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 22, 2018

Marketplace Tech Report
Why privacy settings can't keep your location secret

Phone carriers collect a minute-by-minute record of everywhere you go. If you use GPS on your phone, that may be obvious. But carriers are also selling that information to companies that don’t do much to keep it secure. One of those companies, Securus Technologies, was hacked this month. Securus gets its information from a company called LocationSmart. On Friday, security researcher Brian Krebs reported a bug on LocationSmart’s website that would make it possible to track any phone on the four major carriers using only a phone number. Krebs spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about the dangers this kind of data can pose in the wrong hands. (05/22/2018)

by Marketplace at May 22, 2018 10:30 AM

May 21, 2018

Global Voices
Making Japan's hot springs more friendly for LGBT folks
transgender bath beppu japan

People who identify as male enjoy a transgender-friendly bath in Beppu, Japan. Screencap from NHK / YouTube.

Japan's “hot spring capital” is trying to find ways to make one of the country's most popular pastimes more inclusive for people who identify as LGBT, when most public baths are segregated according to a binary of either “male” or “female”.

The Rainbow Furoject (‘furoject’ is a portmanteau of the Japanese word for ‘bath’, ofuro, お風呂, and project’) is an initiative of the city of Beppu, located in Oita Prefecture on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu.

On May 1, 2018, forty people, including members of the LGBT community as well as Beppu residents came together at a hot spring resort operated by the municipality to bathe together and brainstorm ideas to make it easier for people who identify as LGBT to enjoy bathing in hot springs in Japan.

The #RainbowFuroject broadcast late last night on #TenGoChan (NHK Ten5 or Channel 1.5) was great.

To help answer the question “what can we do to make sure anyone can enjoy a dip in a hot spring?”, rather than dividing bathers (by binary gender), instead participants came up with three ways of organizing bathers in order to accommodate every gender: how one looks “on the outside”, how one's sex is recognized in official documents, and by which sexuality one identifies with oneself.

According to organizers of the event, it's difficult for many members of the LGBT community, especially those who identify as transgender, and not always according to the gender binary of male/female, to easily enjoy communal bathing. Hot springs and public baths in Japan are almost always segregated into “male” baths and “female” baths, with no recognition of gender fluidity.

Bathing in hot springs or public baths is a big part of Japanese culture. It's estimated there are at least 27,000 hot springs in use in Japan, and 3,500 of them are in Oita Prefecture, the most of any prefecture. Hot spring towns like Beppu, home to clusters of hotels to suit every taste and every budget, have been popular vacation destinations in Japan for at least a thousand years.

As well, most municipalities will also operate subsidized public hot spring baths for locals to relax and take a dip, typically with family, friends or coworkers.

Beppu-shi - 別府市

Beppu-shi – 別府市” by Flickr user Thomas. Plumes of steam come from various hot spring resort hotels in the town. Image license: CC BY-NC 2.0.

Oita's Beppu, one of the most famous hot spring towns in Japan, has regularly tried out different strategies for appealing to visitors, including creating a bathtub theme park and launching a PR campaign for the resort that featured Olympic synchronized swimmers taking over a hot spring bath.

The May 1 LGBT Furoject was hosted by Kitahama Onsen Termas, a day-use hot spring operated by the city. The event was covered by specialty channel TenGo, which is part of NHK, Japan's national broadcaster; and Oguni Shiro, an NHK producer and columnist who attended and reported the event for Forbes Japan.

During the day, bathing sessions were organized by three themes: how bathers outwardly present, regardless of their gender assigned at birth; according to the sex designated in their official government identification; and according to which sexuality they identify with.

The result was that participants were given the chance to explore and understand how transgender and non-binary people experience hot spring baths in Japan, where bathers must typically choose to bathe on either the “male” or “female” side of the bath. Throughout the day, Beppu locals got a chance to share the bath and develop relationships with members of the LGBT community invited to attend the event.

The goal of the day was for the group to come up with some ways to make group bathing in Japan more inclusive of people of all genders. According to Oguni Shiro, writing in Forbes, some ideas for making baths more LGBT-friendly included, rather than segregating the baths according to the binary “male” versus “female”, dividing bathers according to blood type (an important concept in Japan).

Other ideas included signage indicating a bathing facility as “LGBT friendly”, such as certain establishments in Japan are identified as “pet-friendly” or “tattoo friendly” (people with tattoos are generally barred from public baths in Japan). Another idea is that hot spring resorts should be proactively hiring members of the LGBT community to help to make bathing more inclusive.

Besides providing the opportunity for brainstorming ideas, the Furoject on May 1 also allowed some participants to partake in a quintessential Japanese pastime: taking a bath in public.

Interviewed by NHK, one participant and bather, a man who had undergone gender reassignment surgery, said that he generally could only go for a bath either very early in the morning or late in the evening, when there were fewer people in the bath who could observe him.

Another participant said:

「(体女性、心男性の)トランスジェンダーの自分が男湯にはいっても『違和感ないよ』って言ってくれた。広いお風呂に入ったのは13年ぶり。すごく嬉しかった!」

“(As a man who was assigned female gender at birth), when I had a bath on the men's side (at Furoject in Beppu on May 1), no one felt uncomfortable at all. This is the first time I've entered a communal bath in 13 years. It made me so happy!”

The entire NHK TenGo program about the event can be viewed on YouTube at this link (Japanese-only), while YouTube vlogger Kazue-chan also attended the event and made a video blog (also Japanese-only).

by Nevin Thompson at May 21, 2018 05:26 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Uber makes moves to disrupt bikes, too

Uber is looking beyond cars in its bid to control the future of mobility. The company recently acquired electric bike share startup Jump. That means in select cities, Uber users can opt for a bike instead of a driver to help them get around. But the uptick in two-wheeled transportation sharing has some worried about pedestrian safety on sidewalks, not to mention the implications surrounding data privacy. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood met up with Jump CEO Ryan Rzepecki on a busy street in San Francisco to get a handle on the ride share ecosystem. (05/21/2018)

by Marketplace at May 21, 2018 10:30 AM

May 20, 2018

Global Voices
Photo essay: Stateless in the former Soviet republic of Georgia

The following is a partner post by Global Voices’ partner Chai-Khana.org. Text by Monica Ellena. All photos by Jacob Borden.

Miguel Mkirtichian’s passport is grey, just as his life has been so far.

“It’s in Georgian. It has my name, my date and place of birth,” says the softly-spoken 22-year-old, pointing to the document.

“I don’t like to show it. It’s not red, like everyone else’s, and next to citizenship it says ‘None.’ I do not belong here or to anywhere else.”

Miguel Mkirtichian’s ID document allows him to travel, but does not show any citizenship. He’s now awaiting the last stage of the process which will grant him full Georgian citizenship.

Mkirtichian is stateless, one of 595 individuals without a nationality registered in Georgia, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. That’s a tiny fraction of the estimated 10 million stateless people worldwide, but the consequences are no less dire.

“Not having an ID makes you a non-citizen,” explains Johannes Van Der Klaauw, the UNHCR representative in Georgia.

“It means no access to health care, education, or job opportunities. You cannot vote, you cannot open a bank account, you cannot marry, you cannot drive.”

It even means no right to an official burial and a death certificate.

Miguel never had an identification document until 2015. When he was granted stateless status, he was 20-years-old.

Mkirtichian does not know when, in the eyes of the law, he became a non-person.  Born in Moscow to a Nigerian father and a Tbilisi-born, ethnic Armenian mother, he had a Russian passport until he was three.

When his mother came to visit her family in Tbilisi, Mkirtichian’s grandfather reportedly destroyed that passport. He didn’t want his grandson to be Russian, the boy was told.

It was a fateful decision. At first, Mkirtichian and his mother lived with her parents. But when a family argument broke out, they had to leave, Mkirtichian recounts.

He runs through his memories while staring at his hands, avoiding eye contact. He has learnt that can be dangerous, as can asking questions.

“I just remember that my mother and I left and started sleeping in the street,” he continues. “I was 11. I stopped going to school and just followed her.”

Mkirtichian’s paper trail, apparently, simply vanished.

Born in Moscow, 22-year-old Miguel Mkirtichian moved to Tbilisi with his mother at the age of three. His father, reportedly a Nigerian national, disappeared before he was born.

A chance encounter in 2015 with an acquaintance, a lawyer working with UNHCR’s statelessness-eradication program, brought him back into official existence.

His case was referred to the Georgian justice ministry’s Public Service Development Agency, and, a year later, Mkirtichian gained an ID card as a stateless person.

The card gives him all the rights of a citizen except the right to vote and work in public service. Now living in a Tbilisi homeless shelter, he is awaiting a final decision on his citizenship in 2019.

For Mkirtichian, a Georgian passport means more than just a document, however.

“It’s written on my face that I’m different,” he says, sitting on the edge of his bunk bed at the shelter.

“I speak Georgian, but I don’t look Georgian. I speak Armenian, but I don’t look Armenian. I speak Russian, but I don’t look Russian. Citizenship is all I need to heal the scar of not belonging.”

Without documents, stateless person Miguel Mkirtichian struggled to find work. In 2017, he got a job as a cleaner in a gym which lets him use the facility free of charge every morning before opening.

He is not alone in that desire. Hundreds of thousands of people in Eurasia became stateless overnight in the 1990s after the Soviet Union disappeared and state boundaries were redrawn.

They became “aliens” because of administrative hitches, territorial conflicts or simply because they could not track down documents from an extinct era.

Over the past several years, Georgia, which contains thousands of Internally Displaced People from separatist conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has tried to help stateless people regain that sense of belonging.

After years spent living in the streets with his mother, Miguel Mkirtichian was accepted into a Tbilisi homeless shelter run by a religious institution. He shares a bedroom with two other people.

It has signed on to United Nations conventions granting stateless people basic rights and protections and pledging to reduce statelessness. It has streamlined the process for people to gain citizenship and, with UNHCR’s help, pinpointed the number of stateless people and trained civil registries to handle requests for stateless-person IDs.

As these individuals have acquired citizenship over the past three years, Georgia’s population of stateless people has dropped by 49 percent, according to official data.

Ultimately, statelessness “is a man-made problem,” comments the UNHCR’s Van Der Klaauw.

“It requires political will to solve it.”

But lack of knowledge remains an obstacle; particularly among ethnic minorities and rural communities.

“[Civic] education is poor,” comments Nato Gagnidze, the founding director of the Innovations and Reforms Centre, a Tbilisi non-profit that promotes access to state services.

“People are not fully aware of where the lack of documents can lead.”

“There is no data about her in the central archives”

Malika Saidaeva lives in a cabin in the outskirts of Tbilisi and makes a living running a market stall. She discovered her undocumented status when she needed health care and had no proof of identity.

Fifty-nine-year-old Malika Saidaeva is one of these people. Born in the Chechen city of Grozny, in modern-day Russia, she traveled to Georgia in 1980 to work in a factory in Kutaisi. The only document she needed was her internal Soviet passport since “there were no borders.”

In  the 1990s, she moved to Tbilisi, but, today, “[t]here is no trace of her anywhere,” says Nino Rtveladze, a lawyer specializing in citizenship issues for stateless people and refugees.

It was only in late 2016, when a hospital asked for her identification, that Saidaeva realized that her Soviet passport, her only form of ID, was gone. Rummaging at home, she couldn’t find it.

Malika Saidaeva’s case was transferred to Georgia’s Public Registry Office which, alongside UNHCR and the NGO Innovations and Reforms Centre, is trying to establish her legal status.

No ID meant no healthcare.

Saidaeva’s Soviet passport, though no longer a valid ID,  “would make [it] possible to identify her legal status,” elaborates Rtveladze.

“There is no data about her in [the] central archives, no information stored anywhere.”

Through research in state archives and interviews with Saidaeva’s family and others, Rtveladze is now trying to establish her right to a stateless person’s ID; a process that can take months.

From war to limbo

Violeta Bjania, 49, left her native village in Abkhazia at the start of the 1992 war between Tbilisi and Abkhaz separatists. She did not expect that she would not return.

The longer-term goal is citizenship. In the case of 49-year-old Violeta Bjania, a Georgian citizen since 2014, that took two years.

An ethnic Abkhaz, Bjania left Abkhazia in 1992, at the start of the separatist war with Tbilisi, after falling out with her family over her loyalty to the Georgian government.

Violeta Bjania, holding a regular Georgian ID card, was granted Georgian citizenship in 2014. She lives in two rooms in a house in Tbilisi’s outskirts.

She knows exactly when she became a non-citizen – not long after Georgia’s 1992 parliamentary elections.

“I left my bag with my documents in a taxi. It was chaos, everywhere. I was unable to track the driver down.”

Like Saidaeva, Bjania, also a Tbilisi market vendor, only tried to sort out an official ID when she needed medical care.

With her red-brick Georgian passport, she now can reenter the world of the documented. But for hundreds of others, the wait to do so goes on.

Two budgies are Violeta Bjania’s only companions. The 49-year-old has had no information about her family since she left her native village of Otkhara in Abkhazia in September 1992.

Disclaimers: Miguel Mkirtichian works sporadically and has received assistance from this Chai Khana reporter in his job search. Monica Ellena has formerly worked as a UNHCR spokesperson in Kosovo.

by Chai-Khana.org at May 20, 2018 01:07 PM

May 19, 2018

Global Voices
Netizen Report: What do Iran, Pakistan and Russia have in common? They all ban Telegram.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash. Free to use.

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in internet rights around the world.

In a concerning development for the future of encrypted mobile apps, Iran and Russia blocked the messaging service Telegram within weeks of each other in April.

A Moscow court announced the ban on April 13 after Telegram’s CEO repeatedly refused to comply with demands to give law enforcement agents access to the app’s encryption keys.

But instituting the ban was easier said than done. After Roskomnadzor, the country’s federal media regulator, ordered Russian ISPs to make Telegram’s IP addresses unavailable to users, the company switched to cloud back-up services.

Roskomnadzor then began banning millions of IP addresses in the attempt to shut down the service — incidentally blocking business sites and other communications platforms including Viber, Slack, and Evernote.

Later that month, the Iranian judiciary issued an order to block Telegram, asking ISPs to ensure it is inaccessible even when using circumvention tools.

Authorities cited national security in their decision to ban the app, which had been temporarily censored during anti-government protests in December 2017 and January 2018.

Since the order went into effect, Iranians have also reported that they’ve experienced the throttling of encrypted traffic and problems when trying to access other platforms like the Apple App store and WhatsApp.

It’s not the first time a country has made Telegram unavailable. Pakistan instituted a block on Telegram across all telecommunications networks in November 2017 following an order by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The agency has not yet provided a clear reason for the ban, though some have speculated it may be linked to Telegram’s encryption, which company CEO Pavel Durov said he refuses to compromise.

And Indonesia briefly blocked access to the messaging service in 2017 over concerns that it was being used to spread “terrorist propaganda.” In response, Durov promised at the time to take swifter action to shut down public channels containing “terrorist-related content.”

New ownership bodes poorly for Cambodia’s last independent news site

Concerns are high over the editorial independence of Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post after it was sold to a Malaysian public relations executive. Editor-in-chief Kay Kimsong was fired after he refused to remove an article about links between the new owner’s PR firm and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Following Kimsong’s termination, several editors and staff reporters also resigned in protest.

Media freedom advocates say Israel is targeting Palestinian journalists

Since protests in Gaza began on March 30, journalists on the scene have come under fire by Israeli soldiers. Two Palestinian reporters, Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein, were killed, despite wearing gear that clearly identified them as press. Photojournalist Yaser Qudeih was shot in the stomach and remains in serious condition. Several others have been injured, hit with live ammunition, rubber bullets, or chemical gas. Reporters Without Borders has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate.

Uzbekistan no longer has any journalists behind bars

In a move celebrated by human rights defenders, Uzbekistan released Bobomurod Abdulloev and Hayot Nasriddinov, two journalists detained in late 2017 for “anti-constitutional activities.” For the first time in the last two decades, there are no journalists imprisoned in Uzbekistan, once known as one of the world’s most despotic regimes.

Anti-Putin protesters complain of widespread network disruptions

Activists protesting against Vladimir Putin’s fourth term as Russian president reported that their mobile phone signals were intentionally degraded by telecom operators. Others reported their phone numbers were de-listed on law enforcement authorities’ request. One of the companies, Beeline, denied de-listing phone numbers and blamed the disruptions on network overload.

Indian filmmaker booked over “derogatory” tweets about prime minister

Mumbai police filed a complaint against filmmaker Ram Subramanian for tweeting comments that they alleged were derogatory about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his mother on Mother’s Day. Subramanian’s account was then temporarily suspended by Twitter shortly afterward for having “violated the Twitter Rules.”

Facebook reveals details of how it enforces community standards

For the first time, Facebook published a transparency report about how it deals with content that violates community standards. According to the report, most of the posts removed by the company in the first three months of 2018 were spam or from fake accounts, while 21 million were taken down for featuring adult nudity and sexual activity, 3.5 million were scrubbed or given a warning label for showing violence, and 2.5 million were deleted for containing hate speech. While the company says it uses automated techniques to flag nudity and graphic content, the technology “still doesn’t work that well” for hate speech.

Leaked documents explain Instagram’s content moderation policies

Documents obtained by Motherboard offer insight into how Instagram polices content, revealing that the Facebook-owned company will disable an account if two or more parts of the profile violate the site’s policies, if over 30 percent of the account’s media violates the site's policies, or if any part of the profile violates Instagram’s policies on drug sales, revenge porn, sexual solicitation, suicide and self-injury, or terrorism. Reviewers are instructed to follow a “progressive review” process by moving from the username, to the profile bio and picture, media, and comments.

Google employees say tech giant “should not be in the business of war”

More than 3,100 Google employees signed a letter in protest of the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a US Department of Defense-funded initiative to improve drone strike targeting with artificial intelligence. A second letter signed by more than 700 researchers urged Google executives to support an international treaty prohibiting autonomous weapon systems.

New Research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Advox at May 19, 2018 10:42 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: What do Iran, Pakistan and Russia have in common? They all ban Telegram.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash. Free to use.

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in internet rights around the world.

In a concerning development for the future of encrypted mobile apps, Iran and Russia blocked the messaging service Telegram within weeks of each other in April.

A Moscow court announced the ban on April 13 after Telegram’s CEO repeatedly refused to comply with demands to give law enforcement agents access to the app’s encryption keys.

But instituting the ban was easier said than done. After Roskomnadzor, the country’s federal media regulator, ordered Russian ISPs to make Telegram’s IP addresses unavailable to users, the company switched to cloud back-up services.

Roskomnadzor then began banning millions of IP addresses in the attempt to shut down the service — incidentally blocking business sites and other communications platforms including Viber, Slack, and Evernote.

Later that month, the Iranian judiciary issued an order to block Telegram, asking ISPs to ensure it is inaccessible even when using circumvention tools.

Authorities cited national security in their decision to ban the app, which had been temporarily censored during anti-government protests in December 2017 and January 2018.

Since the order went into effect, Iranians have also reported that they’ve experienced the throttling of encrypted traffic and problems when trying to access other platforms like the Apple App store and WhatsApp.

It’s not the first time a country has made Telegram unavailable. Pakistan instituted a block on Telegram across all telecommunications networks in November 2017 following an order by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The agency has not yet provided a clear reason for the ban, though some have speculated it may be linked to Telegram’s encryption, which company CEO Pavel Durov said he refuses to compromise.

And Indonesia briefly blocked access to the messaging service in 2017 over concerns that it was being used to spread “terrorist propaganda.” In response, Durov promised at the time to take swifter action to shut down public channels containing “terrorist-related content.”

New ownership bodes poorly for Cambodia’s last independent news site

Concerns are high over the editorial independence of Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post after it was sold to a Malaysian public relations executive. Editor-in-chief Kay Kimsong was fired after he refused to remove an article about links between the new owner’s PR firm and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Following Kimsong’s termination, several editors and staff reporters also resigned in protest.

Media freedom advocates say Israel is targeting Palestinian journalists

Since protests in Gaza began on March 30, journalists on the scene have come under fire by Israeli soldiers. Two Palestinian reporters, Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein, were killed, despite wearing gear that clearly identified them as press. Photojournalist Yaser Qudeih was shot in the stomach and remains in serious condition. Several others have been injured, hit with live ammunition, rubber bullets, or chemical gas. Reporters Without Borders has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate.

Uzbekistan no longer has any journalists behind bars

In a move celebrated by human rights defenders, Uzbekistan released Bobomurod Abdulloev and Hayot Nasriddinov, two journalists detained in late 2017 for “anti-constitutional activities.” For the first time in the last two decades, there are no journalists imprisoned in Uzbekistan, once known as one of the world’s most despotic regimes.

Anti-Putin protesters complain of widespread network disruptions

Activists protesting against Vladimir Putin’s fourth term as Russian president reported that their mobile phone signals were intentionally degraded by telecom operators. Others reported their phone numbers were de-listed on law enforcement authorities’ request. One of the companies, Beeline, denied de-listing phone numbers and blamed the disruptions on network overload.

Indian filmmaker booked over “derogatory” tweets about prime minister

Mumbai police filed a complaint against filmmaker Ram Subramanian for tweeting comments that they alleged were derogatory about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his mother on Mother’s Day. Subramanian’s account was then temporarily suspended by Twitter shortly afterward for having “violated the Twitter Rules.”

Facebook reveals details of how it enforces community standards

For the first time, Facebook published a transparency report about how it deals with content that violates community standards. According to the report, most of the posts removed by the company in the first three months of 2018 were spam or from fake accounts, while 21 million were taken down for featuring adult nudity and sexual activity, 3.5 million were scrubbed or given a warning label for showing violence, and 2.5 million were deleted for containing hate speech. While the company says it uses automated techniques to flag nudity and graphic content, the technology “still doesn’t work that well” for hate speech.

Leaked documents explain Instagram’s content moderation policies

Documents obtained by Motherboard offer insight into how Instagram polices content, revealing that the Facebook-owned company will disable an account if two or more parts of the profile violate the site’s policies, if over 30 percent of the account’s media violates the site's policies, or if any part of the profile violates Instagram’s policies on drug sales, revenge porn, sexual solicitation, suicide and self-injury, or terrorism. Reviewers are instructed to follow a “progressive review” process by moving from the username, to the profile bio and picture, media, and comments.

Google employees say tech giant “should not be in the business of war”

More than 3,100 Google employees signed a letter in protest of the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a US Department of Defense-funded initiative to improve drone strike targeting with artificial intelligence. A second letter signed by more than 700 researchers urged Google executives to support an international treaty prohibiting autonomous weapon systems.

New Research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Netizen Report Team at May 19, 2018 10:38 AM

Global Voices
Asunción, Paraguay: A city in transformation that is excluding its residents

Asunción is experiencing a housing phenomenon wherein middle-class families are leaving residential districts and those most in need are settling on the riverbanks. (Photo: Juana Barreto, used with permission).

Asunción, the capital of Paraguay and the country's largest city, has undergone enormous development in the last several years at the expense of its more vulnerable residents. The following story by Julio Benegas highlights their resilience and solidarity in the face of these changes. It was originally published on November 13, 2017 by Kultural and is republished on Global Voices with permission.

“They do not want us here. They want an alternative Asunción, one where those in need are not in sight”, says Mirta Chávez calmly and attentively, as though disclosing a fact that has been mulled over a thousand times. Chávez is the customary chairwoman of the San Jorge neighborhood of Asunción, the capital city of Paraguay. She does not need to be appointed to the position officially, as everyone in the flattened alleys of wooden, brick and zinc houses calls her chairwoman. “I do my utmost for my residents and I neither compromise nor negotiate with politicians,” she proudly says about the role.

This neighborhood, which stretches from Avenue Artigas up to the River Paraguay, is home to people who work in factories, meat processing plants and shops, collect recycling, or toil in domestic labor. Those with greater income live on the firmer ground, and those with little or lower income, nearly all of whom make a living by rounding up aluminium and plastic bottles and cans, live in the more vulnerable areas. The closer they are to the river, the greater the poverty. 

Mirta Chávez lives on the border of a marshland, which in geographical terms means that this is a flood zone in Asunción. The families who live there are the ones that have built their own neighborhood services, including water, electric lighting, streets and schools.

According to the 2012 Census, one in five people are living in the northern and southern marshlands of Asunción. During the 1980s and 90s the majority of people migrating from the countryside to the city ended up in the southern marshlands. This is not the case for the northern marshlands, which include the old neighborhood of Ricardo Brugada, also known as Chacarita. People have been living there for a very long time. At the beginning of the 20th century, the higher and firmer areas were populated with workers from the meat processing plants, the factories, the ports as well as the train and bus stations, which are no longer in operation there today.  

Mirta Chávez is 35 years old and just like her siblings and her parents she has lived on the border of the firmer lands of the northern marshlands all her life.

During the floods of the Paraguay River between 2014 and 2015, everybody in the area was displaced from their homes. As a result of these floods, for several months around 20,000 families had to relocate, which cost the state 20 million dollars in aid, the same amount of money it took to build the first stretch of the Costanera Highway. 

However, during this time other things also emerged, like Mirta's heroic side. Mirta brought the residents together to find sheet metal, nails, large pots and emergency boxes. She was also established as the spokesperson for holding talks and dealing with the residents from the high neighborhood who disputed their temporary campsites. 

Neighborhoods boxed in by infrastructure projects

The most latent threat now is one of sand, stone and tarmac: the Costanera Norte, one of the most important projects for Asunción to come out of the Horacio Cartes government. It is a highway that will connect the city centre with the road leading towards the cities of Luque and Mariano Roque Alonso. It is thought that it will ease the absurd congestion in this part of the capital. The huge wall that has already been built for this highway has left the residents of the northern marshlands boxed in.

With the wall finished, water will no longer flow in from the Paraguay River. However, rainwater won't have any place to drain away. The residents haven't experienced this yet, but they can imagine what it will mean to live alongside a type of enormous dam, an artificial pond.

The organised residents have an alternative to this government-led project: they call it Coastal Defence. This is a proposal designed by engineer Ricardo Canese and industrial engineer Mercedes Canese, which involves a canal system and water pumps to return the water back to the river through pipes under the wall, without needing to fill out the land. Although they would be left without a direct view of and direct access to the river, their part of the city would remain intact and there would be no need for them to relocate. 

In September 2014, when the Municipality of Asunción was planning industrial estates for the marshlands, residents in the thousands closed off the access to the municipal building. They were greeted with a violent crackdown. Mirta Chávez left with blows to her back as well as other parts of her body. “I am scared that one day of these days you will get shot,” her husband Arnaldo Penayo told her.

In the northern marshlands, those with lower income live closer to the river. Many of whom are involved in collecting aluminium and plastic bottles and cans.  (Photo: Juan Carlos Meza, used with permission).

Defence for a little oxygen in the city 

It is a Sunday tormented by the seasons: a cold morning and a warm afternoon with cumbersome clouds getting ready to rain. Leticia Galeano, a 41-year-old filmmaker, is carrying fertilisers for the garden and a small shovel for digging in Pavetti Park. The sun reveals an intense green in the garden, underpinned by a row of bottles of various colours.

At the entrance to the park there is a “tent of the resistance” with a crumpled Paraguayan flag tied to a stick, just like in the rural settlements of the northeast of the country. The former residents of the neighborhood of Trinidad want to preserve the little that remains of this park. 

Today in Pavetti Park there remains just one area of large trees that cover the transition between the brown earth of the Chaco region and the fiery red of the Oriental region. The majority of its last trees were cut down to make room for the street leading out of what will be a project of cement and glass: a luxurious three-towered building, Jade Park. The building is promoted using the phrase “Live the city, breathe nature.” It is being built by the Jiménez Gaona & Lima corporation, owned by the public works minister's family. Its the same ministry that is building the Costanera Norte highway, which will leave Mirta Chávez's neighborhood boxed in.

Jade Park is an endeavour of the Fortune International Group, an American group with powerful shareholders such as Barcos & Rodados and Tierra Buena of the Cartes Group, a group associated with President Horacio Cartes. According to a statement made by the CEO of the investment group, Guillermo Petri, Jade Park will consist of three towers in the middle of a lower neighborhood of Asunción, and represents an investment of 92 million dollars.

The old area of Trinidad, which is in the low-income areas of country houses and small reserves, is struggling under the current pressure on housing. In the surrounding area there are houses that look like bunkers and residential buildings for the upper class, which take up entire blocks, leaving just a handful of insufficient and practically isolated low-income housing.

Memory against uprooting  

Roots in the marshlands mean that large families live close together, communities that have worked collectively to access basic rights. (Photo: Juana Barreto, used with permission).

Ana Galeano describes what is happening to the former middle-class and lower-middle-class families of Asunción as follows: “Currently the city of Asunción is excluding the middle-class population and the needy population is settling on the riverbanks.”

