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 26, 2017

Global Voices
In India, Medical Treatment and Justice Remain Elusive for One Survivor of Domestic Violence

Screenshot from YouTube Video

This post was written by Srishti Malhotra and Madhura Chakraborty and originally appeared on Video Volunteers, an award-winning international community media organization based in India. An edited version is published below as part of a content-sharing agreement.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed in India in 2005 to ensure the safety of women against domestic violence. However, a decade later women like Rajvati, from Singoli village in the central Indian state of Maddhya Pradesh, remain without justice. In August 2016, the 22-year-old mother of a 2-month-old infant was attacked by her husband with an axe. The resulting injuries included a severed vocal chord, and she remains without the ability to speak because the nearby government hospital does not have adequate medical facilities to operate on her.

“My daughter, Rajvati, had told me her husband and in-laws were harassing her for dowry,” her mother Chidilal Satnami recalls. “When she tried to reason with them, saying that I [Chidilal] will not be able to arrange for the money because of my disability, they reprimanded her and asked her to meet their demands by any means possible.”

Rajvati was married to Ramesh Choudhary in June 2015. It was difficult for Rajvati’s disabled, unemployed father to arrange for the marriage and dowry, but he managed somehow. Soon after marriage, Rajvati’s husband and in-laws demanded more dowry to buy him a motorcycle. Rajvati knew this would not be possible. Her marital relationship worsened and her husband began to accuse her of having an extramarital affair with his brother, her brother-in-law. In the midst of this, Rajvati gave birth to a son in June 2016.

But the situation did not improve, and violence would soon change Rajvati's life forever. Video Volunteers community correspondent Rekha Bhangre from Seoni district in Madhya Pradesh met with Rajvati and her family in September 2016 to talk about her experience:

Seeing Rajvati chatting with her brother-in-law, Ramesh attacked her with an axe in a fit of jealous rage. She sustained fractures and nerve damage, and her voice box was completely severed. A police case was filed and Ramesh was arrested immediately. So grave were Rajvati’s injuries that she had to be rushed to the government hospital in Jabalpur 154 kilometres away. As Ramesh and his family refused to bear any of the expenses for her treatment, Rajvati’s family had no option but to stay at the government hospital for treatment, despite the lack of adequate infrastructure. Since the attack, Rajvati’s in-laws have prevented Rajvati from seeing her infant son.

Rajvati’s story is unfortunately not exceptional (see past Video Volunteers reports). As of 2015 Madhya Pradesh registered the third highest number of domestic violence cases in India, according to National Crime Records Bureau data. Furthermore, the data reveals that crimes against women have an appalling conviction rate of under 22%. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act has been praised for its comprehensive approach to the issue, with provisions of shelter and guarantees of the right of residence and compensation for the survivor. And yet, implementation is lagging, as Rajvati’s case amply demonstrates.

For instance, in Rajvati’s case, she was in the Jabalpur Hospital and Research Centre for months. So long and slow is the legal process, that she has yet to receive any compensation. Her father had to fund her treatment by taking out loans. Though her husband was imprisoned the day after the incident and remains in jail, the court hearing against him has still not begun. Although Rajvati is unable to speak, she has given a written statement affirming that her husband had demanded 50,000 rupees from her parents to buy a motorcycle. He had threatened to kill her if she failed to give him the money.

Not much has changed since the time the video report above was shot in September 2016. Though Rajvati was recently released from the hospital and returned to her home in Singoli village, she is unable to speak and has difficulty eating. She has to go to Jabalpur for check-ups twice a week. The Jabalpur Hospital authorities have told her that they are awaiting equipment that will enable them to operate on her larynx. Her son will be turning 1 year old soon, but continues to live away from her, at her in-laws’ home. Nor is she financially or physically capable of caring for him at present.

Video Volunteers’ community correspondents come from marginalized communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are “news by those who live it.” They offer hyperlocal context to coverage of global human rights and development challenges. If you think you can help Rajvati in her struggle to live with dignity and recover from this horrific ordeal please get in touch with Video Volunteers at info@videovolunteers (dot) org.

by VideoVolunteers at May 26, 2017 01:22 PM

The Male Romper Gives the Caribbean Blogosphere a Lot to Ponder

A colourful, romper-related Facebook status update by Trinidadian artist Darren Trinity Cheewah.

The Caribbean has caught Romphim fever. While the guys aren't necessarily rushing out to buy the new “rompers made for men,” Internet users are certainly discussing it on social media.

In a region that has a reputation of being intolerant of alternative lifestyles, the male romper is being perceived as something only gay men would wear, so the fashion trend has, unfortunately, fanned that flame. But several female Facebook users advised their male counterparts to calm down — after all, it was just a piece of clothing that didn't actually have the power to make them epicene.

Could Caribbean masculinity be that fragile? Some social media users shared photographs of famous men who embraced the fashion statement — the late British actor Roger Moore in his role as James Bond, for instance. Trinidadian Petranilla London posted a photo of Sir Winston Churchill in a romper, adding, tongue firmly in cheek, “OMG!!!!!!!!! WINSTON CHURCHILL WAS GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE NAME OF OUR HIGHWAY!!!!!!”

One of Trinidad's main roadways is the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.

Compatriot Franka Philip shared the post of “Churchill… rocking de romps…” as a nod to London, who “is on a campaign to show the folks who are calling overalls/rompers gay that they're overreacting a bit”.

Jumping into the fray was Loop News, which did a post featuring five Caribbean entertainers who rocked the jumpsuit.

Philip suggested, though, that the more pressing question to ask was, “Why are so many men and people who feel they know men so insecure about what masculinity should look like?”

On the heels of several instances of violence towards women in the region, much of the recent online discussion has involved the topic of the “macho” way in which Caribbean men are typically socialised.

There were some men who had no problem with going against the grain, though. Facebook user Niki Lakatoo boldly asked, “Where in Trinidad selling rompers. I will sooo ware [sic] that shit & not give a f@$k about people.” Indeed, one commercial photographer, who called the romper trend “social media gold”, was “dying to get in on the front end of the rompers craze before it truly blows up”, and invited male models to message him for a lifestyle shoot.

While one Facebook user referred to shooting of a different kind, that didn't stop one man from modelling his humourous take on the trend — oilfield rompers — particularly relevant to Trinidad and Tobago because of its energy-based economy.

The popular Facebook page Kermit the Ranker called out the double standards around the Romphim with a meme:

Meme by Kermit the Ranker, widely shared on Facebook: “Welcome to Trinidad, where men bash rompers but show off their ‘bumpers’.”

Some businesses saw the whole hullaballoo as an opportunity to attract social media attention. One pharmacy chain in Trinidad and Tobago posted a Facebook update for a romp-comp (a romper competition):

A Facebook post by a pharmacy chain, using the romper craze to attract customers: “First male to shop at any branch of Pharmacy Plus wearing a romper wins a two-month supply of Alive Multivitamins.”

Artist Darren Trinity Cheewah had a field day with a few romper-related, colourful Facebook status updates:

Public Facebook status update by Darren Trinity Cheewah: “I'll rock a onesie normal, normal.”

Public Facebook status update by Darren Trinity Cheewah: “Just stitched a T-shirt and joggers together: romper game on.”

Public Facebook status update by Darren Trinity Cheewah: “A ‘manty’ is what you wear under your ‘romphims'? #Asking for a friend.”

Facebook user Marvin Gaskin, meanwhile, was troubled by the fact that “Trinidad [is] a country falling apart in many ways, but men wearing rompers getting far more attention than important issues in social media”.

Cheewah cleverly summed it up:

Public status update by Darren Trinity Cheewah:
If you still talking rompers, I'm over-all LOL.”

by Janine Mendes-Franco at May 26, 2017 11:36 AM

After Reelection, Iran's President Rouhani Abandons Promise to Free Green Movement Leaders

Mir Hussein Mousavi (right) became the “leader” of the Green Movement after he changed his campaign colours to be the same as those of the protests against what millions perceived were fraudulent elections. Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard (middle), and another reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi (left), were arrested for “inciting sedition.”

This report was first published on the Center for Human Rights in Iran website

In his first press conference on May 22, days after after being declared the winner of Iran’s election, President Hassan Rouhani refused to commit to ending the more than six-year extrajudicial house arrests of three opposition leaders—a pledge he made during his first presidential campaign.

Asked what he would do to free opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hosseini Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, who have been detained for more than six years for leading the peaceful, mass protests against the disputed result of the 2009 presidential election, Rouhani suggested that a solution depended on cooperation from other branches of state.

“The country is ruled by laws and we should all submit to them,” he said on May 22. “The executive, legislative and judicial branches have their own responsibilities. We are moving forward on the basis of the Constitution.”

“I am responsible for the rights of every citizen, even Iranians living abroad,” added Rouhani. “Wherever I see the rights of Iranians being violated, I will take action within my powers. In cases related to the judiciary, I will respond by direct communication or in joint meetings. The next government plans to implement the Charter on Citizens’ Rights. In this respect, the rights of all people are important to me.”

Rouhani made no reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose adamant opposition to freeing the three has kept them detained in legal limbo.

At a presidential campaign rally at Sharif University in Tehran on May 13, 2013, Rouhani said he hoped he could free the three within the first year of his presidency: “We can provide conditions such that over the next year, individuals who were imprisoned or put under house arrest for the 2009 events are released.”

Chants for freedom for Mousavi and Karroubi were a fixture amongst Rouhani supporters throughout the election campaign, and celebrations of his victory.

Amid Rouhani’s virtual silence on the issue during his first term, other politicians raised it a number of times, including conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari, who has repeatedly spoken of the need for a solution.

In an interview on May 8, 2017, Motahari repeated his suggestion that the issue could be resolved through negotiation.

“Some steps have been taken towards resolving the house arrests and we have to listen to the reasoning by the opposing side,” he said. “We have to move towards improving the conditions in the country and prevent issues before they turn into a crisis.”

Motahari has previously explained that Khamenei is the driving factor behind the continuing house arrests.

“One of the obstacles against their freedom has been the insistence by some officials that if they do not apologize and repent, it will damage the state and the supreme leader,” said Motahari. “It isn’t wrong to have an opinion about the 2009 incidents different than those of people in power…keeping [Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi] under house arrest for six years is neither compatible with the law nor with religious teachings.”

At the May 22 press conference, the newly reelected president was also asked about his policies on protecting the rights of the artistic community, particularly those in the music and film industries.

“One of the outcomes of this year’s elections was that everyone was at peace with music,” responded Rouhani. “However, we are not too fond of cheap music. Some say that’s fine as well, but in any case, I am certain our new government will give more support to the cultural community.”

“The situation did improve for music and cinema in our previous four years, but we will make greater efforts in the next four,” he added.

Since 2013, when Rouhani was voted into office promising a more open society, numerous state-sanctioned musicians, including popular artists Alireza Ghorbani and Sirvan Khosravi, saw their concerts canceled at the last moment.

Religious conservatives have justified their attacks on musicians by quoting vague statements and decrees by senior religious leaders. Khamenei has himself often warned about the alleged dangers of music, saying it will “lead people away from the path of God.”

Rouhani also said his government would adopt proposals based on educational guidelines provided by the UN 2030 Agenda—vehemently opposed by conservatives—that do not violate Islamic principles.

“The ministers of foreign affairs, science and education wrote to the supreme leader explaining to His Excellency at length that the Islamic Republic of Iran has reserved the right to ignore parts of agenda 2030 that do not conform with our culture and national values,” Rouhani said.

On the issue of women in the workforce, Rouhani said his government would do more to increase women’s employment prospects.

“It’s wrong to think that men have a higher status or that they are more capable than women,” he said.

At the same time, Rouhani echoed Khamenei’s sexist views by claiming certain jobs are more suitable for men than women: “Of course men are better at some professions and women are better at others. (God) has given both their own special qualities.”

“But women are not lower than men and keeping them inside the house does not make sense from social or legal standpoints,” he added.

by Center for Human Rights in Iran at May 26, 2017 09:39 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/26/2017: Don't panic about a robot takeover just yet
You've heard it before: the robots are coming and they're going to steal our jobs. But, wait a second — the Economic Policy Institute has crunched the data and is now arguing that the effects of automation are a little overstated. One of the authors of the report, Lawrence Mishel, joined us to break down why and what he thinks workers should actually be worrying about. Then to cap off the week, we'll play Silicon Tally with Rachel Metz, an editor at the MIT Technology Review.

by Marketplace at May 26, 2017 06:02 AM

May 25, 2017

Global Voices
Kaqchikel and Other Guatemalan Languages Gain Momentum Online Thanks to Digital Activism

Digital activism meeting for the Kaqchikel language. Photo by Pueblo Click and used with permission.

Guatemala or Quauhtlemallan, which means “land of many trees” in the Nahuatl language, is a country of great ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity. According to official data from the 2002 National Census XI of population and VI of habitation, 41 percent of the population is identified as indigenous, making Guatemala a country composed of Mayan, Garifuna, Xinkas, and Ladino or mestizo peoples.

Twenty-five languages are spoken in Guatemala, 22 of which are Mayan languages with their own structure and evolution. The differences between these languages are seen in their different grammatical tendencies, phonological uses, and growing vocabulary, but they have a common core: the Mayan mother language known as Protomaya.

Mayan languages are also valuable because they sustain the culture of the peoples who speak them. It’s thanks to them that they acquire and transmit knowledge and community values. In the same way, through oral tradition, younger generations inherit the moral principles of Mayan thought and a philosophy with a legacy of scientific and cosmic knowledge is reaffirmed.

“Digital activism in indigenous languages”: actions in favor of the Mayan languages

Within the framework of the project “Digital Activism in Indigenous Languages” promoted by Rising Voices and in partnership with Pueblo CLICK, a Digital Activism Meeting for Indigenous Languages, specifically the Kaqchikel language, was held on April 11 and 12 at the Pavarotti Educational Center in San Lucas Tolimán, Sololá, which managed to summon more than 30 activists from different Guatemalan regions.

Image publicizing the event. Used with permission.

In Guatemala, the Kaqchikel language is one of the four languages with the most speakers. It is spoken in 54 municipalities of seven departments: in one municipality of Baja Verapaz, in 16 municipalities of Chimaltenango, in one municipality of Escuintla, in 7 municipalities of the department of Guatemala City, in 14 municipalities of Sacatepéquez, in 11 municipalities of Sololá, and in 4 municipalities of Suchitepéquez.

Days to promote goal-building

The meeting was established taking into account the Gregorian and Mayan calendars. Meaning, it was held on April 11 and 12, the days corresponding to Oxi'E and Kaji'Aj, which symbolize the path leading to an objective and precise point: that these languages prevail in favor of a multilingual and multicultural society. Thus, the event was seen, symbolically, as a grain of corn planted in fertile soil waiting for the cornfield to sprout. It is expected to grow, to produce corncobs, to become corn and to feed generations.

Theme of the meeting

The main purpose of the meeting was to bring together people with cultural relevance and influence in the world of education, politics, technology, communications and art. The exchanges took place through conversations that revealed the importance of unifying efforts for the preservation and diffusion of mother tongues through information and communication technologies (ICTs). The goal is to empower the new generations and make knowledge accessible. Some participants mentioned the importance of “fostering pride, respect and using indigenous languages” as the “key to eliminating all forms of discrimination.” According to the participants, indigenous languages must take over the Internet and become visible: “No one can love and value what he does not know.”

Let's get to work!

During the meeting, Walter Cuc's efforts to propel the Guatemalan Federation of Radio Schools as an alternative, multilingual, sustainable radio network with national coverage and prominence were showcased. All in alliance with associated local and international entities that would effectively contribute to holistic human development, citizen participation, and the democratization of society.

Walter Cuc, Director of the Guatemalan Federation of Radio. Photo by Pueblo Click and used with permission.

Israel Quic from Mundo Posible presented the RACHEL project, a hub for education and learning in rural areas, with software designed for communities that lack a stable internet signal or do not have high-speed internet.

Another project discussed in the meeting was Mozilla Firefox in Kaqchikel, presented by Juan Esteban Ajsivinac Sián and available for PC and Android. The project focuses on the great challenge of translating the 5,000 strings that make up the localization in the browser into Kaqchikel.

Projects under development

Jorge López-Bachiller Fernández, a Spanish sociologist who has been in Patzún, Chimaltenango, for more than 10 years, has taken actions to reduce the existing digital divide. His objective is to seek the development of Guatemala’s indigenous communities through knowledge and strategies that make their cultural greatness more visible.

Participants at the digital activism meeting for the Kaqchickel language. Photo by Pueblo Click and used with permission.

One of these strategies is the Kaqchikel Wikipetya Project, which was initiated by a group of people from different countries with educational and professional experiences that strive for a common good: the conservation and dissemination of Kaqchikel as a Mayan language using technology.

To reach the goal, it was decided to incorporate the Kaqchikel language into Wikipedia, the free and multilingual encyclopedia of the Wikimedia Foundation, with more than 17 million articles in 278 languages and languages that have been drafted jointly by volunteers from around the world.

In order to personalize the project, all of the different options for naming it were discussed to be sure that it was recognizable and distinctive, while also taking into account Kaqchikel's identity and the name of the Wikimedia Foundation. After weighing all of the options, it was decided that the project would be called “Kaqchikel Wikipetya.” According to Jorge, some progress in this project includes elaborate tutorials, business cards, and editing policies.

The challenges are many, including motivating people to volunteer, but Jorge is optimistic and says the project will be a great contribution to humanity.

A potential alliance with Maya Kaqchikel University offers many opportunities, especially with Wikimedia, thanks to its Kaqchikel-speaking student body, who are interested in technology.

In short, the meeting in San Lucas Tolimán constituted a first strong step toward opening possibilities on the Internet to revitalize the Kaqchikel language and to learn from the experiences of other communities around the country. During those days, we witnessed new emerging networks that will continue to strengthen and collaborate on the Internet, and that hope to meet again thanks to the support of the Qatzij project.

by Melissa Wise at May 25, 2017 10:53 PM

Netizen Report: In India and Jamaica, Women Face Threats for Resisting Misogyny Online

Photo courtesy the Tambourine Army, used with permission.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

This week, The Guardian newspaper released a series of leaked documents outlining Facebook’s internal policies and practices for moderating content on its platform. Among the many revelations, the stories make clear that sexual and gender-based harassment — ranging from threats of sexual violence to “revenge porn” — remain an endemic problem on the platform and in real life.

Facebook also has increasingly become a space where users document their experiences of such incidents firsthand. This too can carry consequences, especially for women.

One recent example surfaced this week when Varsha Dongre, an Indian Civil Service officer and deputy superintendent of Raipur jail was suspended and transferred to a remote prison (350km away from her current post) for speaking about human rights violations against indigenous Adivasi girls on Facebook. In the post she wrote:

I have seen 14-16-year-old Adivasi girls being stripped naked in police stations and tortured. They were given electric shocks on their wrists and breasts. I have seen the marks. It horrified me. Why did they use third degree torture on minors?

The order calling for her suspension alleges that she made irresponsible statements, cited “false facts” and went off duty without approval. The Indian government has come under harsh criticism from international human rights watch organisations for torture and abuse by the Indian police against Adivasi women. This has come as part of a broader crackdown on indigenous groups and their efforts to resist deforestation of their indigenous land.

Another recent example saw Jamaican activist Latoya Nugent charged under Jamaica’s Cybercrime Law, after she publicly named (on social media) alleged perpetrators of sexual violence. Nugent is part of the Tambourine Army, a group of women and survivors of sexual violence who are using the internet to share their experiences online. The public prosecutor dropped all charges filed against Nugent on May 17.

Ethiopian opposition activist sentenced to six years for Facebook posts

Social media activist and opposition campaigner Yonatan Tesfaye was sentenced to six years in prison on May 24 after spending over a year in jail in Addis Ababa awaiting trial. The primary evidence against Tesfaye, who was convicted of violating the country’s notorious Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, came in the form of several Facebook posts which the court said amounted to incitement to violence amid the ongoing land rights movement that has seen several hundred protesters killed by Ethiopian police. The screenshot below comes from an English translation (by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project) of the charges filed against Tesfaye. The Facebook post quoted here is one of several that was presented in the filing:

Malaysian news sites face cybercrime charges for publishing video of public event

The heads of two independent media sites in Malaysia, KiniTV and Malaysiakini, are facing cybercrime charges for posting a video of a politician criticizing the attorney general. The video was posted last year, and features a politician criticizing the office of the attorney general for failing to identify the role of the prime minister in a corruption scandal around 1MDB, a state-owned investment bank. They face a court hearing on June 15. If found guilty they may face prison terms of up to one year and fines of 50,000 Malaysian Ringgit (around US$11,500). Malaysian officials suspended the licenses of several news outlets for reporting on the 1MDB scandal, in which the prime minister is accused of embezzling $700 million through the bank.

Azerbaijan censors media for promoting violence (or covering corruption)

Azerbaijan blocked five independent media outlets, including three online news sites and two satellite TV stations, claiming they “pose a threat” to Azerbaijan’s national security by showing content that purportedly promotes violence and hatred, and violates privacy. Recent coverage by the outlets includes stories about public protests, suicide rates in Azerbaijan and the financial dealings of the private foundation of Vice President Aliyeva, who is also the First Lady. The order also establishes grounds to prosecute employees of these news outlets.

Thai police will target viewers of Facebook posts insulting the monarchy

Thai authorities have been at odds with Facebook in recent weeks concerning more than 300 pieces of content on the network that officials say are insulting to the Thai king, and thus violate the country’s notoriously harsh lese-majeste law. Last month, they advised Facebook users to unfollow three prominent writers who were known for their critiques of the king. Now, according to the Bangkok Post, they plan to target even those users who merely view content of this nature. Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau told the Post that the move was “triggered by police limitations in tracking down producers of illegal content posted on social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube.”

