped by her stepfather. Authorities have denied her an abortion.

Latin America has some of the most restrictive regulations on abortion in the world. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Chile ban it completely. Guatemala, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay allow it only when the mother's life is threatened. The only countries in the region where women are free to abort are Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico (but only in that nation's capital) and some countries in the Caribbean.

Salvadoran Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana was 18 years old when she experienced the events that landed her in prison, according to the campaign Las17. She was one of 17 women, known as #Las17, who were imprisoned for aggravated homicide of their newborns. Their defenders argue that the women lost their newborns due to a range complications beyond their control, and that authorities never pursued the truth and instead treated them as guilty from the start:

Había empezado a trabajar como empleada doméstica desde muy corta edad. Cuando ocurrieron los hechos […] trabajaba como empleada con un sueldo de $80 al mes, durmiendo en casa de sus patronos, en un cuarto que ni siquiera tenía luz eléctrica.
Al poco de empezar a trabajar sufrió una violación, producto de la cual quedó embarazada. […] Su vientre no le creció y su misma patrona no se había dado cuenta de que estuviera embarazada.
Tuvo un parto de madrugada en el pequeño cuarto que tenía en la casa donde trabaja. Asustada por que no esperaba ese parto y con miedo a perder el trabajo por ello, no pidió ayuda ni tuvo ninguna atención médica, y según ella manifestó la criatura nació sin vida. Tuvo una fuerte hemorragia y su patrona la encontró sangrando a la mañana siguiente. Guadalupe se levantó y trabajó en las tareas domésticas mientras seguía sangrando. Al mediodía, como no paraba la hemorragia, su patrona la llevo al Hospital de San Bartolo, donde no la atendieron hasta las 8:20 de la noche. El médico manifestó que tenía una fuerte hemorragia y el propio personal sanitario del Hospital la denunció a la policía por aborto y la detuvieron.

She started working as domestic worker at very young age. When the events took place […] she worked as housemaid earning $80 per month, sleeping in her employers’ house, in a bedroom that didn't have electric light.
Just after she started to work there, she was raped, and as result, she became pregnant. […] Her womb hadn't grown and not even her employer noticed she was pregnant.
She went into labor in the early morning in the small room she had in the house she worked at. Frightened as she didn't expect the birth and afraid of losing her job because of it, she didn't ask for any medical attention and, according to her declaration, hers had been a stillbirth. She suffered heavy hemorrhage and her employer found her bleeding the next morning. Guadalupe got up and carried on with household chores while still bleeding. By noon, as the bleeding hadn't stopped, her employer took her to San Bartolo Hospital, where she remained unattended until 8:20 in the evening. The doctor said she had a heavy hemorrhage and the staff of the hospital turned her into the police for abortion and she was detained.

El Salvador's laws regarding abortion weren't always so strict. As NACLA reports:

In El Salvador, a powerful pro-life movement led by the organization Yes to Life began campaigning for the total criminalization of abortion during a planned revision of the penal code in 1994. The right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) political party allied with the pro-life movement, and in 1997, voted into law a new criminal code. The new code eliminated the previous law’s allowance of abortion in cases of rape or grave fetal deformation, or when it would save the health of the mother.

The changes to the code included declaring that life begins at conception and the state must protect that life.

The story took an unexpected turn on January 12, when the Commission of Justice and Human Rights in El Salvador's Legislative Assembly unanimously ruled to pardon Carmen Guadalupe. Hers is the first pardon granted in the history of El Salvador to a woman accused of abortion and gives hope to 16 other women who are still in prison.

In a press conference she had after being released, she said, “I thank God as finally justice was served, I declare that I am innocent.”

At the time, the news echoed on Twitter:

El Salvador Congress grants pardon for one of the 17 women imprisoned for abortion.

Guadalupe's release is an important step towards justice for many women.

Photo: “When I was in prison, I met other women like me who were being treated unjustly. I want to send them a message of hope and strength. I want them to know that the world is paying attention to their cases.” -Guadalupe

In Paraguay, a ten-year old girl represents another tragic side of the same drama. The child is five-months pregnant, allegedly raped by her stepfather Gilberto Benítez Zárate, who was finally detained by police after several weeks on the run. He is currently behin​d bars at the Tacumbú prison in Asuncion.

Authorities have denied the girl an abortion despite her mother's requests, and some medical experts fear that pregnancy at such a young age could endanger her life. The girl's mother –who reportedly raised the alarm last year that the stepfather was abusing her daughter, but police did nothing — was also arrested, accused of obstructing the investigation by giving false information about the stepfather.

As the website ActitudFem reports:

Tiene 10 años, pesa 36 kilogramos, apenas alcanza el 1.40 de estatura y está embarazada luego de que, se presume, su padrastro abusara de ella. Sin embargo, las autoridades paraguayas se niegan rotundamente a que la menor aborte.
El 21 de abril la menor llegó al Hospital Materno Infantil de Trinidad de Asunción acompañada de su mamá. La pequeña se quejaba de un dolor estomacal.
Pero cuando los médicos la revisaron descubrieron que en realidad la pequeña tenía 21 semanas de embarazo.

She is ten years old, weighs 36 kilograms (79 pounds) and she hardly rises up to 1.40 meters (4 feet 7 inches) and she is pregnant after her stepfather allegedly raped her. Paraguayan authorities, however, have rejected outright for the minor to have an abortion.
On April 21, the girl arrived to the Trinity Child's Hospital of Asunción with her mother. The girl was complaining about a stomachache.
But when the doctors evaluated her, they found out the girl was 21-weeks pregnant.

Paraguayan Minister of Health Antonio Barrios has expressed his total disagreement with an abortion. Furthermore, he has criticized the public campaign pressing the country's authorities to authorize the procedure.