She claims that the vulnerable population has increased three-fold and that the middle class was driven out towards other municipalities at the same rate: “On the one hand this is due to the inability to settle down within the production system and on the other it is due to the increased cost of living in the city (property taxes, light and water services, transport, etc.).”

What is happening today in Trinidad has already happened, on different scales, in other neighborhoods such as Las Mercedes, Barrio Jara and Villa Morra. Old low-income blocks were turned into streets with electric fences and high walls as well as deserted streets. 

by Laura Dunne at May 19, 2018 10:13 AM

May 18, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
In the fight against pro-Kremlin bots, tech companies are suspending regular users

Image: Jan Kristoffersen, Flickr, shared under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // Collage by Runet Echo

With election interference investigations going full force in the US, social media companies are being pushed to find new, fast ways to identify government-linked bots and trolls on their platforms — Russian ones in particular.

On April 10, Reddit announced plans to publish a list of accounts that the company suspected of having links to Russia's Internet Research Agency, commonly referred to as a “troll factory”. Reddit's in-house “Trust & Safety” and “Anti-Evil” teams identified these accounts in cooperation with broader inquiries by the US Congress into electoral interference on social media.

Multiple users were then banned from the platform. But not all of these users had provable links to the Kremlin.

On April 12, one user who lost their account implored Reddit to check its work:

Reddit's quick-fix approach to bot-hunting seemed to have dragged a number of innocent victims into its nets. For this user, it appears that the key “suspicious” thing about their account was their location — Russia.

What made this possible? Using custom Python scripts and open-source research tools, I decided to take a closer look at these accounts, in an effort to understand what led to this outcome.

At the outset, I could see that the distribution of their creation dates was typical of a troll factory's intensive output: an overall period of registrations ran from May 2015 to October 2016, with large peaks of activity from May to July 2015.

Histogram showing creation period of suspicious accounts on Reddit. Image by Lawrence Alexander.

This was an unsurprising finding, and a possible reason that the accounts might have triggered the system.

Next, I wanted to see whether the Reddit usernames had been re-used on other social media sites. I ran a script to query both Twitter and the Russian social network VKontakte (VK) for matching accounts. Although VK didn't return any of interest — only a couple that were likely coincidental hits — there were 106 common usernames live on Twitter.

On examining these Twitter accounts, two showed possible links pointing to the IRA troll farm of Savushkina 55 (in late 2017 their office moved to a different address in Saint Petersburg.)

First there was @shomyo, a sketchy profile with “john Doe” as a given name, following only six accounts, mostly Russian, including a Saint Petersburg football team. It was otherwise unused.

Twitter account @shomyo. Image by Lawrence Alexander

The second example pointed more substantively to the Internet Research Agency, but has been dormant since 2015. @rapitangnyy, with a linked pro-Kremlin LiveJournal account, tweeted links to similar patriotic blogs. Furthermore, this handle was included on a leaked list of IRA accounts from former IRA insider Lyudmila Savchuk released that year; it is quite possible that Reddit used this list to derive some of the indicators for their investigation. I published my own analysis of similar pro-Kremlin content on LiveJournal, also in that year.

rapitangnyy, an Internet Research Agency Twitter account. Image by Lawrence Alexander.

The matching rapitangnyy Reddit account (archive) was largely used to promote the Russian-language LiveJournal blog posts, most of them painting Ukraine and the West in a bad light. It has been inactive for two years. So this is, without doubt, a Russian troll factory account — but not one deployed against the US during the election.

Rapitangnyy – Internet Research Agency Reddit account. Image by Lawrence Alexander.

Perhaps the most noteworthy findings during my trawl through Reddit's “suspicious” users were those that likely weren't products of a troll factory at all.

Among the Russian accounts with a matching Twitter handle was @ajcrwl, a user giving their location as “Stuck in Omsk”. Their website was dedicated to digital art and graphic design.

I was intrigued — could this person be a remote employee of the infamous Saint Petersburg troll farm, industriously producing anti-American memes to order? Had their identity been revealed by their ill-judged reuse of the same username across multiple platforms? As previous work by RuNet Echo has shown, this would not be unprecedented.

After further research and verification, however, this prospect seemed less and less likely. Although the Reddit account /u/Ajcrwl was created in October 2016, during the broader troll activity period, the account itself showed no sign of any anti-US or pro-Kremlin activity; instead, there were posts concerning rose growing and the video game Dishonored 2.

ajcrwl, whom I noticed earlier tweeting at Reddit, was not acting like a guilty party. I contacted them a day later, curious to learn how they landed on Reddit's radar during the investigation.

“I don't think anyone from Reddit even bothered to check [my account(s)] outside of Reddit”, they responded.

When I asked whether they ever used a VPN, or interacted with the platform in an unusual way, they wrote:

Sometimes I use a VPN connection, and I think I've been flagged in January when I deactivated one of my Reddit accounts and immediately created another. There's a chance I logged into the third one back then as well. I've also been logged into two accounts from my phone.

ajcrwl willingly shared with me the AS number (a code that identifies a range of IP addresses used by a particular service provider) and VPN addresses (based in London, Poland and Atlanta) they had used before their ban. None of them matched with any of the infrastructure I have on file (my records, derived from open sources, are robust though not exhaustive) as being linked to the Internet Research Agency, RIA FAN, or the IP addresses of their associated forum trolls.

Rather, it seems more likely that ajcrwl's use of a VPN, in combination with activity involving three accounts, set off Reddit's tripwire.

On April 17, I returned to Reddit's suspicious accounts list and found that ajcrwl and three additional accounts had been removed from it, and unbanned. ajcrwl confirmed that two of the accounts also belonged to them.

The fourth account belonged to RobbyDelaware, an American based in the country of Georgia who was previously interviewed by VICE's Motherboard in November 2017 after his Twitter account, with an identical handle, was unexpectedly hit by the ban hammer.

Despite this publicity and apparent vindication, I noticed on May 9 that Delaware's Twitter account had been marked as restricted due to “unusual activity”.

Twitter account of RobbyDelware, marked restricted to due “unusual activity”. Image by Lawrence Alexander.

On that same day, ajcrwl also found — to their chagrin — that their Reddit block appeared to be haunting them on Twitter:

Through further analysis I discovered that Twitter had taken similar action against nearly all of the 106 accounts with usernames matching those on Reddit's “suspicious” list, even @LGBTUnited, a now-inactive LGBTQ-themed promoter with no apparent connection to the troll farm page of the same name. Some other accounts marked restricted at time of writing included apparently real people with no obvious ties to Russia, such as @hcaner, a growth hacker from Brazil.

Yet some of the accounts that appeared to be fake or spreading spam, such as @Meepopeep or @LaserAthletics, escaped this fate. Twitter appeared to be using the first revision of Reddit's “suspicious” list as its primary indicator, with little or no verification.

I got in touch with Robby Delaware, explaining that his account @robbydelaware — which he hadn't tweeted from since October 2017 — had been restricted.

In this exchange, I learned that Delware was one of the first Twitter users to draw attention to an early attempt by the Internet Research Agency to manipulate American audiences in 2014, actions which may ultimately have contributed to his blocks on both platforms.

When he noticed some unusual activity on the hashtag #ColumbianChemicals, he notified Twitter's security team:

Bot and troll activity on #ColumbianChemicals was revealed the following year by the New York Times as an IRA-linked campaign. But Delaware had called it out right as it hit the web, even setting up a Pastebin of his sleuthing efforts (he also posts as iPad_App_Bugs).

Delaware has the rare distinction of being banned on Twitter then reinstated; banned on Reddit then reinstated; and then being censored once again on Twitter, apparently for attempting to draw attention to a pro-Kremlin campaign.

He received no explanation from either company, simply an acknowledgement from Reddit that they restored his account.

Notification from Reddit to Robby Delaware of his ban being overturned. Image courtesy Robby Delaware.

Unlike ajcrwl, Delaware told me he had never used a VPN, but a regular internet service provider in Georgia, his country of residence. It is possible that a Georgian IP, in combination with activity around a hashtag associated with a troll farm campaign, set off Twitter's algorithms — but a cursory manual inspection would made it clear why Delaware had used hashtag in the first place. He told me:

I do believe that Twitter used the most basic methods of automation to flag my account. I believe that the Columbian Chemicals hashtag, along with 3 tweets in Russian language, caused my account to be flagged.

Delaware in fact posted seven tweets in Russian from his original account — as indicated by ‘ru’ in the language field of his tweets’ metadata — but they were satirical or politically neutral, not genuinely pro-Kremlin. He also re-tweeted a tweet by pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist Dmitriy Smirnov showing a meeting between Vladimir Putin and former Former President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev. But context is vital — this alone is no indication that Delaware was sympathetic to his politics.

These two case studies suggest that while some counter-disinformation efforts by Reddit and Twitter appear to have been largely successful, their approach has brought significant collateral damage for a seemingly small group of regular users.

One can see many reasons why Reddit and Twitter would share such information, applying automation, or using the same sources to derive indicators of suspicious activity. But it is surprising to think that they might do so without critically interpreting this information with additional technical analysis, manual verification or open-source research. With such a relatively small number of accounts, individual perusal by human investigators would be feasible.

This strategy would lower the rate of incorrect bans and increase user confidence in the fight against disinformation, while reducing the risk of pro-Kremlin media capitalizing on these minor errors and presenting the investigations as baseless or illegitimate.

by Lawrence Alexander at May 18, 2018 12:46 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
The Senate voted to reinstate net neutrality ... now what?
The Senate voted earlier this week to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to roll back net neutrality rules. But in order for the FCC’s decision to be reversed, a similar vote would have to pass the house and be signed by the president. But the vote did accomplish one big thing: It reminded politicians that consumers care about net neutrality and support some kind of regulation on big telecom companies. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Brian Fung of the Washington Post about what he learned from senators after the vote.

by Marketplace at May 18, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
Was Bangkok Post editor Umesh Pandey fired for mismanagement or political pressure?

Bangkok Post. Photo from Flickr user supercake (CC BY-NC 2.0)

On May 14, 2018, Umesh Pandey wrote on his Facebook page that he is no longer the editor of Bangkok Post, Thailand’s largest English-language daily newspaper.

He claimed that this was because he rejected the demand of the paper’s management to tone down his stance on the military-backed government.

But officials of Bangkok Post told the media that Pandey was merely transferred to another position in the company and was dropped as editor because of poor management skills.

Pandey: “I rather lose my position than to bow my head”

Umesh Pandey. Source: Facebook

Pandey was reportedly asked by management to reconsider the story that the paper was scheduled to publish about the implication of the Malaysian election results on Thai politics.

The Malaysian opposition defeated the ruling party which had ruled the country since the 1950s. Meanwhile, the current government of Thailand is backed by the military which grabbed power only in 2014.

But like Malaysia’s previous dominant party, Thailand’s Junta is hounded by several corruption scandals. Thailand is scheduled to hold its general elections in 2019.

Despite the ‘pleading’ of management, Pandey said he decided to publish the story:

…when asked to ‘tone down’ I did not budge and was blunt in letting those making the decision that I rather lose my position than to bow my head. The axe finally came down on me just 60-days before my 2-year contract ended.

 

The May 11 front page pictured in the tweet below was cited as the ‘last straw’ and led to the removal of Pandey as editor, he said:

NCPO stands for National Council for Peace and Order, the name of Thailand's military-backed government

“Bangkok Post has never compromised its editorial independence”

On May 16, the Bangkok Post issued a statement saying that its former editor was removed for another reason:

The transfer of our former editor is the result of several factors and bears no relation to our journalistic autonomy or the content which we have produced proudly for almost 72 years.

It also assured readers that the paper will continue to protect its integrity and editorial independence:

The Bangkok Post would like to assure readers and the public of our editorial independence and reaffirm that our content, whether published in the newspaper or on other platforms, has never been interfered with by either the government or company executives.

At all times we have strived to maintain our integrity, even now in what is a challenging period for Thailand, but this newspaper has never compromised its editorial independence and this is something that will never change.

There were also reports that Pandey is being accused by some staffers of the paper of poor management and ethical offenses. For his part, Pandey said there’s no proof being presented and that his critics are resorting to slander.

Meanwhile, Pandey’s removal as editor is seen by some as a reflection of the difficult situation of the media under a government which has not yet restored civilian rule.

by Mong Palatino at May 18, 2018 10:16 AM

Kazakhstan's hunt for supporters of tycoon Ablyazov gets absurd and goes abroad

“As usual, there were more police on the scene than protesters,” a journalist living in a provincial town recently told Global Voices of one of the freedom of speech pickets that rippled across Kazakhstan but were immediately shut down by authorities.

“It's a sad state of affairs,” said the journalist, who wished to remain anonymous.

On May 10, rallies took place in many cities of Kazakhstan with signs reading “Stop torture!” and “Release political prisoners!” Most of the protesters were arrested and detained almost immediately.

Human Rights Watch reported:

Kazakh police yesterday detained dozens of people in cities across the country who were protesting the use of torture and politically motivated imprisonment.

People appear to have rallied in response to a call by opposition movement Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK), which a Kazakhstan court in March declared “extremist” and banneda move seen by some simply as a means to repress the opposition group.

Getting information about the protests was more difficult for ordinary Kazakhs.

National media, including private media styling itself as independent, ignored the protests completely.

When interviewed by the Kazakh service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) most lawmakers in the Central Asian country's rubber-stamp parliament claimed they had not heard of the protests taking place.

The Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement timed the rallies to coincide with the European parliament's mission to Kazakhstan to discuss the fulfilment of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

One of the main conditions of the pact is human rights and freedom of speech.

When protests started, police arrived at the scene and began to drag protesters to the bus, while they held each other and tried to resist. As has happened before in Kazakh protests, random passers-by were arrested by mistake.

After the arrests, protesters were taken to police stations. Some were fined and others were detained for up to 10 days.

Public protests are uncommon in Kazakhstan and require permits from the authorities, who in turn rarely grant them.

They seek them here, they seek them there

The man behind DCK is Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive oligarch accused of fleeing the country and taking several billions of dollars worth of stolen funds with him following a struggle over a local bank in 2009.

He is the sworn enemy of Kazakhstan's long-ruling dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Kazakhstan's efforts to bring Ablyazov back to Kazakhstan to face trial have so far come to nothing. The highest civilian authority in France blocked his extradition last year, deeming embezzlement charges against him politically motivated.

The frustrated authoritarian government is now lashing out at his supporters instead. In March this year, DVK was branded “extremist” by a Kazakh court, giving authorities a blank slate to go after anyone with even a tenuous connection to the group.

One well-known case has seen a young businessman jailed and allegedly beaten in detention over accusations that he laundered money for Ablyazov. His mother says her son has no links to Ablyazov whatsoever, and that authorities are in fact using him to force his sister, who worked with Ablyazov for many years, to return to Kazakhstan and testify against the oligarch.

Weaker still were the links between Ablyazov and ordinary citizens of Kazakhstan who were apprehended by police in the country's capital Astana during the Nowruz national holiday while carrying blue balloons. Apparently the reason for the heavy handed treatment was because blue is the colour of the DVK opposition group, meaning the balloons could be viewed as propaganda.

There is a danger that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Social media users have for a long time reported problems using Facebook, YouTube and Telegram whenever Ablyazov begins online broadcasts. As he has started posting more content online, the blocks — which the government does not admit — have grown more frequent.

There are also alarming signs that the government is prepared to use what leverage it has over other countries to force them to cooperate in the hunt for Ablyazov allies. Last week media in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan reported that Kyrgyz authorities had arrested a close supporter of the dissident and would soon extradite him to Kazakhstan. This is despite the fact that apart from Kazakhstan, no country has so far declared the DVK a “terrorist movement”.

This new, jacked up phase of conflict between Ablyazov and Astana has two obvious victims: freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Both are guaranteed by the Kazakh constitution, but unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be a consideration for authorities.

by Arlen Kaulitz at May 18, 2018 06:54 AM

May 17, 2018

Global Voices
Yangon police and a group of ‘nationalists’ violently dispersed a peace march in Myanmar

The peace march was organized to highlight the plight of residents displaced by ongoing clashes between government troops and armed ethnic groups. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet. The Irrawaddy is a content partner of Global Voices.

A peace march in Yangon, Myanmar’s capital, was violently dispersed by the police and a group of ‘nationalist’ civilians on May 12, 2018.

The march, attended by almost 300 people, was organized by the Public Peace Movement Committee. It aimed to raise awareness about the plight of internally displaced people across the country as clashes continue to intensify between government troops and armed ethnic groups. The Myanmar government is currently negotiating peace with various armed ethnic groups which have been waging war for several decades already.

The police denied the organizers’ request to hold a rally at a busy intersection in Yangon, so they agreed to peacefully disperse. But according to activists, it was during this time when almost a hundred people wearing civilian clothes attacked the peace march, beating them and even arresting some of the participants, all under the watch of police.

Some journalists who were there at the rally identified the attackers as supporters of the army and the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion (Ma Ba Tha), a nationalist Buddhist group.

Nine members of the peace march were arrested by the police for violating the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law. They were released after posting bail on the same day. But the police said they will file more cases against 17 individuals for disturbing public order.

There’s no report if the police will charge the group of unruly ‘nationalists’.

Almost 400 civil society groups signed a statement condemning the violent dispersal of the peace march. They asked authorities to drop charges against the activists and “take actions on those who committed violent acts on protesters.”

AAAP refers to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners—Burma.

The embassies of Denmark and Sweden also issued separate statements urging the government to uphold the people’s right to peacefully assemble and express their opinion.

Nine activists were arrested during the peace march. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet. The Irrawaddy is a content partner of Global Voices.

In an editorial, The Irrawaddy news website, which is a content partner of Global Voices, deplored the failure of the police to arrest the ‘nationalists’ who attacked the peace march:

We ask the authorities: Who were those self-proclaimed “citizens” and why did the police officers present turn a blind eye when they attacked? Apart from physically attacking the activists, these anonymous people cursed and threatened members of the media who were there to cover the protest. Again, the police simply ignored it.

Why do these thugs enjoy such impunity? Why did the police stand by and let all hell break loose? Did the police just decide to turn a blind eye because they were pro-military activists who were “countering” the anti-war protest?

Human rights groups also raised the alarm over the rising number of arrests made by the police against peace activists. Around 42 peace activists, including high schools students, had been slapped with various cases for participating in mass actions across the country in the month of May alone.

The protesters are planning to file a case against the police and the ‘nationalists’ who dispersed them on May 12.

For its part, the police denied that it hired civilian ‘thugs’ to arrest activists.

by Mong Palatino at May 17, 2018 07:11 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
What will Europe's new data protection law cost businesses?
Europe’s new data regulations apply to companies large and small, but do tech’s little fish have a big disadvantage? The General Data Protection Regulation has already taken effect and will start being enforced later this month. Some big companies have added staff and software to comply, but smaller businesses may not have the cash to keep up. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Jessica Lee, partner with the law firm Loeb & Loeb, about just how much businesses are spending on compliance. (05/17/2018)

by Marketplace at May 17, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
Venezuelans who hope for government change face dilemma — to vote or not to vote?

“Venezuela in Crisis” by Kenneth Rodríguez. Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The following post has been written with the collaboration and assistance of Venezuelan communicator and political analyst Naky Soto and Global Voices contributor Luis Carlos Díaz.

As Venezuela approaches a controversial presidential election on May 20, many Venezuelans are questioning whether it is worthwhile to vote.

On the one hand, not voting means their displeasure with the current government won't be registered at the ballot box. On the other, even if they did vote for an opposition candidate, they have reason to doubt it would be counted correctly.

According to studies, the integrity of the Venezuelan electoral process has been compromised since 2004, when then-President Hugo Chavez — the man who ushered in an era of populist politics and centralized executive authority — survived a recall referendum.

At the same time, analysts inside and outside the country point out how current President Nicolás Maduro hasn't exactly respected space for the country's political opposition. His government blocked an effort to convene a recall referendum on his presidency in 2016, and the next year, the Supreme Court  (stacked with Maduro allies) suspended the opposition majority National Assembly. The court itself assumed the assembly's duties and gave Maduro more power over the legislature.

The move, seen by many inside and outside the country as a “self-inflicted coup” and an official end to democracy in the country, sparked a series of protests that faced violent crackdowns and resulted in a large number of people being imprisoned and tortured.

Despite the fact that protests are no longer as present in the center of international media attention, movement in the streets has not ceased. Albeit in smaller numbers than 2017, but with violent retaliation from the police and other armed groups, people are protesting unbearable economic conditions such as record numbers of children dying of malnutrition, a medicine shortage of around 85% and an inflation rate that is expected to soar to 13,000% among many other examples.

A divided opposition in an unsound election

As the National Constituent Assembly (the institution created to substitute the National Assembly that was suspended in 2017) called for early elections that were later pushed to May, many human rights organizations denounce the lack of legal basis for the move and accuse the government of rigging the elections. In addition, other countries in the region and abroad have refused to recognize the results. José Ignacio Hernández explains it this way in the online media outlet Caracas Chronicles:

There are more than enough reasons to doubt the election will be fair. The clear violation of the Venezuelan Constitution by the fraudulent constituent assembly; the lack of independence of the National Electoral Council; the arbitrary political bans on political parties and leaders of the opposition; the political bias of the Supreme Tribunal; the absence of electoral accountability, and the supra-constitutional powers of the illegitimate constituent assembly: all of these are established. In addition, the international community, from the United States and the European Union to Colombia, Argentina and Peru, have already said that they will not recognize such elections. Even to consider participating in this blatant fraud of an election called by the ANC is outrageous.

At the same time, for analyst Felix Seijas and renowned writer Alberto Barrera Tyszka, the government capitalizes on the fractures that keep the opposition weak and at a disadvantage. According to Seijas:

Después de ser derrotados en octubre en elecciones provinciales que fueron consideradas como fraudulentas, la mayoría de los miembros de la coalición opositora MUD decidió no participar en el próximo concurso. La voluntad del gobierno de rellenar las papeletas, romper las reglas electorales y limitar a los votantes de la oposición a llegar a las urnas significa que casi no hay riesgo de que Maduro pierda.

After being defeated in October's local elections (that were considered fraudulent) most of the members of the opponent coalition MUD [Democratic Unity Roundtable] decided not to participate in the next contest. The will of the government to trick the number of ballots, break electoral rules and block the ways for opposition voters to get to the ballot box means that there's almost no risk for Maduto to loose.

Meanwhile, Barrera Tyszka looks at the structures that create unfavorable conditions for free and fair elections:

Las elecciones en Venezuela están diseñadas como una estafa perfecta. El gobierno elige a todos los candidatos, establece las reglas de juego, no permite auditorías ni ningún tipo de observación independiente, extorsiona a los votantes con comida y medicinas, mientras la población menos necesitada se debate moralmente entre votar o no votar.

Venezuela's elections are designed to be a perfect scam. The government picks all the candidates, sets the rules of the game, forbids any scrutiny or independent monitoring [and] blackmails voters with food and medicine, while the part of the population that is a bit less in need carry the moral dilemma of whether to vote or not.

To vote or not to vote: Is that the question?

Given the circumstances and the whole environment of these elections, those opposing the government find themselves inside a highly tense debate over whether to vote or not. Moreover, the contestants that oppose President Maduro, Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci don’t seem to stand a real chance. For those who have decided to stay at home, not voting equals not collaborating with what they consider to be nothing more than a deceptive way for the government to hang on to power.

As usual, social media users (especially Twitter users) discuss the different ways that people view the election:

Unconditioned elections, Maduro shielded by the National Electoral Council and voter fraud. Voting without democracy doesn't make you a citizen, but an accomplice of the regime. On May 20th leave them by themselves with their fraud.

Presidential elections in Venezuela. It's not a joke. It's not funny.

A cartoon by EDO: VOTING: An act of resistence and civil duty

As said by analyst Fernando Mires through online media outlet Polis:

Para los partidarios de la no-participación, [votar] en elecciones bajo condiciones determinadas por la parcialidad del CNE, con cientos de presos políticos, con líderes inhabilitados, con miles y miles de exiliados a los que se ha arrebatado el derecho a voto […] significaría contribuir a la legitimación del poder dictatorial. […Sin embargo] No participar en las elecciones llevaría a los defensores de esta opción a entregar toda iniciativa a la dictadura, o lo que es peor, a regalar la elección sin oponer nada en contra.

For those supporting the no-participation choice, [voting] in elections under the conditions that have been set out by the CNE, with hundreds of political prisoners, [opposition] leaders disqualified to run for office, with thousands and thousands of exiled people to whom the right to vote has been taken from them […] would mean to bolster up the legitimacy of the dictatorial power. [However] not participating in the elections would bring those who support this option to leave all initiative to the dictatorship, or worse, to give away the election without any kind of resistance.

What seems clear is that supporters and representatives of chavismo continue to be a part of a united front in contrast to those of the opposition and its followers. Nevertheless, in spite of election plans and strategies, boycotts and protests, most Venezuelans continue to stand powerless in front of the massive crisis that continues to push thousands of people out of the country as they flee human right violations, food scarcity, and violence on both an urban and institutional level.

by Laura Vidal at May 17, 2018 07:26 AM

Pakistan Chief Justice's notice produces some hope for Hazara protections

A candle-lit vigil for the victims of sectarian violence in Pakistan. Image via Flickr by Daniel Schmidt. CC BY 2.0

April was a particularly grim month for the besieged ethnic Hazara community in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

It began with the targeted killing of Nazar Hussein, a taxi driver in the city. At the end of the month, two Hazara men were shot dead in their electronics shop in another attack based on sectarian logic. In total, the community suffered four separate “targeted killings” during the month. The killings triggered several protests, most notably a women-led hunger strike that was called off after strikers secured a meeting with Qamar Javaid Bajwa, the Army's Chief of Staff.

Read more: Hazara women end hunger strike against targetted killings

Given this background, the decision of Pakistan's Chief Justice to issue an unprecedented suo moto notice regarding the killings was significant and broadly welcomed by members of the community.

The killings, said Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on May 11 were tantamount to “ethnic cleansing.”

“We have no words to condemn the killings of Hazaras,” said Nisar, before adding: “We have to protect the lives and property of the [people of the] Hazara community.”

Will anything change?

The notice issued by the Chief Justice means that various authorities in Balochistan, the eastern region of Pakistan where the city of Quetta is located, should now submit reports on the killings to the court.

Whether this will lead to any positive changes is unclear for the moment. The central government's control over Balochistan has long been weak. So has political will to protect the Hazara people.

Over the past 15 years, 190 attacks have taken the lives of 1,500 Hazaras, and over 3,500 have been wounded in a sustained campaign of targeted attacks and bombings across Balochistan, according to Daily Times.The most lethal suicide bombing against Hazaras came in January 2013, killing more than 96 people in a local snooker club. A month later, 84 people were killed in an attack on a crowded vegetable market mostly used by ethnic Hazaras. They have been killed in mosques, markets, snooker club, streets, shops, everywhere and anywhere.

The series of bombings, suicide attacks, and targeted assassinations has seen the community forced to dwell in two heavily protected enclaves on either side of the city: Hazara Town and Mari Abad. Human Rights Watch referred to this tendency as “ghettoization” in its June 2014 report, adding that ‘there is no travel route, no shopping trip, no school run, no work commute that is safe.’

Fearing further atrocities and with few opportunities in the country, 70,000 of the reportedly 900,000 Hazaras that live in Balochistan have taken a precarious migration route in a bid for a better, safer life.

The journey over the ocean to Australia has seen hundreds drowned along the way.

Lashkar-e Jhangvi, a militant extremist Sunni Deobandi group, has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks on Hazara in Balochistan along with Pakistan Tehrek-e Taliban (TTP) Jaishul Islam and Sepeh-e Muhammad. In recent years, the so-called Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K) has also begun claiming attacks.

For these groups, it is mostly the overwhelming Hazara adherence to Shia Islam that mark them out as heretics deserving of slaughter.

The Hazara community in Pakistan has been there since the 1880s, after migrating from next door Afghanistan.

Hazara remaining in the old country have fared no better. Since 2015, the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) has orchestrated at least 19 big attacks against Hazaras, leaving 544 dead and over 1000 injured. The community was already a prime target for the Taliban, which is dominated by ethnic Pashtun and fundamentally anti-Shia.

The government in Kabul has restricted itself to “condemning in the strongest terms” such attacks, while the government's own discrimination against Hazara, particularly in education and employment, was flagged in a recent report by the US Department of State.

With the seemingly unstoppable rise of sectarian military groups in both countries, protecting Hazara rights will take the kind of strength and will that neither Kabul or Islamabad have shown in the past.

by Maisam Iltaf at May 17, 2018 12:49 AM

May 16, 2018

Global Voices
Japanese high school girls wear badges warning would-be train gropers: ‘I'm not going to take it!
Chikan poster on train in Osaka

Poster: “Groping is out. Absolutely out. RED CARD. Let us all get rid of groping.” Poster uses Kansai dialect. Image by Wikimedia user Kyoww. Public domain.