Colombian biologist finally absolved of copyright infringement charges

On May 24, a Colombian court acquitted biologist Diego Gomez of copyright infringement charges in a case that hit a nerve among digital rights advocates across the Americas. A fellow student sued Gomez in 2013 for posting his Master’s thesis on the document-sharing website Scribd. Despite the fact that Gomez intended only to share the paper’s findings with his classmates, and that he earned no profit in doing so, the now 29-year-old could have faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

The lawsuit proceeded thanks minimal legal protections for educational use of copyrighted material in Colombia. Copyright laws in Colombia were reformed in 2007 at the behest of the United States, as part of the two countries’ free trade agreement.

With social media banned, Kashmiris turn to local platform KashBook

A local social network called KashBook has spiked in popularity in the Kashmir Valley where the Indian government has banned dozens of social networks, including Facebook. Developed by 16-year-old Zeyan Shafiq, who described KashBook as “the answer to social media gag”, the website launched in 2013, but is enjoying a renaissance in the absence of other platforms. The website has been blacklisted in Kashmir on a few occasions, prompting Shafiq and his business partner Uzair Jan to transfer the site to a new server, a fix that at least temporarily allows users to regain access.

New Research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Advox at May 25, 2017 09:42 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: In India and Jamaica, Women Face Threats for Resisting Misogyny Online

Photo courtesy the Tambourine Army, used with permission.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

This week, The Guardian newspaper released a series of leaked documents outlining Facebook’s internal policies and practices for moderating content on its platform. Among the many revelations, the stories make clear that sexual and gender-based harassment — ranging from threats of sexual violence to “revenge porn” — remain an endemic problem on the platform and in real life.

Facebook also has increasingly become a space where users document their experiences of such incidents firsthand. This too can carry consequences, especially for women.

One recent example surfaced this week when Varsha Dongre, an Indian Civil Service officer and deputy superintendent of Raipur jail was suspended and transferred to a remote prison (350km away from her current post) for speaking about human rights violations against indigenous Adivasi girls on Facebook. In the post she wrote:

I have seen 14-16-year-old Adivasi girls being stripped naked in police stations and tortured. They were given electric shocks on their wrists and breasts. I have seen the marks. It horrified me. Why did they use third degree torture on minors?

The order calling for her suspension alleges that she made irresponsible statements, cited “false facts” and went off duty without approval. The Indian government has come under harsh criticism from international human rights watch organisations for torture and abuse by the Indian police against Adivasi women. This has come as part of a broader crackdown on indigenous groups and their efforts to resist deforestation of their indigenous land.

Another recent example saw Jamaican activist Latoya Nugent charged under Jamaica’s Cybercrime Law, after she publicly named (on social media) alleged perpetrators of sexual violence. Nugent is part of the Tambourine Army, a group of women and survivors of sexual violence who are using the internet to share their experiences online. The public prosecutor dropped all charges filed against Nugent on May 17.

Ethiopian opposition activist sentenced to six years for Facebook posts

Social media activist and opposition campaigner Yonatan Tesfaye was sentenced to six years in prison on May 24 after spending over a year in jail in Addis Ababa awaiting trial. The primary evidence against Tesfaye, who was convicted of violating the country’s notorious Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, came in the form of several Facebook posts which the court said amounted to incitement to violence amid the ongoing land rights movement that has seen several hundred protesters killed by Ethiopian police. The screenshot below comes from an English translation (by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project) of the charges filed against Tesfaye. The Facebook post quoted here is one of several that was presented in the filing:

Malaysian news sites face cybercrime charges for publishing video of public event

The heads of two independent media sites in Malaysia, KiniTV and Malaysiakini, are facing cybercrime charges for posting a video of a politician criticizing the attorney general. The video was posted last year, and features a politician criticizing the office of the attorney general for failing to identify the role of the prime minister in a corruption scandal around 1MDB, a state-owned investment bank. They face a court hearing on June 15. If found guilty they may face prison terms of up to one year and fines of 50,000 Malaysian Ringgit (around US$11,500). Malaysian officials suspended the licenses of several news outlets for reporting on the 1MDB scandal, in which the prime minister is accused of embezzling $700 million through the bank.

Azerbaijan censors media for promoting violence (or covering corruption)

Azerbaijan blocked five independent media outlets, including three online news sites and two satellite TV stations, claiming they “pose a threat” to Azerbaijan’s national security by showing content that purportedly promotes violence and hatred, and violates privacy. Recent coverage by the outlets includes stories about public protests, suicide rates in Azerbaijan and the financial dealings of the private foundation of Vice President Aliyeva, who is also the First Lady. The order also establishes grounds to prosecute employees of these news outlets.

Thai police will target viewers of Facebook posts insulting the monarchy

Thai authorities have been at odds with Facebook in recent weeks concerning more than 300 pieces of content on the network that officials say are insulting to the Thai king, and thus violate the country’s notoriously harsh lese-majeste law. Last month, they advised Facebook users to unfollow three prominent writers who were known for their critiques of the king. Now, according to the Bangkok Post, they plan to target even those users who merely view content of this nature. Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau told the Post that the move was “triggered by police limitations in tracking down producers of illegal content posted on social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube.”

Colombian biologist finally absolved of copyright infringement charges

On May 24, a Colombian court acquitted biologist Diego Gomez of copyright infringement charges in a case that hit a nerve among digital rights advocates across the Americas. A fellow student sued Gomez in 2013 for posting his Master’s thesis on the document-sharing website Scribd. Despite the fact that Gomez intended only to share the paper’s findings with his classmates, and that he earned no profit in doing so, the now 29-year-old could have faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

The lawsuit proceeded thanks minimal legal protections for educational use of copyrighted material in Colombia. Copyright laws in Colombia were reformed in 2007 at the behest of the United States, as part of the two countries’ free trade agreement.

With social media banned, Kashmiris turn to local platform KashBook

A local social network called KashBook has spiked in popularity in the Kashmir Valley where the Indian government has banned dozens of social networks, including Facebook. Developed by 16-year-old Zeyan Shafiq, who described KashBook as “the answer to social media gag”, the website launched in 2013, but is enjoying a renaissance in the absence of other platforms. The website has been blacklisted in Kashmir on a few occasions, prompting Shafiq and his business partner Uzair Jan to transfer the site to a new server, a fix that at least temporarily allows users to regain access.

New Research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Netizen Report Team at May 25, 2017 09:39 PM

MIT Center for Civic Media
Liveblogging #PPDD17: Inconsistent Information Access Across Alabama Public Schools and Libraries

I'm in San Diego at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) 2017 conference. PPDD engages a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to spearhead a multi-associational, multi-disciplinary partnership among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to make significant contributions in closing the digital divide and addressing the many other challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. I'll be here speaking about some of my ongoing research on Mapping Information Access and liveblogging the other panels as I can.

This liveblog represents a best-efforts account, not a direct transcript, of the lecture, presentation, and/or panel.

Today, most of the panels are smaller, discussion-oriented breakouts, so I'm not liveblogging them like I did yesterday. But I do want to take a moment to provide some notes the research I presented today, which extends work I performed while a graduate student at Civic.

In brief: I'm presenting results from some of the work on Mapping Information Access that I've done with my collaborators Emily Knox at UIUC and Shannon Oltmann at UK. In 2014, our friend Shawn Musgrave helped us use MuckRock to issue FOI requests to every public school system and library district in Alabama seeking records of book challenges and Internet filtering configurations. This project has already yielded one peer-reviewed publication on using open records laws for research purposes and we are currently preparing more articles for publication.

My presentation at PPDD17 has to do with a subset of this project that compares Internet filtering configurations across schools and libraries to illustrate commonalities and discontinuities across implementations. Our unique, rich dataset of documents help us see, with startling specificity, the anticipation and articulation work (to borrow terms from the tradition of Leigh Star's infrastructural studies) performed by filtering systems and the people who use them. We demonstrate that, despite nominal compliance with a standard regulation (CIPA), filtering implementations varied widely and wildly between institutions, and introduced significant inconsistencies into the stream of information access through public institutions (with potentially troubling political consequences).

If you're interested in the documents and arguments from this talk, the slides for it can be downloaded in PDF form here. If you have more questions, just drop me a line or hit me on Twitter @peteyreplies. And if/when our findings are published as a paper, I'll make sure to update this blog entry (or create a new one) to share it.

by Petey at May 25, 2017 08:45 PM

Creative Commons
State of the Commons Highlight: Maya Zankoul

This week, we’ll be featuring stories from this year’s State of the Commons report, which highlights the impact of our global community by exploring the wide array of creativity and knowledge that is freely available to the world under under CC licenses. Read more about why this report marks our biggest year yet. 

In November 2016, we interviewed the Lebanese artist Maya Zankoul about her impact as a CC creator. We were thrilled to feature her work in this year’s State of the Commons.


maya-zankoul

Zankoul’s first book, Amalgam, was published in 2009 under a CC BY-NC license. The book sprung from her popular web comic exploring life, work, and art in Beirut and beyond.

Zankoul’s work touches on the connections between cultures with illustrations shaped by her rich, artistic world. Her newest book, Beirut – New York, was published this autumn.

“I find that my illustrations allow people to see things differently. It allows them to step outside the status quo.” – Maya Zankoul

The post State of the Commons Highlight: Maya Zankoul appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at May 25, 2017 07:05 PM

Global Voices
The Long and Winding Road of Chile's Gender Identity Law
"Be Not Afraid" (No tengas miedo). Foto de torbakhopper en Flickr. Usada bajo licencia (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Be Not Afraid”. Photo by torbakhopper on Flickr. Used under license (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The Long and Winding Road isn’t just a ballad by Paul McCartney; it’s also the story of Chile’s gender identity law. The original intent of the legislation was to end discrimination and ease restrictions on trans people in Chile openly living in accordance with their gender identities. But round after round of legislative tinkering have created a draft law that could actually take their rights a step backward.

The process leading to this controversial bill started four years ago, in May 2013, when Chile’s Senate first introduced the gender identity law, known as “LIG.” The original text was presented by two groups: the Equal Foundation and Organizing Trans Diversities (OTD).

According to OTD, the legislation passed through 15 amendment procedures, enduring more than 200 revisions and three different approved drafts. While the bill was being amended, sexual and gender diversity organizations were often barred from contributing to the process, as lawmakers worked to restrict the right to gender identity, proposing various medical and psychological criteria for registering a change of name or sex, and eliminating this right entirely for minors.

Currently, changes to name and sex registration in Chile are approved (or rejected) by a judge. Early drafts of the gender identify law called for removing the judge from this step to make the process easier. But on April 12, 2017, the legislature approved a change that allows third parties to oppose individuals’ requests for changing their name and sex registration, which would effectively reduce trans people’s existing rights.

On May 10, the parliamentary commission sent the bill to the Senate for an article-by-article vote.

Finally!
Gender Identity Bill sent to the Senate! #LIGnow

As the law moves forward, it's a crucial moment for the future of Chile's sexual and gender diversity, as LGBTQ civic groups try to reach a compromise with lawmakers, hoping to restore aspects of the legislation that have been removed or twisted, says OTD Vice President Franco Fuica, focusing on the clause that allows third-party opposition to registration rights:

El tema de la oposición es uno de los nudos críticos que presenta esta ley, es lamentable que se permita que terceros puedan oponerse. Al parecer saldremos del Senado sin la incorporación de niños, niñas y adolescentes, lo que pretendemos que se pueda arreglar en la sala o en la Cámara.

The issue of third-party opposition is one of the critical aspects of this law. It is lamentable that opposition by third parties is permitted. It seems that we will leave the Senate without the incorporation of children and adolescents, which we intend to have fixed in the Senate or the Congress.

Some battles won

As politicians have wrangled over gender identity legislation, Chile has witnessed several advances in gender diversity in various public and civil spheres.

On April 11, 2017, a judge in the city of Concepción ruled in favor of Alex Tima, supporting his legal change of name and sex. Tima began the registration process in October 2016 with legal sponsorship from the Movilh Foundation. Tima told the newspaper El Ciudadano that he was harassed on a daily basis because his gender identity didn't match his state-issued identification:

En gimnasios no podía entrar al camarín de hombres ni al de mujeres, entonces, no podía disfrutar de las instalaciones. (…) Voy a partir estudiando de cero, sin que me estén preguntando ‘eres trans’, que es lo que no quiero.

At the gym, I couldn't use the men's or the women's changing rooms, so I couldn't use the facilities […] I am going to start studying from zero, without being asked “are you trans,” which is what I don't want.

Legal battles for transgender rights have been especially hard fought in public and educational spaces. For example, Chile's education superintendent recently issued a memo developed with the participation of gender diversity organizations, laying out measures to protect trans people's right to education and non-discrimination. The executive director of Fundación Iguales, Emilio Maldonado, celebrated the document:

Es un hito para salvaguardar a niños/as y adolescentes trans. Sobre todo porque la tasa de deserción desde el sistema escolar de ellos/as es mayor a la de cualquier otro grupo, por lo cual va en la dirección correcta.

This is a milestone in the protection of trans children and adolescents. Especially as they have higher rates of abandonment of the school system than any other group. So this is a step in the right direction.

Here at @TodoMejora [Everything Improves] we hope that the LIG, which was sent to the Senate today, does not exclude the identity of children and adolescents in Chile.

Victories like the education memo — the result of advocacy by civil society organizations — are good news for people like Selena, a transgender girl who recently made headlines after sharing her story.

We didn't find schools. For example, in one, I had the highest score but I couldn't get in because of how I am.

Here, they let me into the girls’ bathroom and they accepted me.

I am a transgender girl and I am happy.

by Kitty Garden at May 25, 2017 05:35 PM

Creative Commons
Creative Commons 4.0 License now in Turkish
Creative Commons Turkey Team via Instagram

We are so pleased to announce that the official translation of CC 4.0 Licenses into Turkish are now available so Turkish speaking communities can use them in their own language.

Public consultation for the translation took place in March 2017 and was coordinated by the Creative Commons Turkey team. Before and after the consultation, intense work has been put into the process including discussions, meetings, cross checking terminologies, proofreading, fine-tuning. Linguists, lawyers, librarians, IT experts and researchers have been involved in the work.

A few people should be named here to thank for special efforts to make this happen. CC Turkey Public Lead Ilkay Holt, Technical Lead Orcun Madran, Legal Partner Serhat Koc (LL.M IT), Legal Partner Selva Kaynak (LL.M IP) lead this work. We would also like to thank to Sirin Tekinay who initiated CC Turkey movement in Turkey and Gultekin Gurdal, Director of IZTECH Library for their great contribution in finalizing the review process.

Creative Commons 4.0 licenses in Turkish is an entry point to a shared, free, and open society in Turkish. Around the world, people are encouraged to produce, share what they produce, reuse, adopt standards and encourage reuse, and open up innovation.

But even more important than using the tools of Creative Commons, adopting open licenses requires a philosophy. “Openness” must be contained every step of the way, from the concept of openness to how we create works, where we keep them, how we allow them to be used, and how we should use the works created by others. In all of these steps, openness, transparency, and openness to sharing and an attitude that supports the re-use of our work is important.

With Creative Commons, we embrace the “some rights reserved” approach to copyright instead of “all rights reserved,” This approach requires copyright reform, in which the conventional-traditional-stereotyped copyright laws leave its place in a structure that will strengthen the creativity of society.

This is an integral part of the cultural, literary, scientific and artistic field we are trying to define through Creative Commons and open license movements and is why the legal texts of Creative Commons licenses are now crucial in Turkish.

This is a milestone achievement for Turkey in the adoption of open licenses, which is an invaluable component of an open society. This will help significantly to improve open policies and share legally. We now invite Turkish commoners to use the CC licenses in Turkish and start sharing.

The post Creative Commons 4.0 License now in Turkish appeared first on Creative Commons.

by İlkay Holt at May 25, 2017 04:31 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Iraqi Parliament Slammed for Bill Restricting Free Speech, Right to Protest

A reporter in Mosul, Iraq in November 2016. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When armed men in civilian clothes kidnapped journalist Afrah Shawqi from her home on 26 December 2016, journalists and activists quickly took to the street to demand that the government take action to ensure her safety and her immediate release.

Iraq's parliament is currently reviewing a draft law that, if enacted, could make this kind of response impossible. Local civil society groups and activists are criticizing the parliament for attempting to pass a bill that would restrict freedom of expression and rights to protest and assembly.

The law on “freedom of expression, opinion, assembly and peaceful demonstration” aims at “guaranteeing and regulating freedom of expression and opinion through any means, freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration, and the right to knowledge, without prejudice to public order and public morals, and determining the parties responsible for regulating them,” states Article 2 of the bill.

The bill would require Iraqis to seek the prior authorization from local authorities before protesting or assembling. Requiring protesters to ask for an authorization five days before a protest is a “cause for concern, due to the nature of the Iraqi street and its ongoing crises” says Mustafa Naser, the president of the Association for Defending Press Freedom in Iraq. Iraqis “have recently realized the street's impact on parliamentary decisions and legislation,” he told Global Voices in an e-mail interview.

Iraqi protestors outside the Parliament in April 2016, where they staged a sit-in before storming the building. Photo credit: @AlFayth (Twitter)

Before assembling, Iraqis would also need to submit a request for prior authorization at least five days before a meeting takes place. The request should include the subject matter, purpose, time and place of the meeting, and names of the organizers.

In addition to restricting the right to protest and assembly, the bill also limits freedom of expression by mainly preventing criticism of religion and religious symbols. Article 13 prescribes a jail sentence of up to ten years for those convicted of “intentionally broadcasting propaganda for war, terrorist acts, and hatred based on national origin, race, religion and sect.” A second paragraph of the same article prescribes a one year prison sentence and a fine for attacks and the degradation of the beliefs of any religious sect. This includes any public insults to “a rite, symbol or a person subject of reverence, glorification or respect for a religious sect.”

On 13 May, the Iraqi parliament once again decided to postpone a vote on the controversial draft law, amid opposition from civil society groups and activists. MP Sarwa AbdelWahed told local media that the vote was delayed until a “national consensus” around the bill is reached.

The bill was first introduced in 2011. After confronting objections from civil society, its authors amended and submitted it to the parliament again in August 2015, only to encounter another wave of protests. The Iraqi parliament attempted to vote on the bill again in July 2016, without success.

Attempts by the parliament to pass the law again this month have been met with criticism by Iraqi civil society groups. Protesters gathered outside the parliament on 14 May to express their rejection of the bill.

Mustafa Saadoon, director of the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights tweeted on 15 May:

The Iraqi parliament wants to restrict our freedoms with a law that has a wonderful headline and miserable clauses produced only by dictatorial regimes

On the same day, the Observatory issued a statement accusing the different political alliances in the parliament of “restricting freedoms and paving the way for new dictatorships”:

يطالب المرصد العراقي لحقوق الإنسان البرلمان العراقي بضرورة إجراء تعديل على مسودة مشروع  القانون وفق إلتزامات العراق الدولية وعدم التعامل بإنتقائة مع مبادئ حقوق الإنسان ومحاولة تقييد الحريات في قوانين عناوينها تنظيمية وبنودها تقييدية

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights calls on the Iraqi parliament to amend the bill in accordance with Iraq's international obligations and not to be selective when it comes to human rights principles, and not to attempt to restrict freedoms with laws that have regulatory titles and restrictive clauses

Freedom of expression is already under threat in Iraq, with journalists and media at risk of violations by armed militias that do not tolerate criticism, and abuses by security officers. This is in addition to the targeting of journalists by ISIS, which since taking over parts of Iraq in 2014, has been responsible for murdering several reporters. But instead of working to ensure stronger protections for these freedoms, the Iraqi parliament is seeking to pass a repressive law.

To restrict freedom of expression in Iraq, either you get abducted by militias and the authority's gangs, or their representatives in the parliament of corruption and terrorism enacts a freedom of expression law

“There is a political will from the big alliances in the parliament which have been dominating the Iraqi state for more that a decade, to push for the enactment of a law that withholds the right to demonstrate, and criminalizes any unlicensed protest,” Naser stated. He added:

المفارقة انهم يدعون مقارعة النظام الدكتاتوري السابق، لنيل حرياتهم وحريات الشعب العراقي، لكنهم في ذات الوقت يستخدمون قوانين صدام حسين المشرعة في ستينيات القرن الماضي ضد خصومهم…بل انهم يسعون لتمرير المزيد من القوانين المقيدة للحريات، والتي لا تنسجم مع ادعاءاتهم النضالية

The paradox is, they claim that they are fighting the former dictatorial regime to win their freedoms and those of the Iraqi people, but at the same time they use the laws of Saddam Hussein enacted in the sixties against their opponents…while also seeking to pass more laws restrictive of freedoms, which are not in harmony with their claims of struggle.

It remains unclear when the Iraqi parliament will attempt to revive this six-year old bill again. In the meantime, civil society groups and activists will continue to exercise pressure so that another repressive law does not add up to the list of restrictive laws that already exist in Iraq, including the 1968 Publications Law which bans criticism of the government and the 1969 Penal Code which criminalizes defamation and insult.

by Afef Abrougui at May 25, 2017 03:58 PM

Global Voices
Iraqi Parliament Slammed for Bill Restricting Free Speech, Right to Protest

A reporter in Mosul, Iraq in November 2016. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When armed men in civilian clothes kidnapped journalist Afrah Shawqi from her home on 26 December 2016, journalists and activists quickly took to the street to demand that the government take action to ensure her safety and her immediate release.