Their refusal has sparked heated debate around the world. Amnesty International has called on authorities to allow the girl an abortion :

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action and its supporters have been writing letters to the Minister of Public Health and Welfare and the Attorney General calling on them to intervene to protect the girl and guarantee her human rights.

The organization has launched an online petition with the name Niña en peligro (Girl in danger), which currently has more than 5,000 signatures.

On Twitter, some users called on Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes to act while others repeated the news:

A ten-year-old girl raped by her stepfather, pregnant, she is forced to continue with her pregnancy (Paraguay). #ChildInDanger

Juan A. Torres, a social worker and healthcare activist in Spain, tweeted Amnesty International's note to his 31,000 followers:

Demand that Horacio Cartes guarantee health to a ten-year old raped and pregnant girl.

According to official figures, two girls between 10 and 14 years old give birth every day in Paraguay, most as a result of sexual abuse from their family environment. The World Health Organization puts the number of abortions carried out each year in Latin America at four million, and the majority of them are performed amid unhealthy conditions, especially in low income areas.

by Gabriela García Calderón at May 13, 2015 07:00 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Human Rights Abuses in Azerbaijan: We Can’t Stay On The Sidelines Anymore
Police in Azerbaijan detain a young man. Photo by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reused with permission.

Police in Azerbaijan detain a young man. Photo by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reused with permission.

One month from now, Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku will host the inaugural European Games, a mega sporting event organized by the European Olympic Committee that will convene 6,000 athletes from more than 50 countries. On June 12, as European leaders and delegations gather in Baku to commence the games, will the eight billion dollar spectacle overshadow the myriad accusations of human rights abuses logged against the country?

Nearly one hundred human rights activists, journalists, bloggers and civil society representatives languish in jails across Azerbaijan, and the crackdown is spreading. And no longer is it just the most prominent activists intimidated, journalists thrown into jail, or media outlets forced to shut down. Now, every outspoken citizen risks jail time on false accusations of being a drug addict, a hooligan, a tax evader, an embezzler, or a traitor.

Take the case of human rights activist Rasul Jafarov. On April 16, he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for illegal business activities, evading taxes, and abuse of power. But it is widely believed that these charges are false, and that his real “crime” was monitoring and reporting on criminal cases against journalists and his successful awareness campaigns highlighting the violations of freedom of expression, assembly, and association that take place in Azerbaijan. His “Sing for Democracy” and “Arts for Democracy” campaigns drew attention to Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record, and his planned “Sport for Rights” campaign would have done the same in the run up to the European Games. But instead he is in prison.

Another case is that of a prominent rights defender who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on April 22, on charges rights groups also say were politically motivated. Intigam Aliyev is no ordinary human rights defender. He has helped lodge over 200 cases with the European Court of Human Rights in defense of those unjustly imprisoned in Azerbaijan.

Khadija Ismayilova, a leading investigative journalist and fierce government critic who authored a number of key investigative reports exposing government corruption and the ruling family’s illegal business activities was silenced as well. Currently serving pre-trial detention, Ismayilova was initially arrested on charges of incitement to suicide, though these charges have since been dropped. In February, authorities added charges of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, and abuse of power.

But while Azerbaijan tries to silence people like Khadija, the rest of the world recognizes her for her invaluable work. Khadija has received a number of prestigious international awards, and on May 5 received PEN American Center's 2015 Barbara Goldsmith Freedom To Write Award, given annually to “an imprisoned writer persecuted for exercising her right to free expression.”

And Khadija isn’t the only award-winning critic behind bars in Azerbaijan. There is Leyla Yunus, prominent rights activist and recipient of the Knight of French Legion of Honor award. There is Anar Mammadli, a rights activist and recipient of 2014 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award. Rasu Jafarov is recipient of Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award, which was also given to Leyla Yunus, Intigam Aliyev and Anar Mammadli.

The list of government critics behind bars goes on and on. As the international spotlight is about to be turned to Azerbaijan when it hosts the European Games, will these prisoners remain in the dark? Shouldn’t basic human dignity take precedence over the glitz and pageantry of the games?

For years Azerbaijan has been a country of “concern” or “worry” for Western politicians, analysts, and observers. At times the levels of concern grew into “grave concern” or “extreme worry.” And then even these admonishments disappeared–vanishing in the politics of caviar diplomacy. Those jailed stayed in jail, those who were silenced remained silenced, and more importantly, the authorities in Azerbaijan continued their skillful use of repression and crackdown tactics.

One success story of tackling the crackdown and getting some international attention has been hijacking the official hashtag of the European Games – #HelloBaku. In March, the organizers of the games announced a competition for the most creative photo – the winner would get tickets to the games’ opening ceremony. The winner was announced in early May:

#Baku2015 is proud to announce the winner of #HelloBaku social media contest.

Posted by Baku 2015 European Games on Friday, 8 May 2015

But as Index on Censorship later wrote, the contest backfired with “a number of social media users instead using #HelloBaku to highlight Azerbaijan’s poor record on human rights:

But these are just small victories in the face of a much larger and stronger crackdown that requires more urgent attention.

Now is the time to act. Western leaders must pressure the government of Azerbaijan to start respecting the international conventions and agreements it has signed. A more critical approach must be taken against government officials involved in the ongoing harassment of journalists, civil society activists, rights defenders, and peaceful protesters. They need more than just our “concern,” as do all citizens of Azerbaijan.

Arzu Geybullayeva is a Istanbul-based journalist with a background in conflict resolution who has written extensively about Azerbaijan for local and international media, including Al Jazeera and Global Voices. She is a 2014-2015 Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani Service.

by Arzu Geybullayeva at May 13, 2015 03:02 PM

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