A campaign in Japan aimed at high school girls provides special tin buttons for them to wear while riding the train to deter groping and other forms of sexual assault.

The Chikan Prevention Activities Center (痴漢抑止活動センター) organizes the campaign, which is in its third year. The word Japanese word “chikan” is used to describe both the act of groping as well as the gropers themselves.

The buttons feature a variety of messages that remind readers that chikan is a crime and that the wearer will not endure the assault quietly.

The aim of the “chikan deterrent button” is show how much [the people wearing it] hate chikan. It's an effort to make potential chikans to understand they must stop sexual harassment and sexual assault.

For women who commute by train, chikan is unfortunately common. According to the Japan Times:

Figures from the Metropolitan Police Department show that 1,750 cases of groping or molestation were reported in 2017, of which 30 percent occurred between 7 and 9 a.m. during the morning rush hour.

More than 50 percent of groping cases occurred on trains, the report says, with a further 20 percent occuring in train stations.

According to the same police reports, nearly 30 percent of groping victims were teenagers. Generally, incidents of groping are prosecuted by police under Section 176 of the penal code as “forcible indeceny” (強制わいせつ). However, it is often reported that such cases are difficult to prosecute.

While police and railway companies launch periodic campaigns aimed at stopping groping on trains, the messaging is generally aimed at helping women defend themselves or preventing groping in the first place, rather than trying to change male behavior. Commentary typically tries to determine what triggers such behavior, and there's also a strong focus in the media about how men can avoid or deal with false accusations of groping.

“I'm not going to put up with it! Sexual assault is a crime!”

Activist Matsunaga Yayoi, who represents the Chikan Deterrent Activity Center, says the idea for the buttons was first thought of by a high school student and her mother, who is Matsunaga's friend. Then in her first year of high school, the student had encountered chikan on a daily basis as she traveled to and from school:

その時、加害者の反省が全くなかったことから、
「2度と痴漢にあいたくない!」と考えた彼女は、
「私は泣き寝入りしません。痴漢は犯罪です!」と書いたカードを作り、
身につけて登下校するようになりました。

それ以来、彼女は、痴漢被害にあっていません。

“The perpetrators showed no signs of remorse at all. “I don't want to experience this ever again,” decided the girl. So, she created a card that read:

“I'm not going to put up with it! Sexual assault is a crime!”

The girl then pinned the card to her uniform, and took the train to school.

She never experienced groping again.

By 2015, Matsunaga reported the one-girl campaign had achieved some success on social media, and so the idea of creating tin buttons was born.

According to a 2016 Japan Times article:

Matsunaga started a crowdfunding project for the badges in November and managed to raise ¥2.12 million in just three months. To make sure the badges would attract young women, she collected 441 design ideas from 178 people and, ultimately, chose five. Matsunaga also established the Osaka-based Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center (Groping Prevention Activities Center) in January to raise awareness over the issue.

The idea behind the button campaign is to empower the girls to call out assault and ensure that society sees chikan as something that's unacceptable:

[コンセプト]
・痴漢被害にあわない
・加害者が生まれない
・痴漢冤罪被害も起きない

The concept behind the buttons

[We wanted to ensure]:

-No one was groped by chikan
-No one would grow up to become a chikan
-No one would be falsely accused of being a chikan

Initially in 2015 the buttons were offered for sale over the internet at tarjk.com for 500 yen (about five US dollars).

They remain available there, but as awareness of the campaign has increased, the buttons are now sold at railway stations and in shops popular with high school girls.

Tweet: It doesn't matter how long or short our skirt is, or if we're wearing jeans — we always encounter chikan.

We want the idea that “you must have been doing something to attract a chikan” to stop!

Button text: I'm not going to take it! Groping is a crime!

“I don't want any other children to experience what I went through”

Officially, sexual assaults, which includes groping, are on the decline. However, Matsunaga and the Center believe that many cases are simply not reported, skewing the numbers.

So, for Matsunaga and other activists, it's important to give young women tools they can use to deter unwanted sexual contact on the train.

Wearing the buttons does seem to help. Seventy students at Uruwa Senior High School, which participated in a campaign to provide female students with strategies to protect themselves from gropers, were surveyed in 2016 about the effectiveness of the buttons. A total of 1.4% said they probably don't work, 4.3% reported no change, 32.9% said “I felt the button worked” and 61.4% said they noticed a difference.

The button campaign has resonated in other ways as well. In 2016, just over a year after the project was launched, Matsunaga published on a Twitter account affiliated with the Chikan Prevention Activities Center a note sent by an adult woman:

Note: “I am a survivor. When I was a high school student I changed from going to school by bicycle to taking the train. I was really astonished when I started getting groped every day [on the train). There was no way for me to complain. While I regret what happened in the past, I just hope that fewer and fewer people will have this kind of experience. I sincerely hope more [girls] will be able to protect themselves!” -Mari, 39 years old

Tweet: “Mari, thank you for your note. I was also [groped by a chikan] when I was a child, and have never told anyone about it until now.

As an adult I've somehow been able to take action. I don't want any other children to experience what I went through.”

by Nevin Thompson at May 16, 2018 05:14 PM

Nepal’s Kami Rita climbs Mount Everest for a record 22nd time

Kami Rita Sherpa, 48, has climbed Mount Everest the most number of times by any human in the world. Image used with permission.

Sherpa mountain guide Kami Rita Sherpa summited Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, for the 22nd time, leaving behind Apa Sherpa and Furba Tashi Sherpa who have done it 21 times each. This is a world record.

Veteran guide Kami Rita started his summit push with nine other Chinese climbers on the night of Tuesday, May 15, 2018 and reached the summit by Wednesday morning, May 16.

Everest Tour company Seven Summit Treks, where he works as a Sherpa guide, announced his new world record:

This morning 8:30 AM Kami Rita Sherpa made 22 successful ascents of Mt. Everest as a part of Seven Summit Treks Everest Expedition!

Congratulations to Kami Rita Sherpa!

8:30AM on 16th May 2018(Nepal time), Kami Rita summited the highest peak Everest (8,848m) for 22 times and broke the world record titled “Most ascents of Everest – Male.”

Sherpa is the name of a Tibetan ethnic group who are native to the most mountainous regions of Nepal and who are highly skilled and experienced climbers. However, the term has come to be used by non-Nepali people to generally refer to guides or porters working in the Mount Everest area.

The job of a Sherpa guide includes preparing the route for climbers to follow, fix ropes in place, and carry the necessary climbing kit up the mountain. It's risky work, but can pay up to 6,000 US dollars a season, much more than the average income in Nepal. The government has made it mandatory for foreign climbers to hire guides.

Kami Rita is of the Sherpa people and hails from Thame village in Solukhumbu district. He climbed Everest for the first time in 1994, and while climbing the world’s highest peak is usually a once-in-a-lifetime ordeal for mountaineers and adrenaline junkies, it has been a ritual for him every year.

He worked for a long time as a professional guide for mountaineers for Alpine Ascents International, a Seattle-based commercial guiding company. Recently he joined Seven Summits Treks, one of a dozen Nepalese-run companies that regularly operate on Everest.

He has climbed most of the peaks above 8,000 meters in the Himalaya range, including K2, Cho-oyu, Lhoste and Annapurna, among others.

Before achieving his latest Everest record, he told me:

Summiting Everest? It's just like another daily chore. These days we've technology and weather forecasting service which has made climbing Everest much easier.

Kami Rita wasn't the only Nepali making news. Compatriot Lhakpa Sherpa climbed as well for the ninth time, the most for any woman in the world, breaking her own previous record.

The other prominent climbers of 2018 till now are Australian Steve Plain who completed the seven summits in a record 117 days and Chinese double amputee Xia Boyu.

However, Kami Rita doesn’t want his children to follow his path as a Sherpa guide, mainly because of the tragedies on the mountain in recent years. Many of the deceased in the 2014 and 2015 Mount Everest avalanches were local guides and porters, including Sherpas.

More than 4,000 people have summited Everest more than 7,000 times. And every year, the majestic mountain lures hundreds of aspirants challenging them to test their limits.

by Sanjib Chaudhary at May 16, 2018 04:59 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Tech has helped oil drillers make more money ... with fewer workers
The current wave of automation is sometimes described as the fourth industrial revolution. And almost every industry is affected, including oil and gas. Almost 40 percent of oil and gas workers are in Texas. With the price of crude oil at $70 a barrel, there’s a boom — but not in hiring. Job numbers haven’t gone up as much as some observers expected. Automation is partly to blame, but the industry is bringing in other technologies to stay ahead of the game as well. Marketplace’s Andy Uhler took a trip out to the Permian Basin in West Texas, where oil production has tripled in the last three years. (05/16/2018)

by Marketplace at May 16, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
What were Global Voices’ readers up to last week?

Photo by Flickr user Rob McDonald. CC BY 2.0

At Global Voices, our community researches, writes, edits, and translates stories with a mission to support human rights and build bridges of understanding across countries, cultures, and languages.

We don't publish just to grab clicks or follow a news trend. We do, however, like to keep track of the ways in which our hard work has impact around the world.

To that end, one useful metric is how readers respond to our stories and translations. So let's take a look at who our readers were and what caught their attention during the week of May 7-13, 2018.

Where in the world are Global Voices’ readers?

Last week, our stories and translations attracted readers from 207 countries! The top 20 countries represented across all of Global Voices’ sites were:

1. United States
2. Brazil
3. Japan
4. Spain
5. France
6. Mexico
7. Argentina
8. Colombia
9. Peru
10. Taiwan
11. Italy
12. United Kingdom
13. Bangladesh
14. Germany
15. Ecuador
16. Russia
17. India
18. Canada
19. Indonesia
20. Chile

But that's only a small slice of the diversity of our readership. Let's use the True Random Number Generator from Random.org and take a look at a few other countries on the list:

177. Iceland
61. Kazakhstan
111. Bahrain
49. Costa Rica
68. Cameroon

Global Voices in English

The English-language site is where the majority of original content is first published at Global Voices. The top five most-read stories of last week were:

1. Allegations of election fraud as Malaysia’s ruling party wins again (originally published in 2013)
2. ‘Peppa Pig’ has gotten too naughty for China’s censors
3. Social media platforms are ablaze as Turks say “enough” to President Erdogan
4. Hijabs and mini-skirts: What not to wear in Tajikistan
5. In Spain, the “la manada” sexual assault case verdict triggers mass protests

Global Voices Lingua

Lingua is a project that translates Global Voices stories into languages other than English. There are about 30 active Lingua sites. Below is last week's most-read story or translation on each active language site.

Arabic

Bangla

Catalan

Chinese (simplified)

Chinese (traditional)

Czech

Dutch

Farsi

French

German

Greek

Hindi

Indonesian

Italian

Japanese

Kurdish

Macedonian

Malagasy

Nepali

Polish

Portuguese

Punjabi

Romanian

Russian

Serbian

Spanish

Swahili

Urdu

by L. Finch at May 16, 2018 10:11 AM

May 15, 2018

Global Voices
A Beijing-Vatican deal could bolster China's persecution of religion, warns Hong Kong cardinal

Cardinal Joseph Zen at the Vatican. Photo: Facebook/Joseph Zen.

The Vatican and Beijing are reportedly at the final stage of reaching a historic deal on the appointment of bishops in China. The agreement would lead to the resumption of diplomatic ties, which have been suspended for almost 70 years.

However, many have spoken out against rapprochement. Hong Kong's Cardinal Joseph Zen is the most vocal Catholic leader protesting against the deal.

Journalist Kris Cheng interviewed Cardinal Zen for a piece published on May 13, 2018 in Hong Kong Free Press. An edited version is republished on Global Voices as part of a partnership agreement.

Hong Kong's Cardinal Joseph Zen, 86, is continuing a one-man fight inside the Catholic establishment to oppose a potential deal between the Vatican and China over who can appoint bishops in the officially atheist country.

The agreement between the Vatican and Beijing was reportedly in its final stages in March, though Zen, who is officially an emeritus bishop, has called it a “deal with the devil” and a “complete sellout.” Perhaps in part because of his efforts, the critical voices he inspired, and the ever-harsher suppression of religion in China, the Vatican now says the deal — while still in the works — is not going to be finalized anytime soon.

“I know China. I know the church in China,” Zen, who was born in Shanghai to Catholic parents, said in an interview with Hong Kong Free Press from his home at the Salesian House of Studies on a Hong Kong hillside. “I have worked seven years, spending six months a year from 1989 to 1996 in [government-recognised churches] teaching the seminaries”:

I met so many people, people of the government, people of the church, so I really know the situation. I see how the church is being persecuted, and the bishops are being humiliated. I think nobody else has had such experience.

The Holy See, located in Vatican City, is the top governing body of the Catholic Church and appoints bishops worldwide. However, religions are only allowed to operate in China if under state supervision, so the official Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association rejects the Vatican's authority and chooses its own bishops for the country's 10 million Catholics. An unofficial underground church remains loyal to the Vatican.

The Vatican severed diplomatic relations with China in 1951 over the issue not long after the communist forces claimed victory over the Kuomintang in the Chinese civil war. It does, however, maintain ties with Taiwan, where the Kuomintang forces fled after defeat.

In 2015, it relaunched negotiations with Beijing. Under the proposed deal, the Vatican may make a major compromise to recognise a handful of bishops endorsed by Beijing, including seven who had been excommunicated by the Vatican.

Chinese government is “tightening control on religion,” Zen says

But Zen said that, according to his knowledge, both the Vatican and China have encountered difficulties in reaching the final agreement:

Some are saying maybe now there are difficulties on the Chinese side, because there are people who think that they don't need the agreement, they can control everything. Maybe there are voices in China against the eventual agreement.

You see that there are many actions on the side of the government which show that they are tightening control on religion. And so it's more difficult to understand how the Vatican can come to a deal at this moment […] Any agreement on the side of the Vatican may be seen as collaboration with the government to persecute our own people; that’s terrible.

For instance, new regulations on religious affairs were installed on February 1, 2018, under which minors are banned from entering places of worship.

The cardinal said China's recent amendments to the constitution, such as the removal of the presidential term limit, may also have influenced how the Vatican looked at the issue:

Surely they should take into account also these new things – which are not encouraging any agreement. I really hope that a miracle may happen, the Pope may say we need more time to be more cautious, to consider again. No deal is better than a bad deal.

In January, Zen travelled to Rome to personally give Pope Francis a letter from 88-year-old persecuted Chinese Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou. Zhuang, a priest loyal to the Vatican but not recognised by China, was one of two bishops asked by the Vatican to step aside for priests excommunicated by the Vatican but accepted by Beijing:

I told him everything. I wrote so many letters. My last letter was very clear, I have the impression that the Pope now is aware of the worries in the church in China, so I don't think I need to see him again or say more things. Maybe now there are some other things which may make the Holy Father more aware that he is not receiving good information from people around him.

“Faith should be the first thing in their mind”

Zen has been in a war of words with the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who he said was considering the potential deal like a diplomat, but not from religious standpoints:

I can understand that Pope Francis may not be well informed about the real situation in the church in China, because he comes from South America. But these people like Parolin, they must know very well the situation, so I really cannot understand how are they so enthusiastic to push for a deal, so they may have a wrong objective.

Because from the point of view of Catholic faith, they are not going to achieve anything. Maybe they are more interested in diplomatic success. That's very sad, because they are the collaborators of the Pope, the faith should be the first thing in their mind.

It's very scary. These people – they should understand a lot of things, why do they do this? They are not naive, they are evil.

Zen has found himself with fewer and fewer allies in the Vatican. Savio Hon, a top Hong Kong priest with similar views to Zen against the China deal, used to be in Rome and had direct access to the Pope, but in 2017 was sent to Greece as the Vatican’s representative, despite the fact that he never served in the diplomatic service. Some considered it a punishment.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, another top priest who worked many years in Hong Kong caring for the church in China, was also cautious of the China deal. But he too was another ally lost, gradually switching towards Parolin's side.

Among the bishops that Beijing reportedly asked the Vatican to recognise, Bishop Joseph Liu Xinhong of Anhui and Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin of Sichuan were two who have children with their girlfriends. It was a violation to the law of celibacy that only unmarried men without children can be priests. Zen called it “ridiculous” that officials in the Vatican claim there isn't hard evidence of that fact.

Zen recalled another case of a Chinese priest who did not observe the law of celibacy, but the Chinese wanted the bishop – who Zen did not name – to be recognised. He said the Vatican conducted an investigation, but the investigator simply reported back the priest's denial. “They just want to cheat themselves,” Zen commented.

“With a really totalitarian regime, you have only your spiritual strength”

China’s situation is often compared to that in Vietnam – another deal brokered by Parolin. In Vietnam, the Holy See proposes a list of bishops to the Hanoi government, and Hanoi makes its choice, before the Pope appoints them.

But Zen said Vietnam has a strong base of Catholic followers, and the government cannot interfere in the church.

“I think that one thing that the Pope may have difficulty to understand is that, with a really totalitarian regime, you have only your spiritual strength,” Zen said.

Zen also said China's case is very different from those of Hungary, Poland and the then-Czechoslovakia, where they have a long history of faith:

Even the collaborators of the government – they could not be that bad. Because they know that they will not be accepted by the people. To be accepted or to be tolerated by the people, they have to be decent [in] some way. But unfortunately, in China, among the bishops in the open church – there are too many collaborators of the government.

Zen said he fears a dela with China may disappoint Catholics in China – both those in “underground” churches and those in government-recognised ones — and lead to serious consequences:

I am very much afraid that some may have some irrational reaction, like a kind of rebellion against the Pope, that would be very unfortunate – I am against any kind of such rebellion. I think that fidelity to the Pope is our bottom line; even if we cannot understand what the Pope is doing, we must obey.

Zen said he believes that it is key for more people to speak up about China's suppression of religious freedom and about the China deal:

Our voice is weak, their voice is strong, it will be good to raise concerns of more people.

by Hong Kong Free Press at May 15, 2018 10:52 PM

Trinidadian photographer Maria Nunes pays tribute to ‘Carnival dreamers and makers’ in new book

Andrew Nicholas playing a Blue Devil in Paramin, Trinidad, 2014. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

Visit Trinidad and Tobago during its annual Carnival celebrations and you are sure to see certain characters —  Blue Devils, Fancy Sailors, Dames Lorraine, Moko Jumbies — and photographer Maria Nunes, playing just as integral a role as the rest of the Carnival cast by capturing it all.

Now, some of her best pictures (and the magic behind them) have come together in a spectacular coffee table book, “In a World of Their Own”, which honours the “Carnival dreamers and makers” that Nunes has had the privilege and joy of photographing year after year.

At the April 24, 2018 launch, Nunes called the book her “ode to Carnival” and talked about the “immense gratitude” she felt while chronicling the adventures of “the incredible people who dream and make Carnival”. Nunes describes her work as “seeing from the inside”, a perfect encapsulation of the book's achievement as an insider's guide to Carnival traditions.

In the poetic words of Shivanee Ramlochan, who penned the book's foreword, Nunes acts as both witness and historian:

To say these photographs have been snapped is to handle them carelessly: they have been made, fired in their own kiln of understanding […] The photographs listen. They contemplate. They return to the sites of Carnival innovation year in, year out. Then they record.

Many stalwarts of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival describe the festival as their “religion”; if so, Nunes has worshipped at its altar with awe, wonder and reverence, and her book allows us a peek into the splendour of the promised land. Global Voices sat down with Nunes to talk about “In a World of Their Own”.

Global Voices (GV): Prior to you taking photography by the horns and using it to chronicle some of the most compelling aspects of Trinidad and Tobago’s national festival, you were probably best known in the Caribbean as a golfer. How did a childhood hobby become your full-time job?

Trinidadian photographer Maria Nunes with her new book, “In a World of Their Own”; used with permission.

Maria Nunes (MN): I had been working in the golf world for ten years and reached a point where I thought it was time to move on, that I’d done what I could do. I’d played my part in some major projects while I was the General Manager of St. Andrew’s Golf Club and felt I’d made a real contribution; it was time to close that chapter of my life. I remember I had gone hiking one day, and taken my camera. The speckled light in the forest really made the photos come alive — that made a deep impression on me. Then, there was quite a specific moment in 2009 when someone I knew very well died in a terrible accident. That really shook me up and made me ask myself some hard questions. The outcome was deciding that I would head off on my own into self-employment in photography. It was a very scary thing to do at the time. I really didn’t know how I was going to make it work.

GV: Enter Carnival. What did it have to offer and what have you learned from photographing it?

MN: From the time I first photographed Carnival [in 2007] I was captivated by all the colour, the creativity, the energy. Most of all I think the energy, the spirit of Carnival quickly drew me in. Carnival is such a vast, layered world. There’s so much going on inside that world. It’s full of so many interesting people. This is the greatest thing that Carnival has to offer — the people who dream and make mas’ [short for ‘masquerade,’ the creation of Carnival costumes]. There is so much history to Carnival and this is one of the things that I was immediately fascinated by, to learn that history, to dig deeper and deeper into it. Photographing Carnival has most of all made me deepen my interest in people. It’s made me want to go beyond the surface and really get to understand just how important the traditions in Carnival are to the bigger story of who we are in Trinidad and Tobago.

The cover of Maria Nunes’ book, “In a World of Their Own”; used with permission.

GV: Tell us about the idea for your book, “In a World of Their Own”, and how it came about.

MN: Last year marked ten years that I’d been photographing Carnival, and I thought this was a good milestone to mark through publishing a book of my work — and to make the most of the opportunity it presented to offer some of the perspectives that I’ve developed about mas’ and the people who make it. The concept behind the book was to present imagery of the contemporary expression of what is defined as traditional mas’, and to focus attention on some of its key creators, not only through photographs, but also by juxtaposing their actual voices in verbatim text. I chose this approach because I have been moved by the remarkable people who dedicate their lives — many of them on a year round basis — to Carnival art forms. A significant part of my photography has become a conscious decision to bear witness to their commitment and creativity, which is often lost or overlooked within the wider canvas of Carnival as a whole. This book gives voice to these extraordinary men and women, takes the reader inside the mas’ to see Carnival through their eyes, and shares the deep wonder, admiration and respect I have for them.

GV: What was the process like?

MN: It was a collaborative process [with Robert and Christopher Publishers]. What was key was the decision that the book would tell a story. I’d shared the importance of place to me in Carnival, of certain streets in Port of Spain, of locations outside of the capital city, like Paramin and Couva. My publishers saw that would give shape to the book; still, it was very difficult to arrive at the final image selections. At times, it was hard to let go of some photographs I’m very attached to. Hardest of all was having to accept that some people wouldn’t end up in the book. When it’s people you know well, that’s really tough. The photos that made the final cut then went to the book's designer, Richard Rawlins. I think he did something really beautiful with the book, including drawing a most magical illustration at the very beginning that immediately establishes that special — and spacial — sense of place.

Anderson Gibbs playing Fancy Sailor, Queen Street, Trinidad, 2007. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

GV: The book is really a treasure map to the heart and soul of Trinidad and
Tobago Carnival — a veritable calendar of events that lets readers get deep into the belly of the thing. How do you achieve such intimacy in your photographs?

MN: It’s one of those intangible things. My camera has been my passport into the worlds that interest me. It’s made me take the time to get to know people. I think if you approach something with love and positivity, people respond to you with a lot of generosity. At times there might be some initial barriers, but if you take the time to listen to why their barriers are up, you learn so much. You have to take the time to build relationships with people.

Carlisle Jones playing Fireman, Victoria Square, 2010. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

GV: In the book, rapso artist Wendell Manwarren describes Carnival as “energies” — it’s a give and take. How do you navigate that forceful power between participant and spectator, and channel it into images that resonate?

MN: For me it’s about immersion. It’s about going all out, no half way business. Also, as a photographer I see myself as a participant too, not a spectator.

GV: The book's images and text allow your subjects to tell their own stories. There is wisdom in these pages. How important was it for you allow the mas’ makers to chart their course in these pages?

MN: It was vital to me that this book be an opportunity to hear voices that might not ordinarily be listened to. What they have to say is full of depth. From getting to know people who dream and make Carnival, who live and die for mas’, I’ve gained so much wisdom and insight. I felt this needed to be shared to help break stereotypes, to give respect where it is due.

Wire bending artists Winston “Weezy” Thorne and Narcenio “Senor” Gomez, Nelson Street, 2014. Photograph by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

GV: How does “In a World of Their Own” pay homage to mas’-making pioneers who have passed on?

MN: It means a lot to me to commit not just their photograph, but their names to the written record in this way. Some of them are well known and some not so well known outside the circle of hardcore Carnival people, but they are giants in their own right. It’s my way of showing deep respect and making my contribution to the record that future generations can reference.

GV: It's clear that the Carnival experience is a metaphor for life. What are some of your favourite life lessons that the mas’ makers shared?

MN: There are some real gems in the book. One that I love is from stilt walker [known as Moko Jumbies in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival] Kemoi Harper: ‘If you can’t take pushing, please learn to take it because it good for your own self.’ Traditional mas’ designer Tracey Sankar-Charleau acknowledged the deep roots of our Carnival tradition when she said, ‘These things are real, it’s not just folklore. We say it’s just a story, but it’s not. I firmly believe it was people who, at some point, were wronged — and it left its mark.’

Carnival mas’ designer Tracey Sankar-Charleau helps ready her son, Jude Sankar, for his performance as a Douen (a traditional folklore character), Murray Street, 2017. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

GV: Your book challenges the perception that traditional mas’ is dying by highlighting the people who show up for this creation ritual year after year. What's your response to the naysayers?

MN: Take the time to take a closer look at what people are creating every year off the beaten track. I hope the book offers an alternative perspective to the overused refrain that traditional mas’ is mainly the concern of an older generation. To be sure, some of the traditions face more challenges than others: Black Indian, for example, is one that is in the hands of just a few people today, but those few are committed to its survival. This book is a way of honouring that kind of commitment. There is a younger generation bringing new energy to mas’ and actively taking the mantle of responsibility for cultural vibrancy from their elders. Their creativity is a real-time response within the canvas of Carnival as a whole; their work is the marriage of new ideas with tradition. Their work is not dead, it’s very alive. What they are facing is the increasing marginalisation of what they do, and I hope my book helps to draw attention to the beauty and vibrancy of the traditions right under our noses if we would just take the time to look beyond the surface.

Narrie Approo applying face paint to play Black Indian, John John, 2018. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

GV: By your choice of subject, you have charged yourself with the responsibility of archiving an incredibly precious resource. How do you feel about being a custodian of our Carnival history?

MN: It’s my joy and privilege to commit myself to work that might have some lasting value. There’s so much to be done. I hope the book might influence more people to take up this work. I deeply believe in the importance of history, of actively working to substantially contribute to what is committed to the record for the benefits to be derived in the immediate here and now, and for the benefit of those to come long after we are gone. Each generation has to bear its part in this kind of responsibility. I find a tremendous amount of meaning in playing my part.

Obafemi Nkosi and Bernard Fonrose playing traditional sailor mas’ at the corner of Queen and Nelson Streets, 2012. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

GV: Are the internet and social media having an effect on Carnival's evolution — and is there room for the deep, symbolic traditions and the street party to coexist?

MN: I’d like to answer this with the words of Wendell Manwarren who is quoted in the book: ‘When we look back and we see how the Carnival has changed and what the arc of time will show, 30, 40 years from now, where will this arc end up? Because this will evolve into something else. We don’t know what it is. But we know sure as anything that the Carnival will not die, it will continue to claim itself.’ Social media is certainly playing a role in the way Carnival is evolving. It’s up to those of us active in the Carnival space to use its power to engage in what we believe in. Is there space for both genres to co-exist? Absolutely!

GV: Is there one photograph in this book (or a few!) that you think captures the core of Carnival?

MN: Carnival’s core is so big, so wide, so multi-dimensional, so beautiful that it would take many books, many photographers, many photographs…

by Janine Mendes-Franco at May 15, 2018 07:52 PM

Creative Commons
CC Certificate Updates: Let us know what you think!
partyPhoto by Sebastiaan Ter Burg CC BY

For those of you who missed it in the flurry of the 2018 CC Summit announcements, we opened registration for the official CC Certificate last month. The CC Certificate is a training course on Creative Commons licenses, open practices and the ethos of the Commons. We launched the CC Certificate as a way to invest in advocates in open movements – to build and strengthen their open licensing expertise. Find out more here. Our first round of classes in July are already sold out, but we still have space in our October classes. We’re working on outreach, translation, scholarships, and Certificate Instructor training courses, so watch for more announcements!

While these updates and advancements are exciting, we recognize the need for this program to grow quickly to meet demand. We plan to iterate on the Certificate offerings, regularly assessing content and process to better meet your priorities. We welcome your input!