Iraq's parliament is currently reviewing a draft law that, if enacted, could make this kind of response impossible. Local civil society groups and activists are criticizing the parliament for attempting to pass a bill that would restrict freedom of expression and rights to protest and assembly.

The law on “freedom of expression, opinion, assembly and peaceful demonstration” aims at “guaranteeing and regulating freedom of expression and opinion through any means, freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration, and the right to knowledge, without prejudice to public order and public morals, and determining the parties responsible for regulating them,” states Article 2 of the bill.

The bill would require Iraqis to seek the prior authorization from local authorities before protesting or assembling. Requiring protesters to ask for an authorization five days before a protest is a “cause for concern, due to the nature of the Iraqi street and its ongoing crises” says Mustafa Naser, the president of the Association for Defending Press Freedom in Iraq. Iraqis “have recently realized the street's impact on parliamentary decisions and legislation,” he told Global Voices in an e-mail interview.

Iraqi protestors outside the Parliament in April 2016, where they staged a sit-in before storming the building. Photo credit: @AlFayth (Twitter)

Before assembling, Iraqis would also need to submit a request for prior authorization at least five days before a meeting takes place. The request should include the subject matter, purpose, time and place of the meeting, and names of the organizers.

In addition to restricting the right to protest and assembly, the bill also limits freedom of expression by mainly preventing criticism of religion and religious symbols. Article 13 prescribes a jail sentence of up to ten years for those convicted of “intentionally broadcasting propaganda for war, terrorist acts, and hatred based on national origin, race, religion and sect.” A second paragraph of the same article prescribes a one year prison sentence and a fine for attacks and the degradation of the beliefs of any religious sect. This includes any public insults to “a rite, symbol or a person subject of reverence, glorification or respect for a religious sect.”

On 13 May, the Iraqi parliament once again decided to postpone a vote on the controversial draft law, amid opposition from civil society groups and activists. MP Sarwa AbdelWahed told local media that the vote was delayed until a “national consensus” around the bill is reached.

The bill was first introduced in 2011. After confronting objections from civil society, its authors amended and submitted it to the parliament again in August 2015, only to encounter another wave of protests. The Iraqi parliament attempted to vote on the bill again in July 2016, without success.

Attempts by the parliament to pass the law again this month have been met with criticism by Iraqi civil society groups. Protesters gathered outside the parliament on 14 May to express their rejection of the bill.

Mustafa Saadoon, director of the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights tweeted on 15 May:

The Iraqi parliament wants to restrict our freedoms with a law that has a wonderful headline and miserable clauses produced only by dictatorial regimes

On the same day, the Observatory issued a statement accusing the different political alliances in the parliament of “restricting freedoms and paving the way for new dictatorships”:

يطالب المرصد العراقي لحقوق الإنسان البرلمان العراقي بضرورة إجراء تعديل على مسودة مشروع  القانون وفق إلتزامات العراق الدولية وعدم التعامل بإنتقائة مع مبادئ حقوق الإنسان ومحاولة تقييد الحريات في قوانين عناوينها تنظيمية وبنودها تقييدية

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights calls on the Iraqi parliament to amend the bill in accordance with Iraq's international obligations and not to be selective when it comes to human rights principles, and not to attempt to restrict freedoms with laws that have regulatory titles and restrictive clauses

Freedom of expression is already under threat in Iraq, with journalists and media at risk of violations by armed militias that do not tolerate criticism, and abuses by security officers. This is in addition to the targeting of journalists by ISIS, which since taking over parts of Iraq in 2014, has been responsible for murdering several reporters. But instead of working to ensure stronger protections for these freedoms, the Iraqi parliament is seeking to pass a repressive law.

To restrict freedom of expression in Iraq, either you get abducted by militias and the authority's gangs, or their representatives in the parliament of corruption and terrorism enacts a freedom of expression law

“There is a political will from the big alliances in the parliament which have been dominating the Iraqi state for more that a decade, to push for the enactment of a law that withholds the right to demonstrate, and criminalizes any unlicensed protest,” Naser stated. He added:

المفارقة انهم يدعون مقارعة النظام الدكتاتوري السابق، لنيل حرياتهم وحريات الشعب العراقي، لكنهم في ذات الوقت يستخدمون قوانين صدام حسين المشرعة في ستينيات القرن الماضي ضد خصومهم…بل انهم يسعون لتمرير المزيد من القوانين المقيدة للحريات، والتي لا تنسجم مع ادعاءاتهم النضالية

The paradox is, they claim that they are fighting the former dictatorial regime to win their freedoms and those of the Iraqi people, but at the same time they use the laws of Saddam Hussein enacted in the sixties against their opponents…while also seeking to pass more laws restrictive of freedoms, which are not in harmony with their claims of struggle.

It remains unclear when the Iraqi parliament will attempt to revive this six-year old bill again. In the meantime, civil society groups and activists will continue to exercise pressure so that another repressive law does not add up to the list of restrictive laws that already exist in Iraq, including the 1968 Publications Law which bans criticism of the government and the 1969 Penal Code which criminalizes defamation and insult.

by Afef Abrougui at May 25, 2017 03:52 PM

Cries of Impunity as Macedonia's ‘Bloody Thursday’ Parliament Attackers Get Suspended Sentences

Trial of nine participants in the violence in Macedonian parliament. Photo by Meta.mk News Agency, used with permission.

In one of the speediest trials in Macedonian history, nine members of a lynch mob that stormed the Parliament on April 27 (an incident now known as “Bloody Thursday”) received suspended sentences, enabling them to walk out the court as free men.

Judge Milka Angelovska Vasovska's verdict has shocked the Macedonian public. A representative of the parliamentary majority targeted in the lynching attempt has called the verdict “orchestrated, criminal, and shameful.”

On Twitter, Internet users are expressing their outrage. For example, journalist Bobi Hristov wrote:

No end to the madness – the first nine suspects for the violence in the Assembly receive suspended sentences #ShouldICryOrShouldILaugh

Today's court decision confirms that the state is a captive of the party and that the party is the organizer of the violent raid on the Assembly.

The vulnerability of the Macedonian judicial system to political interference is well documented. Just last year, for instance, the U.S. State Department released a country report on human rights and practices that highlighted just a few problems:

“…most significant human rights problems stemmed from pervasive corruption and from the government’s failure to respect fully the rule of law, including continuing efforts to restrict media freedom, interference in the judiciary and impeding the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes relating to and arising from illegally intercepted communications, as well as the selective administration of justice. Political interference, inefficiency, favoritism toward well-placed persons, prolonged processes, violations of the right to public trial, and corruption characterized the judicial system.”

If you are surprised by the fact that they received suspended sentences instead of prison, I can conclude that for the last 10 years we've been living in different countries.

What happened on “Bloody Thursday”?

In the evening on April 27, a mob besieged and then stormed the Macedonian parliament, wounding dozens of members of parliament and journalists. The crowd included protesters from the group “For United Macedonia” — widely reported to be a proxy for the outgoing ruling party VMRO-DPMNE, which the group denies — still holds power in the interregnum period as part of the technical government. Journalists investigating the incident reported that the attack was spearheaded by disguised members of the secret police, police, and the army.

Inside the parliament building, at least seven deputies from VMRO-DPMNE were caught on security cameras opening the building's doors to rioters. They even incited and helped guide the crowd to the former opposition.

The main targets were Zoran Zaev, the leader of Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and prime minister designate, and Zijadin Sela, the leader of Albanian Alliance, as well as members of the Colorful Revolution movement who recently became independent deputies aligned with SDSM.

The attack on parliament was the peak of a political crisis years in the making. The Macedonian independent media responded with fear that the president would use the incident as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and deploy security forces to finish the coup.

Notably, the deputies under assault insisted on non-violence, repeatedly sending messages to the public to remain calm. This is credited as preventing large groups of their supporters gathering around the city to rescue them from clashing with the mob.

While all this was happening, responding police officers did not intervene at first, as they'd received no orders from the VMRO-DPMNE-appointed chief of the Bureau for Public Safety, Mitko Chavkov. When the order finally came, police had little trouble dispersing the mob, albeit with zero on-site arrests. The authorities identified some of the perpetrators only days later, despite the straightforward surveillance footage from CCTV and eyewitnesses’ cell phones showing their faces.

After the attack, two secret police agents allegedly entered the parliament and seized several hard disks from a security room, but they failed to remove all surveillance evidence, leaving behind CCTV footage recorded to other devices.

Over the next several days, VMRO-DPMNE officials played down the incident. When he was asked if the mob violence qualifies as an assassination attempt, VMRO-DPMNE President Nikola Gruevski said the attackers would have killed their targets if that's what they'd really wanted.

Video: Contrasting video footage with Gruevski's statement.
Tweet: Episode 7 – #GruevskiLYING “If they wanted they could kill him.”

In fact, the attackers who managed to get hold of Member of Parliament Zijadin Sela beat him so hard, including stomping his head, that they were reportedly convinced he was dead. Some of the videos later released show that some of the assailants indeed carried guns.

According to members of the security forces who spoke anonymously to journalists, the attackers planned to begin executing people when the chaos reached a certain level. The killing apparently never began because there were too many eyewitnesses filming the event on their mobile phones.

The mob prevented ambulances to approach the parliament, so over 20 seriously injured deputies and journalists received medical care after several hours. The material damage was significant — the mob ransacked the building, stealing office equipment and food from the cafeteria.

special report by the NGO Macedonian Helsinki Committee — based on “photos, audio-visual recordings, and testimonies” — indicates that more than two dozen separate criminal acts were committed during the attack on parliament:

“The crimes are established as such in 8 chapters of the Criminal Code, and were directed against: 1) the life and body, 2) the freedoms and rights of citizens, 3) property, 4) security, 5) State, 6) office, 7) judiciary and 8) public order.”

Nevertheless, state prosecutors embraced the narrative supported by the former ruling party. Instead of facing more serious charges, the nine suspects went on trial for “participation in a crowd planning to conduct a criminal act.” Some of the defendants had prior felony convictions, included one convicted murderer.

The men confessed and apologized, and eight of the nine received six-month suspended sentences. The ninth suspect was given a 18-month suspended sentence.

by Filip Stojanovski at May 25, 2017 02:21 PM

‘We Can Finally Get Married!': Taiwan to Become First Asian Country to Recognise Gay Marriage

Pro-LGBT marriage groups celebrated the court's ruling on May 24, 2017. Photo from Facebook support LGBT marriage coalition.

This post was written by Elson Tong and originally published on Hong Kong Free Press on May 24, 2017. The edited version below is republished on Global Voices under a partnership agreement.

Taiwan’s top court ruled on May 24, 2017 that current regulations prohibiting marriage between partners of the same sex are unconstitutional.

The constitutional court’s ruling means that the island is set to become the first Asian country to recognise same-sex marriage.

Announcing the result of a two-month-long constitutional review on Wednesday afternoon, the panel of 14 judges ordered the legislature to either amend the Civil Code or introduce new provisions to recognise same-sex marriage within two years.

The court said that the current regulations are in violation of constitutional rights to the freedom of marriage and equality among citizens.

Two of the 14 judges dissented, while one refrained from filing an opinion.

Hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters celebrated in Taipei outside the legislature, in a demonstration held by gay rights group Marriage Equality Coalition.

“We can finally get married!” shouted demonstrators outside the Legislative Yuan.

Opponents, however, remain camped outside the judiciary building following their protest on Tuesday. Anti-gay rights activist Abdulluh Musad has staged an ongoing hunger strike for four days at Taipei’s Liberty Square.

‘I witnessed a history in the making’

Wednesday’s review was brought to court by two parties, one of which is Chi Chia-wei, a 59-year-old gay rights activist who first attempted to register a marriage with his male partner in 1986.

With Taiwan under martial law at the time, he was imprisoned for five months. The legislature responded to his petition calling homosexuality “a perversion of a minority.”

Chi was joined in his current petition by the Department of Civil Affairs of the Taipei government, which earlier said it would respect the court’s ruling no matter what.

Chi Chia-wei. Photo from Facebook user Tsai Yi.

Facebook user Tsai Yi spotted the old man outside the Legislative Yuan and recorded the historical moment (English version translated by Tony Lin Zhiyang):

畫面中的這個人叫祁家威,1986年28歲的他在台北一家麥當勞前召開國際記者會公開出櫃,成為台灣第一位公開出櫃的同性戀,此後的三十年間,祁家威的人生幾乎全部投注在同志運動當中,爭取同志平權,為了結婚而戰。

今天,台灣司法院公佈了祁家威提出的釋憲申請,判定民法不保障同性伴侶結婚違憲。

爭取台灣婚姻平權這條路祁家威從一個人走到百萬人走了三十年,而他也從少年走到了白頭。

今天在釋憲現場看到他,匆匆擦肩而過,卻有滄海桑田之感。有生之年可以見證,人生足已。

When he came out as the first openly gay man in Taiwan 30 years ago, he was still a young man.

The man in the picture is Chi Chia-wei. In 1986, the 28-year-old Chi hosted a press conference in front of a McDonald's in Taipei, becoming the first openly gay man in Taiwan. In the following 30 years, Chi spends most of his adult life in LGBT rights and fights for marriage equality.

Today, Taiwan's Judicial Yuan made a judicial interpretation regarding Chi's petition: it is unconstitutional for Taiwan's Civil Code to prohibit same sex marriage.

He started this fight 30 years ago as a young man and he was all by himself, but today he has millions of people behind him.

I walked past him earlier today at a gathering outside of Legislative Yuan. It was just a matter of seconds, but I witnessed a history in the making.

Existing regulations stipulating marriage as a union between a man and a woman have also been challenged in a bill proposed by legislator Yu Mei-nu of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. The Legislative Yuan passed the first of three readings of the bill in December 2016, but a final review is not expected until later this year.

by Hong Kong Free Press at May 25, 2017 08:45 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/25/2017: What the future of tech holds in store for us
If you're an independent video game company, it can be hard to get exposure. Ian Bogost, an interactive gaming professor at Georgia Tech, joins us to talk about issues of access and discovery within the indie game market. Plus: a conversation with The Economist's Daniel Franklin, author of the new book "Megatech."

by Marketplace at May 25, 2017 05:20 AM

Global Voices
Is the Belt and Road Project the Answer to China's Economic Woes? Some Aren't So Sure.

Map showing Belt and Road initiative. Image from Chinese state-owned Xinhua News.

China caught the world’s eyes with its high-profile global forum on the so-called Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing on 14-15 May 2017. The developmental blueprint, involving about 65 countries, seeks to push through a series of infrastructure and trade projects that boost global economic growth and connect the Asian, African and European continents.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged US $124 billion during the forum to establish China’s leading role in this new globalization effort.

Despite being touted by Chinese news outlets, following the forum censors began to block Chinese from commenting about the initiative on social media. A number of users had been expressing their skepticism about the gigantic international project at a time when China’s economy is struggling with overcapacity, soaring home prices, and inflated credit.

Screen capture from Weibo on 22 May 2017. When posting comment on news about Belt and Road on Weibo, a warning stating that the comment is violating regulations and policies pops up.

Skepticism aside, many Chinese bloggers did discuss the initiative in a positive manner. For example, “Lucky Star No. 1”, writing on the online forum Tianya, explained in simple language how China could reset the global economic order and become a boss with the Belt and Road project (also called “One Belt, One Road”):

“一带一路”的核心,无非就是投资周边国家的基础设施,使周边国家成为自己的资源供应地和产品市场,而自己本身由于在这一进程中占据主导地位和合理的“剪刀差”,从而获得巨额的经济利益。
看的出来,这是一种投资非常大,风险也非常大,收益也超级大的“项目”,显然只有同时具有超级强大的经济(必要条件)以及政治和军事实力,才有资格去实施。如果你经济实力不够,光是前期的投资就能把你压垮…同样,如果你的政治军事实力不强,拳头不够硬,那就根本别想去干这事,历史证明,你强大,你周边甚至万里之外,都是“友好国家”,你弱小,那你就得小心你的卧榻之侧了。
实施这样的战略,就相当于在地球村,自己开店当老板了,而不是帮别人打工。

The core of “One Belt, One Road” is to invest in the infrastructure of surrounding countries and turn them into suppliers of raw material and markets of our products. There's huge economic gain generated from this leading role in the project and a reasonable return from the investment.

We can see that the investment is huge, the risk is huge, and the return is super huge. Only a super strong economic entity (a necessary condition) equipped with political and military power can take up the initiative. If you don’t have the economic power, the initial investment would drag you down…Likewise, if you don’t have political and military strength, and your fist is not hard enough, you can’t take up the project. History has proven that only the strong country has “friends”. If you are weak, someone can take over.

The strategy is to turn oneself into the boss of the global village rather than the worker.

While many Tianya forum users echoed the above dream of surpassing the US and Europe in the global economic order through the Belt and Road Initiative, some in the comment thread pointed to the unresolved economic at home. In the course of writing this post, the comment thread was made inaccessible to unregistered members, in perhaps a sign of how sensitive the topic is.

One person wrote:

中国制造业还没解绑,钱都困在房地产,产业升级八字没一撇,面临海外产业发展带来的国内失业,先别吹牛逼好么。美国为什么减税回笼实体,当人家傻子?美国佬早就先行一步了,这个世界怕的就是比你有实力还比你努力。
一会从股市圈钱,一会从房市圈钱,老百姓的钱都圈完了拿什么一带一路。人民币走出去之前自由兑换解决了吗,狂印钱造出来的水份敢放开么?

We haven’t solved the problems in China’s manufacturing sector. All the money is trapped in the property market, and the upgrading of industry is going slow. Overseas developmental projects cannot solve the problem of domestic unemployment, please don’t keep boasting. Why does the US have to reduce taxes and develop a manufacturing sector? Are they fools? They are a step ahead. What we should be fearful of is that your competitor is stronger and works harder than you are.

Money has been frozen in the stock market, in the property market, ordinary people’s money is frozen and where else is the money for One Bell One Road coming from? Has the promise for free yuan exchange been fulfilled? If it keeps printing out money, how can free flow of yuan be possible?

Another user commented:

一,中国现在是L型经济,L的原因很多,关键是产业还没有升级…
二,想要发展实现中国梦,唯一的道路就是产业升级,说白了,就是走高端产品高技术路线,只有这样才能摆脱高耗能高污染低利润的怪圈
三,很遗憾,我们现在的方向却还是搞基建投资,国内基建饱和,债务上天,于是在国外画了一个圈,继续输出水泥,呵呵,先不说投资安全,单单靠搞基建就能成为发达国家?…
四,大规模对外投资基建,给人家修桥修路修电站,造成的后果很可能,人家凭着你的基建过来和你强低端制造的市场,毕竟人家穷,有人力成本优势,比如越南,比如印尼,届时,你培养的朋友会成为你的有利竞争对手,大家一起争夺低端市场

China’s economy is now “L-shaped”, the major reason is that its hasn’t upgraded its industries…

The only road leading to the fulfillment of the China's dream is industrial upgrading, focusing on advanced technological products so that we can step out of the vicious circle of high energy consumption, serious pollution, and low return rate.

Unfortunately, we are still taking the path of infrastructure investment. Infrastructure development is saturated, resulting in rocket high debt domestically, then we draw a circle outside the country to export concrete [for construction]. Let’s not talking about the risk in investment, can we evolve into an advanced country with construction projects? … The most likely result of overseas construction investment in infrastructure is that — the project has empowered them to compete in the low-end manufacturing market. Those countries are poor and they have abundant labor. For example, Vietnam and Indonesia. When the time comes, your friends will become your enemies in the low-end market.

Chinese government has said it is making advances in restructuring its outdated economic model and reducing overcapacity and leverage for years, but it seems apparent that China’s growth has still been driven by the property market boom.

The Belt and Road Initiative could also complicate Beijing’s effort to stem capital outflow that have been weighing on the economy. Many netizens pointed to an official media outlet’s report written in 2015 that 90 percent of Chinese corporations investing overseas were losing money instead of making profit. Quoting the report, Twitter user @szeyan1220 believed foreign investment has been exploited by corrupt government officials to transfer huge amounts of their wealth offshore:

中国经济贸易促进会副会长王文利就曾这样说过:“中国企业在海外投资总体来讲是不成功的。中国有2万多家企业在海外投资,90%以上是亏损的。” 既然大多数海外投资都是亏损的,那为何还要投呢?难道为了洗钱?向海外转移资产?“一带一路”钱一带就是一路,反正钱都是从老百姓身上搜刮去的。

Wang Wenli, the deputy head of the China Economic and Trade Promotion Association, said, “Speaking overall, Chinese corporations’ overseas investment has been unsuccessful. China has around 20,000 corporations investing overseas and 90 percent of them have lost money.” If the majority of the overseas investment is losing money, why continue doing so? For money laundering purposes? To transfer assets overseas? One Belt One Road. Those who take the money find their road, and the money is taken away from ordinary people.

The huge investment and the continuous capital outflow will result in inflation, Chinese scholar Zhang Lifan told US government-funded news outlet Voice of America:

Zhang Lifan: The adverse effect of Belt and Road is spending money. For many years, the country is rich and people are poor. The unequal distribution of wealth has led to a very serious disparity problem. On the internet, people keep complaining that the money spent is from taxpayers and that the money should be used for health care. Many scholars question the viability of the Belt and Road and predict the various potential risks. My opinion is that it may result in spending money.

Zhang further clarified on Twitter what he meant by “spending money”:

I am just an observer rather than an opponent [of the project]. The performance is too much like the annual spring festival gala [meaning too ideological] and I give a thumbs down. When I mentioned “spending money” I am not referring to the US debt held by China but excessive printing of yuan. The ruling elite bloc devalues yuan, resulting in inflation and disparity of the rich and poor. The wealth seized from people will be cashed out in foreign currency, invested overseas or deposited in some offshore bank accounts in Caribbean, Panama and Switzerland. The Belt and Road Initiative has provided another opportunity for spending money.

In fact, the initiative is expected to spend US $5 trillion in the next five years alone, and in Asia, the investment will be up to US $2.5 trillion over the next decade. Yet, by some estimates, over half the countries that have accepted Belt and Road projects have credit ratings below investment grade and the risk for bad debt is huge. While other countries can easily back down from the initiative, as the leader of the initiative, China will be the last to quit.

by Jack Hu at May 25, 2017 01:06 AM

MIT Center for Civic Media
Liveblogging #PPDD17: Exploring Life in the Digital Age and Pervasive Technology.

I'm in San Diego at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) 2017 conference. PPDD engages a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to spearhead a multi-associational, multi-disciplinary partnership among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to make significant contributions in closing the digital divide and addressing the many other challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. I'll be here speaking about some of my ongoing research on Mapping Information Access and liveblogging the other panels as I can.

This liveblog represents a best-efforts account, not a direct transcript, of the lecture, presentation, and/or panel.

I'm attending the breakout panel entitled Exploring Life in the Digital Age and Pervasive Technology.

Andrew begins by introducing his fellow panelists and then his own topic of embodied technologies. He opens with a quote from Marc Weiser, Chief Scientist at Xerox PARC, who observed that "the most profound technologies are those that disappear." At his postdoc, Andrew has been working to construct a database of wearables called FABRIC, a database containing media about emerging embodied technology platforms and their applications that uses a customized metadata scheme to catalog the discourse regarding technologies in popular media, intellectual property, etc, so that it's possible to track their development over time. He reviews some of the specific elements of the system, technologies they have tracked, and partners they've worked with to help gather this information.

Will follows with a talk, on behalf of several collaborators, about an exploratory study of reddit users and their health seeking behavior. The goal of this project was to better understand the intersection of social media and personal health, and how users of the former use it to learn about the latter. They developed 4 hypotheses about information seeking behavior and credibility that they tested with SDSU students and users of r/SampleSize. They found their hypotheses were supported and that there was a feedback loop between how often people sought information, the perceived quality of the information they found, and how much more information they sought after. In future work, they hope to perform a content analysis of what reddit users are searching for, and what they are applying to their daily lives.

Liana follows with a talk about tech, mobility, and ubiquity. She argues that ubiquitous computing has historically focused upon technologies, but it really needs to focus on people, or more specifically the people-technology network, and quotes Bruno Latour to make the point (bless my poor dork heart). She shares survey data from Brazil about which media people use and for what reasons; "ubiquitous computing," in Brazil, doesn't mean omnipresent/omnipotent home sentries like Alexa, but mobile phones armed with assistant apps like Waze, which provides the corpus for her study. Liana argues that, at least in contexts like Brazil, small amounts of data linked over large numbers of devices provide a more realistic hope for ubiquitous computing than more centralized models.

Heloisa, who is also from Brazil, is presenting not the results of a study but a position paper proposing a future study. She identifies prior media forms like the book as having been shaped by patrimonialist political cultures and institutions built around and by the state. Heloisa argues that the main question for Brazilian digital inclusion is not so much about access or literacy but the complex relationship between the longstanding 'book culture' and 'Internet culture,' the former built around the state and its institutions, the latter around globalist and democratic aspirations. She proposes, on behalf of her and her coauthor, two studies of these separate cultures in order to compare their present and futures, independently and interwtwined, in and for the Brazilian context.

by Petey at May 25, 2017 12:33 AM

Creative Commons
Colombian Court Acquits Diego Gómez of Criminal Charges for Sharing a Research Paper Online

Diego Gómez, the Colombian student who for the last three years has been prosecuted for sharing an academic paper online, has been cleared of criminal charges. The decision was delivered today by a judge in the Bogotá Circuit Criminal Court.

In 2014 Diego was a student in conservation and wildlife management, with poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. Diego found and shared a academic paper online so that others could read and learn from it, just as he did. Gómez was prosecuted for copyright infringement, and faced up to eight years in prison.

The decision to clear Diego of criminal charges is an important move in the interest of the public good. Instead of prosecuting students for sharing knowledge, our societies should be encouraging the free exchange of scientific information by reinforcing positive norms around scholarship and collaboration, promoting open access to research, and toning down out of control copyright remedies that serve no reasonable public interest purpose.

Even with today’s verdict, Diego’s situation is not over. The prosecutor has appealed the ruling, so the case will continue. Gomez’s defense team plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support the cost of defending the appeal. Those who wish to help Diego can sign the following petition and will be notified when the crowdfunding campaign launches: sharingisnotacrime.org

Diego has been supported by individuals and organisations from around the world, with leadership from the Colombian digital rights group Fundación Karisma.

The post Colombian Court Acquits Diego Gómez of Criminal Charges for Sharing a Research Paper Online appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at May 25, 2017 12:12 AM

May 24, 2017

MIT Center for Civic Media
Liveblogging #PPDD17: Information and Communication Technologies and Social Justice, Media Justice, and Ethics

I'm in San Diego at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) 2017 conference. PPDD engages a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to spearhead a multi-associational, multi-disciplinary partnership among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to make significant contributions in closing the digital divide and addressing the many other challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. I'll be here speaking about some of my ongoing research on Mapping Information Access and liveblogging the other panels as I can.

This liveblog represents a best-efforts account, not a direct transcript, of the lecture, presentation, and/or panel.

I'm attending the breakout panel entitled Information and Communication Technologies and Social Justice, Media Justice, and Ethics.

  • Chair: Lousia Ha, Bowling Green State University
  • Darrian Carroll, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Izabela Korbiel, Institut fuer Publizistik- und Kommunikationswisssenschaft, Uni Wien
  • Neha Kumar, Georgia Institute of Technology

Darrian begins by introducing himself as a master's candidate at UNLV who will be talking about #Palestine2Ferguson. He argues that this hashtag uses a "rhetoric of embodiment" that expresses empowerment "across the digital divide." He defines, for this presentation, the digital divide as a term that describes the (lack of) interconnectedness between people.

The #Palestine2Ferguson hashtag was created to produce solidarity in/by communication between individuals in Ferguson and in Palestine who saw certain parallels in their experience of oppression. This conversation sometimes saw people describing themselves as part of "one fight, or "one love." Darrian describes the "rhetoric of embodiment" as being constituitive of this "one", in (as I understand) a sort of e pluribus unum produced by Twitter conversation. He connects this to the rhetorical concept of enthymematic reasoning, whereby the audience is persuaded to arrive at conclusions produced by the negative space of what is not said, and reviews example tweets that perform this kind of rhetoric.

Darrian takes the concept of the public screen from DeLuca and Peeples and translates it into the "public touchscreen." He argues that certain activist conversations are both inventional/intentional in how they simultaneously imagine and speak to new audiences.

Izabela follows with a talk about human rights as an ethical framework for technology developers. She begins by describing two positions in thre academic debate about human rights and ICTs: whether particular (and which) social values should be followed when designing protocols, and whether protocols should seek to enforce certain values. While many governments have made statements about the liberating potential of ICTs, in practice many governments try to restrict, restrain, or control ICTs. Meanwhile, human rights advocates face challenges in technical feasibility, the legitimacy of non-state actors (e.g. the IETF), and the contested character of human rights.

Izabela identifies the UDHR as the most relevant ethical and legal framework for human rights on/around the Internet, but translating those values to the Internet remains a political and technological challenge. Even when engineers and developers in Izabela's research are sensitive to e.g. privacy concerns, they tend to see it as a problem of trust in a given network, as opposed to a universal human rights concern. However, Izabela argues that a framework like the UDHR is the most powerful example we have of a general framework for responsibility that should guide how we build and regulate the Internet.

Neha, who was on the plenary panel at lunch about global ICT development, is now here to give a presentation called "Imagining Feminist Futures and the Case of the Panic Button." It's drawing on her work at TaNDem on panic buttons in New Dehli. Neha references urban planning critiques of the city as places that were primary designed for men and their work and not for the mobility of a new generation of women. The purpose of this project is to investigate how smart cities can also be made safe cities for women, and what literacies // initiatives // technologies are required to achieve that.

In 2016, after a brutal gang-rape of a middle class woman in an area widely considered safe, the Indian government mandated that smartphones include a "panic button" that summons emergency services. Neha and her students conducted interviews and fieldwork with women in New Delhi to better understand how early deployments of this product are being used and where the problems existed. In doing this research, they followed feminist HCI principles to guide their fieldwork. Neha then reviewed core findings and themes that emerged from their qualitative fieldwork with women riding public transit systems and other public spaces in New Delhi. She also shared alternative practices that have emerged in New Delhi, e.g. taking a picture of the taxi and driver and sending that to a family member to help deter harassment.

Through this fieldwork Neha and her team concluded that the panic button // phone solution was not well-aligned to the problem as focused through design and local values. It's not well-integrated with the technical infrastructure, preexisting problems with police, tensions with parents about mobility, and so on. Instead of a single button with single function, Neha advocates for a solution that provides for multiple uses that are well-aligned with local customs and expectations, as well as increased accountability for state organs and investments in necessary infrastructure. Only with an integrated (and feminist) approach will a successor system to the panic button actually succeed.

by Petey at May 24, 2017 11:10 PM

Liveblogging #PPDD17: Global Perspectives on Gaps in Digital Divide Understanding and Research

I'm in San Diego at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) 2017 conference. PPDD engages a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to spearhead a multi-associational, multi-disciplinary partnership among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to make significant contributions in closing the digital divide and addressing the many other challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. I'll be here speaking about some of my ongoing research on Mapping Information Access and liveblogging the other panels as I can.

This liveblog represents a best-efforts account, not a direct transcript, of the lecture, presentation, and/or panel.

Our next panel is titled Gaps in Digital Divide Understanding and Research: Global Perspectives. Our panelists are:

  • Chair: Karen Mossberger, Arizona State University
  • Neha Kumar, Assistant Professor, School of International Affairs and School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Andrea Kavanaugh, Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director,
    Center for Human Computer Interaction and Courtesy Appointment: Computer Science Department, Virginia Tech
  • Hernan Galperin, Research Associate Professor, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California
  • Blanca Gordo, International Computer Science Institute

Neha Kumar shares her backstory as a software developer to someone with a PhD in ICT and a focus on development, particularly among marginal peoples in India. She places a particular focus on dispelling myths and uses ethnographic approaches to help do this and to craft new narratives that center users as opposed to imposing narratives of how people should use technologies.

Today, Neha reviews her ethnographic work among Indian youth as they use Facebook. She shares stories and interviews from her participants about the uses and gratifications Facebook brought them, and if/how participants learned "from their environment," meaning both the technical and social milieu in which they found themselves immersed.

At Georgia Tech, and with other collaborators, Neha is running a project called TanDEm, a feminist HCI project that studies "how empowerment translates across geographic, disciplinary, and socioeconomic boundaries, [as well as] designing so that individuals from underserved and under-represented communities are able to act, engage, and participate." She leaves us with the 'big idea' of 'respect,' which she sees as a necessary condition for working (unoppressively) with and across subjects, countries, fields, and other boundaries.

Andrea Kavanaugh begins by saying she has worked for decades in ICT for development, not only in the 'developing world' of the global south but the 'developing world' of Appalachia and in community computing in rural Virginia. She traces the history of an 'electronic village' project from the early 1990s, in which Virginia Tech collaborated with federal offices and public libraries to help connect towns, to today, where some of her participants are illiterate but still have cell phones. "My fundamental argument is that people who cannot read or write are still learning basic computing skills on their cell phones, and that these skills can translate off their phones into other contexts." Andrea canvasses a series of projects that she's been a part of to help create common community spaces (both at libraries and outside of libraries) that can help facilitate this kind of capabilities-building.

Hernan Galperin says that, instead of talking about his own research, he wants to ask whether we can connect everyone, and if we want to. 20 years ago, the answer was unequivocally yes: this is a great technology, and everyone will use it if we can just get them access, and it will be a social equalizer. In retrospect, he says, this was simplistic. Part of these misunderstandings arose from the fact that the Internet was built on the telephone network, and so people assumed that, like the telephone network, connectivity was sufficient (and empowering). However, the general-purpose technology of the web was fundamentally different.

The fundamental question Hernan poses is: what does it meant to be digitally connected? The historic binary of the digital divide was inaccurate but also urgent because it is so clear. Meanwhile, various forms of nuance (ranges and kinds of access, or literacies) are more accurate and subtle but also are confusing from a policy perspective. In some cases, trends may point in opposite directions: simple connectivity may be increasing while inclusion/equity decreases. In order to make advances, Hernan argues, we need to "build a better knowledge condition" and refine concepts, metrics, and outcomes so that our research can be more accurate and more usable.

Blanca Gordo opens by stating her excitement at being surrounded by people who care about (in)equality in, with, and through technology. At the same time, she says that she's surprised we still have to debate such (in)equality, given the empirical record. She raises and reviews a set of questions about what conditions - politically, governmentally, economically, pedagogically, and technologically - are necessary and sufficient for achieving more equality. She advocates for the term "new entrants" as opposed to "late adopters" when referring to subaltern communities; "you can't be late to something that was never offered to you." Blanca argues that too many researchers and policymakers continue to ascribe the results of inequality to personal choices when they are in fact the product of what she calls "digital destitution." She concludes with a rousing call for a renewed focus on the structural factors that exclude and disempower disadvantaged individuals and communities.

by Petey at May 24, 2017 09:27 PM

Liveblogging PPDD17: Introduction to the Current Status of the Digital Divide Around the World

I'm in San Diego at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) 2017 conference. PPDD engages a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to spearhead a multi-associational, multi-disciplinary partnership among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to make significant contributions in closing the digital divide and addressing the many other challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. I'll be here speaking about some of my ongoing research on Mapping Information Access and liveblogging the other panels as I can.

This liveblog represents a best-efforts account, not a direct transcript, of the lecture, presentation, and/or panel.

PPDD 2017 kicks off with a welcome and introductory summary of digital divide issues around the world. Our panelists are:

  • Chair: Karen Mossberger, Arizona State University
  • Europe: Grant Blank, University of Oxford and Oxford Internet Institute
  • Africa: Bill Tucker, University of the Western Cape and Bridging Application and Network Gaps
  • Asia the Pacific, and the Middle East: Ellie Rennie, RMIT University
  • Canada: Anabel Quan-Haase, University of Western Ontario
  • United States: Rafi M. Goldberg, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Office of Policy Analysis and Development
  • Latin America and the Caribbean:Laura Robinson, Santa Clara University

Karen Mossberger welcomes attendees and thanks organizers. She frames PPDD as a gathering of people who care about digital inclusion and seek to empower individuals from all walks of life with the infrastructure of the digital age, and an opportunity for academics, practicioners, and policymakers to work together towards these ends. After recognizing our local sponsors, she turns it over to our panelists to talk about inititives in their regions of the world.

Grant Blank offers to canvass 30 countries in five minutes ("must like most American tours through Europe"). He outlines 'gradients' of Internet connectivity and access across Europe. The big divide he delineates is between urban and rural areas: the former being well-connected both with fiber and and wireless access, and the latter less connected, less wealthy, and less educated. One challenge in this area is that certain countries (e.g. the Scandinavian countries) have very good public data on connectivity, but other nations, particularly to Europe's south and east, do not have good public data on Internet connectivity, which makes it hard to study. However, the best available data suggest that in south/east Europe Internet adoption rates lag significantly, in some cases with only half of the population connected to the web. Grant links these lower rates to the economic challenges of these countries as both cause and consequence. Grant concludes by arguing that that the Internet has served to perpetuate and strengthen, rather than amelioerate, existing socioeconomic divides across Europe.

Bill Tucker, who was unable to attend, has submitted a video of his introduction, but it's hard to hear in the conference room. I'll see if I can get a copy of the video to embed in this post.

Ellie Rennie begins by discussing Australia's relatively high inclusion index, which (strangely, to me and I infer to her) does not include indigenous peoples, who are her primary research subjects. She describes a government-funded initiative to test whether free Internet, loaned devices, and culturally-appropriate advising could help more indigenous peoples participate in online education. The results of this initiative were very strong (i.e., many of the students completed certificates and/or further education), but complicated. For example, cultural norms around sharing meant that students would sometimes have their devices/data dominated by family members for entertainment purposes before they could complete educational requirements. Ellie describes online educational equity as a "monumental task" that will require not only more funding but more careful attention to the social webs in which students are embedded. She then summarizes cases of access in Malaysia and new initiatives by Dubai to become a blockchain-based city.

Anabel Quan-Haase begins by discussing some of the opportunities and challenges for Canada, which is the world's second largest country in terms of area but relatively small in terms of population, with a population disproprotionately distributed across the southern border with America. Canadian cities also have large migrant populations (half of Toronto's population was born outside of Canada). So Canada's challenges regarding the digital divide range across almost all possible aspects of the problem. She shares data from Canada that, like data in other regions, shows that age, gender, region, and income all predict Internet access and usage. One interesting phenomenon, however, is that immigration status doesn't: in fact, migrants use the Internet, particularly social media, as much or more than native-born Canadians. She concludes with a call for more grounded research in the actual needs and capabilities of (under)connected Canadians.

Rafi Goldberg begins by introducing the "mouthful" of the agency he works on and some of the data they capture. In 2015, 75% of Americans report having an Internet connection, and most have at least 2 devices. However, a "huge" digital divide remains, delineated, as in so many other cases, by education, income, and geography. The age gap is reducing, but this seems to be due to prior adopters becoming older, not older people becoming adopters. He concludes his short summary by identifying similarities and differences between what he's said about the USA and what others have said about the regions and what can be learned from there.

Laura Robinson begins by noting that, at PPDD17, many of the people in the room helped produce a volume of research on digital divide in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the time, they saw incredible variation across the regions of Central and South America, from 10% connectivity in Haiti to 61% in Chile. Latin America now represents 10% of the world's Internet connectivity, and slightly leads the global internet average for regional connectivity. She concludes by summarizing what we know and what we still need to learn.

Karen returns to the microphone to conclude our rapid tour around the world and tell us to go to lunch before the 1PM Plenary on Gaps in Digital Divide Understanding and Research.

by Petey at May 24, 2017 07:14 PM

Global Voices
When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Wrong Words

How a photo of tragedy was misattributed again and again on social media.

“Sharing is Caring” by Flickr user Niklas Wikström (CC-BY-NC 2.0)

WARNING: This article and the pages it links to contain graphic images depicting violence.

Fact-checking in the moment to quash a rumor or fabrication is important, but what about years after something first appeared? Social media content, whether true or false, has a way of hanging around.

Take this photo from a horrific accident in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) seven years ago. Since it was first published, it has been misleadingly used all over the world to illustrate tragedies that actually took place in Nigeria and Myanmar.

These incorrect pairings of image and event — “false descriptions” or “false contexts” (in Global Voices or First Draft News terminology) — don't negate the fact that there has been plenty of accurate reporting of the events in DRC, Myanmar and Nigeria. However, it does raise questions about our appetite for images with news.

What happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In 2010, a fuel tanker traveling through Sange, a town in Eastern DRC, overturned and exploded, killing over 230 people. Years of neglect following civil war had ravaged Africa's second largest country and turned roads in the area into dangerous paths filled with difficult-to-navigate potholes. Tragically, the tanker fell victim to them.

Officials described a fireball that engulfed dozens of homes and a cinema nearby that was packed with people watching World Cup football. Houses were scorched to a crisp and charred bodies littered the streets, with many people were burnt beyond recognition.

This picture was taken in Sange, DRC, showing victims of a tanker explosion on July 3, 2010. This particular version was originally captioned as: “This is Nigeria.” [sic] by Imgur user Mystical Monkey, January 12, 2015.

Several photos of the incident depicted the horrifying scenes from the day. Above is one example. It shows rows of charred bodies lined up on the ground as people look on.

But the story doesn't end there. Over the years, this same photo has been trotted out multiple times on social media, blogs, and other platforms and wrongly attributed to real but unrelated tragedies, most notably incidents in Nigeria and Myanmar.

What did and did not happen in Nigeria and Myanmar

On 3 January 2015, Boko Haram militants attacked the remote Nigerian towns of Baga and Doro Gowon. Eyewitnesses graphically described atrocities that they were forced to flee from. Houses and shops were burnt and corpses lay in the streets and in bushes.

There were reports that anywhere from 150 to 2,000 people were massacred, but the numbers couldn’t be confirmed. “No one stayed back to count bodies,” one resident told Human Rights Watch. Many were hacked, shot, and burnt to death. Only satellite images were available to illustrate the aftermath. The reason for the attack was also unclear, but Baga's army base has been a continual point of conflict between Nigeria's military and Boko Haram's effort to gain territory (examples from 2013 and in 2015).

And this is where the DRC image appeared again, when it was falsely presented as evidence of the fact and possible scale of the assault:

In fact, this misuse of the DRC image was only one in a series of misattributions; Africa Check has documented associations with Nigeria since 2014. In all these cases, the image was presented as proof of mass killings. Going further, personal commentary like this example incorrectly linked the DRC image to mainstream news sources to make the case.

The Sange image also made an appearance in association to the deadly persecution of Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar. According to one flash report published by the United Nations (UN), those fleeing described beatings, rape, and a number of deaths, some by burning. As others reported violence against the Rohingya people, posts that paired descriptions with photos from DRC like the following appeared:

This image comes from a Saudi Arabian news site that falsely alleged in 2012 that Myanmar President Thein Sein said monks and politicians were involved in the killing of Rohingya Muslims, and in addition used the DRC image to illustrate the information. The original post accessed 26 April 2017 is available here. Other news organizations, citing AFP as their source, also incorrectly attributed to Thein Sein the claim, but without falsely associating the DRC image.