If you are interested in any of the following opportunities to get involved, please sign up below.

  • CC Certificate information listserv sign up: here
  • Interest in beta testing additional CC Certificate tracks, such as GLAM, or the CC Instructor Training course: here
  • Interest in hosting an in-person Certificate “bootcamp” training: here

Thanks for being a part of this process! We look forward to working with you.

The post CC Certificate Updates: Let us know what you think! appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennryn Wetzler at May 15, 2018 04:47 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Will Reddit's new makeover make it more accessible?
Reddit is rolling out its biggest redesign in a decade. The site has a reputation for being very text heavy and sometimes hosting conversations that can get kind of rough. The redesign comes at the heels of a long effort to clean up those conversations and attract a broader audience. The site’s traffic has more than doubled in the past couple of years, but some loyal users aren’t fans of the redesign. For our podcast for Tuesday, May 15, 2018, Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Chris Slowe, Reddit’s chief technical officer and founding engineer, about the redesign.

by Marketplace at May 15, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
Family-run movie theater in northeast Thailand survives decades of changes

The Det Udom Theater has gone through several changes in its six-decade-long history.

This edited article by Jirasuda Saisom is from The Isaan Record, an independent news site in Thailand, and is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

A wave of chain movie theaters hosted in shopping malls has swept away most of the independent movie parlors once found in almost every city of Thailand's northeast. But in the region’s smaller towns, stand-alone cinemas like the Det Udom Theater in Ubon Ratchathani Province continue to draw a loyal audience.

Located in the town of Det Udom, about 30 kilometers southeast of Ubon Ratchathani City, the family-run theater has been operating for almost 60 years. Its original wooden theater hall was built in 1959, even before Thailand’s movie theater construction boom took off in the mid-1960s.

The Isaan Record talked to Kittiphong Thiamsuvan, the owner of the Det Udom Theater and a former member of parliament, about the theater’s history and how it survived the competition from large cinema chains.

Can you tell us about the history of the theater?

The movie theater opened its doors in 1959. It was originally named Det Udom Movie Theater. In 1987, I took over the management from my father and changed the name to Det Udom Mini Theater. As we adopted digital movie screening in 2013, we took on a new name again: the Det Udom Theater.

The original movie theater was a wooden structure with corrugated steel walls. The screening halls hosted 800 seats on two floors. There was also a stage for music performances. Back then in 1959, tickets sold for one baht.

In 1997, we demolished the old theater and build a new concrete one with two screening halls. Each hall has 170 seats and tickets used to sell for 30 to 40 baht.

When we moved to digital screenings in 2013, the ticket prices went up to 50 to 80 baht [about 1.50 to 2.50 US dollars].

Back when admission was still one baht, we had about 100 to 500 viewers per screening. Around 1987, the average numbers were even higher but today we don’t get more than 100 people for each screening.

Why have the numbers of cinema goers dropped in recent years?

The economic situation is not good, and the government hasn’t been encouraging people to visit movie theaters. For example, in the past, the government offered free screenings like the King Naresuan movies and films about Buddha. Whether they offer free screening or not always depends on the ideas of the government leaders of each period.

Kittiphong Thiamsuvan inherited the family-business from his father, and took over the management in 1987.

How have you managed to survive amid the competition of large chain cinema companies?

We have been around for 59 years, people know us and we are in a good location. We are the only movie theater in Udom Det District. The next theater is 54 kilometers away; it’s one of the Major Cineplex theaters in a mall.

We have always been adapting to people’s changing tastes. That’s why we redesigned the theater three times. Our business is family-run and our employees are mostly relatives. They can take on different duties at the same time so we don’t have to hire many employees. That’s very economical and we almost don’t have any hiring expenses.

How do you advertise your theater and the movies you screen?

We use advertising boards made of wood and painted with watercolors because they are reusable. Once you’re done with one movie, you can just paint over it for the next one. We don’t like these vinyl banners because they are expensive and get tossed away after. We can’t reuse them. But for very popular movies like Pee Mak Phra Kanong,we do print vinyl advertising banners.

Apart from that, we have trucks driving around with advertising boards and loudspeakers promoting our movies in the villages nearby.

Are you thinking about who will take over the theater after you?

Oh, I don’t think about it. Because when the time comes, the good deeds I have done will show their effect. I graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture at Kasetsart University, and I have been helping people without asking for any compensation.

The land here is worth almost 100 million baht. If we want to develop it further, we could build a new movie theater. It wouldn’t be difficult, and we could possibly use it for another 70 years when the next generation takes over.

But the old cinema still has value, although it wouldn’t sell for much. If you ask if it still is of any benefit: Of course it is! It’s just that Thailand doesn’t care much about old things.

If the country survives these times, people will have to think hard. The leaders will have to think about ways to provide opportunities to the people, and not promote how to go begging for opportunities. That’s because the leaders live off people’s taxes [laughs.]

by The Isaan Record at May 15, 2018 10:27 AM

Interview with Rosaly Lopes, a Brazilian NASA astronomer and the first woman to edit the journal founded by Carl Sagan

Dr. Rosaly Lopes | Foto: Divulgação, used with permission.

Rosaly Lopes grew up in a middle-class family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil watching Star Trek, fascinated by her school’s telescope and following all the news about the Apollo mission. When Apollo 13 had to return to Earth in April 1970, it was the story of Francis Northcutt, the woman responsible for calculating the spaceship's route home, that grabbed her attention.

“Just showing a woman, in Houston’s [Texas, United States] control centre, was a very great inspiration for me,” Lopes said in a telephone interview with Global Voices (GV).

Forty-eight years after the mission, Rosaly Lopes has become one of the world’s most important scientists. Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) department of planetary sciences, she entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 for having discovered the most volcanos, recording 71 on Jupiter’s moon while working on the Galileo mission.

Since 2002, Lopes is among those in charge of exploring Saturn’s moon Titan, the second largest in the solar system, with the probe Cassini. It is on Titan that she will begin searching for the possibility of life outside of Earth.

In 2018, Lopes became the first woman to edit the journal Icarus. Created by the famous astronomer Carl Sagan, the journal is a reference point in planetary sciences. She spoke with GV about her projects and the power of seeing women in important roles in science to help future generations.

GV: How did you become the first woman to edit the journal Icarus?



Rosaly Lopes (RL): Carl Sagan started Icarus because at the time there was no scientific journal to publish works exclusively on planetary science. The editors all came from Cornell University because at the time the submissions were all sent there and passed from one professor to another. There were few editors, I think three or four. The last one stayed for more than 10 years. He and the American Astronomical Society, which has a division for Planetary Sciences, started to ask who would like to be a candidate. I presented myself as a candidate and they chose me.

GV: What do you think of the ideas that question scientific data, facts, and research?

RL: It is a small part of the population which think this. But there are people who do not want to believe that it is human activity which is causing [climate change]. This is because there are a lot of people who are afraid that our mode of life has to change. I am optimistic, I think that we will discover ways of using energy that do not cause global warming. The problem is that the question has become more political than scientific.

Rosaly Lopes doing research in Vanuatu in the Pacific. Photo: personal archive, published with permission.

GV: In 2005, you received the Carl Sagan medal for your work on inclusiveness in public education, especially for Hispanic youths and women. Could you speak more about your view on this?

RL: Inclusion is important because science needs talent, it needs dedicated people, and it does not matter it they are men or women, of different ethnicities, or anything. It is important to have youths aimed at a career in sciences and technology because it is our future. Medicine is also very linked to the area of technology. Science has to be a field prepared to include all.

GV: For women, they say that the atmosphere in the field of science is more difficult, that they need to prove themselves more. Do you agree?

RL: I think that this is a little bit of a myth. I think that 50 or 30 years ago, yes. But, today, for example, in the area of Planetary Sciences, women constitute 30 or 35 percent. Now seeing a woman scientist is not a thing that people consider ‘different’. From the moment that you have 25 percent women in a scientific area, it starts to be something more normal.

GV: Did you ever encounter prejudice?

RL: No and I never worried much about this. People should not lose time worrying about this. I was always of the opinion that, if somebody has a prejudice, the problem is theirs, not mine. It is better to go forwards and do the work in the best way that you can.

GV: How did you start taking an interest in this area?

RL: I grew up with the Apollo programme and it was that which inspired me a lot. I wanted to be an astronaut, at first, but I saw that I was a woman, Brazilian, and very short-sighted. So, really, it was not going to happen. I decided that I was going to help the space programme as a scientist. I decided this very early and never strayed from this path.

GV: What did your parents think?

RL: Fortunately, they supported me a lot, because without this I could not have taken on anything. My mother was worried that I, as an astronomer, would not have a job. But she made a point of me learning English and French, for me to have a way of earning money, even if the profession did not give me money. They encouraged me a lot such that I studied abroad, they paid for everything, made sacrifices, because they saw that, especially at that time, there was no field of astronomy in Brazil. Now it is better.

GV: Is it common to see people from developing countries in this field?

RL: It is not very common, but it is changing. When I started, really, it was not at all common. But now I am seeing more and more people. There are opportunities, especially if you are very dedicated and study a lot. We need talents working in those areas, so it is important to encourage all the people who really like the field.

GV: A Brazilian magazine referred to you as ‘the Brazilian who succeeded at NASA‘. What do you think of that title?

RL: (laughs) I did not know about that title, interesting. Everything in life is effort and a little luck, take advantage of the opportunities that appear. I took on some risks. At 18 years old, I left Brazil to study in Britain and it was difficult. My English was good, but not excellent for university level and I had difficulties. My preparation in Brazil was lower than the British students, although I had attended good schools. Afterwards, I was in Britain with a good job with the government, I worked at Greenwich Observatory, but decided that it was not what I wanted to do, because there was no chance of doing research. I took a risk, left the job and went to the USA to participate in JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] with NASA, with a scholarship for two years’ duration. Fortunately, it worked out, but it was a risk, because I knew what I wanted. My father said that the most important thing life was to have a passion, go after it and don’t give up.

GV: You participated in the Cassini Mission and became one of the world’s leading specialists in active volcanoes. Which of your projects did you most like doing?

RL: That is difficult to know. I think that my work on the Galileo Mission, on the volcanic moons of Jupiter, was what most stands out even today. But, I hope that my most important work, I have not done it yet. That I still have time ahead.

Photo: Rosaly Lopes from her personal archive, published with permission.

GV: What is your next project?

RL: I just received funding from NASA, a large project of mine was approved to study the moon Titan in more depth, which is a moon of Saturn. We want to do this study with a lot of researchers, spread over all the United States, in Hawaii, Chicago, Britain. We are conducting a study on the possibility of life developing on Titan.

GV: Do you think that we are close to the day when we can live outside of Earth?

RL: This is what we are going to study, not only the biological aspect, which already has a team of biologists in Chicago researching if life could develop in the ocean of liquid water underneath a layer of ice on Titan, but if organic material, which could serve as food for that life, that we know exists in the atmosphere and on the surface, could penetrate the ocean and after, with cryovolcnanism, ice-volcanic activity, if it could come to the surface and we could detect those signs of life.

GV: But do you think that we are close to the day when we could live in those environments?

RL: I am talking about the possibilities of microscopic life, which is one of the fundamental questions to know if life developed in other planets and moons. The possibility of colonization, there are now plans to make a base on the Moon, but I think that will take a long time. If I have an opportunity to go to Space, I will go. My dream of being an astronaut is still there.

GV: Icarus was created by Carl Sagan and he was the editor of it for some time. Did he become one of your references? Who are the others?

RL: I knew Carl Sagan personally, because when I worked on the Galileo Mission, he was also working on it. He did very important things, not only for the field of sciences, but for having been the first scientist who stood out for publicizing sciences in a big way. At the time that he started doing this, with TV programmes and everything else, the majority of scientists thought that it was not a good thing. ‘A scientist should not waste time doing those things’. Carl Sagan broke this barrier. He showed that he could be a great scientist and publicize science at the same time. I always did a lot of publicizing, because I think it is very important to inspire the next generation. He helped me to do this, I won the medal (with his name) for exactly this. There are still people who have prejudices, but it is reducing.

GV: Cosmos [Sagan's 1980 TV show] is still a reference for a lot of people.

RL: It is. But, when I was a girl in Brazil I had not heard of it. There were few books about astronomy at that time. My father gave me ‘The Universe’ by Isaac Asimov, and this was very important. I remember that when I was growing up, there was the mission Apollo 13, which had to return to Earth. The reports of two newspapers that I got in Rio de Janeiro talked of a girl Francis Northcutt. Her nickname was Poppy. She worked for a company for an airspace company, calculating orbits for spaceships and she had been helping the calculations for Apollo 13 to return. Just showing a woman, in the Houston control centre, was a very big inspiration for me. Funny, I never met her in person. She left NASA soon after, went to study law and become a lawyer. It is important for women scientists to raise awareness to inspire today’s girls.

by Liam Anderson at May 15, 2018 07:22 AM

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
The 'Library' in Library Innovation Lab

A roomful of people sitting in armchairs with laptops may not appear at first glance to be a place where library work is happening. It could look more like a tech startup, or maybe a student lounge (modulo the ages of some of the people in the armchairs). You don't have to be a librarian to see it, but, as the only librarian presently working at LIL, I'll try to show how LIL's work is at the heart of librarianship.

Of our main projects, the Nuremberg project is the closest to a notion of traditional library work: scanning, optical character recognition, and metadata creation for trial documents and transcripts from the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, a collection of enormous historical interest. This is squarely in the realm of library collections, preservation, and access.

In its broad outline, the work on Nuremberg is similar to that of the Caselaw Access Project, the digitization of all U.S. case law. This project, however, is what Jonathan Zittrain has referred to as a systemic intervention. By making the law freely accessible online, we are not only going to alter the form of and access to the print collection, but we are going to transform the relationships of libraries, lawyers, courts, scholars, and citizens to the law. By freeing the law for a multitude of uses, the Caselaw Access Project will support efforts like H2O, LIL's free casebook platform, another intervention into the field of publishing.

Over the last forty years or so, as computers have become more and more essential to library work, libraries have ceded control to vendors. For example, not only does a library subscribing to an online journal database lose the ability to make collection development decisions autonomously (though LOCKSS, a distributed preservation system, helps address this), but, in relinquishing control of the platform, it relinquishes the power to protect patron confidentiality, and consequently intellectual freedom.

Perma.cc is an intervention of a different sort, a tool to combat link rot. As a means of permanently archiving web links, it's close to libraries' preservation efforts, but the point of action is generally the author or editor of a document, not an archivist, post-publication. Further, Perma's reliability rests on the authority of the library to maintain collections in perpetuity.

As library work, these interventions are radical, in the sense of at-the-root: they address core activities of the library, they engage long-standing problems in librarianship, and they expand on and distribute traditional library work.

by Ben Steinberg at May 15, 2018 12:00 AM

May 14, 2018

Global Voices
Indonesia on maximum security alert following a string of explosions in East Java

Surabaya skyline by Flickr user Everyone Sinks Starco. CC By-Sa

People are scared, confused and angry following a spate of violence in and around Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, including suicide bombings at three Christian churches on Sunday, May 13, 2018, that killed at least 14 people and injured dozens.

Later that same day about 30 kilometers away, a 47-year-old snack peddler's homemade bomb exploded accidentally in a social housing facility, killing the man's wife and eldest daughter and injuring his three other children. The man, who police say was assembling multiple explosives, was shot dead by counter-terrorism forces.

And in the morning of Monday, May 14, a family of five on motorcycles detonated themselves at the checkpoint gate of Surabaya Police Headquarters, killing them and leaving four officers and six civilians in critical condition. One of the children of the suicide bombers, an 8-year-old, was hurt but survived.

In response to the attacks, police announced a nationwide maximum security alert.

ISIS claimed the church bombings in Surabaya, which is the capital of East Java Province. The churches are the Gereja Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Diponegoro, a Presbyterian church; Gereja Pantekosta Pusat (GPP) Surabaya, a Pentecostal church; and Gereja Santa Maria Tak Bercela (Saint Mary the Immaculate), a Roman Catholic church.

The Indonesian police identified Dita Oepriarto, a father of four, as the mastermind of those attacks. He was also named as the Surabaya ringleader of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and is designated a terrorist organization by the US government.

A few days ago, the Indonesian police managed to control a prison riot in Depok, a West Javan city, involving hundreds of detainees, many of whom belong to JAD. Riot leaders were eventually transferred to Nusa Kambangan maximum security prison.

The police believe that the Surabaya bombings could be retaliation by JAD in response to the waning ISIS presence in the world and rampant arrests of its ring leaders.

‘May there be no hate or violence in people's hearts’

Hundreds of Surabaya residents showed up at the Red Cross Indonesia to donate blood for the bombing victims. And there was an outpouring of condolences for the victims of the violence.

The country's two largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhamadiyah, offered their condolences to the families of those who perished and condemned the acts.

And the Indonesian Council of Churches (PGI) on its press release asked churches and the congregations to fully trust the state to carry out its duties. It also called on churches and public to diffuse misinformation and not to “fight violence with violence”. Pope Francis also spoke of the need for “reconciliation and brotherhood” after the attacks:

The Pope said: “To Indonesia and Christians in Surabaya, we asked the Lord of Peace to cease this violence, may there be no hate or violence in people's hearts but reconciliation and brotherhood. #UnitedAgainstTerrorists

President Joko Widodo, who flew to Surabaya hours after the harrowing events took place, appealed for calm and asked for the nation's vigilance and unity in the face of terrorism.

On social media, some Indonesians echoed the call for solidarity:

Could stronger legislation have prevented the attacks?

Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, the majority of whom practice a moderate Islam. However, there are growing concerns about the influence of groups at home and abroad that aggressively promote intolerant and even violent interpretations of the religion.

A recent survey on intolerance among students conducted by the Wahid Foundation, a research and social empowerment center in Jakarta that supports a plural and peaceful Islam, found that 60% of the 1,626 respondents nationwide said they are willing to go to areas of conflicts if they have the chance, and 68% would consider participating in holy war in the future.

The alleged perpetrator of the three church bombings, Dita Supriyanto, reportedly used his wife and their four children (two teenage boys and two young daughters) in carrying out the attacks. National police chief Tito Karnavian said the family is one of many who returned from Syria after fighting for ISIS.

Some have said Indonesia's current anti-terrorism law is problematic because it doesn't allow police to arrest suspects unless there is an imminent danger or when the attacks have been carried out already. It also doesn't include a formal “deradicalization” process for returnees from Syria. Mohammad Guntur Romli, a journalist-turned-politician, asserted the need to pass new legislation:

The family which bombed the churches in Surabaya were Syrian “alumni”. With current terrorism law, those who joined ISIS can't be charged. They belonged to JAD, so they're off the hook. They can be persecuted only by making a bomb and carrying out the attack. We need #GovernmentRegulationInLieuOfLawOnAntiTerrorism.

Some 500 ISIS alumni who returned from Syria and Iraq are now roaming free without facing detention and deradicalization process. One family successfully blew up three locations. This is a state of emergency that requires the passage of #GovernmentRegulationInLieuOfLawOnAntiTerrorism.

by Juke Carolina at May 14, 2018 09:04 PM

Serbia remains silent on cultural heritage devastation by its populist regimes

Some objects have been preserved. These baton holders, from the Relay of Youth in Yugoslavia, are now on display beside the mausoleum of Josip Broz Tito, in Belgrade. Photo by Ellery Biddle, used with permission.

Serbian art historian Živko Brković has been targeted with threats, which he related to a spate of physical attacks and a burglary — all due to his effort to preserve Serbian artworks of the past.

For many years, Brković has demanded answers from the current Serbian government regarding the alleged mishandling of state-owned artworks. Brković wants to hold Serbia accountable for ‘privatized’ or ‘disappeared’ museum collections in the 1990s under former Serbian president Slobodan Milošević.

Newspaper Danas published an account of pressures faced by Brković who received late-night phone calls to “stop mentioning [Serbian President] Vučić” after he published an open letter about the mishandling of state properties, including converting museums into residences of state officials.

After he reported the incidents to the police, the only help they provided was advice to change his phone number:

Tweet: Threats against art historian Živko Brković, author of the book “Šumanović i naša fašizofrenija“, because of texts published in “Danas”.
Link: Under attack for criticizing the regime.

Brković was assaulted after the promotion of his critical book Šumanović i naša fašizofrenija (Šumanović and our Fascisophrenia) at the Belgrade Book Fair in October. His personal library, which he kept at his brother’s house, has been burglarized, and many unsold copies of the book have been destroyed by unknown perpetrators.

In Brković's opinion, his big “sin” was that he kept reminding the Serbian public about the mishandling of its cultural heritage, owned by the state and inherited by former Yugoslavia. During Milošević's reign, a museum complex in the area of Dedinje was converted into residences for his family. The three museums in the area contained thousands of priceless historical artifacts, both from the country and gifted to the Yugoslav president Josep Broz Tito by governments of other countries.

After Milošević's fall in October 2000, an exhibition of photographs of 500 so-called “lost” works of art put on by the democratic government that briefly held power. However, after the assassination of progressive Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić in 2003, Milošević’s cronies crept back into positions of power and the repression of cultural heritage continued.

In a statement for Danas newspaper, Brković emphasizes that current president Vučić was the minister of information in Milošević’s government and that his close associates and political allies also held high government posts:

Ja sam pre svega stručnjak koji to radi i voli, i ne mogu da ćutim na krađe umetničkih stvari pred očima javnosti. Savest mi ne dozvoljava da ćutim. Ne postavljaju se kapitalna pitanja, koliko čega je bilo u Vili „Mir“ i koliko je i gde eksponata nestalo. Tu biblioteku, iz koje je rukopis Gorskog vijenca otišao na Cetinje, niko nikad ne pominje – kaže Brković i dodaje da bi odgovorne u aktuelnoj vlasti trebalo tužiti najpre domaćim a zatim i međunarodnim sudovima.

I am above all an expert who loves his work, and I can’t keep silent about robbery of artworks in plain view of the public. My conscience doesn’t allow me to shut up. Crucial questions are avoided, about the inventory of artifacts in the [former museum] Villa “Mir” (Peace), how many there were, and where the artifacts disappeared to. Nobody mentions its library, which contained the manuscript of Gorski vijenac which left for Cetinje.

Brković added that the responsible people who are now in power “must be sued in domestic and then international courts.”

In a text titled [Mr.] Vučić, give us back our museum, Brković noted:

Sada se vi u toj vili sa svojim gostima šepurite, šetate, uživate odvojeni visokim zidom od eventualnog nekrofilnog zadaha obližnjeg mauzoleja. Nije vas briga gde je monumentalni antički mozaik s kompozicijom lova, gde je sfinga iz Egipta, bronzani šlem iz 7. veka pre nove ere – pokloni kraljeva i vladara Grčke, Egipta, Nepala, Rusije… Bivši muzej je otet, zazidan, a misterija nestalih eksponata nerazrešena. Podsećamo da je na Dedinju, gde je nekad bila strogo zabranjena gradnja privatnih objekata, to odjednom dozvoljeno privilegovanim biznismenima i političarima. Tu je među prvima sagrađena vila Arkana Ražnatovića koja u stilu, eklektici svakog od sedam-osam spratova kopira megalomanska fašistička zdanja Musolinijeve ere.

Now you use the villa for peacockery, strutting and enjoyment with your guests, separated from the possible necrophiliac odor from the nearby mausoleum. You don’t seem to care where in the world is the monumental ancient mosaic with hunting scenes, the sphinx from Egypt, the bronze helmet from the 7th century BCE – all the presents from the rulers of Greece, Egypt, Nepal, Russia… The former museum has been kidnapped, walled off, and the mystery of disappeared artifacts remains unsolved. Let me remind you that construction of private buildings used to be forbidden in the area of Dedinje, however suddenly it was allowed for the privileged businessmen and politicians. Among the first to benefit from this government decision was [war criminal and organized crime figure] Arkan Ražnjatović, whose 7-8 story mansion in its style and eclecticism copies the megalomaniac fascist buildings of Mussolini.

Populism ‘as usual’, with long-term consequences

Brković's case is just one instance among many to suffocate free thought in Serbia, where a fragile democracy has been swayed by populism. Serbia is among many countries in Eastern and Central Europe run by right-wing parties affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP) and benefits from the influence of conservative Hungarian ally Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Alliance.

Instead of preserving actual heritage, such governments often invest in creating a revisionist version of history, creating new artifacts presented as the priority.

For instance, in neighboring Macedonia, Vučić’s EPP counterpart Nikola Gruevski (2006-2017) spent hundreds of millions of dollars of Macedonian taxpayers’ money to enforce a policy of “antiquitization”, aimed at proving direct cultural, political and genetic “descent” from the empire of Alexander the Great (336–323 BCE).

This revisionist policy of “national rebirth” included corruption-riddled projects that provided huge kickbacks for ruling party officials and affiliated oligarchs. It comprised public spending on hundreds of new monuments and buildings through the Skopje 2014 project, filming dozens of ideologically biased ‘documentaries’ through the Macedonian Public Broadcasting Service, and establishing almost total control of the academic community.

In a similar manner, Vučić stirs Serbian nationalist sentiments with increasing promotion of the medieval Nemanjić dynasty (1166-1371). This winter, Serbia's public television network started airing a soap opera/television period drama about the dynasty. Serbian authorities announced plans to build a new monumental complex dedicated to emperor Stefan Nemanja.

Similar to the announcement of Skopje 2014 plan in 2009, the one about a new complex in Belgrade presented a 3D model of the plan:

We are getting–or maybe I should not mention it outright–we are bying a new monument… monument to Stefan Nemanja.

Some social media users have raised concerns, pointing to similarities in approach between the current Serbian and former Macedonian regime:

Have you seen the future monument to Stefan Nemanja? Have you been to Skopje?
Macedonian Special Prosecution Office is conducting several investigations against Gruevski – but that won't repair Skopje which he turned into a city of kitsch. This would happen to Belgrade too unless investigations start before the construction.

Serbian authorities also plan numerous other public works such as fountains and a panoramic wheel (a now-halted part of Skopje 2014 plan with a cost of about 20 million Euros or 23 million USD).

In Belgrade they plan building fountains, panoramic wheel, gondola, open air gyms, entertainment complexes. Just like in Ancient Rome, give the plebs some bread and circuses.

In 2017, Macedonia managed to shake off its the Russia-supported populist regime, after a severe political crisis but is still reeling from the divisive consequences of their rule. Meanwhile, in Serbia, Vučić juggles its traditional affiliation with Russia against the prospect of joining the European Union, favored by youth and the urban population.

Vučić’s recent victory in Belgrade local elections further consolidated his power. This resulted in a new wave of pessimism and even apathy among the remaining representatives of the free press and civil society in Serbia.

The case of art historian Živko Brković shows that some public interest issues have been unofficially declared taboo topics, in particular, those related to demands of accountability from an increasingly authoritarian government.

by Filip Stojanovski at May 14, 2018 06:34 PM

Over 100,000 Melburnians march to #ChangetheRules for job security and better wages
Change the Rules Melbourne Rally 9 May 2018

“Change the Rules” Melbourne Rally on May 9, 2018 – Image courtesy @VanBadham Twitter account

On May 9, 2018, over 100,000 workers and their supporters marched in Melbourne, Australia for more secure jobs and better pay. The rally was part of the Change the Rules campaign, organised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

The event trended strongly on social media and also appeared in Twitter Moments.

The campaign has emerged in the context of increasingly insecure work, stagnant wages and attacks on wages and conditions. It reflects concerns about growing inequality, the increasing power of big business and revelations that a third of large corporations are not paying any tax.

The union movement also believes that the industrial relations system in Australia is broken and needs a major overhaul. In recent years, union members have faced severe restrictions on the right to take industrial action and the right to strike.

A particular grievance has been the loss of Sunday penalty rates for retail, hospitality and related workers. Penalty rates are higher rates of pay for working at certain times such as weekends, public holidays or extra hours. Sunday pay rates were reduced in 2017 by the Fair Work Commission, the authority responsible for industrial relations.

The new voice behind strong union leadership in Australia

Much of the credit for the campaign goes to the high profile and controversial leader Sally McManus who became the Secretary of the ACTU in March 2017.

When McManus announced that it can be appropriate to break an unjust law, she captured media attention and gained some admirers from her stance:

Tasmanian Tom Wise condemned McManus, referring to a sharp decline in union membership in Australia during recent decades:

The fall in blue-collar worker numbers had not been matched by the increase in white-collar and professional members. Professor Bradley Bowden explained:

Part of the problem in securing new members for unions is that professional recruitment is largely confined to one cohort: those employed in publicly-funded or regulated industries, such as education and health. In these areas, unions still represent around a third of the workforce.

There has been an upturn in membership since McManus took on the leadership position. Her leadership has received support from progressive websites. In November 2017, the Independent Australia journal discussed her role following the campaign launch:

McManus knows how to work the media when she needs it, but she also knows how to work a room. She speaks quietly, straightforwardly, with no high-flown rhetoric or manufactured passion.

Pride, public opinion, politics

Editor of The Pen, a voice for ordinary people seeking change, reflected on the political implications of the rally, especially for the conservative Federal government:

A turnout of this size is a big blow to Malcolm Turnbull and his government. Nothing could make it clearer that public opinion is shifting decidedly against them, and this is likely to cast a shadow on any sympathy the government might have got from yesterday’s budget.

The Twitter hashtag #ChangeTheRules attracted many who agreed with this.

Activist and commentator Van Badham interviewed Sally McManus during the march:

McManus described a feeling certainly reflected in the celebratory crowd:

this wonderful feeling of togetherness. This is a feeling of union all around, you know, just all the people who feel the same, who want fairness, all prepared to fight for it.

Union members on Twitter proclaimed their pride in the rally:

‘Change the Rules’ events are continuing around the nation.

by Kevin Rennie at May 14, 2018 02:52 PM

MIT Center for Civic Media
Natural Disasters and Environmental Events
This post was collaboratively written by Liz Barry, Greg Bloom, Willow Brugh, and Tamara Shapiro. It was translated by Mariel García (thank you). Español debajo. Every year, communities are affected by “extreme environmental events.” These might include hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, or floods. There are, of course, official response agencies with mandates to rescue, feed, heal, and rebuild; however, the true first responders are always people who live in the affected regions — neighbors and community leaders. […]

by willowbl00 at May 14, 2018 01:58 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/14/2018: Amazon and the Rooney Rule for diversity: If not that, then what?
Later this month, Amazon shareholders will vote on whether the company should implement the Rooney Rule when appointing new members to its board of directors. The Rooney Rule stems from an NFL policy that requires at least one minority candidate be interviewed for certain management positions. However, Amazon’s current board of directors is recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal, saying it wouldn’t be an effective use of resources. Marketplace’s Molly Wood talks about how to build a diverse company with Nicole Kyner, head of search for theBoardlist, a curated marketplace that aims to put more women on boards.

by Marketplace at May 14, 2018 10:30 AM

May 13, 2018

Global Voices
Cuban activists launch detailed agenda for LGBTIQ rights in Cuba

“LGBT Flag of Cuba.” Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

On May 11, 2018, a score of Cuban intellectuals and activists launched an exhaustive agenda for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, intersexuals, trans, queer and intersex people in Cuba. According to the submission:

Basados en los principios de Yogyakarta sobre la aplicación de la legislación internacional de derechos humanos en relación con la orientación sexual y la identidad de género, en la Declaración de derechos sexuales de la Asociación Mundial para la Salud Sexual (WAS) y en virtud de las próximas reformas constitucionales y jurídicas en Cuba, integrantes de la comunidad LGBTIQ cubana nos hemos reunido para promover esta agenda.

Based on the Yogyakarta principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, in the Declaration of Sexual Rights of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) and due to the upcoming constitutional and legal reforms in Cuba, members of the Cuban LGBTIQ community have met to promote this agenda.

The document begins by considering that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent to human dignity. The goal is not only for the text to work as a collective statement but also as a proposal that contributors can continue to feed with ideas and suggestions. The text also proposes specific lines of action that can be used as a starting point for research and for developing public policies, as Isbel Díaz Torres explains in Havana Times.

The agenda is the first of its kind in Cuba, compiled entirely by members of the public and focuses on the rights of LGTBIQ people. In addition, it includes 63 specific demands and is divided into two large sections: legislative measures and policies, plans and strategies.

Cuban film director Yaíma Pardo set an important precedent with the demands collected in her documentary Causas y Azares (Causes and Chances, subtitles in English available). Another precedent was the text written by activist and blogger Alberto Roque. The documentary highlights numerous analyses regarding the current state of the LGBTQI community's rights in Cuba and the ideological and institutional changes necessary to ensure their full exercise.

Mercedes García and Yasmin Silvia Portales Machado, two activists who participated in the documentary, clarify important points to understand the context for recognizing and protecting Cuba's LGBTIQ community. In principle, they explain how the Cuban government does not acknowledge the complexity of gender compositions or the diversity of human sexuality. García assesses Cuba's shortcomings in this regard:
Lamentablemente el proyecto social socialista heredó esa discriminación, esos falsos conceptos, esa ignorancia sobre la sexualidad humana; y en el caso Cuba se ha demorado, para mi gusto, demasiado en enfrentar esa realidad y transformarla

Regrettably, the Socialist social project inherited that discrimination, those false concepts, that ignorance regarding human sexuality; and in Cuba's case, it has taken too long, to my liking, to face that reality and transform it.

Machado expands this point and highlights how the historical and cultural background of Cuba's political ideology prevents distinguishing citizens’ diverse lives:
El Marxismo surgió como una filosofía en occidente de un hombre blanco. No reconoce la diversidad de las sexualidades ni de las identidades que las personas cargan como parte de su cultura. No todo es la lucha de clases. Cada clase social está atravesada por un montón de identidades culturales y sexuales… y laborales… y artísticas. Reconocer eso es lo que permite que las políticas [creadas] para emancipar a las personas atiendan verdaderamente a las personas y no a los ideales [que el Estado tiene] de las personas… [es ahí] donde ha fallado hasta ahora el socialismo.

Marxism appeared in the West and was a philosophical [construct made by] a white man. It does not recognize the diversity of sexualities or identities that people carry with them as part of their culture. Not everything has to do with the classist struggle. Each social class has a bunch of cultural, sexual, work and artistic identities. Recognizing that is what allows the policies [created] to emancipate people to truly serve the people and not the [State's] ideals regarding people … [that's where] Socialism has failed so far.

The Agenda for LGBTIQ rights in Cuba promotes a broad and inclusive debate on human rights and requests that their demands be considered by the National Assembly of People's Power, the Council of Ministers and those who make policies, plans and strategies in Cuba.

by Melissa Wise at May 13, 2018 09:52 PM

Bangladesh blasts off with their first ever satellite launch into space

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 Mission at Cape Canaveral, USA. Image from Flickr via Official SpaceX Photos. Public domain.

At 4:14 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on May 11, 2018, Bangabandhu-1, Bangladesh’s first geostationary communications satellite, was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida in the United States. It marked a key milestone for the country and was celebrated throughout Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu-1, named after the nickname of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founding father of Bangladesh, was launched into its orbital slot on 119.1 degrees east longitude. The satellite's mission is expected to last at least 15 years.

The launch was originally planned for May 10 and postponed to take place the following day after an error was found just a minute before launch. A delegation of Bangladeshi officials, led by State Minister for Telecommunications and Post, Tarana Halim, arrived in Florida on Tuesday to witness the successful launch.

Peter B. de Selding, the editor of Space Intel Report tweeted:

K. Scottt Piel, a software engineer from Kenedy Space Center, tweeted:

Work began on the 7,700-pound (3,700-kilogram) satellite back in 2015, when it was ordered from France-based Thales Alenia Space by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

The launch also marked a milestone for the company SpaceX, who was contracted to carry out the launch itself. It was the debut of a new upgrade to their launch vehicle, known as Falcon 9 Block 5, which is a more reusable, higher-thrust model. SpaceX is an American company founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk. SpaceX produced a live webcast of the launch, which can be viewed online:

Bangabandhu-1 will provide satellite television, internet access, and emergency communication services, as well as broadband to rural areas in Bangladesh, and will be operated by the newly-formed state-owned company the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Ltd, after having been led by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Committee (the BTRC) up until this point.

According to the Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh’s annual expenditure for satellite connectivity is currently 14 million USD spent on renting bandwidth from foreign operators. It is predicted that with the launch of Bangabandhu-1, this cost will significantly decrease.

The satellite will offer Ku-band coverage over Bangladesh and its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

On Twitter, Bangladeshi citizens expressed their support for the mission, despite the early hour of the launch.

Farhan Hossain tweeted:

Adnan Ahmed Khan wrote:

However, some like Kazi Didar commented that the huge expenditure for the satellite could be better used to meet some of Bangladesh's basic requirements first:

No matter what, this is being regarded by many as a major achievement for Bangladesh:

Zenith Tweeted:

Raju wrote:

by Zara Rahman at May 13, 2018 10:00 AM

Joi Ito
On Ethics and Techno-Utopianism at the Media Lab

I received a lot of excited feedback from people who saw the 60 Minutes segment on the Media Lab. I also got a few less congratulatory messages questioning the "gee-whiz-isn't-this-all-great" depiction of the Lab and asking why we seemed so relentlessly upbeat at a time when so many of the negative consequences of technology are coming to light. Juxtaposed with the first segment in the program about Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who created the Cambridge Analytica app that mined Facebook, the Media Lab segment appeared, to some, blithely upbeat. And perhaps it reinforced the sometimes unfair image of the Media Lab as a techno-Utopian hype machine.

Of course, the piece clocked in at about 12 minutes and focused on a small handful of projects; it's to be expected that it didn't represent the full range of research or the full spectrum of ideas and questions that this community brings to its endeavors. In my interview, most of my comments focused on how we need more reflection on where we have come in science and technology over the 30-plus years that the Media Lab has been around. I also stressed how at the Lab we're thinking a lot more about the impact technology is having on society, climate, and other systems. But in such a short piece--and one that was intended to showcase technological achievements, not to question the ethical rigor applied to those achievements--it's no surprise that not much of what I said made it into the final cut.

What was particularly interesting about the 60 Minutes segment was the producers' choice of "Future Factory" for the title. I got a letter from one Randall G. Nichols, of Missouri, pointing out that "No one in the segment seems to be studying the fact that technology is creating harmful conditions for the Earth, worse learning conditions for a substantial number of kids, decreasing judgment and attention in many of us, and so on." If we're manufacturing the future here, shouldn't we be at least a little concerned about the far-reaching and unforeseen impact of what we create here? I think most of us agree that, yes, absolutely, we should be! And what I'd say to Randall is, we are.

In fact, the lack of critical reflection in science and technology has been on my mind-I wrote about it in Resisting Reduction. Much of our work at the Lab helps us better understand and intervene responsibly in societal issues, including Deb Roy's Depolarization by Design class and almost all of the work in the Center for Civic Media. There's Kevin Esvelt's work that involves communities in deployment of the CRISPR gene drive and Danielle Wood's work generally and, more specifically, her interest in science and racial issues. And Pattie Maes is making her students watch Black Mirror to imagine how the work we do in the Lab might unintentionally go wrong. I'm also teaching a class on the ethics and governance of AI with Jonathan Zittrain from Harvard Law School, which aims to ensure that the generation now rising is more thoughtful about the societal impact of AI as it is deployed. I could go on.

It's not that I'm apologetic about the institutional optimism that the 60 Minutes piece captured. Optimism is a necessary part of our work at the Lab. Passion and optimism drive us to push the boundaries of science and technology. It's healthy to have a mix of viewpoints-critical, contemplative, and optimistic-in our ecosystem. Not all aspects of that can necessarily be captured in 12 minutes, though. I'm sure that our balance of caution and optimism isn't satisfactory for quite a few critical social scientists, but I think that a quick look at some of the projects I mention will show a more balanced approach than would appear to be the case from the 60 Minutes segment.

Having said that, I believe that we need to continue to integrate social sciences and reflection even more deeply into our science and technology work. While I have a big voice at the Lab, the Lab operates on a "permissionless innovation" model where I don't tell researchers what to do (and neither do our funders). On the other hand, we have safety and other codes that we have to follow--is there an equivalent ethical or social code that we or other institutions should have? Harrison Eiteljorg, II thinks so. He wrote, "I would like to encourage you to consider adding to your staff at least one scholar whose job is to examine projects for the ethical implications for the work and its potential final outcome." I wonder, what would such a process look like?

More socially integrated work in technology has continued to increase in both the rest of society and at the Lab. One of my questions is whether the Lab is changing fast enough, and whether the somewhat emergent way that the work is infusing itself in the Lab is the appropriate way. Doing my own work in ethical and critical work and having conversations is the easiest way to contribute, but I wonder if there is more that we as a Lab should be doing.

One of the main arcs of the 60 Minutes piece was showing how technology built in the Lab's early days--touch screens, voice command, things that were so far ahead of their time in the 80s and 90s as to seem magical--have gone out into the world and become part of the fabric of our everyday lives. The idea of highlighting the Lab as a "future factory" was to suggest that the loftiest and "craziest" ideas we're working on now might one day be just as commonplace. But I'd like to challenge myself, and everyone at the Media Lab, to demonstrate our evolution in thoughtful critique, as well.









by Joi at May 13, 2018 07:17 AM

May 12, 2018

Global Voices
Despite support for the #MeToo movement in Pakistan, a culture of silence still prevails

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels. CC0

Following the harrowing rape and murder of 7-year-old Zainab in Kasur, a city located south of Lahore (the provincial capital of Punjab), celebrities began using the #MeToo hashtag to talk about sexual assault faced by women in Pakistan.

Theatre and TV actor Nadia Jamil, former model and choreographer Frieha Altaf, and fashion designer Maheen Khan all took to Twitter to open up about their own childhood sexual abuse stories, encouraging others to come forward with theirs. Unfortunately, cases like Zainab’s are some of the only times when people can come forward with their own stories and help to shed light on deep-rooted issues.

However, a recent case involving sexual assault accusations against a beloved male celebrity has caused a backlash against his accuser, causing many to call into question the double standards placed on women who speak out against sexual violence.

Pakistan, as a country, is no stranger to sexual harassment — a situation that affects all genders. According to numbers by Sahil, a non-governmental organization that documents rape cases reported in daily newspapers, in 2017, a total of 3445 child abuse cases were reported in the newspapers in Pakistan and many of these have not been registered with the police yet.

As people began speaking out, many saw positive effects such as the #JusticeForZainab trend which was followed by educational videos and talk shows about good and bad touching and the need for sex education in the country –something that was picked swiftly by the provincial government of Sindh. Many felt the country was moving towards a positive change, that is, until April when singer and prominent entertainment figure Meesha Shafi tweeted harassment allegations against Ali Zafar. Zafar is a singer and former Bollywood actor and Shafi claims that he had abused her on multiple occasions. This time, instead of backing the accusers, the internet and the industry seems to feel alienated; they can't seem to choose sides.

Is there a double standard for female Pakistani entertainers?

The Pakistani entertainment industry, which is as old as Pakistan itself (Pakistan got independence in 1947), is judged or praised according to the ever-changing mindset of the country’s people — something which is, in part, inspired by heavy politicisation by the political parties and their manifestos. Pakistan, which was heavily Islamicized and had gone into a transition from being liberal to be conservative and back to being moderately liberal over the years, has yet to decide if they love their entertainers or hate them.

Throughout these political and social changes, what remains widely believed is that these entertainers, or more aptly put, the women entertainers, are a bad influence. The women who work in the industry struggle daily with maintaining their image in the country, they are constantly under pressure to behave and maintain a sophisticated, religious and family orientated presence. Many feel that it is unethical for women, in general, to stay out late, mingle with more men than necessary, to travel around the globe and stay in hotels, to be seen on TV constantly, to wear clothes that are ‘inappropriate or to even smoke — all of which are common practices in any entertainment industry.

That being said the burden for social discourse also lies on these influencers. Even though their characters are regularly questioned, their lifestyle and ideologies matter to all these people — whether they be detractors or not. This background is important to understand the position of women in Pakistan, especially when they come forward with allegations of harassment.

In Meesha Shafi’s case, what mattered to people was the fact that a beloved male pop-star was the accused. People viewed Shafi's allegations critically, scrutinizing her past, her behaviour, and her character. This happened to such an extent that she decided to deactivate her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In an interview with a local newspaper, Shafi states:

They (my accounts) have been deactivated for very obvious reasons, one would think. The abuse, threats, bullying and slander that I have faced is the reason I felt the strong need to protect not just myself but my family, especially my two young children who were also being subjected to personal attacks online.

In response, some netizens questioned the veracity of Shafi's statements:

Ali, who lost his position as the judge for the prestigious music show Pepsi Battle of the Bands, immediately filed a defamation case against Shafi and their lawyers are in now fighting a legal battle.

In the past weeks, many other women have come forward sharing their stories of abuse at the hands of Ali Zafar; however, his band members and colleagues have stood by him explaining that he is a ‘devoted husband, father and a family guy’. The industry at large is careful not to take sides as the case rolls on.

Nadia Jamil, while tweeting about the issue tried to present both the sides giving many contradicting statements to stay on neutral ground:

I don't go to the industry parties, hence I am not harassed (within the industry).

This case has become a classic example of victim blaming while the perpetrator roams freely. Unfortunately, it is not the only high profile case where we have yet to see results in alleged harassment cases in Pakistan. Case in point, Ayesha Gulalai, a member of the national assembly of Pakistan and Imran Khan’s, leader of the mainstream party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). In this case, Gulalai alleged that Khan harassed her and was rebutted for her character after which she was asked to leave the political party PTI. Her political career took a serious blow after the incident.

On Friday, UN Women Pakistan issued a joint statement stating:

As the courage of #MeToo speakers across the world forces a reconsideration of how violence against women is managed and ended, we express our solidarity with victims and with the pressure for change. This is as urgent in Pakistan as it is in the rest of the world.

The group went on to tweet:

Unfortunately, not everyone is behind Shafi. While talking to the press, Minister of State for Interior Affairs Talal Chaudhary, called the Meesha/Ali incident a ‘drama’, adding that it was a scheme to “to grab media attention”.

While the international community and celebrities are paying heed to Shafi's case, the local community is still digging for evidence to rebuke her allegations. This trend of victim shaming can be seen as an indicator of Pakistan’s culture of silence, where people feel safer by not disclosing these incidents due to the fear of further harassment, on social media or in their personal circles.

by Annam Lodhi at May 12, 2018 05:40 PM

Doc Searls
GDPR will pop the adtech bubble

In The Big Short, investor Michael Burry says “One hallmark of mania is the rapid rise in the incidence and complexity of fraud.” (Burry shorted the mania- and fraud-filled subprime mortgage market and made a mint in the process.)

One would be equally smart to bet against the mania for the tracking-based form of advertising called adtech.

Since tracking people took off in the late ’00s, adtech has grown to become a four-dimensional shell game played by hundreds (or, if you include martech, thousands) of companies, none of which can see the whole mess, or can control the fraud, malware and other forms of bad acting that thrive in the midst of it.

And that’s on top of the main problem: tracking people without their knowledge, approval or a court order is just flat-out wrong. The fact that it can be done is no excuse. Nor is the monstrous sum of money made by it.

Without adtech, the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) would never have happened. But the GDPR did happen, and as a result websites all over the world are suddenly posting notices about their changed privacy policies, use of cookies, and opt-in choices for “relevant” or “interest-based” (translation: tracking-based) advertising. Email lists are doing the same kinds of things.

“Sunrise day” for the GDPR is 25 May. That’s when the EU can start smacking fines on violators.

Simply put, your site or service is a violator if it extracts or processes personal data without personal permission. Real permission, that is. You know, where you specifically say “Hell yeah, I wanna be tracked everywhere.”

Of course what I just said greatly simplifies what the GDPR actually utters, in bureaucratic legalese. The GDPR is also full of loopholes only snakes can thread; but the spirit of the law is clear, and the snakes will be easy to shame, even if they don’t get fined. (And legitimate interest—an actual loophole in the GDPR, may prove hard to claim.)

Toward the aftermath, the main question is What will be left of advertising—and what it supports—after the adtech bubble pops?

Answers require knowing the differences between advertising and adtech, which I liken to wheat and chaff.

First, advertising:

    1. Advertising isn’t personal, and doesn’t have to be. In fact, knowing it’s not personal is an advantage for advertisers. Consumers don’t wonder what the hell an ad is doing where it is, who put it there, or why.
    2. Advertising makes brands. Nearly all the brands you know were burned into your brain by advertising. In fact the term branding was borrowed by advertising from the cattle business. (Specifically by Procter and Gamble in the early 1930s.)
    3. Advertising carries an economic signal. Meaning that it shows a company can afford to advertise. Tracking-based advertising can’t do that. (For more on this, read Don Marti, starting here.)
    4. Advertising sponsors media, and those paid by media. All the big pro sports salaries are paid by advertising that sponsors game broadcasts. For lack of sponsorship, media—especially publishers—are hurting. @WaltMossberg learned why on a conference stage when an ad agency guy said the agency’s ads wouldn’t sponsor Walt’s new publication, recode. Walt: “I asked him if that meant he’d be placing ads on our fledgling site. He said yes, he’d do that for a little while. And then, after the cookies he placed on Recode helped him to track our desirable audience around the web, his agency would begin removing the ads and placing them on cheaper sites our readers also happened to visit. In other words, our quality journalism was, to him, nothing more than a lead generator for target-rich readers, and would ultimately benefit sites that might care less about quality.” With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Second, Adtech:

    1. Adtech is built to undermine the brand value of all the media it uses, because it cares about eyeballs more than media, and it causes negative associations with brands. Consider this: perhaps a $trillion or more has been spent on adtech, and not one brand known to the world has been made by it. (Bob Hoffman, aka the Ad Contrarian, is required reading on this.)
    2. Adtech wants to be personal. That’s why it’s tracking-based. Though its enthusiasts call it “interest-based,” “relevant” and other harmless-sounding euphemisms, it relies on tracking people. In fact it can’t exist without tracking people. (Note: while all adtech is programmatic, not all programmatic advertising is adtech. In other words, programmatic advertising doesn’t have to be based on tracking people. Same goes for interactive. Programmatic and interactive advertising will both survive the adtech crash.)
    3. Adtech spies on people and violates their privacy. By design. Never mind that you and your browser or app are anonymized. The ads are still for your eyeballs, and correlations can be made.
    4. Adtech is full of fraud and a vector for malware. @ACFou is required reading on this.
    5. Adtech incentivizes publications to prioritize “content generation” over journalism. More here and here.
    6. Intermediators take most of what’s spent on adtech. Bob Hoffman does a great job showing how as little as 3¢ of a dollar spent on adtech actually makes an “impression. The most generous number I’ve seen is 12¢. (When I was in the ad agency business, back in the last millennium, clients complained about our 15% take. Media our clients bought got 85%.)
    7. Adtech gives fake news a business model, because fake news is easier to produce than the real kind, and adtech will pay anybody a bounty for hauling in eyeballs.
    8. Adtech incentivizes hate speech and tribalism by giving both—and the platforms that host them—a business model too.
    9. Adtech relies on misdirection. See, adtech looks like advertising, and is called advertising; but it’s really direct marketing, which is descended from junk mail and a cousin of spam. Because of that misdirection, brands think they’re placing ads in media, while the systems they hire are actually chasing eyeballs to anywhere. (Pro tip: if somebody says every ad needs to “perform,” or that the purpose of advertising is “to get the right message to the right person at the right time,” they’re actually talking about direct marketing, not advertising. For more on this, read Rethinking John Wanamaker.)
    10. Compared to advertising, adtech is ugly. Look up best ads of all time. One of the top results is for the American Advertising Awards. The latest winners they’ve posted are the Best in Show for 2016. Tops there is an Allstate “Interactive/Online” ad pranking a couple at a ball game. Over-exposure of their lives online leads that well-branded “Mayhem” guy to invade and trash their house. In other words, it’s a brand ad about online surveillance.
    11. Adtech has caused the largest boycott in human history. By more than a year ago, 1.7+ billion human beings were already blocking ads online.

To get a sense of what will be left of adtech after GDPR Sunrise Day, start by reading a pair of articles in AdExchanger by @JamesHercher. The first reports on the Transparency and Consent Framework published by IAB Europe. The second reports on how Google is pretty much ignoring that framework and going direct with their own way of obtaining consent to tracking:

Google’s and other consent-gathering solutions are basically a series of pop-up notifications that provide a mechanism for publishers to provide clear disclosure and consent in accordance with data regulations.

Specifically,

The Google consent interface greets site visitors with a request to use data to tailor advertising, with equally prominent “no” and “yes” buttons. If a reader declines to be tracked, he or she sees a notice saying the ads will be less relevant and asking to “agree” or go back to the previous page. According to a source, one research study on this type of opt-out mechanism led to opt-out rates of more than 70%.

Meaning only 30% of site visitors will consent to being tracked. So, say goodbye to 70% of adtech’s eyeball targets right there.

Google’s consent gathering system, dubbed “Funding Choices,” also screws most of the hundreds of other adtech intermediaries fighting for a hunk of what’s left of their market. Writes James, “It restricts the number of supply chain partners a publisher can share consent with to just 12 vendors, sources with knowledge of the product tell AdExchanger.”

And that’s not all:

Last week, Google alerted advertisers it would sharply limit use of the DoubleClick advertising ID, which brands and agencies used to pull log files from DoubleClick so campaigns could be cohesively measured across other ad servers, incentivizing buyers to consolidate spend on the Google stack.

Google also raised eyebrows last month with a new policy insisting that all DFP publishers grant it status as a data controller, giving Google the right to collect and use site data, whereas other online tech companies – mere data processors – can only receive limited data assigned to them by the publisher, i.e., the data controller.

This is also Google’s way of scraping off GDPR liability on publishers.

Publishers and adtech intermediaries can attempt to avoid Google by using Consent Management Platforms (CMPs), a new category of intermediary defined and described by IAB Europe’s Consent Management Framework. Writes James,

The IAB Europe and and IAB Tech Lab framework includes a list of registered vendors that publishers can pass consent to for data-driven advertising. The tech companies pay a one-time fee between $1,000 and $2,000 to join the vendor list, according to executives from three participating companies…Although now that the framework is live, the barriers to adoption are painfully real as well.

The CMP category is pretty bare at the moment, and it may be greeted with suspicion by some publishers.There are eight initial CMPs: two publisher tech companies with roots in ad-blocker solutions, Sourcepoint and Admiral, as well as the ad tech companies Quantcast and Conversant and a few blockchain-based advertising startups…

Digital Content Next, a trade group representing online news publishers, is advising publishers to reject the framework, which CEO Jason Kint said “doesn’t meet the letter or spirit of GDPR.” Only two publishers have publicly adopted the Consent and Transparency Framework, but they’re heavy hitters with blue-chip value in the market: Axel Springer, Europe’s largest digital media company, and the 180-year-old Schibsted Media, a respected newspaper publisher in Sweden and Norway.

In other words, good luck with that.

One big upside for IAB Europe is that its Framework contains open source code and an SDK. For a full unpacking of what’s there see the Consent String and Vendor List Format: Transparency & Consent Framework on GitHub and IAB Europe’s own FAQ. More about this shortly.

Meanwhile, the adtech business surely knows the sky is falling. The main question is how far.

One possibility is 95% of the way to zero. That outcome is suggested by results published in PageFair last October by Dr. Johnny Ryan (@JohnnyRyan) there. Here’s the most revealing graphic in the bunch:

Note that this wasn’t a survey of the general population. It was a survey of ad industry people: “300+ publishers, adtech, brands, and various others…” Pause for a moment and look at that chart again. Nearly all those proffesionals in the business would not accept what their businesses do to other human beings.

“However,” Johnny adds, “almost a third believe that users will consent if forced to do so by ‘tracking walls’, that deny access to a website unless a visitor agrees to be tracked. Tracking walls, however, are prohibited under Article 7 of the GDPR…”

Pretty cynical, no?

The good news for both advertising and publishing is that neither needs adtech. What’s more, people can signal what they want out of the sites they visit—and from the whole marketplace. In fact the Internet itself was designed for exactly that. The GDPR just made the market a lot more willing to start hearing clues from customers that have been laying in plain sight for almost twenty years.

The first clues that fully matter are the ones we—the individuals they’ve been calling “users,” will deliver. Look for details on that in another post.

Meanwhile::::

Pro tip #1: don’t bet against Google, except maybe in the short term, when sunrise will darken the whole adtech business.

Instead, bet against companies that stake their lives on tracking people, and doing that without the clear and explicit consent of the tracked. That’s most of the adtech “ecosystem” not called Google or Facebook.

Google can say it already has consent, and that it is also has legitimate interests in the personal data it harvests from us.

Google can also live without the tracking. Most of its income comes from AdWords—its search advertising business—which is far more guided by what visitors are searching for than by whatever Google knows about those visitors.

Google is also also highly trusted, as tech companies go. Its parent, Alphabet, is also increasingly diversified. Facebook, on the other hand, does stake its life on tracking people. (I say more about Facebook’s odds here.)

Pro tip #2: do bet on any business working for customers rather than sellers. Because signals of personal intent will produce many more positive outcomes in the digital marketplace than surveillance-fed guesswork by sellers ever could, even with the most advanced AI behind it.