The global reach of false descriptions

Traces of these mistaken pairings go as far back as 2011 and 2012 and, indeed, are from all around the world. Using a “reverse image search,” you begin to see how extensively information can cross borders. A reverse image search engine on TinEye across 18.8 billion images (as of May 3, 2017) found 344 very similar photos to the DRC photo in question on a mix of personal pages, social media platforms, and community and national publications. They are in many languages: English, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, German, Greek, Portuguese. Some forwarded the false reports, while others occasionally attempted to debunk the fabrications.

We isolated examples of misuse and associated them to specific countries based upon what site they were published on in order to show the reach more clearly than that of language alone.

More than one example of misuse may exist from the countries listed below (which are also sometimes linked to one another). Here are some of the cases that are still possible to fully track down (orange on the map):

Map: NewsFrames. Country examples of false pairings of the DRC image with Nigeria or Myanmar. The orange countries indicate sites and servers where examples of fabricated or false news are still available. The countries in grey are examples that, according to the metadata and information available in TinEye, are likely to also exemplify false examples. As a reminder, the source of this image is the Democratic Republic of Congo (in blue).

  • Algeria, 2012. “What's happening in Burma – Myanmar?” A link to the DRC picture was shared in an online discussion forum (aimed at Algerians and interested Arabs) as part of a thread on the “war of Buddhists against Muslims.”
  • Brazil, 2011. “Cena Chocante! Cristãos queimados vivos! Verdadeiro ou falso?” (Shocking scene! Christians burned alive! True or false?). A rumor-busting site challenged the notion that the photo in question depicted Christians killed by Muslims.
  • Canada, 2015. In this post, a blogger from Quebec City not only called out the hoax, but reflected on the misuse of the DRC image in association with Nigeria and larger questions about people’s intentions and the tragedies involved (in DRC and beyond).
  • Ecuador, 2013. “En Nigeria están quemando a los cristianos” (In Nigeria they are burning Christians). The newspaper La República published this article on explosions in northern Kano, Nigeria, identifying the part of the city as a Christian section of town. La República cites the Spanish news agency EFE as its source (though it is unknown if the original wire report contained the image).
  • France, 2015. Twitter posts like this one in the aftermath of the Boko Haram massacre, which used the DRC image to illustrate the “horrors of Islam,” clearly did not see the debunking sites like Hoaxbuster. Hoaxbuster cited the erroneous use of this image in connection with Nigeria since 2011, promoted by a post from US anti-Islam commentator Pamela Geller.
  • Germany, 2017. “Genozid gegen Muslime geht weiter in Myanmar, Friedensnobelpreisträger schweigt” (Genocide against Muslims continues in Mynamar, peace prize recipient stays quiet). This article called attention to the continued plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar but cited the work of an Indian Express article with the DRC image; the Indian Express article did not contain the image at the time of our post's publication.
  • Greece, 2012.“ΠΡΟΣΟΧΗ ! Η πιο σοκαριστική φωτογραφία που έχετε δει!” (CAUTION! The most shocking photo you've seen!). This site used the image as proof of Muslims killing Nigerian Christians. This contention was also debunked by a Greek fact-checking site in 2013, and again in 2016.
  • Iran, 2012. An Association of Student Seminarians (Mullahs) in Islamic Countries published an open letter of support for Rohingya Muslims via Nasim News Agency and used the DRC image as illustration.
  • Italy, 2015. A resident of the old Piedicastello quarter of the city of Trento posted this message to his local site to express solidarity with the 2015 Nigeria massacre.
  • Nigeria, 2012. Even within Nigeria, the DRC photo got shared on a public discussion forum as evidence of a Boko Haram bombing in Kano.
  • Malaysia, 2015. Malaysia presented two extremes of the DRC image’s misuse with a tweet sympathetic to the Nigerian massacre on the one hand, and an blogger's attempt to delegitimize claims of Rohingyan persecution given the existence of misused photos on the other.
  • Myanmar, 2017. The government of Myanmar has published corrections to what they consider “intentionally fabricated news and photos sent to international media, international human rights organisations and governments in an attempt to cause misunderstandings about Myanmar.” This English-language-only correction also included references to fabricated pictures of hate speech rumor mills used by extremist groups to show Muslims killing Buddhists and vice versa (often spread by Burmese nationalists).
  • Russia, 2012. “FХристианофобия или политическая провокация?” (Christianophobia or political provocation?). This post directed at members of the Russian Orthodox community clarifies that the DRC image is NOT one of Muslims killing Christians.
  • Saudi Arabia, 2012/2014. This news site falsely alleged that Myanmar President Thein Sein had admitted in 2012 that monks and politicians had been involved in the killing of Rohingya Muslims and paired the story with the image from Sange. The article was updated again in 2014, and at the time of publication the image remained.
  • Spain, 2015/2016. This 2014 article about students slain by Boko Haram, published by the now defunct, Catholic-minded news site Análisis Digital, explicitly stated that the image was not of the killings, though it claimed that it was of a “similar jihad attack.” When the image was later circulated in the context of the 2015 massacre by Boko Haram, El Pais newspaper attempted to debunk its connection to Nigeria.
  • Turkey, 2015. “##NijeryaYanıyorDünyaUyuy” (Nigeria Is Burning, World Is Sleeping). The DRC picture appeared tagged with this Twitter hashtag marking a discussion started by Muslims after the 2015 Boko Haram massacre and the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. They wanted their communities to pay greater awareness to these events presumably taking place in the name of Islam.
  • United States, 2015. The image was tweeted (and retweeted over 9,300 times) as evidence of the 2015 Boko Haram massacre, but the messages it was attached to did not engage in any religious framing. Instead, the aim was to draw attention to the relative number of deaths and media coverage in comparing Nigeria and the Charlie Hebdo attack.
  • Vietnam(ese), 2014. After a message ostensibly written by a “Father Juan Carlos Martos” about a Nigerian massacre began to circulate, discussion boards in Vietnamese like this one translated it and proclaimed it a hoax. The message, which included the DRC image, has been disavowed by the Claretian Missionaries organization and Father Juan Carlos Martos.

There are other confirmed examples of falsely using the image in Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Argentina.

Other accounts, aggregators, and sites from the following country locations (in grey on the map) are also suggested by TinEye, though no longer fully traceable: Czech Republic, Australia, India, Peru, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Japan, and possibly China. (Records exist on the crawler engine with URLs and time-date stamps and occasionally possess image filenames related to Nigeria or Rohingya Muslims.) In all these cases, which occur much later than the original 2010 disaster, the image may ultimately bear a correct description, but the original post is not available or accessible.

Frames and pictures

There are two strong themes or frames that run through these posts, and the first focuses on religion. The photo has been used in terms of larger discussions about silence related to the killing of Christians by Muslims or, in defense of Muslims, the killing of Rohingyas by Buddhists. A second framing uses the image to discuss the undervaluing of African lives compared to European or French lives.

Making sense of religion and the value of human life is important, which is why the use of images in association with these efforts is worth examining. But a deeper question is what happens when readers can no longer trust these images. With social media, there are scores of people who may be inadvertently partaking in muddying the waters around a tragedy. Does the atmosphere of misinformation and disinformation suggest true atrocities are false and take away from the actual horror of what has, in fact, happened in DRC, in Nigeria, and in Myanmar?

The dissemination of violent images has long been debated (as in this example). One argument is that withholding images is a refusal to acknowledge the tragedy, and these images are at times requested by victims themselves. Yet there has also long been a concern that violent images desensitize readers and viewers, making them lose their ability to empathize (such as this study which examined the effects of violent media on helping others).

While there's much to be debated about violent images in the news media, the fact is they're critical to news coverage today. As technologists experiment with algorithms to aid the fight against “fake news,” they will need to think carefully about situations where a picture suggests one thing, when in fact it may be used out of context or altogether in a false way. Any analysis of false descriptions should also consider how truly international it can be.

Many thanks to Afef Abrougui, Anna Schetnikova, Belen Febres-Cordero, Esther Dodo, Gustavo Xavier, Iria Puyosa, L. Finch, Lena Nitsche, Marisa Petricca, Mohamed ElGohary, Mong Palatino, Oiwan Lam, Ortaç Oruç, Veroniki Krikoni, Rami AlHames, Suzanne Lehn, Thant Sin, and Tori Egherman for their help in confirming details and context.

by Connie Moon Sehat at May 24, 2017 03:59 PM

Creative Commons
State of the Commons Highlight: An interview with the filmmakers behind Alike Film

alike-film

“Alike” was directed by Daniel Martinez Lara and Rafa Cano Mende, and was made in collaboration with ex Pepe-School-Land students. The film was developed using the open source operating system Linux and Blender, a free and open source 3D creation suite. The film has debuted at 120 festivals and won nearly as many awards.

Watch Alike:

Alike short film from Pepe School Land on Vimeo.

Interview with the filmmakers: Rafa Cano Mende and Daniel Martinez Lara

Alike is a successful film licensed under CC BY-ND made with Blender. What made you decide to license it under CC? How did you work with the Blender community to make your film more successful?

From the beginning, we were clear. After touring for festivals we wanted the short film to be available and free on internet so the message reaches as many people as possible. The CC license is perfect for that reason.

Alike has been our first short film made in Blender entirely, and we are really happy with our decision. It is not the “free” that matters. We have become part of the “Blender Community” due to the strength of users and programmers – they are always willing to solve and come up with ideas.

You chose to license the graphics under ND and the script under BY. Why did you make that decision? Why did you separate the two?

When we were developing the short film, we wanted to protect the script and characters more traditionally because our work was not finished. When we finished it we wanted to share our project with everybody, and its final form was the Alike short film video, which we shared with a more open license.

Alike is a heartwarming story about the special bond between a father and son as well as the perils of being too busy in an overconnected world. How did you come up with the story?

When you are a father, you usually wonder which will be the best way to raise your children. Alike tries to be a reflection and tries to help you to be aware about letting you go by stress and routine, and always trying to find an answer from the calm.

How did you bring the graphics and the script together so seamlessly?

This convergence is because of Rafa Cano, co-director, art director, and animation supervisor of the film. Cano has had the sensitivity of understanding Alike´s story and designed a world and an animation customized to the story.

You’ve won a number of awards with this short! How does the commons play into this? Why is it important to be a part of the global commons?

On the tour festival stage, we don’t know how the commons license has influenced it. But due to the film’s success, we feel confident to continue sharing films under Commons licenses on the internet.

The post State of the Commons Highlight: An interview with the filmmakers behind Alike Film appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at May 24, 2017 03:19 PM

Global Voices
Trinidad & Tobago Ministers Rack Up Big Bills—and Social Media Outrage

A meme by Christian Hume about tourism minister Shamfa Cudjoe's exorbitant roaming bill, widely shared on Facebook.

With oil prices down, Trinidad and Tobago's energy-based economy has had to adjust. These are lean times; foreign exchange is less available and the government is trying to make up the country's revenue shortfall any way it can.

Imagine the public's consternation, then, when news broke that two government ministers in particular — Shamfa Cudjoe, the minister of tourism, and Darryl Smith, the minister of sport and youth affairs — have not been adhering to the same belt-tightening rules.

Cudjoe stunned netizens when it was revealed that she ran up a TT $59,000 phone bill (approximately US $8,740) over the course of four days. She later explained that only $1,100 of the billed amount represented phone calls — the balance consisted of roaming fees and value-added tax (VAT) at a time when she was in the Bahamas for a tourism-related event.

In a press release, Cudjoe said, “At the time of the trip, the Ministry was dealing with several issues which required my attention and therefore necessitated that I remain accessible. During this period, as is common while travelling on official government business, my mobile telephone was placed on roaming. However, at every reasonable opportunity, I also made use of the Wi-Fi facility where it was available.”

She claims she too was surprised by the high bill and asked the ministry to “launch an immediate investigation” into the charges. The cell service provider, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), has said that it had no control over the roaming charges imposed by regional and international carriers.

Netizens were not too quick to buy Cudjoe's declarations of fiscal responsibility, however. The hashtag #callmeanytimeyouwant soon started to make an appearance and she as soon being referred to on social media as the “Minister of Roaming”.

On Twitter, Rhoda Bharath was truly incredulous as to how this could have happened:

On Facebook, she further dissected Cudjoe's defense:

Where things get interesting is the cost of data charges in the Bahamas and what they actually mean in downloaded/used data.
When the math is done, the exorbitant rate indicates that the Minister used roughly 800 mb of data. That is average data use over a 4-day period for many persons. And what it actually reveals is that $59,000.00 in data charges wasn't racked up from intense use of the phone to remain “accessible”, but from casual data consumption at extremely high rates.
Which then begs the question, how often is the state shouldering $60,000 bills for casual consumption of roaming data overseas by Ministers and Ministry officials? […]

Abuse of the public purse is nothing to defend or scoff at!

Many social media users were of the opinion that Cudjoe should pay back the roaming charges. Kathryn Stollmeyer Wight lamented:

She has to pay us back because nobody is ever taken to task or made to account & there will be absolutely no justice with this scandal. […]

Its time to get a voice people & stop the nonsense in this place. Call them all out! Demand our hard earned tax dollars are spent wisely!

Pay up HONORABLE Minister Cudjoe, & frankly, while you paying up, resign too. Now that would really set an example.

Over at biting news site Wired868, Rudy Chato Paul Sr had a few questions, including how many bills of this size have taxpayers unwittingly paid, and whether there is a mechanism by which the public can access this information — perhaps through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Naturally, some folks took a humourous approach to the situation. Errol Jaikaransingh quipped:

Roam wasn't billed in a day

Justin Phelps, referring to the popular pre-paid cellular phone plans in which customers can “top up” their credit at any time, enjoyed a play on words:

I need a top-up, but ah shamfa ask fa it.

The memes soon followed, and were widely shared on Facebook:

“When you make a long distance call to the afterlife so you can complain to Patrick Manning about Rowley.. and now you're under investigation.” Meme, widely shared on Facebook.

The late Patrick Manning is a former prime minister and previous head of the People's National Movement (PNM) which is now in government. Dr. Keith Rowley is the current prime minister and leader of the same party.

“Allyuh studying shamfar 59,000 phone bill. I will tax allyuh to get da money.” Meme showing Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, threatening to further tax citizens to recoup the money Cudjoe spent on roaming charges.

TSTT's competitor, Digicel, used the controversy as an opportunity to promote its services:

Don’t let roaming rates get you down! Avoid surprises when you sign up for Digicel’s One Rate Roaming Plan.

The minister of sport's ‘Tobago joyride’

The situation was even less funny when it came to the country's minister of sport, Darryl Smith, who ran up a bill for over TT $90,000 (about US $13,333) on a visit to Tobago. On her blog, journalist Sharmain Baboolal broke the story, referring to the trip as a “Tobago joyride”:

Inserted at the last minute, three women who ‘did not receive invitations’ for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Awards turned out to be the guests of honor of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs (MYSYA) at an all inclusive weekend for a party of 12 at the Magdelena Grand, costing taxpayers TT$91,910.43.

One of the women named is Kate Balthazar, who showed up on social media radar at the beginning of 2017, with several netizens calling into question the nature of her relationship with the minister.

Baboolal's post contained images of the hotel bill, along with other details:

An additional TT$10,400 was used to rent four vehicles from Rollock’s Car Rentals even though the hand written quotations, approved by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Natasha Barrow, stated categorically that the trip was to attend the THA [Tobago House of Assembly] Awards which was [sic] held in the same hotel. […]

The event was stretched into a three nights all expenses paid trip for eight of the 12 member party […]

On the night of the Awards, according to information released by the THA's Information Department, it was only Minister Smith who presented Awards at the ceremony.

Wired868 reported that Natasha Barrow, permanent secretary in the ministry, defended the guest list and expenditures by saying there were important meetings during the trip, but anonymous staffers that the site had spoken to “contradicted her account”:

Smith did offer some consolation to the Trinidad and Tobago public on his Ministry’s use of taxpayers’ money at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort.

‘Ent is [Isn't it] the government’s hotel?’ Smith asked rhetorically. ‘So the money staying in the system.’

It betrayed a level of economic ignorance that was so brazenly repulsive and insulting and yet, at the same time, full of such absolute childish ignorance that one had to stop and stare, open-mouthed—like looking at a stool the size of a papaw in a public restroom.

Wired868 summed up the whole affair by saying:

Someone needs to bell the cat and there is no time like the present. In these days when our tightened belts are already like nooses around our necks, taxpayers cannot afford to be saddled with the likes of Minister Roma or Minister Romeo.

by Flora Thomas at May 24, 2017 03:05 PM

New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean's Most Vulnerable Communities

Screenshot from a YouTube video about the vulnerable communities that will be represented by the Human Rights Incident Database.

The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Dominican Republic-based Centro de Orientacion e Investigacion Integral (COIN) recently launched the Caribbean's first online database documenting human rights violations.

The Shared Incident Database, or SID for short, aims to provide supporting data for and facilitate the work of those advocating safer and healthier conditions for the region's most vulnerable. The SID will track incidents affecting people living with HIV, sex workers, drug users, men who have sex with men, transgender people, marginalised youth, migrants and inmates — all communities that are stigmatised and frequently suffer from discriminatory practices.

The goal is to empower non-governmental organisations in making decisions and designing programmes based on reliable and accessible data, as well as strengthening their advocacy capability. Beyond benefiting civil society organisations, the SID could also reassure those who wish to report abuse that there is a reliable, secure and trustworthy means of doing so — that a network of organisations exists that is equipped and willing to assist with follow-up.

In an online interview, Global Voices asked CVC's Executive Director Dr. Carolyn Gomes, based in Kingston, Jamaica, how the SID will benefit the non-governmental organisation (NGO) community and the clients it serves.

Dr. Carolyn Gomes, executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. Image taken from a screenshot of a CVC YouTube video.

Global Voices (GV): When will this database be up and running? What is the timeline?

Carolyn Gomes (CG): The database is already up and running, and being used by civil society organisations in Jamaica, Guyana and Belize. We recently completed training in Suriname and are hoping that organisations there will want to join it. The SID was built over a two-year period in Jamaica by CVC in partnership with three other civil society organisations. It was developed to specifications by TOUCAN, a Jamaican information technology (IT) company.

GV: Will it be retroactive? Will past incidents over the last few years be added to the database?

CG: It does allow data to be input from incident information previously captured by civil society organisations. CVC has supported a couple of organisations to help them with logging their past incidents.

GV: Who will have access to the database? Specific organisations, including those that have participated in trainings? Anyone else?

CG: The non-identifying data will be accessed and shared with all organisations that join the database. There is a specific process for joining, after organisations have been trained. The Steering Committee for the database regulates this process. The University of the West Indies, Faculty of Law, Rights Advocacy Project (URAP) is providing legal technical advice on the use of the data for purposes of reporting and redress. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) — which has responsibility for regional discrimination indicators for the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) — will also have access to the Global Data Reports.

The Shared Incident Database (SID) training session in Jamaica. Photo courtesy Dr. Carolyn Gomes, used with permission.

GV: Currently, if people want to report an act of discrimination in their community, do they have to report through one of these organisations? Or will they be able to access a reporting system that feeds directly into the database?

CG: The SID is intended for use by civil society organisations, so individuals would have to go to one of the organisations using the database in order to have their incident recorded. The responsibility for assisting with the redress sought by the client will lie with the organisation to which the report is made. We want to publicise this database, so that people and civil society organisations are aware that there are organizations prepared to record the abuses that they allege; and so they know those organisations will work with them to get redress for the abuse.

GV: How will CVC and partners report the statistics and information gathered in the database, and how often?

CG: The Global Data Reports generated by SID will be provided to the Steering Committee at each meeting (these are currently monthly, but aiming for quarterly when the database is fully rolled out). The reports will be used for spotting trends, as the basis for reports to national, regional and international bodies, and for sharing with User Members. Each organisation (User Member) can generate reports that are germane to their work and needs — but are pertaining only to the cases that they have collected.

We also asked Gomes about the privacy and safety aspects of the database, given that any centralized collection of data can become a target, both for state entities but also for malicious hackers. A breach like this could have a particularly harmful effect for the CVC database, given the nature of its contents.

Gomes emphasized the system's explicit protections of identifying data about individuals in the set, but also acknowledged that in order to be effective, the system would need to allow for some sharing of information between vetted partners.

GV: Does the database have the necessary confidentiality/privacy safeguards?

CG: There are multiple layers of confidentiality built into the database. Identifying data is not shared with anyone outside of the particular organisation that took the report….It is not public in ANY WAY…. Data is stored externally with a secure cloud-based server. The data is not randomly accessible from anywhere. Other categories of persons (field officers responsible for collecting reports in the field) can only see the reports that they input in the database. Organisations are required to have signed confidentiality agreements with clients. Only non-identifying data is shared across the database. Organisations can request data sharing (again, non-identifying data) of other organisations for research or advocacy purposes. But that would have to be approved by the organisation to whom the request is made.

GV: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about?

CG: CARPHA [the Caribbean Public Health Agency] is exploring the possibility of writing up SID as a Regional Best Practice for addressing Stigma and Discrimination. Organisations using the database will be supported to seek redress by the Social Justice and Community Lawyering Network, a group of over 40 lawyers from 13 Caribbean countries that have answered a call to provide pro bono legal services to inadequately served populations especially vulnerable to human rights abuses, including those living with and at risk of HIV. The network was developed by URAP [the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Law, Rights Advocacy Project] in conjunction with CVC (with support from the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund (RCNF) and the CVC-COIN Regional Civil Society Grant from the Global Fund). This cadre of young and more experienced lawyers across the region will provide support to civil society organisations seeking redress for their clients.