For more on how that will work, read The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge. Six years after Harvard Business Review Press published that book, what it says will start to come true. Thank you, GDPR.

Pro tip #3: do bet on developers building tools that give each of us scale in dealing with the world’s companies and governments, because those are the tools businesses working for customers will rely on to scale up their successes as well.

What it comes down to is the need for better signaling between customers and companies than can ever be possible in today’s doomed tracking-fed guesswork system. (All the AI and ML in the world won’t be worth much if the whole point of it is to sell us shit.)

Think about what customers and companies want and need about each other: interests, intentions, competencies, locations, availabilities, reputations—and boundaries.

When customers can operate both privately and independently, we’ll get far better markets than today’s ethically bankrupt advertising and marketing system could ever give us.

Pro tip #4: do bet on publishers getting back to what worked since forever offline and hardly got a chance online: plain old brand advertising that carries both an economic and a creative signal, and actually sponsors the publication rather than using the publication as a way to gather eyeballs that can be advertised at anywhere. The oeuvres of Don Marti (@dmarti) and Bob Hoffman (the @AdContrarian) are thick with good advice about this. I’ve also written about it extensively in the list compiled at People vs. Adtech. Some samples, going back through time:

  1. An easy fix for a broken advertising system (12 October 2017 in Medium and in my blog)
  2. Without aligning incentives, we can’t kill fake news or save journalism (15 September 2017 in Medium)
  3. Let’s get some things straight about publishing and advertising (9 September 2017 and the same day in Medium)
  4. Good news for publishers and advertisers fearing the GDPR (3 September 2017 in ProjectVRM and 7 October in Medium).
  5. Markets are about more than marketing (2 September 2017 in Medium).
  6. Publishers’ and advertisers’ rights end at a browser’s front door (17 June 2017 in Medium). It updates one of the 2015 blog posts below.
  7. How to plug the publishing revenue drain (9 June 2017 in Medium). It expands on the opening (#publishing) section of my Daily Tab for that date.
  8. How True Advertising Can Save Journalism From Drowning in a Sea of Content (22 January 2017 in Medium and 26 January 2017 in my blog.)It’s People vs. Advertising, not Publishers vs. Adblockers (26 August 2016 in ProjectVRM and 27 August 2016 in Medium)
  9. Why #NoStalking is a good deal for publishers (11 May 2016, and in Medium)
  10. How customers can debug business with one line of code (19 April 2016 in ProjectVRM and in Medium)
  11. An invitation to settle matters with @Forbes, @Wired and other publishers (15 April 2016 and in Medium)
  12. TV Viewers to Madison Avenue: Please quit driving drunk on digital (14 Aprl 2016, and in Medium)
  13. The End of Internet Advertising as We’ve Known It(11 December 2015 in MIT Technology Review)
  14. Ad Blockers and the Next Chapter of the Internet (5 November in Harvard Business Review)
  15. How #adblocking matures from #NoAds to #SafeAds (22 October 2015)
  16. Helping publishers and advertisers move past the ad blockade (11 October 2015 on the ProjectVRM blog)
  17. Beyond ad blocking — the biggest boycott in human history (28 Septemper 2015)
  18. A way to peace in the adblock war (21 September 2015, on the ProjectVRM blog)
  19. How adtech, not ad blocking, breaks the social contract (23 September 2015)
  20. If marketing listened to markets, they’d hear what ad blocking is telling them (8 September 2015)
  21. Apple’s content blocking is chemo for the cancer of adtech (26 August 2015)
  22. Separating advertising’s wheat and chaff (12 August 2015, and on 2 July 2016 in an updated version in Medium)
  23. Thoughts on tracking based advertising (18 February 2015)
  24. On marketing’s terminal addiction to data fracking and bad guesswork (10 January 2015)
  25. Why to avoid advertising as a business model (25 June 2014, re-running Open Letter to Meg Whitman, which ran on 15 October 2000 in my old blog)
  26. What the ad biz needs is to exorcize direct marketing (6 October 2013)
  27. Bringing manners to marketing (12 January 2013 in Customer Commons)
  28. What could/should advertising look like in 2020, and what do we need to do now for this future?(Wharton’s Future of Advertising project, 13 November 2012)
  29. An olive branch to advertising (12 September 2012, on the ProjectVRM blog)

I expect, once the GDPR gets enforced, I can start writing about People + Publishing and even People + Advertising. (I have long histories in both publishing and advertising, by the way. So all of this is close to home.)

Meanwhile, you can get a jump on the GDPR by blocking third party cookies in your browsers, which will stop most of today’s tracking by adtech. Customer Commons explains how.

by Doc Searls at May 12, 2018 04:06 PM

Global Voices
A new era for Malaysia after voters end six-decade reign of ruling party

Malaysian group Bersih during one of its rallies calling for a clean and honest electoral process. Source: Facebook

After sixty years of as the ruling party in Malaysia, Barisan Nasional (BN) was defeated at the 14th General Elections (GE14) on May 9, 2018.

The BN-led government was headed by Najib Razak who was linked to several corruption scandals. Razak also became more unpopular as he tried to suppress the demand for accountability and transparency with regard to these corruption allegations.

Malaysia will now be led by 92-year-old Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who served as prime minister for 22 years until his retirement in 2003. He became active again in politics to lead the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition party in challenging Razak and the ruling coalition he once led.

The final tally of the GE14 reflected the dissatisfaction of most Malaysians to the performance of Razak's government. Many Malaysian netizens celebrated the news about the historic voting result:

On his first day in office, the new president tweeted:

He vowed to investigate agencies involved in corruption. He also reaffirmed the pledge of the opposition to abolish repressive laws, taxes, and programs.

Malaysiakini, an independent news website, highlighted the importance of the opposition victory:

This is the day Malaysians experienced the power of the ballot.

Anger towards the current administration had brought them out in large numbers to cast their votes in the historic 14th general election.

This is the first time the country has witnessed a change of government since independence from the British in 1957.

The paper made a point to remind the new government of urgent reforms necessary to ‘heal’ the nation:

Now the hard work begins. No one should be under the illusion that a new government would be able to reverse the rot that had taken root for decades.

For a country that is so divided, it would take time to heal the wounds, and for Malaysians to rebuild the trust for one another and for the many institutions that have failed them.

Aliran, a civil society group, also celebrated the outcome of the GE14 while enumerating some of the challenges faced by the new government:

Aliran salutes the people of Malaysia who rose up, braved the odds stacked against them and used their vote to make this happen. We salute too the many women and men who worked (many of them for decades) in bringing about the awareness necessary for this change to take place.

The outcome of the general election is a testament to the power of the people to bring about change. Around the world, Malaysia has set a good example – that of People Power and that of a peaceful transition of government.

PH must work towards dismantling the many structures which have kept the corrupt in power for so long. This also entails, among other things, curbing the power of the executive and the restoration of other institutions badly tainted by political interference.

This tweet summarizes the sentiment of many a day after the historic GE14:

by Mong Palatino at May 12, 2018 01:44 PM

May 11, 2018

Global Voices
Netizen Report: Gambia Supreme Court ruling leaves the future of free speech uncertain

Protesters in the Gambia following the election of Adama Barrow in 2017. Screenshot from YouTube video, widely circulated.

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

The Supreme Court in the Gambia struck down the 2013 Information and Communication Amendment (ICA) Act, declaring it unconstitutional. The court nevertheless upheld key sections of the country’s sedition law. Both have been used as tools for media repression.

The ruling is the result of a 2015 court filing by the Gambia Press Union challenging the constitutionality of sedition, libel, criminal defamation, and false news laws. The regional court of the Economic Community of West African States recently ruled on the same laws, in a case brought by four exiled Gambian journalists, and found them all unconstitutional.

But the Gambian Supreme Court thought differently. The ruling upheld sedition laws that can be used to punish critical speech or journalistic investigations related to the president, while it struck down the a 2013 amendment to the ICA, which criminalized online defamation and the spread of “false news” on the internet. Violators were subject to heavy fines and prison terms of up to 15 years in prison.

On Twitter, Gambian journalist Sanna Camara described the ICT Act as one of the “toughest internet laws in Africa.” Camara himself faced legal threats in the Gambia for his coverage of human trafficking, published by The Standard. In 2014, Camara was accused of publishing “false news” and fled the country shortly thereafter.

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Angela Quintal described the decision as “one step forward, two steps backwards.”

“[The ruling] sends a message that journalists are still not free to work without the threat of criminal prosecution,” she said.

The ruling marks the court’s first major decision affecting free speech since the 2017 transition of power from long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh to current president Adama Barrow. Shortly after assuming office, Barrow freed hundreds of prisoners and launched a series of investigations into alleged human rights violations under the Jammeh regime. But activists and citizens who speak their minds in public spaces online and off have continued to do so under pressure.

In February 2018, a university lecturer was detained over comments he made to a local media outlet. Just this past week, youth activists were arrested after calling attention to the threat of environmental degradation caused by Golden Lead, a Chinese-owned fish processing factory in the coastal settlement of Gunjur.

Tanzanian court puts ‘blogger tax’ on hold, for now

A Tanzanian High Court has halted the implementation of the US $900 “blogger tax” imposed by the government as part of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations which demanded that bloggers paid a fine or cease blogging.

Six human right groups in the country had asked the court to review the regulations, arguing that the Minister of Information acted outside his authority and in violation of the right to freedom of expression. Though temporary, the high court ruling is a win for free speech in Tanzania.

Honduran journalist followed after receiving death threats on Facebook

Honduran broadcast journalist Mauricio Ortega received a death threat over Facebook messenger, not long after conducting a series of reports on incidents of passengers being physically assaulted on public transport. Later that day, he was followed by a car with no license plates. In an interview with the Honduran Committee for Free Expression, he said:

…las amenazas en contra de nosotros es lamentablemente hasta normal, estamos acostumbrados a que los que se sienten ofendidos nos insulten, amenacen y nos desacrediten y tristemente no hay confianza ni eficiencia en los entes encargados de administrar o impartir justicia, esto nos vuelve más vulnerables.

…threats against us have unfortunately become normal, we’re accustomed to being insulted, threatened and discredited by those who take offense at our work. And sadly, there is little trust or efficiency in those who are supposed to ensure justice, which leaves us that much more vulnerable.

Mobile networks falter as Russians protest Putin’s inauguration

As protests broke out across Russia, approaching Vladimir Putin's official inauguration into his fourth term as president, several activists reported that their mobile phone signals became weak or non-existent. Some said Russian telecom operators were intentionally degrading the quality of service or even delisting their numbers at the orders of the authorities. Activist Denis Styazhkin reported that his telco operator, Beeline, told him that his number had been de-listed on police orders.

China’s censors have their eyes on Peppa Pig

A Chinese internet subculture connecting the TV cartoon character “Peppa Pig” with “Shehuiren”, a term that refers to organized crime syndicates, has resulted in a muddy puddle for the popular porker. After leading state media outlets criticized the inkage, the popular Chinese video platform Douyan removed more than 30,000 videos of the cheerful pink character and made the term “Peppa Pig” unsearchable on its website, likely anticipating an all-out ban on Peppa.

Egyptian legislators move to monitor Uber rides

On May 7, Egypt’s parliament passed a law that will require ride-hailing services like Uber and the UAE-based Careem to establish servers in Egypt for the processing of all data pertaining to Egypt-based users. The law, which is still awaiting executive approval, obligates these companies to provide user data (including information about the location of both riders and drivers) to security authorities at their request. Both companies were temporarily suspended in March 2018 after a group of local taxi operators sued the companies on licensing grounds.

Will biometric ID cards become mandatory in Europe?

The European Commission proposed new counterterrorism measures including the mandatory inclusion of biometric data in ID cards and residence documents for EU residents and their family members. This measure would require the majority of EU residents to be fingerprinted so that biometric identifiers can be checked at border points.

One voter got Cambridge Analytica to hand over his data. What about the rest of us?

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has given Cambridge Analytica 30 days to hand over all the data and personal information it has on one American voter, or face a criminal prosecution. The voter, David Carroll, found that because Cambridge Analytica had processed US voter data in the UK, he could assert his rights under British laws. Cambridge Analytica announced this week that it has gone into liquidation.

Declaration from World Press Freedom Day

Participants at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day International Conference released the Accra Declaration calling on UNESCO member states to create and strengthen legal and policy frameworks to ensure respect for free expression and privacy and to protect safety of journalists and media workers.

New Research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Advox at May 11, 2018 05:06 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: Gambia Supreme Court ruling leaves the future of free speech uncertain

Protesters in the Gambia following the election of Adama Barrow in 2017. Screenshot from YouTube video, widely circulated.

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

The Supreme Court in the Gambia struck down the 2013 Information and Communication Amendment (ICA) Act, declaring it unconstitutional. The court nevertheless upheld key sections of the country’s sedition law. Both have been used as tools for media repression.

The ruling is the result of a 2015 court filing by the Gambia Press Union challenging the constitutionality of sedition, libel, criminal defamation, and false news laws. The regional court of the Economic Community of West African States recently ruled on the same laws, in a case brought by four exiled Gambian journalists, and found them all unconstitutional.

But the Gambian Supreme Court thought differently. The ruling upheld sedition laws that can be used to punish critical speech or journalistic investigations related to the president, while it struck down the a 2013 amendment to the ICA, which criminalized online defamation and the spread of “false news” on the internet. Violators were subject to heavy fines and prison terms of up to 15 years in prison.

On Twitter, Gambian journalist Sanna Camara described the ICT Act as one of the “toughest internet laws in Africa.” Camara himself faced legal threats in the Gambia for his coverage of human trafficking, published by The Standard. In 2014, Camara was accused of publishing “false news” and fled the country shortly thereafter.

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Angela Quintal described the decision as “one step forward, two steps backwards.”

“[The ruling] sends a message that journalists are still not free to work without the threat of criminal prosecution,” she said.

The ruling marks the court’s first major decision affecting free speech since the 2017 transition of power from long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh to current president Adama Barrow. Shortly after assuming office, Barrow freed hundreds of prisoners and launched a series of investigations into alleged human rights violations under the Jammeh regime. But activists and citizens who speak their minds in public spaces online and off have continued to do so under pressure.

In February 2018, a university lecturer was detained over comments he made to a local media outlet. Just this past week, youth activists were arrested after calling attention to the threat of environmental degradation caused by Golden Lead, a Chinese-owned fish processing factory in the coastal settlement of Gunjur.

Tanzanian court puts ‘blogger tax’ on hold, for now

A Tanzanian High Court has halted the implementation of the US $900 “blogger tax” imposed by the government as part of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations which demanded that bloggers paid a fine or cease blogging.

Six human right groups in the country had asked the court to review the regulations, arguing that the Minister of Information acted outside his authority and in violation of the right to freedom of expression. Though temporary, the high court ruling is a win for free speech in Tanzania.

Honduran journalist followed after receiving death threats on Facebook

Honduran broadcast journalist Mauricio Ortega received a death threat over Facebook messenger, not long after conducting a series of reports on incidents of passengers being physically assaulted on public transport. Later that day, he was followed by a car with no license plates. In an interview with the Honduran Committee for Free Expression, he said:

…las amenazas en contra de nosotros es lamentablemente hasta normal, estamos acostumbrados a que los que se sienten ofendidos nos insulten, amenacen y nos desacrediten y tristemente no hay confianza ni eficiencia en los entes encargados de administrar o impartir justicia, esto nos vuelve más vulnerables.

…threats against us have unfortunately become normal, we’re accustomed to being insulted, threatened and discredited by those who take offense at our work. And sadly, there is little trust or efficiency in those who are supposed to ensure justice, which leaves us that much more vulnerable.

Mobile networks falter as Russians protest Putin’s inauguration

As protests broke out across Russia, approaching Vladimir Putin's official inauguration into his fourth term as president, several activists reported that their mobile phone signals became weak or non-existent. Some said Russian telecom operators were intentionally degrading the quality of service or even delisting their numbers at the orders of the authorities. Activist Denis Styazhkin reported that his telco operator, Beeline, told him that his number had been de-listed on police orders.

China’s censors have their eyes on Peppa Pig

A Chinese internet subculture connecting the TV cartoon character “Peppa Pig” with “Shehuiren”, a term that refers to organized crime syndicates, has resulted in a muddy puddle for the popular porker. After leading state media outlets criticized the inkage, the popular Chinese video platform Douyan removed more than 30,000 videos of the cheerful pink character and made the term “Peppa Pig” unsearchable on its website, likely anticipating an all-out ban on Peppa.

Egyptian legislators move to monitor Uber rides

On May 7, Egypt’s parliament passed a law that will require ride-hailing services like Uber and the UAE-based Careem to establish servers in Egypt for the processing of all data pertaining to Egypt-based users. The law, which is still awaiting executive approval, obligates these companies to provide user data (including information about the location of both riders and drivers) to security authorities at their request. Both companies were temporarily suspended in March 2018 after a group of local taxi operators sued the companies on licensing grounds.

Will biometric ID cards become mandatory in Europe?

The European Commission proposed new counterterrorism measures including the mandatory inclusion of biometric data in ID cards and residence documents for EU residents and their family members. This measure would require the majority of EU residents to be fingerprinted so that biometric identifiers can be checked at border points.

One voter got Cambridge Analytica to hand over his data. What about the rest of us?

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has given Cambridge Analytica 30 days to hand over all the data and personal information it has on one American voter, or face a criminal prosecution. The voter, David Carroll, found that because Cambridge Analytica had processed US voter data in the UK, he could assert his rights under British laws. Cambridge Analytica announced this week that it has gone into liquidation.

Declaration from World Press Freedom Day

Participants at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day International Conference released the Accra Declaration calling on UNESCO member states to create and strengthen legal and policy frameworks to ensure respect for free expression and privacy and to protect safety of journalists and media workers.

New Research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Netizen Report Team at May 11, 2018 05:05 PM

Global Voices
Burundi's contentious constitutional referendum reflects deeper political problems

South African President Jacob Zuma (front row, center) visits Burundi, February 25, 2016. Photo Credit: GovernmentZA. Flickr, CC license.

On May 17, 2018, Burundians will go to the polls to vote on proposed constitutional amendments. Voters will be asked to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on changes that include extending the presidential terms to seven years and restarting the count that might help current President Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in power until 2034.

Burundi's current constitution has been in place since 2005, and largely regarded along with the Arusha Accord as a covenant that ended the country’s civil war, ushering President Nkurunziza into power in 2005. Tension regarding apparent bias and coercion in the referendum campaigning process has reflected ongoing political disputes within the East African nation.

Campaign bias leading up to Burundi's referendum 

‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns have picked up steam in the official two-week campaign period which ends on May 14, 2018. But campaigning before or after this official period or by non-registered groups was strictly forbidden.

However, opponents of the constitutional amendment complain that for months government officials have backed the ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the ruling party and joined by others such as the officially-recognized branch of UPRONA (Union for National Progress).

Vice-president Joseph Butore said it was the “will of the people”, and President Nkurunziza promised it is “God’s will”  to free Burundi from foreign colonizers for a better future. He encouraged supporters to vote freely, although officials also warned against “sabotaging” the vote and told people to report suspects to police.

Agathon Rwasa, head of the Amizero y’Abarundi coalition, supports the ‘No’ campaign, insisting that the referendum does not represent the people and could possibly install an authoritarian regime. The unrecognized UPRONA joined this campaign, as did the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) which argues against the referendum to protect the Arusha Accord, mediated dialogue, and avoid a one-party state.

Nkurunziza's announcement that he would serve as the ruling party’s ‘Supreme Guide’ sparked worry of authoritarianism among critics.

The opposition also laments that the referendum's definitive text was not circulated publicly, preventing scrutiny of details or consultation throughout the development of proposed changes. Others argued that the public opposition rallies showed free expression:

6th day of the campaign for the referendum 2018: Agathon Rwasa, leader of the Amizero y’Abarundi coalition, was in Cibitoke Province in North-West Burundi to promote “no” against the changes to the constitution. Thousands of supporters came to greet him

Opponents of the amendment are divided, though. Those remaining in Burundi largely back ‘No’ although some dissenters back ‘Yes’. Meanwhile, exiled opposition members centered around the National Council for the Respect of the Arusha Accord and the Peace and Reconciliation of Burundi (CNARED) support a boycott. Some supporters in exile express frustration with these divisions.

One Burundian in Rwanda told Yaga, a Burundi-based blog:

Visiblement elle chancelle face à un pouvoir qui se consolide de jour en jour. Elle peine à parler d’une même voix»

“It [the opposition] is obviously staggering faced with a power which strengthens each day. It struggles to speak with one voice”

Pre-campaign coercion and clampdown

In April 2018, Human Rights Watch described “lawlessness” in the country. International Crisis Group criticized a “campaign of intimidationleading up the referendum, including arrests and even deaths of those accused of opposing the referendum. Officials reject this as mendacious to tarnish Burundi’s image.

The International Federation for Human Rights also criticized media coverage biased in favor of the ‘Yes’ camp.

Leading up the referendum, citizens report significant pressure to register to vote, to refrain from voting “No” or boycotting the referendum altogether. Controversy also surrounds reports of coerced citizencontributionsto finance elections.

SOS Médias Burundi, an underground journalist collective, used their Facebook page to report many arrests and intimidating acts, such as a video of a member of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) threatening to “break the teeth” of ‘No’ campaigners.

Tight restrictions on media have continued throughout this campaign. The National Communications Council (CNC) recently suspended the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) accused of threatening “national cohesion”, and Voice of America (VOA) for six months.

Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters without Borders) criticized the clampdown as another attack on press freedom, particularly to restrict debate on the referendum as both hold radio shows in the Kirundi language, making them widely accessible.

The CNC also cautioned Radio France International (RFI) and local radios Isanganiro and CCIB FM+, and in April suspended Iwacu newspaper’s online comments section for three months.

Sign of independence or return to a one-party state? 

Tensions have run high since 2015 when President Nkurunziza's third term – widely seen as prohibited by the 2005 constitution and Arusha Accord — sparked protests, a failed coup, and rebellion.

As a result, many members of the opposition, ruling CNDD-FDD party dissenters, and journalists fled abroad while others were internally displaced. While thousands have returned since 2017, the United Nations (UN) has still registered 396,000 refugees since 2015 at underfunded refugee camps. Ministers claim these figures are manipulated.

Since 2015, local and international rights monitors have criticized repression, impunity, and restrictions on media and activists by security services and the CNDD-FDD “Imbonerakure” youth-wing. Several radios were closed and journalists harassed, even disappeared. Recently, rights activist Germain Rukiki received a heavy prison sentence for “threatening state security”.

A 2017 UN Commission of Inquiry report said crimes against humanity may have occurred and saw no improvement by March. The government rejected these claims. The International Criminal Court opened an ongoing investigation, which continues despite Burundi's government leaving the court.

Political insecurity has hit economically, bringing austerity budgets, energy shortages, and inflation. A UN report in February estimated that those needing humanitarian assistance in 2018 rose to 3.6 million.

Diplomacy stalled 

International responses have been lackluster and divided, with mediated dialogue ineffective. Sanctions have amplified economic stress and the crisis has stretched relations with neighboring Rwanda in particular.

France, United States, and the European Union expressed concern over insecurity and repression around the referendum. Yet, Burundi’s UN Ambassador, Albert Shingiro, said governments should respect sovereignty. The influential Catholic Church said it was not the moment to amend the constitution, given the ongoing insecurity and many refugees unable to vote.

Government supporters argue that the referendum demonstrates independence from Western interference. Officials minimized the reforms, saying they only affect part of the constitution. Opponents expect ‘Yes’ to win, but fear it legally consolidates an “eternal president” and the return of a one-party state.

Either way, the referendum appears to have further cemented divisions while pressing political and economic challenges persist.

by Liam Anderson at May 11, 2018 04:39 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/11/2018: Is the cryptocurrency boom a threat to Silicon Valley's elite?
Cryptocurrency may have its disruptive eye cast toward venture capital. The initial coin offering is a type of crypto-crowdfunding that startups can use to raise cash quickly without kissing the Silicon Valley ring. But do ICOs really have the potential to replace venture capital for startups? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Yuliya Chernova, who covers venture capital for the Wall Street Journal, about the pros and cons of ICOs. 

by Marketplace at May 11, 2018 11:00 AM

May 10, 2018

Creative Commons
Access to knowledge is crucial to our well-being and survival

soohyunFrom our Humans of the Commons Series: SooHyun Pae on listening to the network, the beauty of translation, and knowledge as a human right. Based in South Korea, SooHyun Pae is a translator and the Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator for Creative Commons.

When the Creative Commons community began discussing how to better engage with the world, my role changed – especially when we decided to restructure the CC Global Network last year. I assisted in the transition process from the old, obsolete program to the new global network structure. We conducted interviews with members of our network as part of our “Faces of the Commons” report, and I helped conduct the interviews in my region.

I had clear expectations about what I would hear from the interviewees; I’ve worked with the Creative Commons affiliate team for many years, and I thought I knew them very well. But I was completely wrong. All of them had different perspectives about the CC movement and its value. There were some common challenges they were struggling with, but they often varied widely by country.

I got to see the diversity of the CC community and the beautiful individuals within it.

What was also very striking was that they all have a deep appreciation for this wonderful community. While they face a lot of challenges, and some had complaints about how we were doing the work, they really cherish the relationships and friendships they’ve made in the community.

These experiences allowed me to see the diversity of the community itself and, at the same time, the value of the beautiful individuals within it. It was an exciting and inspirational experience. It’s so important to highlight individual contributions. We always wanted to do that, but before the “Faces of the Commons” report, we didn’t have enough concrete examples to show people why it was so important. I think the report can be the basis for future endeavors towards that goal.

Translating knowledge and creativity

I became involved in the CC Korea community after watching Lawrence Lessig’s TED Talk. I was fascinated by it. I didn’t know anything about Creative Commons at the time, but I began to do research and learned there were many people doing the same thing in Korea. That’s how I became involved in the Creative Commons Korea community.

At the time I was working as a full-time translator. I was so in love with languages and translation – I love meeting people from different places and learning about new cultures. I realize that translation is a derivative form of work, and I struggled to understand why certain content should be inaccessible to someone just because it has been copyrighted by someone else. Even if the author wanted to share the work, it’s still copyrighted and at risk of being potentially illegal in certain hands if shared. I didn’t know which approach to take when I used someone’s work in my translations.

Creative Commons made it clear that knowledge and creativity should not be restricted by a legal system that doesn’t make sense.

I realized that it’s important to make knowledge and creativity accessible to as many people as possible if you want others to benefit from your work. It makes me feel less restricted and less limited when I do translation work and share a creative work with others.

I try to translate books with Creative Commons licensing because it shows the value of the licenses, and helps me collaborate with others. It also allows me to reach out to traditional publishers and give them information about alternative licensing options.

This year I’m translating the book “Made with Creative Commons” by Paul Stacey and Sarah Pearson. It’s about open business models, and contains interviews and analyses by Creative Commons staff. I’m interested in this project because I want to experiment with a new model. Instead of working with traditional publishers, I wanted to team up with people interested in publishing online, under Creative Commons licenses, doing independent publishing. My hope is to develop this into other projects in other languages.

via CTRL ALT DEL books

Knowledge as a human right

When I think about what a vibrant Commons means, I like to use the analogy of a river. Keeping the Commons vibrant is like keeping the river in your neighborhood safe and clean, so that anyone can drink and make use of it. Everyone understands that access to safe water is vital to the health of the community.

In this digital era, access to information and knowledge is becoming critical to survival and the well-being of society.

To me, supporting the Commons is like protecting the environment and protecting human rights. Restrictive copyright systems, capitalism, and monetization of knowledge and information have increasingly become threats. Building a vibrant and sustainable Commons-based ecosystem is directly related to the sustainability and well-being of individuals in the world. It creates the foundation for more knowledge and creativity that others can be inspired by and build upon.

The post Access to knowledge is crucial to our well-being and survival appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Loup at May 10, 2018 08:20 PM

Global Voices
Social media platforms are ablaze as Turks say “enough” to President Erdogan

Thousands protest in Istanbul against corruption and Erdogan's government, December 2013. A banner with Fethullah Gulen and PM Erdogan's pictures reads “one is no better than the other”. Fulya Atalay for Demotix.

It took just a few hours for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to realise the mistake he made while speaking to the members of his party in Ankara on May 8.

Referring to himself first in the third person, President Erodgan said: “his foes have just one care – to destroy Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

He continued: “If one day our nation says ‘tamam’, then we will move to the side”.

In Turkish, “tamam” means “that's enough”. And that is exactly what Turks said in response to the president's pledge.

In tandem with Erdogan's outspoken political opponents, many members of the public at large took to Twitter to say “enough”. On May 8 and 9, #Tamam trended worldwide and across Turkey.

In retaliation, the hashtag “#Devam” meaning “continue” or “carry on” also started gaining influence. But the comparison of the two is nowhere near close.