You can find out more about the database here.

by Emma Lewis at May 24, 2017 07:32 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/24/2017: Online support in the wake of a tragedy
Terrorist attacks over the past several years have led to the formation of multiple online groups to help survivors cope and allow others to reach out. Karen North from the University of Southern California joined us to talk about how these networks spring up and the support they can provide to those dealing with tragedy. Afterwards, we'll look at how fintech services are trying to help decrease the amount of unbanked Americans.  Sheena Allen, cofounder of CapWay, explains how her company wants to improve the financial health of the underserved.

by Marketplace at May 24, 2017 04:49 AM

Global Voices
Why Trump's Hostile Handshake Routine Was No Big Deal for Tajikistan's President

Tajik president Emomali Rakhmon grips Russian leader Vladimir Putin's hand during a recent trip to Moscow. Russian government image in the public domain. Cropped for the purposes of the article.

Smaller-than-average hands, but a bigger than average handshake. Since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America, screeds and screeds of Internet have been devoted to analysing his hostile-seeming handshakes with world leaders.

According to the raft of online analysis covering these moments of first contact, most of them have been drawn — quite literally — into the Trump trap. The roughhouse technique seems to involve Trump using his considerable girth to pull his opponent into his body. If that fails, he simply ensures that his fingers get further up the wrist of the unsuspecting foreign leader than might reasonably be expected in any non-competitive hand-offering.

In an article for the Independent UK newspaper, Geoff Beattie speculated that the move is an extension of Trump's ‘America First’ foreign policy, and ultimately, a play for the cameras.

Whatever the motivations behind the Trumpshake, it cut no ice with Emomali Rakhmon, Tajikistan's de facto president-for-life, who he met in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia as part of the Arab Islamic American Summit on May 21.

We have found the person who can defeat Trump in the handshake stakes.

As can be observed in the gif above, Rakhmon, whose authoritarian Central Asian country is the poorest in the former Soviet Union, clearly came out of the shake as the stronger strongman, joining Canada's Justin Trudeau on the elite list of non-losers in Trump's favourite sport that isn't golf.

But while Trudeau's memorable counter to Trump during their meeting in February was all about planning, Rakhmon's victory seemed to have been secured with instinctive brute force, neatly summing up the theme of his rule of more than two-decades over Tajikistan.

It's all about him

With corruption entrenched and around half of working-age males seeking work abroad in Russia, Rakhmon, 64, has honed a talent for projecting an image of success in a failing state. His recently-accorded official title is “The founder of peace and national unity – Leader of the Nation”, which pays tribute to his leading the country out of a bitter five-year civil war that befell it shortly after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

In an article for Litro magazine, American researcher Emily Neil quotes a Tajik woman explaining her reverence for a figure, who to most observers beyond the country's borders is the epitome of a self-serving, old-school dictator.

“That is why I love Rakhmon,” Parvina said, bread still in hand, shocking me with her directness.

All Americans, laughed at Rakhmon and his regime, ex-KGB types, running the country with the most ridiculous gestures of authoritarianism: the billboards, the government-sanctioned “news” declaring the prosperity of Tajikistan, showing image after image of full crop fields accompanied by floating, inspirational music – even his recent declaration earlier the year before of his title not just as president, as he had been since peace was achieved in 1997, but also as “Leader of the Nation,” reminiscent in its bleak grandiosity of something straight out of the Hunger Games.

[…]

She explained to me as well as she could, as well as I could understand: “He is why there is bread now. He is why you, a foreigner, can be here right now.”

Rakhmon was not a billboard: He was a fact that meant that in her hand was the smooth, round bread, a fact that was the reason why I was sitting there, why I had boarded a plane and landed in Dushanbe, where I could play in the alley with her daughters without fear of being shot. Why my government’s heavily-weighted, paper-thin green dollars changed hands, became somoni and now could rest safely in the wooden trunk under the bed in her room.

Yes, it was funny, but nothing about Parvina’s face – her mouth which so quickly smiled when playing with her children, her eyes which would light up as we talked about our mutual love of Enrique Iglesias – showed any sign of amusement now.

That is not the whole story of course, and individual freedoms have nosedived to such an extent in recent years that any Tajik offering a critical opinion of Rakhmon in print would have to seriously consider the prospect of jail time, but the point remains clear: Rakhmon is Tajikistan's Mr. Everything. (If it needs to be clearer, check out this image of Rakhmon manning a bulldozer to begin work on a hydroelectric dam his country might never be able to pay for).

And yet in one sense, he came to power, like Trump, as an outsider.

A former collective farm boss from the country's rural hinterland — the traditional elite during the Soviet period was sourced from the more industrialized north — his promotion to the leadership was supported by powerful security figures that believed they could control him. Many ended up dead after he consolidated his position.

Like Trump, Rakhmon has a sense for a photo opportunity, and like Trump his life story stands as a dubious tribute to the male ego and its dangerous capacity to dominate and control by any means necessary.

But unlike Trump, Rakhmon isn't some lily-fingered son of privilege — he knows how to come out on top in a handshake war.

by Peter Paul Rankin at May 24, 2017 02:38 AM

May 23, 2017

MIT Center for Civic Media
Initial findings from Para | Citizen monitoring of school lunches

This month we’re excited to be sharing initial findings from the Phase II Promise Tracker case studies, developed over the past year with partners at the University of São Paulo’s Colaboratory for Development and Participation (Colab-USP).

With support from Humanitas360 Institute, Phase II of the the project was launched in spring 2016 with the goal of better understanding the ongoing use of Promise Tracker in the field. Over the course of 12 months, we worked with Colab-USP, the Social Observatory of Belém, Project SOL, the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) and the Ministry of Transparency, Supervision and the Comptroller General (CGU) to document citizen monitoring initiatives in three cities across the state of Pará, Brazil, where the tool was most actively being used.

In all three cities, monitoring campaigns focused on the quality of lunches served in public schools. Despite being one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world, Brazil’s National School Nutrition Program has been a source of challenges at all levels of implementation, and students in schools across the country have grappled with inadequate or missing lunches for years.

Across the three initiatives, school lunch was monitored in a total of 28 schools with over 26,000 enrolled students. Each case involved a unique set of actors and approach to advocating for improvements in the consistency and quality of what was served.

Included below are some of our initial observations gathered from three visits to Pará, focus groups, and 27 interviews with members of partner organizations, student participants, teachers, school directors, lunch preparation staff, and representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, CGU, the State Secretary of Education, and the School Council.

To read more about these cases and our findings, see the overview of our Phase II findings in English here and the full report in Portuguese here.

School Lunch Outcomes
Participants in several schools reported an improvement in the quality of food preparation and storage of ingredients as a result of monitoring campaigns. Interviewees shared that school leadership in some cases had become more attentive to deliveries and taken initiative to improve the hygiene and organization of stock rooms.

Greater Awareness of School Lunch as a RightPhase IIStudents in all scenarios reported a better understanding of the PNAE legislation and the rights they had related to school nutrition. Many felt this awareness of lunch as a right contributed to less complacency and more willingness to mobilize around the issue.

Increased Curiosity and Engagement on Behalf of StudentsSome teachers and administrators noted that students involved in the campaigns demonstrated a desire to expand monitoring to explore additional challenges related to school lunches or other issues within the school community.

Citizen Monitoring as a Learning Tool
Experiences at UFPA in particular offered new perspectives on the value of Promise Tracker as a pedagogical tool to engage critically and creatively with new models for government oversight. For many students, the monitoring projects were the first time they had engaged in applied coursework outside of the classroom and they expressed excitement at being able to connect theoretical learning with real-world interactions with citizens. For the Ministry, the tool offered an accessible way to test at scale a concept that had been of interest previously but never implemented.

Power of Multi-stakeholder Partnerships for Monitoring
In Santarém and Belém, campaign organizers developed approaches to monitoring that involved active collaboration between civil society, government oversight agencies, and in the case of Belém, the academic community. Participants felt these partnerships were a powerful way to leverage skills, knowledge and networks in order to tackle complex shared challenges.

Value of Collaboration with Government Oversight Agencies
In all three cases, the Public Prosecutor’s Office or the Comptroller General played a key role as a recipient of information and advocate. Though government oversight agencies were not imagined as an implementation partner in the initial phase of the project, it has proved a mutually beneficial relationship for those involved.

Development and Consolidation of Partnerships
The development and implementation of campaigns appeared to provide an opportunity in all cases to build new partnerships or strengthen existing relationships. On the school level, interviewees reported feeling closer to other students, school lunch staff, teachers, principals, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the local executive branch as a result of campaigns. On the organizational level, initiatives provided an opportunity for actors who were previously acquainted to develop concrete projects together for the first time.

Technology as a Means to Facilitate Speed, Scale, and Visibility
Both campaign organizers and participants felt that as a technology platform, Promise Tracker allowed them to achieve greater scale, save time, and attract new participants and more media coverage. Students who had previously used Facebook to document the school lunch situation felt that Promise Tracker provided greater legitimacy and credibility to the information gathered. Actors in all roles noted the power of images in mobilizing the public around this issue and achieving a response.

We’ll be sharing these initial learnings alongside Phase II partners in a series of events in Brazil over the next 2 months that will convene actors from academia, civil society, government and tech sector in a broader dialogue around the role of technology in citizen monitoring and government oversight. Join the conversation in São Paulo on May 31st!

by emreiser at May 23, 2017 08:37 PM

Creative Commons
Wikipedia Says It’s Time for Fair Use in Australia
Screenshot from Wikipedia’s #FairCopyrightOz campaign, CC BY-SA 3.0

This week Wikipedia is urging users in Australia to tell their government representatives to champion fair use. The campaign, organised alongside Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Australian Digital Alliance, advocates for policy makers to update copyright law to include fair use, thus providing a progressive legal framework to support creators and remixers, educational activities, and new business opportunities.

Fair use is the legal doctrine already adopted in a few countries that permits use of copyrighted works without permission for purposes such as reporting, criticism, and research. For example, news broadcasts oftentimes use snippets of copyrighted videos in their programs to illustrate a story. They are able to do this without permission and without having to pay a license fee because of fair use. This exception to copyright provides a crucial balance between the interests of copyright holders and the public interest. It promotes creativity and transformative remix and protects freedom of expression.

The issue is important to the Wikipedia community because around 10% of the English Wikipedia’s 5 million articles incorporate some content under fair use.

Over the last 20 years, the Australian government has recommended several times that fair use be adopted into its copyright regime. The campaign launched during the country’s most recent push for incorporating fair use. Last year, Australia’s Productivity Commission provided a strong recommendation for fair use. Not surprisingly, the big rights holders organisations continue to fight against the adoption of a fair use exception. Just last month it was reported that the Copyright Agency, a copyright collective management group that is supposed to collect and disburse copyright royalty payments to authors, diverted millions of dollars to fund lobbying activities to fight against fair use reforms.

Australians should tell their elected representatives: It’s time for fair use.

 

The post Wikipedia Says It’s Time for Fair Use in Australia appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at May 23, 2017 06:33 PM

State of the Commons Feature: Geonet

This week, we’ll be featuring stories from this year’s State of the Commons report, which highlights the impact of our global community by exploring the wide array of creativity and knowledge that is freely available to the world under under CC licenses. Read more about why this report marks our biggest year yet.


geonet-recap

GeoNet adopted a CC BY license in order to provide crucial, open information and quick response to earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis. Its real-time CC BY-licensed and open format data is now reused every day for emergency management, research, industry use, and by the public. GeoNet has become a core tool for global positioning systems, measuring instruments, geotechnical consultancies, local and central government, as well as for national and international universities and research organizations. In 2016, It recorded over 32,000 earthquakes and has changed the way that the public learns about and understands earthquakes through its open format.

On 14 November 2016, the day of the Kaikoura 7.8 magnitude earthquake, there were 250 million hits to the site by third party apps – people around the world wanted to know the strength of the earthquake and what that meant for them. Geonet sent out 206 million advisories that day through its app, website, and social media sites.

Due to the reach of Geonet, there is increasing information on a variety of safety protocols like where one must move to avoid tsunamis and advice about what size after-shock to expect. Worldwide, new knowledge and research has been developed through legal reuse of this licensed data.

The post State of the Commons Feature: Geonet appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at May 23, 2017 03:46 PM

Global Voices
A Wikipedia Made for—and by—the Atikamekw First Nation in Canada

Workshop at Otapi High School, Manawan (Atikamekw First Nation, Canada). Photo by Pierre Coulombe, CC BY-SA 4.0.

This post was written by Benoit Rochon, president of Wikimedia Canada; Jean-Philippe Béland, vice president of Wikimedia Canada; and Nathalie Casemajor, a professor at the Urbanization, Culture and Society center at the National Institute of Scientific Research. It originally appeared on the Wikimedia Blog and is republished with the authors’ permission and under a CC BY-SA license.

A First Nation in Canada may soon have a Wikipedia to call their own.

The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Nation, located in central Quebec, is one of the few Aboriginal peoples in Canada where virtually the entire population still speaks the language, making it among the most vibrant among the First Nations.

An ongoing project, funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, is working with that community to develop content for the Wikipetia Atikamekw Nehiromowin, as it is called in the Atikamekw Nehiromowin language. The Atikamekw Wikipedia is currently in the Wikimedia incubator, and the goal of the initiative, which is the first of its kind in Canada, is to have it one day join the hundreds of extant Wikipedias.

“It is a way to pass on ancestral knowledge using computers and it allows to preserve traditional practices,” project member Anthony Dubé (username: Nehirowisiw) says. “It is an educational tool for all.”

Screenshot of the front page of Atikamekw Wikipedia.

The initiative, titled “Atikamekw knowledge, culture, and language in Wikimedia projects,” has several other goals. It is expanding information about the nation on the French Wikipedia; uploading photos, archival documents, and maps to Wikimedia Commons; and is raising awareness among the Wikimedia community about the unique features of indigenous knowledge and languages. The final report will propose recommendations about how to better include indigenous content in Wikimedia projects.

This one-year pilot project (fall 2016 to summer 2017) follows a different 2013–14 initiative conducted in in Manawan (in Québec, Canada) by a linguist from Leipzig University, a high school computer teacher, and an Atikamekw language keeper. Working together, they created “Wikipetia Project“, which involved students from Otapi secondary school in Manawan to create articles on Wikipedia written in Atikamekw. By the end, the students had created more than 160 articles.

Partners of the current “Atikamekw knowledge, culture and language in Wikimedia projects” initiative include Manawan Otapi secondary school, Conseil Atikamekw de Manawan, Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw (CNA), Wikimedia Canada, Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO), and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS, Urbanisation, Culture, Société research center) with the collaboration of several members of the Atikamekw community.

A guardian of the Atikamekw language and his successor. Photo by Seeris, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The project is divided into three parts: training, a pedagogical project, and a research project.

The first includes training sessions with the Atikamekw community given by volunteers from Wikimedia Canada with the goal to make the community autonomous in their work on Wikimedia projects. An initial training took place at the Otapi secondary school in Manawan on October 24, 2016, and another was held with the CNA in La Tuque on November 28, 2016. And in May 2017, there will be a session of photographic documentation within the Atikamekw community.

The pedagogic part is taking place at the Otapi school from November 2016 to May 2017. There, students in computer class are writing articles in the Wikipetia Atikamekw Nehiromowin.

The research component is intended to document the pilot project with the aim to create a toolkit and a set of recommendations that could be used in other similar initiatives. It builds on discussions about the best ways to share traditional knowledge on Wikimedia platforms, such as a research seminar in which representatives from the First Nations Information Governance Center and the Quebec National Archives and Library talked about the issue of compatibility between the free licenses in which all Wikipedia content is available.

They also discussed OCAPTM (ownership, control, access and possession), or the principles of ethical research as set out by Canadian First Nations. This conversation will help both First Nations communities and the Wikimedia community to better understand how the creation of digital content about indigenous knowledge can best be respected, honored, protected, and shared on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

The project will conclude with a panel at the Wikimania Montréal conference in August 2017.

A longer-term goal is to replicate similar projects with other Canadian Aboriginal communities, or elsewhere in the world, and broadly share this experience with the international Wikimedia movement.

On the technical side, members of the community are working with the Institut linguistique Atikamekw (ILA) and techno-linguists of the Nation are working to create new words and to standardize the language to create an Atikamekw version of the MediaWiki interface.

For example, they need to invent new terms to translate “homepage”, “free license,” or “upload”. Instead of translating literally, they prefer to mobilize traditional references, often linked to the ancestral territory, because this allows the culture to appropriate technical modernity while transmitting its specific cultural imagination. It is also up to the community to define its own rules for the use of the encyclopedia: acceptance of oral sources, which articles that reflect indigenous realities meet the notability criteria to merit their own articles, protection of sensitive information. It is a process of reflecting on the best ways to take advantage of this tool while adapting it to the Atikamekw epistemology.

Among the questions raised by translation is that of the classes of names: the Atikamekw language does not distinguish between the masculine and the feminine, but it distinguishes between animate and inanimate things. Is Wikipedia animated? The participants decided that it is.

Wikimedia Canada’s mission is to educate Canadian communities about the development of free and open knowledge in all languages, including Aboriginal languages. The objective of this strategy is to collaborate with Aboriginal communities in Canada and to introduce Aboriginal language speakers to Wikipedia with the goal that they become autonomous contributors in the development of content in their languages. It is in line with Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which establishes the right to preserve, revitalize and develop indigenous languages—all integral parts of Canadian culture.

Manawan Sipi river. Photo by Kinew1975, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The next phase of the project is to organize a photographic “hunt”, where participants set off to snap photographs of the Nitaskinan, the Atikamekw’s ancestral homeland. This will take place in the Atikamekw communities of Manawan, Opitciwan and Wemotaci, as well as the towns of La Tuque and Joliette.

Before the beginning of this project, there were only a dozen free photos representing the Atikamekw community in Wikimedia Commons, an online collection of freely usable media files. All dated back to the 1970s. The goal of this photographic expedition is to better reflect the current vitality of the community by photographing not only buildings but also people, traditional activities, lakes and rivers, animals, and the territory in general.

The photographic hunt is currently taking place and will run through May 31, 2017. A workshop will be organized on the last day to help the participants upload and populate the Atikamekw category in Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at May 23, 2017 03:13 PM

Alexander Macgillivray
Bio
Photo by Doc Searls, CC BY-SA

Alexander Macgillivray, also know as "amac," is curious about many things including law, policy, government, decision making, the Internet, algorithms, social justice, access to information, and the intersection of all of those.

He was United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the last two years of the Obama Administration. He was Twitter's General Counsel, and head of Corporate Development, Public Policy, Communications, and Trust & Safety. Before that he was Deputy General Counsel at Google and created the Product Counsel team. He has served on the board of the Campaign for the Female Education (CAMFED) USA, was one of the early Berkman Klein Center folks, was certified as a First Grade Teacher by the State of New Jersey, and studied Reasoning & Decision Making as an undergraduate.

These days he is doing a bunch of coding, writing, and short burst projects with organizations thinking about what they should be doing next.

by A M (noreply@blogger.com) at May 23, 2017 01:31 PM

Global Voices
Flooding Washes Up Jamaica’s Poor Planning and Environmental Practices

Flooding in Jamaica, August 2007. Photo by Christina Xu, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Three days of heavy rains associated with a trough caused chaos and disaster in many parts of Jamaica between May 14 and 17, 2017, raising burning questions over poor planning and development, badly designed and inadequate drainage systems, and Jamaicans’ continued careless solid waste disposal practices.

As Jamaicans start to pick up the pieces, the government has much work to do in counting the cost of the damage — including a review of the island's arrangements with the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, which is the first multi-country risk pool in the world, designed “as a regional catastrophe fund for Caribbean governments to limit the financial impact of devastating hurricanes and earthquakes by quickly providing financial liquidity when a policy is triggered.” Jamaica has not benefitted from the facility over the last ten years, because the natural disasters it has experienced have not qualified for payouts.

However, the damage to infrastructure from the rain was considerable. In rural areas, many roads were blocked by floods and landslides, communities marooned and several bridges swept away. There was a landslide (the second to date) on a section of the Chinese-built North-South Highway linking the capital, Kingston, to Montego Bay.

The extreme weather was not connected with any storm system, but the local Meteorological Office noted:

Antigua's Met Office tweeted:

Local media did a great job of reporting from rural areas:

Meanwhile, in town, Kingston's mayor Delroy Williams went on an eye-opening tour of a community where a large gully, choked with debris, opens into the sea:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness cut short an official visit to the Dominican Republic and hit the road on his return to the island:

Other politicians rushed to their constituencies to survey the damage, complaining or making excuses about blocked drains, and making sure that their presence was noted via social media:

The rains affected most parishes. Reports flooded in from people on the ground on social media. In the east, Ann-Marie Vaz shared photos:

The parish of Clarendon (which has suffered long droughts in recent years) was especially hard hit:

Many rivers spilled their banks:

While some technical experts suggested an inadequate drainage system was partly responsible, observers on Twitter noted:

The mayor of Kingston also tweeted his concerns that things might not get any better if extreme weather events become more common:

Most schools closed for at least one day, while students struggled to reach examination centers to take external exams. The minister of education tweeted:

While emergency services worked hard to bring things back to normal, one government agency — the National Water Commission — celebrated with cheerful music:

Poorly planned housing developments and highways were cited as major contributors to the devastating floods, with one geologist observing that while many useful surveys have been done and the problems identified, the data is not being used to inform decisions to correct those problems.

A lack of proper maintenance was also cited.

Opposition Leader Peter Phillips admitted to bad planning and regulation, including “informal settlements,” over the years.

Another contributing factor has been poor waste disposal practices — including the unhealthy habit of dumping garbage in gullies that run down to the sea, becoming choked and polluted along the way. On Twitter, many agreed with activist Carol Narcisse's comment:

University professor Damien King added:

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) took the opportunity to reinforce its ongoing campaign “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” (Don't Dirty Up Jamaica) with its catchy song and clever video.

JET's Deputy CEO summed up the concerns in a letter to the Gleaner:

Global climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events like this one. Unless we change our daily habits and development practices, we can expect high financial and social costs to life, livelihoods and property to continue. Accepting individual responsibility for the garbage we produce is one way for every Jamaican citizen to do this.

The lack of bins or infrequent garbage collection is no excuse for dumping our waste in the streets or in gullies.

At the same time, the state must also take a lead role in improving the way our towns and cities are managed, with better solid waste infrastructure, preservation of green spaces and enforcement of planning laws and regulations. We must also take the protection of our forests much more seriously at the individual and state level if we are to have any hope of mitigating the threat of Climate Change.

As citizens clean up, they're casting blame in various directions, while officials tally the damage, including the worrying impact on the national budget. Both the government and Jamaica's people are in for some tough changes, as climate change continues to impact the region's fragile island nations, forcing difficult choices.

by Emma Lewis at May 23, 2017 11:34 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/23/2017: Traffic lights for the office cubicle
Surveillance tools in the workplace — from chat tools to traffic-light signs that gauge your busyness — are increasingly taking over the workplace. Quartz's Lila MacLellan joins us to talk about technology at the office, and what that could do to some old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Afterwards, we'll chat with SK Ventures' Paul Kedrosky about the factors that might slow down rising tech hubs across the country.

by Marketplace at May 23, 2017 05:50 AM

May 22, 2017

Global Voices
An Afro-Colombian Model on “Social Bleaching”

Juliette Minolta, as photographed by Paloma Fuentes. Used with permission from ‘Afroféminas’, the original publishers of the image.

The following is a testimony written by the Colombian model, Juliette Minolta, originally published by the site Afroféminas, based on her reflections on the Afro-descendant experiences and racism in Colombia and in other parts of Latin America. More than 10% of Colombian citizens are Afro-descendant, and they make up more than 90% of the population in regions like the Pacific/Chocó region. Today, they are one of the most empowered and dynamic Spanish-speaking Afrodescendent communities.

I was barely eight years old when I realized that I was different. When you're young and enter into a school full of kids, that's all you see—kids. I didn't perceive any differences, until one day someone screamed “Black girl!” at me, and everyone laughed.

I didn't get it at all, but that experience caused me to see a psychologist for the first time. Afterwards I understood that I was different. I didn't like that.

Later, when I was in high school, I remember all my classmates having straight hair. I thought their hair was pretty. Meanwhile, teachers talked about black ancestors as slaves. I figured I had come from slaves, and nothing more.

I was never told about Garvey, Mandela or King. No one ever told me about la Negra Casilda—a former slave and leader in the 19th century—and her stories about helping her people reach the palenque, a secret location where black people who had escaped enslavement could hide. There were never discussions about Rosa Parks, or that everyone came from Africa.

I was taught about Columbus and Washington and had to write many papers about people that. Honestly, I no longer remember. No one talked about the histories of black women in my classroom.

And I continued on to high school, straightening my hair and trying to appear as white as possible to gain social acceptance.

I remember a teacher who, every time he'd call on me, would use “black mannerisms”. I would tell myself that it was nothing, that it was only a joke, and that I should move on. And so I started trying to erase my way of speaking, my own black words.

I'm from Bogotá, Colombia, a city of white people. Back then, there weren't as many black people as there are today. I started using chemicals to straighten my hair and I abandoned my traditions. One day I even bought bleaching cream.

It didn't work.

I was desperate—I had to whiten my skin. I hated that I was always the darkest one in the family.

My views hadn't changed upon entering the university. Whenever people called me “black girl” I'd say I didn't like it.

I grew up in a socially white environment, where being black is a bad thing, having kinky hair isn't considered pretty and where people think that being black means having a big butt and tits.

And well, you now know I have neither.

We didn't come from slaves, we came from human beings.

One day I was listening to music and the Barrington Levy song “Mandela Free” came on. That song encouraged me to investigate my ancestry. I realized that society had forced me to bleach myself. Taking “black girl” as an insult is something that so many Afro-descendant women deal with daily. Changing one's hair color just to be socially accepted is bad.

I wonder how many children “whiten” themselves socially without even realizing it. They are discriminated against, and ignorant of their ancestors and of the people who fought so history wouldn't repeat itself. What repercussions might those children have to deal with if we don't condemn this?

We don't come from slaves, we come from human beings who were enslaved. That's a fact school doesn't teach. For instance, a Chilean friend told me that he was never told about slavery or historic black leaders. How is that if Chile, where I'm living now, has always had black Chileans?

Why does education have to be so “white”, and why does the need to eliminate the image of blackness exist?

by Johnnie Douglas at May 22, 2017 09:18 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Mumbai Technologists Are Using TV Spectrum to Bring More Internet Access to India

The technical schema and the impact of the testbed setup at Palghar. Screenshot from a video uploaded by Gram Marg.

India has made headlines in recent years as overall Internet use among residents has gone up at an increasing rate. Yet most of these gains are in mobile Internet access and public access points.

While people use the Internet on their mobile phones, at cybercafes and public wifi hotspots, less than 2% percent of households have a fixed Internet connection. And even the mobile penetration remains low, at 23% for the whole country. Rural India lacks smartphones and the Internet connections are often patchy and slow, due to a lack of Internet infrastructure.

This leaves the vast majority of Indians with limited ways to engage deeply with Internet technology. While accessing information and posting simple files like images online is easy to do from a smartphone, writing code, studying or building a website really requires a fixed connection.

The government sees the need for massive investment to roll-out broadband to rural areas in over 600 districts via expensive fibre-optic and other technologies, which can be expensive and time-consuming.

But other more efficient solutions are beginning to emerge. One of them is a hardware product that uses television spectrum to provide affordable access to rural communities. The Mumbai-based low-cost prototype recently won the USD $125,000 (Indian Rs 8.2 million) in the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge by Mozilla, the non-profit organisation behind the open-source browser Firefox.

The Gram Marg Solution for Rural Broadband was spearheaded by Professor Abhay Karandikar of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) and his team of Masters and PhD students of the institution. Karandikar heads the IIT Bombay Research Park and plays an active role in policy consultation for Internet and broadband in India.

The ‘Gram Marg Solution’ could be a deal-breaker in this situation. The benefit of this “Middle and Last-mile” solution is that it is low-cost, consumes relatively small amounts of energy, and can be installed in quickly, using existing TV broadcasting infrastructure to reach distant rural homes. The project aims to bring 640,000 villages in rural India onto the network. It has been rolled out in 25 villages on a pilot basis in the past two years.

In telecommunications and the internet industry, the term “last mile” refers to the technology which carries signals from the broad telecommunication backbone along the relatively short distance (aka the “last mile”) to and from its final destination, usually a home or business. The current available last mile solutions to carry internet to rural Indian homes are mainly traditional phone lines and ADSL, coaxial cables and wireless technologies, which mostly use mobile spectrum.

Indian mobile service providers are rolling out 4G technologies for faster internet, but they are still costly for the rural population, where smartphone penetration is also low.

Gram Marg solves the problem of connecting the unconnected and under-served populations as a “middle mile” and “last mile” solution. It uses the idea of using TV “white space” to enable data to travel between village wifi clusters and a high-speed optical fiber connected distribution base. White space refers to the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum such as television networks. These frequencies are kept empty between channels for reducing interference and buffering purposes. Although mainly used for TV, these are similar to the frequencies used for the 4G technology, and it can be used to deliver widespread broadband internet.

The GSM Association, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, has published a report on potentials of using UHF band White spectrum to carry broadband Internet.

Screenshot from the report on Potential benefits from sub- 700 MHz spectrum in India by PLUM for GSMA

Entrepreneur, journalist, publisher and founder and owner of MediaNama, Nikhil Pawa was on the jury board of the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge. On Facebook, he explained what he liked about the project:

1. Open sources technology for delivery of broadband over white spaces spectrum
2. Is cheaper than existing chipsets for broadband over white space
3. Doesn't need line-of-sight connectivity for broadband, which is a major issue (and cost center) especially in hilly areas.
I really hope India doesn't have licensing for white space broadband spectrum.
The other applications I really liked were the community broadband initiatives, where villages and towns take ownership of their Internet infrastructure.

One of the obstacles that this solution may face is the regulatory challenge of making white space spectrum available. Another is that India is phasing out traditional analog TV and switching to digital broadcasting and DTH technologies.

Facebook user Anand Rai commented that:

This would be a great “Make in India” initiative to boost Digital India across underserved/ unserved rural India.

Professor Karandikar says they are working on a sustainable business model that can enable local village entrepreneurs to deploy and manage access networks. It remains to be seen how far the project will go towards lessening India's digital divide, but it has inspired considerable hope among participants and telecommunications experts in the country.

by Rezwan at May 22, 2017 08:20 PM

Global Voices
Mumbai Technologists Are Using TV Spectrum to Bring More Internet Access to India

The technical schema and the impact of the testbed setup at Palghar. Screenshot from a video uploaded by Gram Marg.

India has made headlines in recent years as overall Internet use among residents has gone up at an increasing rate. Yet most of these gains are in mobile Internet access and public access points.

While people use the Internet on their mobile phones, at cybercafes and public wifi hotspots, less than 2% percent of households have a fixed Internet connection. And even the mobile penetration remains low, at 23% for the whole country. Rural India lacks smartphones and the Internet connections are often patchy and slow, due to a lack of Internet infrastructure.

This leaves the vast majority of Indians with limited ways to engage deeply with Internet technology. While accessing information and posting simple files like images online is easy to do from a smartphone, writing code, studying or building a website really requires a fixed connection.

The government sees the need for massive investment to roll-out broadband to rural areas in over 600 districts via fibre-optic and other technologies, which can be expensive and time-consuming.

But other more efficient solutions are beginning to emerge. One of them is a hardware product that uses television spectrum to provide affordable access to rural communities. The Mumbai-based low-cost prototype recently won USD $125,000 (Indian Rs 8.2 million) in the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge by Mozilla, the non-profit organisation behind the open-source browser Firefox.

The Gram Marg Solution for Rural Broadband was spearheaded by Professor Abhay Karandikar of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) and his team of Masters and PhD students of the institution. Karandikar heads the IIT Bombay Research Park and plays an active role in policy consultation for Internet and broadband in India.

The ‘Gram Marg Solution’ could be a deal-breaker in this situation. The benefit of this “Middle and Last-mile” solution is that it is low-cost, consumes relatively small amounts of energy, and can be installed in quickly, using existing TV broadcasting infrastructure to reach distant rural homes. The project aims to bring 640,000 villages in rural India onto the network. It has been rolled out in 25 villages on a pilot basis in the past two years.

In telecommunications and the internet industry, the term “last mile” refers to the technology which carries signals from the broad telecommunication backbone along the relatively short distance (aka the “last mile”) to and from its final destination, usually a home or business. The current available last mile solutions to carry Internet to rural Indian homes are mainly traditional phone lines and ADSL, coaxial cables and wireless technologies, which mostly use mobile spectrum.

Indian mobile service providers are rolling out 4G technologies for faster internet, but they are still costly for the rural population, where smartphone penetration is also low to harness available high-speed internet.

Gram Marg solves the problem of connecting the unconnected and under-served populations as a “middle mile” and “last mile” solution. It uses the idea of using TV “white space” to enable data to travel between village wifi clusters and a high-speed optical fiber connected distribution base. White space refers to the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum such as television networks. These frequencies are kept empty between channels for reducing interference and buffering purposes. Although mainly used for TV, these are similar to the frequencies used for the 4G technology, and it can be used to deliver widespread broadband internet.

The GSM Association, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, has published a report on potentials of using UHF band White spectrum to carry broadband Internet.

Screenshot from the report on Potential benefits from sub- 700 MHz spectrum in India by PLUM for GSMA

Entrepreneur, journalist, publisher and founder and owner of MediaNama, Nikhil Pawa was on the jury board of the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge. On Facebook, he explained what he liked about the project:

1. Open sources technology for delivery of broadband over white spaces spectrum
2. Is cheaper than existing chipsets for broadband over white space
3. Doesn't need line-of-sight connectivity for broadband, which is a major issue (and cost center) especially in hilly areas.
I really hope India doesn't have licensing for white space broadband spectrum.
The other applications I really liked were the community broadband initiatives, where villages and towns take ownership of their Internet infrastructure.

One of the obstacles that this solution may face is the regulatory challenge of making white space spectrum available. Another is that India is phasing out traditional analog TV and switching to digital broadcasting and DTH technologies.

Facebook user Anand Rai commented that:

This would be a great “Make in India” initiative to boost Digital India across underserved/ unserved rural India.

Professor Karandikar says they are working on a sustainable business model that can enable local village entrepreneurs to deploy and manage access networks. It remains to be seen how far the project will go towards lessening India's digital divide, but it has inspired considerable hope among participants and telecommunications experts in the country.

by Rezwan at May 22, 2017 08:18 PM

Diaspora* and Other Free Software Are Available in the Occitan Language, Thanks to Volunteer Translators

Flickr photo by she_who_must and used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Volunteer translators have made the open-source social network platform Diaspora* available in some of the most commonly used languages on the internet, such as Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese. But take a look at the list of languages with 100% of the site's terms and phrases translated, and one language in particular stands out among the rest: Occitan.

Occitan is a Romance language spoken in Southern France and parts of Spain, Monaco, and Italy. The number of speakers in the region vary from source to source, but it is clear that the figure is declining. The Occitan language has several dialects, but a “Standard Occitan” is emerging that takes into account the different variants. According to UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, the dialects Provençal, Auvergnat, Limousin, and Languedocien are classified as “severely endangered,” and the other two dialects, Gascon and Vivaro-Alpine, are classified as “definitely endangered.”

A small team of translators, who decided that Diaspora* would be another important place to promote the language, have brought Occitan to the social network.

Quentin Pagès, who speaks the Lengadocian dialect on which Standard Occitan is based, is one of the members of the translation team and also collaborated on the Occitan translations of other platforms, such as Jitsi Meet, Wallabag, Framadate and Mastodon. He shared his experiences with Rising Voices in a short interview.

Rising Voices (RV): Why is it important to you that Diaspora* is available in Occitan?

Quentin Pagès (QP): So people can start using it and it gives visibility to the language. I don’t like when people decide that one language has more value than another. In my opinion, every language is as equal as the next. That is why it is important to me that Occitan is available as a complete language. Even though the Occitan language is not one of the most used languages on Diaspora*, by being an open-source project, the translation work can be reused for other projects that may use the same terminology and phrasing.

RV: How did you start this localization project?

QP: I decided to start the translation of Diaspora* because it was included in a list of alternative open-source platforms compiled by a French association called Framasoft through its campaign called “De-Google-ify the Internet”. From that list, I also helped to translate Jitsi Meet, Wallabag, Framadate, and now the new social network platform called Mastodon. For the translation of Diaspora, the team consisted of three people and we primarily communicated via email.

RV: What were the biggest challenges for translating Diaspora* into Occitan?

QP: You might expect that a challenge for translation would be a lack of vocabulary or something like that. But it wasn’t about that, it was about finding people to review the translated texts and to help collaborate with the work. The Occitan language has good flexibility to create new words. So on the one hand, I wish there were more of us to translate, but on the other hand, there was just a few of us, so we could check that a word was translated in the same way everywhere. For the word “reshare,” you may find some instances where it is displayed as “repartejar” and other places as “tornar partejar.” I could change them, but as they both mean the same and both are correct, I decided to leave both.

RV: Do you have a sense of the activity of communities using Diaspora* in Occitan?

QP: Somehow people still haven’t tried this social network. I wish people used tools that are available in Occitan, but at the moment it seems that only a few people value the availability of the language as a strong draw. In the case of Diaspora* in Occitan, it would be a really good way to gather people that want to support the language and so we can collaborate in other projects together. In my opinion “working for the language” has to be done in Occitan so as to be coherent. That is why I prefer to use open-source software because I know that if I have some time, I can contribute and give my language other chances to be seen and used by people.

by Eduardo Avila at May 22, 2017 07:26 PM

Creative Commons
State of the Commons Feature: African Storybook Initiative

This week, we’ll be featuring stories from this year’s State of the Commons report, which highlights the impact of our global community by exploring the wide array of creativity and knowledge that is freely available to the world under under CC licenses. Read more about why this report marks our biggest year yet.


african storybook

The African Storybook initiative works with organizations and individuals to facilitate access to storybooks and create website tools for users to create, translate, and adapt them. So far, the initiative has created storybooks in 94 African languages with the support of 30 partner organizations across Africa.

Multiple projects in multiple countries use the website and/or storybooks with the intervention of the African Storybook project team: schools or community libraries serve as pilot sites; governments use the content on their platforms to print and distribute; and partners add to and use content in their literacy development programmes. In addition, the project serves educators who integrate the website tools and storybooks into their pre-service training programs, as well as lecturers in higher education institutions stimulating their postgraduate students to experiment with and research use of the African Storybook. The remixable content also inspired the Global African Storybook Project, which translates the stories into other languages with few resources for childhood learning.

As of September 2016 the initiative contained 730 storybooks and 2,754 translations/adaptations. In only two years, 636,803 storybooks were downloaded with an average of 4800 visitors per month, of which 2,800 are new visitors. Further, the Global African Storybook Project has produced 460 translations in 26 languages. Between 30 and 400 African Storybook titles have been republished on a variety of academic and commercial sites.

The post State of the Commons Feature: African Storybook Initiative appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at May 22, 2017 05:28 PM

Global Voices
In Japan, Plastic Food Models Aren't Just for Restaurants Anymore
Japanese plastic food

Plastic food samples (食品サンプル) outside of a typical restaurant in Japan. Image by Flickr user sayot. Image license: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

In Japan, plastic models of food are common outside of just about every eatery. In order to provide potential customers with information about exactly what's on the menu, shokuhin sanpuru (食品サンプル, “food samples”), or highly detailed replicas of every dish served in the restaurant, are displayed near the entrance. Customers peruse the food samples, and then decide to enter the shop or keep looking for someplace to eat.

There is an entire industry devoted to creating these food samples. The Tokyo neighborhood of Kappabashi is home to a cluster of these small businesses that make plastic food samples, which German filmmaker Wim Wenders documented in his movie Tokyo-Ga more than 20 years ago.

While plastic food samples are so common in Japan as to be unnoticeable to most Japanese people, there is a new trend in Japan to turn them into eye-catching cellphone accessories and other knick-knacks. Writing on Naver Matome, blogger itinii has collected a variety of social media links with photos of this twist on shokuhin sanpuru.

Now on sale: new smartphone straps based on food samples used at Kichijoji Tokyu department store.

Food samples have been turned into a variety of kitschy collectibles including, in this case, refrigerator magnets:

For a new display at Tokyo Station, here are some shokuhin sample fridge magnets.

The food sample novelty boom is becoming increasingly more elaborate. In this case, a kaisen-don (a popular seafood rice bowl) has been transformed into a smartphone stand.

We've found a good use for a triangular serving dish (lol) as a smartphone stand. Once again, we made this for the Tokyo Station exhibition.

And here, it's an apple that holds up your smartphone:

Designed to look like an apple with a notch cut out for a smaphone, this is a striking design.

This is just the beginning of an increasing descent into whimsy. Some smartphone stand and case designers allow you to create your own work of art, in this case, by using ikura, or salmon roe that is a popular topping served with white rice. One Twitter user doubts:

Is there anyone out there who is going to say, “Wow, cool, I can customize my smartphone case with salmon roe?” I think I'll be the only one.

The fake food accessory boom also can take perhaps less appetizing forms, including gag items to startle coworkers and family members.

Our newest smartphone stand comes in the form of melting ice cream. We also have rice ball (onigiri) earrings and a dried salmon smartphone strap.

To see more quirky uses of fake food, check out itinii's Naver Matome blog post, or follow the Twitter hashtag #食品サンプル#ストラップ.

And to learn more about the original trend that started it all, this video provides a glimpse of Kappabashi in Tokyo, a district devoted to supplying the restaurant industry, including with shokuhin sanpuru.

As well as this video, which gives an overview of how Japanese food samples are actually made.

by Nevin Thompson at May 22, 2017 04:33 PM

Russian Crooner Joins Effort to Attract Tourists to War-Torn Eastern Ukraine

Source: Kremlin.ru

Nearly three years into the war in eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics (DNR and LNR, respectively) are making a renewed attempt to attract foreign tourists to their internationally unrecognized statelets—with support from one of Russia's most famous crooners.

Joseph Kobzon, a celebrated singer and member of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, is leading an effort to memorialize the remnants of eastern Ukraine's once-thriving heavy industry in the latest attempt to support tourism in the Russia-backed separatist republics.

Last week, an exhibit entitled “The Infrastructural Heritage of Donbass” opened at the State Duma in Moscow. The organizers of the exhibit, including the 79-year-old Kobzon, announced plans to create a “post-industrial landscape and recreation reserve” that they hope will “lead to the emergence of a large tourist cluster” in Donbass.