Akin Unver, who is a Fellow of Cyber Research Program at the Centre for Economic and Foreign Policy Research tracked both hashtags and shared this:

We are certain. This is our final decision [The block below says: Are you sure you want to exit? Ok or Cancel

Others have called to remove Turkey's emergency rule — which Erdogan used as justification for early elections, currently scheduled for June 24 — in order to have free and fair elections in Turkey.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales used the hashtag as an opportunity to call on Erdogan to lift the ban on Wikipedia, which has been blocked for a year in Turkey.

#Tamam also made it to Instagram:

#TAMAM

A post shared by KIMAÇ ÇABUKER (@kimaccabuker) on

Authorities were quick to dismiss the rising support for “tamam” online and claimed posts were sent by bots associated with PKK and FETO.

AKP spokesman Mahir Unal said:

Most of the tweets with the hashtag TAMAM are posted from countries where FETÖ and PKK are active. They are bot accounts. We can understand Greece. But what about those at home?’

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın in a press conference on May 9 was quoted saying:

The attacks via social media bots will not come up with any results. We consider reality, not the virtual world. We believe our nation will say ‘continue’ instead. It is not important for us. Citizens will have the last word in the polls. 

While Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu used #Devam to stress that Turkey's future lies with President Erdogan.

We have big hopes and big love! In our blessed struggle for prosperous and stronger Turkey #carryon

Image text: Turkey is our common living space, common love, common past, common future

President Erdogan has ruled Turkey for 15 years. He has also called for snap elections, which will take place on June 24. If he secures victory in these elections, Erdogan will stay in power for the next seven years.

by Arzu Geybullayeva at May 10, 2018 04:27 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Billions Served? Human Rights in the Facebook Era

A protestor at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, during 2015 social media shutdowns. The poster reads “How many excuses more? Open Viber, Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook NOW.” Photo by Zaid Islam, used with permission.

This post draws on stories originally reported by Fernanda Canofre, Sahar Habib Ghazi, Ellie Ng (via Hong Kong Free Press), Dalia OthmanInji Pennu and Thant Sin.

During the 2011 Arab Uprisings, Facebook proved itself to be one of the most powerful technological catalysts for free speech and democratic mobilization that the world had ever seen. While it did not cause the uprisings, it was a critical driver of their growth.

In that same year, the number of Facebook users in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East (i.e. the “Global South”) surpassed the number of users in Europe in North America. From this moment on, it was truly a global platform, despite being a US company.

Since this time, it has become apparent that Facebook — along with many other social media platforms — can serve as a tool for citizens to speak out and defend their rights. But governments have also awoken to the fact social media can serve their own interests and gains, from monitoring people's activities and behavior to promoting political campaigns or ideologies.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Facebook's F8 conference. Photo by pestoverde via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Global Voices community knows these dynamics all too well. As a community of writers and activists, we’ve faced censorship, harassment and direct threats because of our activism on Facebook since the early days of the platform. We’ve been writing about these experiences for more than a decade.

We also know that for Facebook, and for anyone trying to understand how tech platforms and policies interact with free speech, privacy and other civil and political rights, past experience is instructive.

Here is a look back at some of our most influential coverage of hate speech, harassment, and political censorship on the world’s largest social network.

For a full list of past stories, visit our Facebook coverage archive.

Women in Kerala protest in solidarity with the girls who were raped and lynched in UttarPradesh, India. Photo by Sthreekoottayma, used with permission.

 

For Indian activists, “real” names can have real-life consequences

In 2015, after a woman activist in southern India became a top target for sexual harassment and threats of violence on Facebook, her account was suspended. Someone had reported her for violating the company's “authentic identity” (or “real name”) policy. With no warning, she was instantly locked out. And the only way she could regain access to her account was by sending Facebook some form of official ID. With no other option, this is what she did.

Facebook reinstated her page using her full name, which included her caste name. She had never used her caste name on her Facebook page, or anywhere else in her public identity. This left her more exposed and subjected to harassment than ever before.

In concert with a coalition of digital rights and LGBT groups, Global Voices co-authored a letter to Facebook identifying the multiple issues that this case raised, concerning the abuse of Facebook's systems, and the company's lack of cultural sensitivity on the question of what constitutes a “real name” or “authentic identity”.

Today, users can no longer be instantly suspended over a single report of “authentic identity” policy abuse. But the company still has a long way to go in resolving the question of how to respect the personhood users who are not known by their legal names.

This work taught us a great deal about the complexities of identity within the internet. How does a technology determine who is a “real” person? How do ideas like citizenship and nation take shape online, especially when ethnic and territorial disputes are in play?

Our coverage of Palestine and Israel regularly touches upon these questions, both online and off.

 

Palestine: Hate speech and the digitization of occupation

During the 2014 war in Gaza, a Facebook page called “Until our boys are returned – we will kill a terrorist every hour” became immensely popular. The page featured multiple posts in Hebrew calling for violence against Palestinians and Arabs, including a post that called on readers to “burn Gaza” and bring “death to the Arabs.”

Despite many formal abuse reports filed by Facebook users, the page was not taken down for more than three weeks. When Global Voices writers spoke about it with Facebook staff, they did not directly address the page in question. They simply reiterated their commitment to their Community Standards.

Since this time, we have seen periodic media coverage of meetings taking place between Facebook staff and Israeli government representatives. What little information we have has left us concerned that Facebook may be employing a double standard on behalf of the Israeli government. A rapid rise in arrests of Arab and Palestinian Facebook users for their postings has contributed to these concerns as well.

 

A widely shared illustration comparing the “world view” or international perspective on the conflict with “reality”. Screenshot from Twitter, September 4.

In Myanmar, Facebook should ‘focus on context, rather than code’

In Myanmar, social media networks in the country exploded with hate speech, fake news photos, and racist narratives when the Myanmar military clashed with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in August 2017 and launched ‘clearance operations’ in the villages of Rakhine state, forcing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee the country.

During this time, ample anti-Rohingya propaganda spread online. Rohingya people and others who sought to protect them faced direct threats of violence on Facebook. As has been widely reported since the Zuckerberg hearings, when Burmese civil society groups asked Facebook to help by removing these threatening posts, the company was painfully slow to respond.

One tactic Facebook has tried to deploy in the country was an automatic censorship technique that removed all posts containing the word “kalar” or ကုလား (in Burmese script), a term used by ultra-nationalists and religious fundamentalists to attack Muslims in Myanmar. Users in Myanmar discovered this tactic when they found any post containing the word — including those discussing use of the word, or even posts with words that contained the word kalar (ie “kalarkaar”, which means curtain) — had been removed and labeled as hate speech.

In response, Global Voices’ Thant Sin wrote: “instead of simply deciding to censor the word “kalar”, [Facebook] should have reviewed and learned from ongoing initiatives that aim to combat online hate speech in Myanmar that focus on context, rather than code.”

 

Censoring Tiananmen: Facebook activism in Hong Kong

The “Special Administrative Region” of Hong Kong represents another complex territory when it comes to the adjudication of speech on social media. While the government in mainland China employs an aggressive censorship regime in which Facebook is blocked altogether, the network is accessible and popular in Hong Kong, especially among pro-democracy activists.

The distinction between these territories is regularly tested when citizens attempt to discuss politically sensitive topics. The 1989 massacre of student protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square might be one of the most enduring of such topics.

In 2017, our partners at Hong Kong Free Press co-published with us a story of about Fung Ka Keung, a leader of Hong Kong's teachers’ union who created a temporary profile picture frame commemorating the mass killing of student protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, in 1989.

Fung Ka Keung (right) and the June 4 profile picture frame. Photo: Fung Ka Keung/HK Alliance, via Facebook.

Within 24 hours, Fung Ka Keung received a notification from Facebook saying that his frame was rejected, for failing to meet the company’s terms and policies. Fung received a message from Facebook explaining that the frame “belittles, threatens or attacks a particular person, legal entity, nationality or group.”

After the incident was reported in local media, the social media giant issued an apology and approved the original frame. Why did Facebook reject the frame? Many speculated that it might was not just a simple error, but rather an attempt to kow tow to mainland China, where Facebook has been blocked since 2009.

Alongside activism and content that is intentionally political, stories or even rumors on Facebook can escalate to situations of vigilante violence or real-life harm. Our final story looks at one such incident that took place in Brazil in 2014.

Killed by a lynch mob, and a false rumor

In Brazil, Fabiane Maria de Jesus died at the hands of a lynch mob driven by a series of vicious online rumors, which rapidly escalated on Facebook.

Alerts about a woman who allegedly had been kidnapping children in the seaside resort town of Guarujá, in Brazil, were sent to 24,000 people through the Facebook page Guarujá Alerta (Guaruja Alert). The alert included a sketch, which closely resembled de Jesus. When one user erroneously suggested that the woman in the sketch was de Jesus, online outrage escalated into a real-life lynch mob.

Local police had no records of missing children at that time. The sketch was from a different child kidnapping case from 2012 in Rio de Janeiro and had appeared, also on Facebook, in several different contexts, and was falsely linked to crimes in other Brazilian states.

According to A Tarde newspaper, a group of friends of one of the suspects united to protest in front of the police department. The group yelled:

Quer prender todo mundo? A culpa é de todo mundo! A culpa é de ninguém! A culpa é da internet!

Do you want to arrest everybody? It’s everybody’s fault! It’s nobody’s fault! It’s the internet’s fault!

 

For a full list of past stories, visit our Facebook coverage archive.

by Ellery Roberts Biddle at May 10, 2018 02:37 PM

Montenegrins protest the latest armed attack on journalist, demand end to impunity

“Stop the violence” protest in Podgorica, 9 May 2018. Photo by Damira Kalac, used with permission.

Montenegrin journalist Olivera Lakić was shot in the leg on May 8, in what appeared to be a targeted attack.

On May 9, several hundred people protested in the capital city of Podgorica, demanding end to impunity for violent crimes and life without fear.

Unknown perpetrators shot Lakic, a journalist with the daily news outlet Vijesti in front of her apartment building in the center of Montenegrin capital. After she fell wounded on the pavement, she saw two men running away. Vijesti reported that while she has to remain in hospital, the wound to her right leg is not considered life-threatening.

With about 643,000 inhabitants, Montenegro is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Since 1991, the Balkan country had been ruled by the same political elite, headed by current president-elect Milo Đukanović. Journalists who report on crime, corruption, business and politics say that intimidation and direct threats are not uncommon.

Balkan Insight reported that Lakic has been attacked in the past. In 2012, she was physically attacked by a man in front of her apartment building, shortly after she had reported on the activities of the Montenegrin Tobacco Company.

Similar to other journalists covering corruption issues in the region, she had been receiving death treats for years.

Local police announced they've “blocked the city,” but no suspects have been apprehended yet.

Journalist Sloba Georgiev compared the situation with that of Slovakia, where massive protests after the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak triggered the resignation of Prime Minister Róbert Fico.

The intensive smear campaign by the Montenegrin authorities against all who express different opinions created fertile ground for a murderer to step out from the dark and shoot our female colleague from Vijesti.

Citizens of Montenegro should react too, maybe like the citizens of Slovakia did.

Association of Professional Journalists of Montenegro (DPNCG) called for protest in front of the government on May 9, noting that:

Bezbroj nerazjašnjenih napada, od kojih neki I ubrzo zastarjevaju, kao posljedicu imaju atmosferu gdje sačekuša novinaki ispred zgrade nije ništa neobično iako je već viđeno. Zabrinutost je tim veća jer se ovaj put koristi oružje, što je do sada bio slučaj samo prilikom ubistva Duška Jovanovića…

Countless unsolved instances of attacks, including some which soon become obsolete [i.e. the authorities are no longer required by law to resolve them], create an atmosphere where ambushing a female journalist in front of her home becomes nothing unusual, but a regular event. We are even more concerned in this case because a firearm was used. The only other time this has happened was in the murder of Duško Jovanović…

Social media users from Montenegro are using the hashtag #BezStraha, meaning “Without Fear” when posting about the attack and the protest.

Several hundred people, including journalists, opposition party members and civil society activists joined the May 9 protest in front of the government. Vijesti Director Željko Ivanović said that such crimes are not surprising in a society where all critics of the government of Milo Đukanović are defamed as traitors.

Tweet: Photo story from the civic protest due to the attack on Vijesti journalist Olivera Lakić. #WithoutFear
Signs: “The situation is extraordinary/emergency” [pun]; “Stop the violence”; “For life without fear”; “It's not a standard to get a bomb per capita”;

At the protest, Ivanović said that this attack would not have had happened if the authorities had conducted a proper investigation of the 2012 attack on Lakic. According to him, the institutions gave the impression that they had solved the previous attack on Olivera Lakić by arresting some “lowlife from the suburbs”, but had never identified who ordered the attack on the journalist.

“Olivera Lakić shot: Someone will have to answer for this in the future” – screenshot of a page from Vijesti website.

Nikola Marković, head of the Commission for Investigating Attacks on Journalists, said that they have been warning that a backlog of unsolved cases enables impunity. “None of the cases of attacks against ‘Vijesti’ had been solved properly,” he said at the protest.

Several hundred citizens gathered in front of the Government of Montenegro to express their dissatisfaction with the latest attack on our colleague Olivera Lakić, journalist of Vijesti daily! #VilenceAgainstJournalists #FreedomOfMedia #Media #Montenegro

NGOs and citizens also contributed with their reactions:

The attack on the Vijesti journalist Olivera Lakić is an attack on the freedom of speech and investigative journalism in Montenegro, said executive director of the NGO Prima Aida Perović Ivanović.

Some citizens also criticized the insensitive statements of public officials, who focused on the gender and not the essence of the attack.

These assertions about this being an “attack on a Woman!” by Government Minister Nuhodžić and his team are horrifying.

Human being, Mr. Minister, a human being was attacked. An attack against a being. An attack against a profession. An attack against the truth. Not an attack on a sex or gender.

Others also criticized the turnout at the protest, which they considered too low.

At the protest, as expected – #Montenegro has no citizens.

 

by Marko Angelov at May 10, 2018 02:27 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/10/2018: Vimeo pivots from a place for watching, to tools for making video
The online video company Vimeo is switching gears, moving from being a place to watch videos … to being a place that helps people create videos. The company’s new CEO, Anjali Sud, was the person behind the pivot. She speaks with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about Vimeo's change in focus.

by Marketplace at May 10, 2018 11:30 AM

May 09, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Cambodia's last independent news site sold to PR firm that worked for the ruling party

Phnom Penh Post Facebook cover photo

Several editors and staff reporters of Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post resigned after expressing concern that the sale of the 26-year old newspaper to a Malaysian public relations executive would undermine its editorial independence.

Phnom Penh Post was recently bought by Sivakumar S Ganapathy, who is the managing director of Malaysia-based ASIA PR company.

Staff at the Phnom Penh Post published a news article about the sale, which described the business profile and interests of ASIA PR and mentioned that the company completed a project entitled “Cambodia and Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat.”

The project appears to have been conducted on behalf of Cambodian incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for three decades. ASIA PR's website does not offer further details about the project.

Representatives of the newspaper’s new owners asked the editor-in-chief, Kay Kimsong, to remove the article, alleging that it contained “factual errors”.

Kay Kimsong refused and was fired as a result. Other editors and foreign reporters of the paper have resigned in protest.

The article was soon removed from the website but it has been saved and reposted online.

The newly resigned Phnom Penh Post editors took to social media to expose how the editorial policy of the new management could undermine freedom of the press in Cambodia.

Cambodia's last independent news site

Phnom Penh Post has been widely regarded as Cambodia’s only independent professional news site since the government shut down dozens of radio stations over tax and licensing issues in 2017. Cambodia Daily, a major English language daily, was forced to close operations after it was slapped with a hefty tax.

The selling of Phnom Penh Post to a company with alleged links to the ruling party has worried many groups, including the political opposition. Many fear that it will completely stifle criticism and press freedom in the country.

This is happening at a time when people with dissenting views are being detained, the opposition party is facing legal persecution, and Hun Sen is being accused of suppressing free speech ahead of upcoming general elections.

Chak Sopheap of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights paid tribute to Phnom Penh Post while highlighting the implications of changing the paper’s editorial independence and integrity:

It is difficult to overestimate the crucial role that the Post has played in Cambodia over the years. It has consistently spoken truth to power, fearlessly exposed corruption, and unflinchingly held a mirror to Cambodian society – often revealing uncomfortable truths.

Cambodian democracy and its pillars – press freedom and civil society – lie in ruins.

by Mong Palatino at May 09, 2018 02:00 PM

Global Voices
Cambodia's last independent news site sold to PR firm that worked for the ruling party

Phnom Penh Post Facebook cover photo

Several editors and staff reporters of Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post resigned after expressing concern that the sale of the 26-year old newspaper to a Malaysian public relations executive would undermine its editorial independence.

Phnom Penh Post was recently bought by Sivakumar S Ganapathy, who is the managing director of Malaysia-based ASIA PR company.

Staff at the Phnom Penh Post published a news article about the sale, which described the business profile and interests of ASIA PR and mentioned that the company completed a project entitled “Cambodia and Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat.”

The project appears to have been conducted on behalf of Cambodian incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for three decades. ASIA PR's website does not offer further details about the project.

Representatives of the newspaper’s new owners asked the editor-in-chief, Kay Kimsong, to remove the article, alleging that it contained “factual errors”.

Kay Kimsong refused and was fired as a result. Other editors and foreign reporters of the paper have resigned in protest.

The article was soon removed from the website but it has been saved and reposted online.

The newly resigned Phnom Penh Post editors took to social media to expose how the editorial policy of the new management could undermine freedom of the press in Cambodia.

Cambodia's last independent news site

Phnom Penh Post has been widely regarded as Cambodia’s only independent professional news site since the government shut down dozens of radio stations over tax and licensing issues in 2017. Cambodia Daily, a major English language daily, was forced to close operations after it was slapped with a hefty tax.

The selling of Phnom Penh Post to a company with alleged links to the ruling party has worried many groups, including the political opposition. Many fear that it will completely stifle criticism and press freedom in the country.

This is happening at a time when people with dissenting views are being detained, the opposition party is facing legal persecution, and Hun Sen is being accused of suppressing free speech ahead of upcoming general elections.

Chak Sopheap of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights paid tribute to Phnom Penh Post while highlighting the implications of changing the paper’s editorial independence and integrity:

It is difficult to overestimate the crucial role that the Post has played in Cambodia over the years. It has consistently spoken truth to power, fearlessly exposed corruption, and unflinchingly held a mirror to Cambodian society – often revealing uncomfortable truths.

Cambodian democracy and its pillars – press freedom and civil society – lie in ruins.

by Mong Palatino at May 09, 2018 01:58 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Uzbekistan releases its “last detained journalists”

Bobomurod Abdulloev, Uzbek journalist. Photo by Radio Ozodlik

Once known as one of the world’s most despotic regimes, Uzbekistan continues to move closer to a free society since new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in September 2016.

On May 7, 2018, the former Soviet Central Asian republic freed two journalists, Bobomurod Abdulloev and Hayot Nasriddinov, who were detained in September and October 2017 for “anti-constitutional activities”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed this move by the Uzbek authorities and declared that for the first time in last two decades there are no journalists left behind bars in Uzbekistan. Other international organizations also expressed their approval of the move. The international community had been keeping a special eye on this case, as it was the first time since the arrival of Uzbekistan's new president that journalists had been detained in the country.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, welcomed their release and urged that “all remaining charges should be dropped.”

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan had been ruled by the iron-handed Islam Karimov, until he died in September 2016. Karimov’s long-serving Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev replaced his late boss, launched some economic and political reforms at home, and catalyzed changes in regional integration. Among the political changes was the release of several political prisoners who had served decades in prison. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five journalists, not including the two released this week, were also freed in the past one and a half years.

It was during this period of political reform that journalists Bobomurod Abdulloev and Hayot Nasriddinov were detained on the same charges Islam Karimov’s regime had used to imprison political opponents and journalists for years. The outcome of this case would show whether President Mirziyoyev was committed to continuing his reforms and an open-door policy or just temporarily playing the role of “good cop” to win people’s support for his internal political battles.

The detained journalists were charged with writing articles calling for the violent overthrow of the regime in Uzbekistan under a pseudonym. The journalists recognized that their articles had raised problems, but denied that this included calls to violence.

When security forces officers in charge with investigating the case became themselves embroiled in a power struggle between the powerful former head of Uzbekistan’s security forces, Rustam Inoyatov, and the new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, many hoped that the journalists Abdulloev and Nasriddinov would be freed.

On May 7, the court acquitted Hayot Nasriddinov of all charges, but found Abdullaev guilty of “extremism”, sentencing the journalist to three years of community service. The judge released both directly from the courtroom.

Minutes after breathing in the air of freedom and hugging his family members, Abdullaev gave an interview to his local colleagues, saying:

The fact that I am free now, and the fact that the court hearing was open, are fruits of the liberal politics of the President Mirziyoyev.

Uzbekistan, like many other former Soviet republics, is a country where even small political moves are subject to the ruler’s approval.

As CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova commented:

Now that the country has freed its press from physical custody, authorities must build on this progress to ensure that the media are able to do their job independently and without fear of reprisal.

by Salam Aleik at May 09, 2018 01:41 PM

Creative Commons
Red Alert for Net Neutrality

Today Creative Commons is joining dozens of organisations in the Red Alert for Net Neutrality. The action calls on individuals to contact Congress with phone calls, emails, and tweets in support of the upcoming Senate vote on a Congressional Review Act resolution to block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality.

The open internet protections must be restored.  Contact Congress now!

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a mechanism that gives Congress the power to reverse federal regulation by passing a resolution of disapproval. The CRA action must be taken within 60 legislative days of enactment of the regulation, and must meet a simple majority. Today Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) submitted a petition to force action on the measure, and a Senate vote could be taken as early as next week.

There are already 50 Senators lined up in favor of blocking the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, but 51 votes are needed for the resolution to pass. Winning the Senate vote on the CRA will be essential for building momentum for the fight in the House. And advocates want to put net neutrality front and center with Congress and make them weigh in on this critical issue, especially considering the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. According to a December 2017 poll, 83% of respondents supported keeping the net neutrality rules, including 75% of Republicans, 89% of Democrats, and 86% of independents. Thousands of businesses already signed a letter to support the CRA to save net neutrality.

There are over 1.4 billion CC-licensed works online, shared freely with anyone with access to the internet. We advocate for a strong digital commons of creativity and knowledge, but open content is only one piece of the puzzle. The open internet is central to so many aspects of everyday life—from accessing education and news, communicating with friends and family, enjoying diverse entertainment like movies and music, and collaborating on global projects like Wikipedia.

Several lawsuits are making their way through the courts, and states have been introducing their own bills to protect net neutrality. But now is the time to reach out to your Senators and tell them to support the upcoming CRA resolution to block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality.

It’s important to act now to save net neutrality. The Senate vote could happen soon. 

The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality is opposite of what the public wants. Instead of dismantling the rules, we should be protecting and extending reasonable consumer protections that kickstart creativity, fuel innovation, and improve access to information online.

 

The post Red Alert for Net Neutrality appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at May 09, 2018 01:00 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/09/2018: When a government agency meets politics, what happens to tech?
Mignon Clyburn has been a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission for nine years — which is forever if you think of how technology has changed in that period.  During her tenure, she’s been a staunch advocate for consumers, backing net neutrality rules and an expansion of the Lifeline Program. But some of the policies she backed have since been reversed. Commissioner Clyburn spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about her tenure at the FCC — and the partisan nature of the agency.

by Marketplace at May 09, 2018 11:12 AM

Global Voices
An uneven playing field for female candidates in Sri Lanka

Image via Groundviews.

This post by Amalini De Sayrah and Raisa Wickrematunge originally appeared on Groundviews, an award-winning citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka. An edited version is published below as part of a content-sharing agreement with Global Voices.

February 2018 saw the implementation of a 25% quota for women's representation in local councils in Sri Lanka's Government Election. This was seen as a welcome move, especially by women's rights groups who had been advocating for the change for many years. However, in the lead up to polling, election observers such as the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence recorded several instances of intimidation, harassment and slander leveled against female candidates. These ranged from attempting to deter possible candidates from seeking nominations to violence that directly threatened their safety once they had been included on party lists.

There were several documented instances of outright violence. A candidate in Embilipitiya saw her house attacked with stones. In Welikanda, a candidate was admitted to the hospital after being sexually assaulted by a supporter. A candidate running for the Kotte Municipal Council seat filed a false complaint with the police against a female candidate. Groups supported by a regional MP gagged a candidate in a house in Mullaitivu, threatening the safety of her and her daughter if she did not withdraw her nomination.

A number of attacks were organised by male candidates, election observers noted. Religious clerics also carried out sustained campaigns against the participation of women in politics. These incidents of violence were strongly condemned by rights groups as undermining the importance of female representation in politics.

While physical harm and threats to property have been widely recorded, a form of violence experienced by candidates that is not often spoken about is what the Association for Progressive Communication has termed ‘technology-related violence against women’. APC’s definition includes social media platforms, but also extends to threatening phone calls and messages. In addition, violence occurring online or via technology can extend offline as well, at times resulting in physical violence in addition to psychological and emotional harm.

These are the stories of female politicians who have experienced harassment through a range of technology and social media. This constitutes only a portion of the violence and intimidation, which often extended offline, that targeted their work and campaigns.

Jegatheeswaram Jeyachandrika

Jegatheeswaram Jeyachandrika. Image via GroundViews

Contesting under the UNP for the Arayampathy ward in Batticaloa, Jegatheeswaram Jeyachandrika, or Meena as she is known, counts the threats she has received on her fingers. There was the time people threw stones.

She complained to the Kattankudy police — but no investigations followed.

Then, there are the Facebook posts. She shows us one using a photograph of her in a group of men. Meena has been circled in red.

We opened some new shops that day, part of a collective project. This post implies that I was the mistress of one of the other ministers in that picture.

All of the women volunteering for her campaign left after this surfaced, presumably due to the fear that they would be the targets of similar content if they continued to work with her.

“There is no safety for us”, she notes, referring to herself and the many female candidates who have been subjects of targeted attacks like this in the lead up to the Local Government Elections.

The series of attacks against her began when nominations were taken. She sent a
letter to the Election Commission detailing all of it, but has not received a response.

Meena notices the double standards in society’s reactions to female and male politicians:

I expected nearly a 1000 votes. Because of the slander and harassment in real life, that number fell by more than half. Now, I’m left with my 333 votes, and a file full of printouts of the harassment that I have received online.

Rosy Senanayake

According to Rosy Senanayake, who was officially appointed the first female mayor of Colombo:

Rosy Senanayake. Image via Groundviews

In the 21st century, the digital sphere nearly outweighs that of physical human interaction.

She notes that the troubling phenomenon of women facing harassment online occurs across all strata of society, and across age groups, from young teenagers to grown women.

Commentary on the internet, beginning on Facebook groups that post memes, eventually find their way to WhatsApp groups that circulate inaccurate messages very far and fast.

Derogatory statements meant to demoralise me are usually fabricated to paint me as a person not worthy of being a politician.

Senanayake added that the content often criticised her for not being held accountable for things that are beyond her mandate and control. Individuals who have received these messages through their networks often approach her to tell her she does not have their vote. There were also memes attacking Senanayake on the basis of her age and gender.

There is conversely a lot of support for Senanayake on social media too, she acknowledges. On her Facebook page, many commenters also express gratitude to her for her work. She notes also that social media has proved both inexpensive and effective as a campaign tool, allowing her to reach a wide range of people, including a younger demographic that traditional advertising would otherwise miss.

We used social media to push out my manifesto and policies, but a lot of the comments and criticisms on social media are not for any constructive purpose. It is a double-edged sword.

Jeevanee Kariyawasam

Jeevanee Kariyawasam. Image via Groundviews

When you’re having a conversation, your message might reach four or five people. With technology acting as a mouthpiece, you can reach thousands at a time. And when you don’t see the person you’re speaking to in front of you, people feel they can say whatever they want.

Chilaw UC member and attorney-at-law Jeevanee Kariyawasam notes that the cloak of anonymity often enjoyed by people on the Internet leads to offline threats and harassment as well. Her decision to enter the political fraternity has also led to her family being targeted as well.

My mother would get phone calls from people threatening to kill her and warning her not to step out of the house, and further threatening her if she lodged official complaints about them.

She received strong backlash when she published a Facebook post that criticised the General Secretary of Buddhist hardliner group Bodu Bala Sena, Gnanasara Thero and Ampitiya Sumana Thero from Batticaloa, both of them known for rhetoric encouraging hate and indeed violence against religious minorities, and Muslims in particular.

‘These attacks are being carried out against us by people who know us and know things about us. Gnanasara’s goons don’t have time to be sifting through my posts online.’

Bisliya Bhutto

Bisliya Bhutto. Image via Groundviews

Initially, Bisliya, a women’s rights activist and a researcher of female participation in politics based in Puttalam, didn’t want to enter the arena herself. Her interests lay in working to get more women elected in the first place. Yet one of her mentors submitted her name for nomination. She decided to pursue it, knowing full well the problems she would face as a result.

Bisliya says that the harassment she has faced includes the police, who barge into the homes of female candidates in the middle of the night. They accuse the women of printing counterfeit money, solely because they own a computer. They also make claims that the women possess weapons.

A new dimension to this harassment is rapidly emerging with the emergence of religious clerics condemning female participation in politics. Several women’s rights groups have dispatched letters to the Inspector General of Police in this regard.

Bisliya’s phone is full of videos of these speeches.

Niyas Moulavi makes speeches at various forums, stating that women who stand for elections are not true Muslim women. He accuses them of not having any respect for traditions and addresses the public in saying that they can’t even be called candidates, they are ‘loose women’

The speeches are distributed on Facebook and WhatsApp. One of the Moulavi’s supporters or employees, a man named Hizney, does not fail to send her all these sermons directly to her on Facebook Messenger.

‘Support for me dropped after these videos started being shared. I’m lucky that my husband is supportive’

The general expectation is that more women would come into politics. But the ground reality is different. When the female candidates are harassed they receive no support or justice. Meena says:

We are left wondering if we are wasting our time.

by GroundViews at May 09, 2018 02:52 AM

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
Announcing the 2018 Cohort of LIL Summer Fellows

Each summer brings to LIL a new cohort of Summer Fellows to inspire and challenge us with their visions of what libraries make possible.

Over the past two summers, we've learned with and from these colleagues about building online collections of local news stories (Alexander Nwala), connecting citizens of Nigeria with information about human rights law (Jake Effoduh), exploring the Guantanamo Detainee Library (Muira McCammon), creating high fidelity web archives (Ilya Kreymer), imagining Palestine-Israel through maps (Zena Agha) and many other things (more about our previous cohorts here, here and here.

Next month, we'll welcome eight new Summer Fellows to LIL:

  • Hannah Brinkmann - Hannah is a comic artist and student at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, Germany. She'll be connecting with our Nuremberg Trials Project and our Library's foreign collections to develop a graphic novel about "conscience trials" in Germany.

  • Alexandra Dolan-Mescal - Alexandra is a UX designer focused on ethics in design and research. She'll be developing a social media data label system inspired by the Traditional Knowledge Labels project.

  • Tim Walsh - Tim is a digital archivist and programmer. He'll be working on tools to help librarians and archivists manage sensitive personal information in digital archives.

  • Carrie Bly - Carrie is an architect studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She'll be exploring connections and contrasts between library and garden classification systems.

  • Shira Feldman - Shira is an artist and writer. This summer she will be exploring the intersection of internet and art, and what it means to live in a networked, digital culture.

  • Kendra Greene - Kendra is a writer and researcher from Dallas. She'll be working on a book about dangerous library collections.

  • Evelin Heidel - Evelin (aka scann) is a teacher and open knowledge advocate from Argentina with deep experience in DIY digitization. She'll be developing learning resources to help small libraries, community archives, underrepresented groups and others build their own digital collections.

  • Franny Corry - Franny is a digital history researcher studying at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She'll be working this summer on combining personal narrative with web archives to collect social histories of the web.

We invited these eight explorers to join us after reviewing over 120 applications and conducting roughly 60 interviews, including multiple interviews with all of the finalists. This year's applicant pool amazed and challenged us, and we are so grateful to everyone who applied and who helped spread the word about the opportunity. Thank you!

by Adam Ziegler at May 09, 2018 12:00 AM

May 08, 2018

Creative Commons
A Transformative Year: State of the Commons 2017

a-transformative-year

At this year’s Global Summit, board chair Molly Van Houweling emphasized that Creative Commons’ vision was not necessarily limited to the internet, but instead acts in support of the creative spirit that is enabled by the internet. As we announce a landmark 1.4 billion works under Creative Commons licenses with this year’s State of the Commons report, we are celebrating that creative spirit – the people and communities who work to enable the large scale global movement for the Commons.

growth of cc licenses

While Creative Commons provides tools and programs that enable sharing on the web – the licenses, legal work, and resources that we build and steward – that work is driven by a global community that works to enable a world that is more open and collaborative. Supported by our new community-driven network strategy, we provide support to projects and people with events, grants, and solidarity work on campaigns like Compartir no es Delito! (Sharing is not a crime!) and the fight for Net Neutrality.

policy-sotc

People, projects, and programs make up the bulk of this year’s report, but the data also supports our vision of a more creative, open world. 1.4 billion works is 200 million more than last year, and that growth has accelerated compared to the previous two years. To provide concrete examples: The Metropolitan Museum released 375,000 pieces of content under CC0 in February 2017. PLOS counts 7,000 editorial board members and 70,000+ volunteer peer reviewers to release 200,000 pieces of content. Wikipedia, one of our closest allies and partner in the “Big Open”, hosts 42 million freely licensed pieces of content. Our search tool has responded to 1,500,000 queries, and our website has been visited 50,000,000 times. And that’s only a part of our impact.

ccsearch

From our growing tech team to our usability initiative, we’re working smarter than ever to fulfill our organizational mandate of building a “vibrant, global Commons built on gratitude.” In order to compile this year’s report, we put out a call to our network to ask which people, country teams, and projects are making the biggest impact around the world. From Razan Al Hadid’s work to revive CC Jordan to Scann’s continued work for the public domain in Argentina, the Creative Commons community is made up of individuals working for a better world. (The fact that almost all the profiles are of women is just a happy accident for the UnCommon Women who carry the movement.)

uncommon-women

This year’s highlights include the launch of the CC Certificates program, the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund and Fellowship (awarded at the Global Summit), the new Rights Back Resource for creators to reclaim their creative work, and stories from teams as far away from each other as Tanzania, Canada, and Uruguay.

As usual, we’ll be translating the report with a team of volunteers over the next month, and spots are still available! Please get in touch if you’d like to translate.

By uplifting the stories of our friends and colleagues, we’re demonstrating what happens when communities champion each other’s work, and how we model the world we want to see. The report’s data is always fun, but it belies the depth of the humanity that underscores the commons.

As I’ve said before, “Creative Commons is made of people,” and this report tells their stories. Thank you again for all your support, and be sure to share out your impressions with the hashtag #sotc.

Visit the report

The post A Transformative Year: State of the Commons 2017 appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Ryan Merkley at May 08, 2018 05:22 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/08/2018: Should we be getting paid for providing data?

Facebook may be considering an ad-free subscription model that would let you pay to opt out of sharing your habits and personal information. But that raises the question: Why should we pay Facebook not to take our information instead of the other way around? A new book, called “Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society,” suggests that all of us are working as unpaid data laborers. Glen Weyl, one of the authors and a principal researcher at Microsoft, spoke about the topic with Marketplace’s Molly Wood.

 

by Marketplace at May 08, 2018 10:30 AM

May 07, 2018

Creative Commons
CC Summit Builds Momentum for Strengthening Author Rights; Global Rights Back Resource Announced

rights-back-resource

The Creative Commons 2018 Global Summit in Toronto brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to explore strategies for increasing author choices for managing their copyright, and included the announcement of the new Creative Commons Rights Back Resource (beta) that will provide authors worldwide with information about how to regain copyright previously assigned away.

To facilitate momentum on the tool, Creative Commons, SPARC Europe and Authors Alliance convened an in-depth workshop involving more than 60 attendees focused on Giving Authors Control: How to Retain and Regain Your Copyright.

sparc-europeVanessa Proudman, Director of SPARC Europe, framed the workshop looking at the current context, goals and challenges with rights management. She shared ten prerequisites for making open the default, and talked of how the community might best enable open for academics and readers. Among other highlights, she provided an overview of funder and government mandates for open access and identified key goals and challenges to enable open.

authors-allianceBrianna Schofield, Executive Director of Authors Alliance, highlighted and explained existing legal tools that help authors make sound publication decisions and regain control of their works, sharing thoughts on the value of doing so in support of authors making their works available in the ways they want. She explained the complicated nature of termination rights that authors have in the United States and resources that Creative Commons and Authors Alliance have developed to help them navigate those provisions. Michael Wolfe, formerly of Authors Alliance and now at the University of California, Davis, gave a live demonstration of how the www.rightsback.org termination of transfer tool can help authors determine whether they have reversionary rights.

Diane Peters, General Counsel of Creative Commons, described CC’s work in open access in support of a more vibrant and usable commons. She focused on work, generously funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, to develop improved authors addenda that authors can use to retain some rights to their scholarly articles when submitting to traditional, non OA publishers. She also announced the launch of a new legal tool under development and funded by Arcadia, the Rights Back Resource (beta). Authors and those who support them such as librarians will be able to consult the resource to understand reversionary and termination rights around the world.

Session attendees then broke into three working groups to conduct deep dives, exploring three important areas: knowledge gaps and what authors should know if they want to help change current open access practices by retaining rights; existing and future advocacy tools and campaigns that can affect real change in the OA ecosystem; and strategies for overcoming publisher obstacles to author tools. A complete list of resources, speaker presentations, and notes from the breakout working groups may be found here.

What’s Next

The three organizations plan to continue coordinating their respective efforts on new and existing legal tools, outreach, education and advocacy. This will include focusing on tangible ways to push ahead on ideas generated during the CC Summit session.

Creative Commons also welcomes contributions to the new international Rights Back Resource (beta). We need experts to identify and contribute information about reversionary and termination rights around the world. Our goal is provide a comprehensive resource where authors can learn about rights they may have to retake control over publication rights to their works that they previously assigned away. Please join CC in this effort and contribute information here.

We are also working on updates to the Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine and the addenda templates found there. An open questionnaire will be published soon with the goal of learning more about the needs and preferred terms of addenda to be used by scholars, authors and academics.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Summit session! We look forward to seeing your contributions.

The post CC Summit Builds Momentum for Strengthening Author Rights; Global Rights Back Resource Announced appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Diane Peters at May 07, 2018 09:02 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Moscow activists say telcos disrupted mobile coverage during protests, at order of police

Several activists complained about widespread network disruptions during the May 5 protests in Russia // Ervins Strauhmanis, Flickr CC BY 2.0, collage by Runet Echo

Two days before Vladimir Putin's official inauguration into his fourth term as the president of Russia, protests broke out across the country.

In multiple cities on May 5, crowds of protesters chanted the slogan “he is not a tsar to us.”

Many protesters were violently dispersed by riot police, with hundreds arrested, many of them teenagers.

It’s not a joke at all, cops are violently apprehending kids, which is a clear violation of the law.

At the height of the protests, several activists reported that their mobile phone signals became weak or non-existent. Some said Russian telecom operators were intentionally degrading the quality of service or even delisting their numbers at the orders of the authorities.

Mediazona, an independent online outlet which covers political trials and Russia’s prison systems, said their own reporter felt the consequences:

Yesterday Tele2 [one of Russia’s telecom operators] switched off both the cell phone coverage and the mobile internet access around Pushkinskaya square (our reporter felt it himself.) The operator blamed the disruptions on “quality of service improvement works” which happened to be held on May 5.

Mediazona attached to their tweet a screenshot of a chat between a Tele2 customer and the operator’s customer service department:

Tele2: Приносим извинения за неудобства, в компании проводились работы по улучшению качества связи, из-за чего могли возникать временные ограничения. На данный момент ограничений не зафиксировано. Возможно, что-то еще можем подсказать?
Абонент: улучшения вот прямо в определенном месте и в определенный момент? Я правильно понял?
Tele2: Да, в определенное время. Работы затрагивали указанный вами адрес. Подсказать что-то еще?

Tele2: Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience, our company was working on improving the quality of service which may have led to disruptions. There are no service disruptions at the moment. Is there anything else I could help you with?
Customer: You were improving the quality of your service in this particular place at this particular time? Did I get this right?
Tele2: Yes, it was this specific time period. The maintenance works affected the area you mentioned. Is there anything else I could help you with?

Activists also saw evidence of Beeline, Russia’s second largest telecom operator customer, de-listing phone numbers. Denis Styazhkin said the company de-listed his number on police orders:

Beeline finally unblocked my number and here’s their response: the number was blocked at the law enforcement’s request!!!!
Screenshot: Phone number [redacted], Denis Styazhkin. Why is it blocked?????
Response: Hello! Your number has been suspended at the law enforcement authorities’ request. It has already been unblocked.

In a statement to the press, a Beeline representative denied de-listing phone numbers on police orders, and claimed not to have de-listed Styazhkin's number. The company blamed the disruptions on network overload, and added that Styazhkin could have been blocked for violating the terms of service, not specifying a particular violation.

Other activists have also reported widespread network disruptions on multiple major telecom operators during the protests.

by RuNet Echo at May 07, 2018 02:41 PM

‘Peppa Pig’ has gotten too naughty for China's censors

Friendship between Peppa and Suzy has been interpreted as plastic or fake by some Chinese netizens. Screen capture from a Peppa Pig derivative video.

The latest addition to China's extensive list of censored cultural products and programs is the objectively adorable cartoon pig Peppa.

The popular video platform Douyan recently put Peppa Pig, a children's cartoon mega star, on its censorship list. The company removed more than 30,000 videos of the cheerful pink character and made the term “Peppa Pig” unsearchable on its website.

What could the precocious pink pig possible have done to land herself on the censorship list? Has she disrupted China's Harmonious Society?

In April 2018, commentary on state and party media outlets Xinhua and People’s Daily hinted that the ban might be imminent. One commentator from party-affiliated news outlets criticized a certain subculture that makes an association between Peppa Pig and “Shehuiren”, a term that is literally translated as “man in the society” and refers to hooligans with a triad background. In China, a triad is commonly known as a branch of any one of a number of transnational organized crime syndicates.

The commentary from People's Daily said:

在‘社会人’的路上越走越远,不少人也担忧:‘小猪佩奇会被玩坏了’。时下,不少中小学生以此标新立异,一些人以穿戴小猪佩奇的服饰、手表等互相攀比,更有甚者,少数不法商家假冒仿制相关产品,攫取利益,这些不利于文化产业健康发展的因素,需要警惕。毕竟,小猪佩奇再社会,也不能毁掉了孩子的童年,不能逾越规则和底线。

The more Peppa Pig is associated with Shehuiren, the more people worried that Peppa Pig would be destroyed. Quite a number of primary and junior high school students are showing off with their Peppa Pig accessories. Some are even taking advantage of the subculture by selling counterfeit products to make a profit. We should be wary of these kinds of subcultures. We should not let Peppa Pig ruin kids’ childhoods, flout the rules and disregard the bottom line.

The state-run China Central Television officially imported the Peppa Pig series into mainland China in August 2015. It was subsequently shown on the online video platforms Youku and Aiqiyi. Within a year, the cartoon was screened more than 10 billion times. On Youku alone, Peppa Pig has garnered more than six million daily views.

Peppa Pig derivatives

Without a doubt, Peppa Pig is a popular cartoon among kids. But in China, teenagers and young adults are her biggest fans. This is because they are not watching the original version of the show, but rather an ongoing series of “derivative works” featuring the animation from the Peppa Pig program, but with dubbing in different Chinese dialects, with different language.

The YouTube video below is one of the most popular Cantonese-dubbed Peppa Pig episodes:

Drawn from an episode in which Peppa and Suzy Sheep get into an argument, the video is dubbed with adult language. The story line instead has Peppa and Suzy competing for the attention of prospective boyfriends.

Naturally, these derivatives can easily fall into the category of vulgar content, as defined by related state regulations for online content.

But however naughty these videos might be, they have existed for years without facing a problem, making Douyan’s ban seem more of a reaction to state mouthpieces’ ideological critique of the Peppa Pig/Shehuiren crossover subculture, and the affiliated emergence of Peppa Pig products like stickers, watches, and mobile phone covers.

Peppa pig tattoo. Screen capture from viral video.

The culture emerged towards the end of 2017, when a viral video that showed a drawing of Peppa Pig on a man’s back triggered a chain reaction of the video memes on various platforms, giving birth to a popular expression:

小猪佩奇身上纹,掌声送给社会人

Wear a Peppa pig tattoo, Shehuiren receives applause.

An earlier version of the expression linking Shehuiren to hooligan culture also went viral on various video platforms:

关公踏马身上纹,掌声送给社会人

Wear a Guan Yu tattoo, Shehuiren receives applause.

Guan Yu is a historical figure worshiped by Chinese underground criminal society. Since the meme was attached to videos which reflected Shehuiren characteristics, the term has since evolved into the mockery of video platform users who don’t follow mainstream work ethics.

The symbolism of Peppa Pig

One comment from Sina Tech, however, pointed out that a majority of people who embrace the Peppa Pig/Shehuiren crossover are young adults who follow rules and regulations:

在大城市中奋斗的人们,焦虑和压迫感是时刻存在的,你可能有意识想反抗一些自己看不惯的东西,但最后还是悲哀地选择了顺从,叛逆感日积月累,又得不到发泄也无法挣脱,于是只能通过小猪佩奇手表这种社会人身份的认可来营造一种假象——成为一个随性不羁且无所顾忌的“社会人”。

Those who work in big cities often feel repressed and anxious. They may want to resist, but eventually they have to obey. The tension keeps mounting and they end up using Peppa Pig to express their aspiration of being a Shehuiren — a person who follows their heart regardless of social norms.

One user offered a similar sentiment in a Weibo comment about a Peppa Pig watch :

自从买了社会人小猪佩奇手表,终于感觉我是一个社会人了,拥有这个表,我感觉走路都带风了。不仅仅是一块表,不仅仅是社会人的身份地位的象… ​​​​

Since I have bought a Peppa Pig Shehuiren watch, I feel that I am a Shehuiren. With this watch, wind follows me while I walk. This is not only a watch, but a symbol of Shehuiren status…

On Zhihu, China’s most popular question and answer platform, many netizens have expressed their belief that Peppa Pig’s crossover with Shehuiren is a mockery of social norms — economic power, hypocrisy and family background — in mainland China. Some of their interpretations of Peppa’s social status include:

1. Peppa’s family is rich — they live in a villa.
2. Peppa is plastic — she is cheerful, confident, carefree and never has to worry about money.
3. Peppa’s mother is second generation rich — her parents live in a villa with a big garden and a yacht. Peppa’s mother knows how to play the violin and speaks French.

Both the hooligan culture and the critique of social norms can be seen as subversive to China's vision of a Harmonious Society. This subculture also has a huge impact on the cultural economy.

The Global Times reported that on Taobao, China's largest e-commerce website, one online shop sold 30,000 Peppa Pig/Shehuiren tattoo stickers and 110,000 Peppa Pig-themed watches in just one month. The China-based distributor of Peppa Pig has seen its copyright revenue escalate, while the UK-based Entertainment One announced that the sales revenue from product authorization in China achieved a growth of more than 700% in the first half of 2017 — and the Chinese market has kept right on expanding.

However, Douyan's ban signals that the Chinese censorship authorities have the power to crush the cultural market if Peppa Pig or any other foreign-owned cartoon characters become too naughty.

by Oiwan Lam at May 07, 2018 02:29 PM

Global Voices
‘Get involved in your communities': An American woman who fought for justice urges stronger activism

A Journey for Justice in the Americas, Part 3: Katrina Johnson's story

American human rights activist Katrina Johnson wears a t-shirt emblazoned with the hashtag #SayHerName. It is part of a wider campaign by Amnesty International (using another hashtag, #SheStands4Justice), which draws attention to the issue of police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the Americas. Photo by Mario Allen, courtesy Amnesty International, used with permission.

This is the final instalment in a three-part series that features three women — from Jamaica, Brazil and the United States — brought together to highlight the issue of police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the Americas, with the hashtag #SheStands4Justice. They visited Kingston, Jamaica recently to share their thoughts in the aftermath of the death of a family member. Read the first part here and the second part here.

In March 2018, Seattle, Washington resident Katrina Johnson — along with Brazilian activist Ana Paula Oliveira and Kingston-born Shackelia Jackson — visited Jamaica as part of an Amnesty International campaign that was supported by local human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice.

Dubbed “A Journey for Justice in the Americas”, the campaign focused on the persistent legal, social and psychological challenges that many families face after a relative is killed by the police. While the shock of the death itself is bad enough, grief-stricken relatives often find the struggle to get answers from their respective judicial systems difficult and distressing.

Johnson noted that some time after her cousin's death, the police officers responsible were taken off duty. An investigation followed, but before it was complete, the prosecuting attorney told her the officers would not be charged. In the state of Washington, a declaration by law enforcement that they were in fear of their lives was sufficient to grant them immunity from prosecution. The investigators said her cousin — a small-framed woman who had called 911 to report a possible burglary — might have been holding a steak knife.

In the midst of the tragedy, Johnson began helping other families in similar situations through a local organisation, explaining, “I have to grieve and fight at the same time.” She helped form a coalition of citizen and minority groups, trade unions and attorneys, which lobbied for the law in Washington state to be changed. The De-Escalate Washington campaign drafted a submission in May, 2017 (Initiative I-940); by March 6, 2018, there was success.

After gathering over 250,000 signatures to get the Initiative on the ballot, a law was passed that “held police officers accountable for using deadly force unjustly,” said Johnson. The new law also mandates a range of training programmes for police officers, including de-escalation of violence, implicit bias, mental health and first aid.

During her Kingston visit, Johnson called for police reform in both Jamaica and Brazil. She expressed solidarity with her peers, who told of their own struggles at a March 13 forum at the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus.

American activist Katrina Johnson, wearing a t-shirt with an image of her cousin Charleena Lyles. Lyles was killed by Seattle police in front of her children. Photo by Mario Allen, courtesy Amnesty International, used with permission.

Johnson (KJ) spoke with Global Voices (GV) about the short- and long-term impact of the experience on her family, and about the need for greater accountability from agents of the state:

KJ: My cousin, Charleena Lyles, was a 30-year-old pregnant mother killed by Seattle police in her apartment, in front of her children. She was shot seven times, including twice in the back. She was killed after she called 911 to report a burglary. The bullets cut through her uterus and hit her foetus, estimated to be 14 to 15 weeks old. The immediate response of my family was shock and disbelief.

No one should have to die like that. She was somebody to us, and her life mattered. Her family deserves answers, her kids deserve answers. I feel like it’s my duty to share her story so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s family, and I get my strength from my support system and just the fact that I know that I’m doing the right thing.

GV: In your view, how should the problem of extrajudicial killings be tackled — in your country and across the Americas? What, for you, is at the heart of this issue?

KJ: I think the police need to be held accountable. Without accountability, there is no justice. That’s the biggest problem, no one is ever accountable.

Pleading for greater empathy for families who are suffering, Johnson urges an activist approach:

If it hasn’t happened to you, it’s only a matter of time before it will happen to you, so get involved in your communities and support the people that are out there fighting for your future. If you don’t, and nothing changes, it will end up on your doorstep.

Like her fellow campaigners from Brazil and Jamaica, Katrina Johnson remains hopeful that things will get better:

Yes, I am optimistic. I think with enough [community] support and getting the word out, other people will start to rise up and we will all be able to come together and get some change, which is drastically needed.

by Emma Lewis at May 07, 2018 01:55 PM

‘I wanted my grandchildren to grow up in that house': Testimony of a 61-year-old Syrian woman from Zamalka

A photo of her destructed house. Taken by Lens of a Damascene Young Man.

This is the testimony of Um Mohammed; a kind 61 years old lady from Zamalka. Um Mohammed's kindness reflects of her face with its childish features. Her cheeks would still turn red when agitated.

Um Mohammed loves old songs and memorizes quite a few. As a loving grandmother, she adores little children and could play with them for hours.

Um Mohammed used to live in Zamalka, a town of Eastern Ghouta's. Its population was estimated at 150 thousand in the last census.

Zamalka fell out of the regime's control in 2012. Since then it has been subjected to a stifling siege, along with all the towns of Eastern Ghouta. Zamlaka endured continuous heavy shelling daily.

In this testimony, the forcibly displaced Um Mohammed talks about her home and family in Zamalka and about her connection to that house and its furniture:

I have three daughters and a son. My three daughters remained with me in Ghouta, while my son fled seven years ago. The siege deprived me the opportunity to attend his wedding, or to be with him when his son was born.

I lived in the family house. A very old house that my husband inherited from his father who inherited it from his father and so on. Generation after generation grew up in that house. Those of them who are still alive hold so many fond memories of it. Over time, as the house needed renovation, we carried the work while being very diligent so as to maintain its original features. We wanted to preserve its soul.

During the siege all means of fuel became very scarce, or unbelievably expensive. So we had to rely on wood for heating, cooking, bathing and sometimes even for lighting.

As shelling intensified during the last stretch since February, it became impossible to leave the basements and go out to buy wood. The lack of proper ventilation in the basements and the dampness exacerbated the feeling of cold.

One day in that basement, as the shelling was burning the city, we had to use the furniture for heating. I will never forget that mad shelling that burned our memories and the memories of all those around us. It wiped any trace of us in Zamalka, our homeland, before we were completely uprooted.

The first pieces of furniture we burnt were the couches, and this was due to hunger. My grandchildren were hungry, and the extensive shelling prevented us from going outside to get wood. Even if someone would risk their life outside, there was no one selling anything in that hell. My son in law asked for my permission to break the couch to use its wood for cooking fire. I approved, but something inside me was shattered.

That couch carried a beautiful story. My husband bought it ten years after our marriage. He was so happy that we could afford it. We picked it together. It was one of the very few times we were able to go out together without the kids. Yes, I might be able to restore material belongings, but the memories attached to them, how could they ever be recuperated?

The pain was greater when we had to set my bedroom furniture on fire. That bedroom accompanied me for 35 years, ever since I got married. It witnessed the best, and the worst days of my life. The scent of my beloved late husband lingered there. I used to sense his spirit floating around it, that's why I felt he was beside me whenever I fell asleep.

I burnt most of my clothes. For instance that gown I wore for my eldest daughter's wedding. I remember going with her to the tailor and having it tailor made for the occasion, along with her own wedding dress. My own mantles, which became my attire ever since I grew older and became a grandmother. I managed to salvage only one of them to take with me when we are eventually forcibly displaced.

Out of my kitchen utensils that survived the shelling, I burnt all the plastics because they were highly flammable and provided extra warmth. What was important was for my children and grandchildren to eat and feel some warmth.

In our traditions, the bride's family would send with her to her husband's house a glass cabinet where lavish plates and cutlery would be displayed. Usually this cabinet is passed on through the generations. But after all the glassware in my cabinet was shattered due to the shelling, we broke it to pieces and used its wood to warm water for bathing.

Yet the hardest situation I had to overcome was taking the decision to burn my son's wardrobe. My son, whom I haven't seen for seven years.

That wardrobe held all the beautiful memorabilia of his childhood. His toys, his baby clothes, even his favorite cup. I can't carry all that with me on that bus of forcible displacement. But I also can't destroy those memories with my own hands; nor can I leave them behind for strangers to fiddle around with after we were gone, or see them in videos being sold on the streets. Eventually I had to make the decision to break and burn them. I only kept very small items that I could carry with me.

That was the hardest situation of all. For I always dreamed of giving my son his memorabilia back, and of seeing his son wearing his own clothes when he was his age, and of telling that grandson stories about the photos of his father.

I wanted my grandchildren to grow up in that house where I would tell them stories about their parents’ mischievousness. A home that i would pass on to them so they would in turn pass it on to their grandchildren; so that they would add to it a new life every time, just like every generation of our ancestors did.

Towards the end we even had to burn the doors of the house. My house, the family house, my children's house, was left widely open, exposed and violated.

Following the horrible shelling offensive during which the Syrian regime and Russian forces showed us hell, we were forcibly removed from Zamalka as broken refugees. It was impossible for us to live under the regime again. That regime that can detain my sons in law or drag them to military service. It was impossible especially knowing that my son would never go back to Zamlaka.

I left behind the family house and all the memories it nurtured. I left to Idlib with my daughters and their families, broken hearted. The one thing that offered me some consolation was that I was finally reunited with my son whom I didn't see for seven years and I held his son in my arms. The one thing that gives me hope is that I know I will tell my grandson all about his grandfather, his father and the family house with all the memories it nurtured.

Upon our reunion I gave me son the small memorabilia that I managed to salvage from his wardrobe. At the beginning he couldn't believe his eyes. He couldn't believe that I managed to bring with me a piece of his memory. At that moment I prayed for my son to go back to the family house, to rebuild it and raise his children in it.

Today I live with my son and his family, hopping from one house to the other until we manage to find a temporary settlement post, which I am confident will never, ever, replace my home.

by Lara AlMalakeh at May 07, 2018 11:30 AM

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