One map displayed at the exhibit imagines a tourist route stretching from Taganrog in southern Russia to Yenakiieve, a city in Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast that is currently controlled by the DNR. The route includes a stop in Ilovaisk, the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the War in Donbas.

A burned-out bus in the city of Konstantinovka in government-controlled eastern Ukraine in 2014. Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0.

The exhibit opened shortly after the DNR launched an initiative aimed at bringing western tourists to the conflict zone: In March, Donbass International News Agency (DONi), a news and propaganda outlet run by the DNR, announced the launch of “Donbass Tours,” a project intended to promote the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist republics internationally.

Though DONi boasted about having attracted tourists from western countries to the separatist republics, business does not appear to be booming: the Donbass Tours website remains under construction more than two months after the project's supposed launch, and it is unclear whether tours planned for the May holidays (May 1-9) were ever held.

Tour companies on the Russian side of the border are also expressing renewed interest in taking tourists to eastern Ukraine: a tour company in Russia's Rostov Region, which borders both separatist republics, announced that it would begin taking tourists on bus tours of the DNR, according to the local news website 161.ru. The website reported that the idea for the tour came from people within the DNR but that the program “is not yet enjoying wide popularity” and that at present most tours are organized individually.

An image used to promote Donbass Tours.

For 20,000 rubles (around $350), tourists on the “Donetsk Unconquered” excursion will travel to newly-famous battlefields, Donbass Arena (a soccer stadium that was shelled in the early days of the war), and a number of historical sites—including Saur Mogila, a prehistoric burial ground that became a battleground in 2014.

As if that weren't enough military voyeurism, tourists will reportedly also travel to a shooting range and have the opportunity to go on several mini-excursions, including one called “War and Peace.”

In February 2015, shortly after the Battle of Debaltseve, which left hundreds of Ukrainian, separatist, and Russian soldiers killed, wounded, or missing, “Megapolis Resort,” a tour company based in Moscow, announced that it was launching excursions to Donbass and charging between two and three thousand dollars.

Over the next year, multiple websites reported that the separatist republics intended to attract tourists by staging excursions in the conflict zone, though the number of tourists traveling to Donbass annually remains small: just 105,000 tourists traveled to the DNR in 2016.

by Isaac Webb at May 22, 2017 03:09 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Malaysian Editors Face Cybercrime Charges for Posting a Video that Criticized Attorney General

Screenshot of the YouTube video posted on the KiniTV channel about the press conference of a Malaysian politician criticizing the country's attorney-general.

Head staff at two independent news websites in Malaysia are facing cybercrime charges for posting a video of a politician criticizing the country’s attorney general.

The government accused KiniTV and Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan and CEO Premesh Chandran of violating the Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998 (CMA), which criminalizes “the improper use of network facilities by knowingly transmitting contents which are offensive, menacing, obscene, false and indecent with the intent to annoy, abuse or threaten another person”.

The charge is related to a KiniTV video posted on July 27, 2016 of a politician criticizing the office of the attorney-general for its failure to identify the role of the country’s prime minister in a corruption scandal involving 1MDB, a state-owned investment bank. The politician, a former member of the ruling party, called for the resignation of the attorney general. The video was taken during a press briefing.

KiniTV is an Internet TV broadcasting news about Malaysian politics. It is part of Malaysiakini, an independent online news website with a large subscription base that has faced regulatory challenges and technical attacks in the past, often related to its political coverage.

If found guilty, both Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran could face a prison term of one year, and could be subject to fines of 50,000 Malaysian Ringgit (roughly USD $11,500). An additional fine of 1,000 Malaysian Ringgit (USD $230) per day can also be imposed for each day the offence continues following conviction.

This is not the first time that a Malaysian media website has been singled out by authorities for reporting about the 1MDB corruption scandal. In 2015, it suspended the license of some news websites for reporting about the 1MDB case.

The corruption issue has sparked a political crisis in Malaysia since it implicated the prime minister, who is accused of pocketing USD $700 million through the 1MDB.

Reacting to the cybercrime charges filed against Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) urged the government to stop harassing the media:

CIJ calls for these charges to be dropped and for the government to cease all harassment and intimidation of the media and journalist. Media practitioners including journalists and directors of media companies should not be penalized for reporting content of interest to the public.

The group also called for an amendment to the law, which is often used to threaten reporters:

The law also places the burden of proof on the accused to show they have taken reasonable precautions to prevent the so-called offence.

Human rights group Article 19 warned that the case could have chilling effects and stifle other dissenting voices in Malaysia:

The increasing use of this law to target independent media and any online criticism of the government is seriously concerning, and also a clear violation of international human rights law on freedom of expression.

The use of this provision in conjunction with Section 244(1) to target an independent online news portal is a worrying development, and will likely have a chilling effect on media and other independent voices in Malaysia.

In a column on Malaysiakini, writer P Gunasegaram bemoaned the fact that authorities are aggressively attacking independent news websites critical of the government:

It is strange that nobody gets prosecuted for producing fake news or for slanting news but there is prosecution of those who merely produced the unvarnished, plain and bare news.

When government officials, mainstream media editors and ruling party politicians talk about fake news on the Internet, the intention appears to smear all operating there with one broad brush for their own propaganda purposes, ignoring the real contributions that news portals and blogs have made to uncovering truths which would never have appeared in the government-controlled mainstream media.

The court hearing of Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran is scheduled for June 15. Both have pledged to file a constitutional challenge in response, since they believe the law is a violation of the country’s commitment to uphold media freedom.

by Mong Palatino at May 22, 2017 02:19 PM

Global Voices
Malaysian Editors Face Cybercrime Charges for Posting a Video that Criticized Attorney General

Screenshot of the YouTube video posted on the KiniTV channel about the press conference of a Malaysian politician criticizing the country's attorney-general.

Head staff at two independent news websites in Malaysia are facing cybercrime charges for posting a video of a politician criticizing the country’s attorney general.

The government accused KiniTV and Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan and CEO Premesh Chandran of violating the Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998 (CMA), which criminalizes “the improper use of network facilities by knowingly transmitting contents which are offensive, menacing, obscene, false and indecent with the intent to annoy, abuse or threaten another person”.

The charge is related to a KiniTV video posted on July 27, 2016 of a politician criticizing the office of the attorney-general for its failure to identify the role of the country’s prime minister in a corruption scandal involving 1MDB, a state-owned investment bank. The politician, a former member of the ruling party, called for the resignation of the attorney general. The video was taken during a press briefing.

KiniTV is an Internet TV broadcasting news about Malaysian politics. It is part of Malaysiakini, an independent online news website with a large subscription base that has faced regulatory challenges and technical attacks in the past, often related to its political coverage.

If found guilty, both Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran could face a prison term of one year, and could be subject to fines of 50,000 Malaysian Ringgit (roughly USD $11,500). An additional fine of 1,000 Malaysian Ringgit (USD $230) per day can also be imposed for each day the offence continues following conviction.

This is not the first time that a Malaysian media website has been singled out by authorities for reporting about the 1MDB corruption scandal. In 2015, it suspended the license of some news websites for reporting about the 1MDB case.

The corruption issue has sparked a political crisis in Malaysia since it implicated the prime minister, who is accused of pocketing USD $700 million through the 1MDB.

Reacting to the cybercrime charges filed against Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) urged the government to stop harassing the media:

CIJ calls for these charges to be dropped and for the government to cease all harassment and intimidation of the media and journalist. Media practitioners including journalists and directors of media companies should not be penalized for reporting content of interest to the public.

The group also called for an amendment to the law, which is often used to threaten reporters:

The law also places the burden of proof on the accused to show they have taken reasonable precautions to prevent the so-called offence.

Human rights group Article 19 warned that the case could have chilling effects and stifle other dissenting voices in Malaysia:

The increasing use of this law to target independent media and any online criticism of the government is seriously concerning, and also a clear violation of international human rights law on freedom of expression.

The use of this provision in conjunction with Section 244(1) to target an independent online news portal is a worrying development, and will likely have a chilling effect on media and other independent voices in Malaysia.

In a column on Malaysiakini, writer P Gunasegaram bemoaned the fact that authorities are aggressively attacking independent news websites critical of the government:

It is strange that nobody gets prosecuted for producing fake news or for slanting news but there is prosecution of those who merely produced the unvarnished, plain and bare news.

When government officials, mainstream media editors and ruling party politicians talk about fake news on the Internet, the intention appears to smear all operating there with one broad brush for their own propaganda purposes, ignoring the real contributions that news portals and blogs have made to uncovering truths which would never have appeared in the government-controlled mainstream media.

The court hearing of Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran is scheduled for June 15. Both have pledged to file a constitutional challenge in response, since they believe the law is a violation of the country’s commitment to uphold media freedom.

by Mong Palatino at May 22, 2017 02:13 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
‘No to Silence': Javier Valdez's Murder Highlights Persistent Perils for Mexican Journalists
Fotografía de Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) para Derecho Informar. Usada con permiso.

Photo by Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) for Derecho Informar (). Used with permission.

The award-winning Sinaloa journalist and writer, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, was shot to death on Monday, May 15, on a street in Culiacán, a city in northwest Mexico, in broad daylight. Valdez was the editor and reporter of the local media outlet Ríodoce and was considered one of the top experts on drug trafficking in Mexico.

He was the sixth journalist murdered so far this year. On the same day, a little later, the reporter Jonathan Rodríguez of the weekly El Costeño died in an attack, in which his mother was also injured.

Valdez specialized in reporting on issues related to the government’s “war” against drug cartels, as well as political corruption usually involving Mexican governors. His relentless focus was on the relatives, the displaced, the orphans, the widows. He cared about names, not numbers. This is how he explained why he did what he did in a speech at the book fair in Los Angeles, California in 2015:

Seguimos con un déficit de genitales en el país, hay un déficit de genitales, al país le falta ciudadanía, le falta recuperar la calle, la dignidad y creo eso es hasta tarea de los periodistas, tenemos que dejar atrás el periodismo cuenta-muertos, el ‘ejecutómetro’, y contar historias de vida en medio de la muerte, historias de estoicidad, de lucha.

Muchos podemos morir, y muchos han muerto, y no están dentro del negocio (del narco), y no han estado dentro del negocio, y no son víctimas colaterales, ni son números, son personas.

We continue to lack genitals in this country. There is a lack of genitals, there is a lack of citizenship. We need to recover the streets, dignity, and I think that’s up to journalists. We need to leave behind the kind of journalism that counts deaths, the ‘execution-meter’, and [instead] tell stories of life in the midst of death, stories of stoicism, of struggle.

Many of us can die, and many have died, who were not in the business (of drug trafficking)… [they] were not collateral victims, nor numbers, they were people.

“Los matan por haber cometido el gran error de vivir en México. Y ser periodistas”. Palabras de Javier Valdez #UnDiaSinPeriodismo 🏴. Ilustración de Pictoline. Usada con permiso.

“They are killed for having made the grave mistake of living in Mexico, and being journalists”. Words of Javier Valdez #ADayWithoutJournalism 🏴. Pictoline illustration. Used with permission.

Image: Have you seen them? Journalists are increasingly disappearing.
Being tortured.
Being assassinated in Mexico.

We can think that it’s only the messengers of the cartels that give the execution order.  But no. It’s not just the cartels that kill journalists.

Politicians also do their extermination homework. Police. Colluding agents.

State prosecutors. Government officials. Soldiers.

They kill them for the sin of denouncing their mismanagement.
“They are killed for having made the grave mistake of living in Mexico, and being journalists.”

Valdéz always knew that exercising his profession in Mexico put his life at risk, as do many of his colleagues. In fact, as early as 2009, a grenade exploded outside the doors of Ríodoce. On that occasion, there was only physical damage to the building and the reasons behind the attack was never clarified. However, his desire to inform and give a voice to those who were silenced by violence always helped him overcome his apprehensions.

In his column, Malayerba, for Ríodoce, he once wrote the following lines under the title “They are going to kill you”:

Pero él tenía en el pericardio un chaleco antibalas. La luna en su mirada parecía un farol que aluzaba incluso de día. La pluma y la libreta eran rutas de escape, terapia, crucifixión y exorcismo. Escribía y escribía en la hoja en blanco y en la pantalla y salía espuma de sus dedos, de su boca, salpicándolo todo. Llanto y rabia y dolor y tristeza y coraje y consternación y furia en esos textos en los que hablaba del gobernador pisando mierda, del alcalde de billetes rebosando, del diputado que sonreía y parecía una caja registradora recibiendo y recibiendo fajos y haciendo tin en cada ingreso millonario.

But he had a bulletproof vest on. The moon in his gaze resembled a lantern that lit up even during the day. The pen and notebook were routes of escape, therapy, crucifixion and exorcism. He wrote and wrote on the blank sheet and on the screen, and foam came out from his fingers, his mouth, touching everything. Weeping and rage and pain and sadness and anger and dismay and fury in those texts in which he spoke of the governor stepping on shit, of the mayor of bills overflowing, of the representative who smiled and looked like a cash register receiving wads of cash and making a “chi-ching” sound with every millionaire's deposit.

In 2011, Javier Valdéz received the International Press Freedom Award granted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). His speech (beginning at 5:13), re-emphasized the dangers faced by journalists in Mexico:

‘No to silence’

Reporters, activists, and readers shared their grief over the loss of such a committed voice, many of them recalling Valdez’s own words:

“Good journalism, brave, dignified, responsible, honest, doesn't have society; it's alone”: Javier Valdez. They killed him.

[In the image, Valdez's quote in full]: “Good journalism, brave, dignified, responsible, honest, doesn’t have a society; it is alone, and that also speaks of our fragility, because it means that if they go against us or those journalists and they hurt them, nothing will happen.” – Javier Valdez

The dedication of his last book.

NARCOPERIODISMO by Javier Valdez.

Image: To Maicol O’Connor (+) and Tracy Wilkinson, immeasurable journalists, whom I both miss and love.

To the Mexican journalists brave and worthy, exiled, hidden, disappeared, assassinated, beaten, frightened and giving birth to stories, despite censorship and dark canons.

To Tania, Saríah, Fran, Javier Erasmo and Gris. For being with me, supporting me and sowing in me, in spite of clouds. Or maybe that’s why.

A recently created website, El Mañanero Diario, gave an account of the demonstrations that took place to condemn the homicide of Valdez:

Periodistas de todo el país se manifestaron en protesta por el asesinato del periodista sinaloense Javier Valdez. Sinaloa, Ciudad de México, Guerrero, Baja California y Jalisco fueron algunos de los estados en los que los profesionales de la información salieron a las calles para condenar el asesinato de Valdez y exigir mayor seguridad y un alto a la violencia contra el gremio.

En el Ángel de la Independencia [en la capital mexicana], se reunió un grupo de fotoperiodistas quienes, sobre la glorieta, con gis blanco, escribieron: “En México nos están matando” y “No al silencio”, con palabras formadas por los retratos de reporteros asesinados, como Gregorio Jiménez y Miroslava Breach.

Journalists across the country demonstrated in protest at the murder of Sinaloa journalist Javier Valdez. Sinaloa, Mexico City, Guerrero, Baja California, and Jalisco were some of the states in which news professionals took to the streets to condemn the murder of Valdez and to demand greater security and a stop to violence against the profession.

A group of photojournalists met At the Angel of Independence [in the Mexican capital], along the roundabout, who with white chalk wrote: “In Mexico they are killing us” and “No to silence,” with words formed by portraits of murdered reporters such as Gregorio Jiménez and Miroslava Breach.

Fotografía de Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) para Derecho Informar (@DerechoInformar). Usada con permiso.

“In Mexico, they are killing us. No to silence.” Photo by Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) for Derecho Informar (). Used with permission.

Pantallazo del post público de Ximena Antillón.

Screenshot of the public post of Ximena Antillón.

Image: “The worst thing would be forbidding us to dream, to have illusions; to want to be better, to long for justice and peace, and maintain dignity. The worst thing would be to stop stoning stars. We can’t allow it. It doesn’t matter if we don’t knock any down.” – Javier Valdez Cárdenas

Your condolences for the murder of Javier Valdéz are not enough Mr. Peña Nieto. Stop this slaughter now or leave!

Image:

@GobMx condemns the murder of journalist Javier Valdez. My condolences to his family and friends.

A district attorney that doesn't work

The Mexican State has an office dedicated exclusively — in theory — to seeking justice in crimes committed against those who practice journalism or comment on the right to information or freedom of press and expression.

The official name of the office is the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against the Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) and operates under the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR).

FEADLE, however, is one more branch of the abstruse bureaucratic framework of the country, which absorbs countless public resources while delivering nothing in return.

Suffice it to say that in relation to the cases of homicides committed against journalists so far this year, not a single person has been arrested.

The Mexican independent website, Animal Político reported:

En algo más de seis años -de julio de 2010 al 31 de diciembre de 2016- se registraron 798 denuncias por agresiones contra periodistas.

Pues bien, de esas 798 denuncias, de las cuales 47 fueron por asesinato, la FEADLE informó en respuesta a una solicitud de transparencia que solo tiene registro de tres sentencias condenatorias: una, en el año 2012; y otras dos en 2016. O en otras cifras: el 99.7% de las agresiones no ha recibido una sentencia.

In just over six years – from July 2010 to December 31, 2016 – there were 798 reports of attacks on journalists.

Well, out of these 798 complaints, of which 47 were for murder, FEADLE reported in response to a request for transparency that it only has three convictions registered: one in 2012; and another two in 2016. Or in other words 99.7% of attacks have not led to a criminal conviction.

The recorded reasons for the closure of the investigations by the attorney general include “incompetence” and “non-prosecution.” These technical and legal terms invariably mean the referral of the file to another authority, and ultimately, the termination of the investigation before a formal accusation has been made in the presence of a judge.

The result is impunity for offenders and the denial of justice for victims.

The website Sin Embargo noted:

En 2010, mediante acuerdo, se creó la FEADLE en las entrañas de la PGR y con el antecedente de otro órgano, la Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP). Los delitos en contra de los periodistas se incrementaron sin que se supera de un solo proceso [juicio] que concluyera en sentencia penal.

Ése es el organismo al que el Jefe del Ejecutivo [el Presidente de México] le ha pedido que apoye en Sinaloa para esclarecer el asesinato de Valdez Cárdenas, un periodista que se distinguió por un conocimiento profundo de la región norte donde han operado grupos de narcotraficantes desde los años treinta del siglo pasado.

In 2010, by agreement, FEADLE was created within the purview of the PGR and against the background of another government body, the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Committed against Journalists (FEADP).  Crimes against journalists increased without […] a single process [trial] that concluded in a penal sentence.

This is the government body that the Chief Executive [the President of Mexico] has asked to support in Sinaloa in order to clarify the murder of Valdez Cárdenas, a journalist who reputed for his profound knowledge of the northern region where groups of drug traffickers have operated since the 1930s.

In spite of all these antecedents, in the days after the murder of Valdez, the Mexican State announced a set of measures to protect journalists; the main one being an enlargement of FEADLE's personnel.

The passivity or inefficiency with which the Mexican state responds to violence against journalist has offered a perverse incentive to all those interested in silencing voices to continue resorting to violence, driving threatened voices towards self-censorship or simply stopping work.

This trend is what caused Javier Valdéz to say “no to silence” and that is why today, we join the call #NiUnoMás.

by Elizabeth at May 22, 2017 01:42 PM

Global Voices
Helping Write The Story of Sex Workers in Uganda

How I discovered the Kampala underbelly I never knew existed.

The feet of a sex worker in Bwaise, a slum in northern Kampala. Photo Credit: Prudence Nyamishana

If you asked me why I set out to write a sex worker diary on my blog, I would tell you I did it out of sheer curiosity. I had heard stories that in Bwaise, a slum in northern Kampala, women were selling themselves for as little as 500 Uganda shillings (US$0.14). I wanted to get a first-hand view of the situation, and maybe share the story with readers of my blog. So I called up my friend Joseph, a community worker who has worked in this area for years.

The Bwaise slum is located five minutes from Kampala's Central Business District. Joseph was waiting for me when I disembarked from a commuter taxi one afternoon. After exchanging pleasantries, he led me through a narrow corridor. At the end of the corridor, the scene suddenly changed: this was not the Kampala I am used to. I saw mud-walled drinking joints full of men and women at noon. There was rubbish everywhere and Lingala music playing in the background. To navigate, Joseph and I had to jump over streams of sewage. We meandered our way through alleyways lined with wooden- and iron sheeting-walled shacks. I later discovered these were brothels, and that over 300 women come to this area daily to sell sex, by both day and night.

A woman in her late 40s greeted us at our destination. She told us her name and proudly introduced herself as the “Mama” of the sex workers. She invited us into a small room of about eight square meters, with a mud floor. In one corner was a run-down shelf with bottles of local gin. A double-decker bed and single bed were on the other side of the room. A child sleeping on the lower bunk caught my eye.

The Mama told us she rents out these beds to those that buy and sell sex. A bed goes for 500 Uganda shillings per use.

I told the Mama we were interested in raising awareness of the horrible conditions of sex workers in the Kampala slums so that decision-makers could pay attention and, hopefully, do something about it. Because Joseph had worked with her before, and one of her children was a beneficiary of one of Joseph’s programmes, she welcomed us. But she said we would have to pay for the time we spent talking to the women.

The Mama introduced us to a 28-year-old woman who works at her establishment. The woman spoke fluent English and was eager for her story to be told. She mentioned to me that she didn’t want money—all she needed was someone to talk to. I promised that I wouldn’t reveal her identity, but she insisted it didn't matter, as she had nothing to lose. Her story moved me.

When I published the story, it garnered an array of reactions on social media. Some commenters thanked me for telling the story, saying that they believed women were going to benefit. Others, however, questioned my motive for writing about the issue.

Some readers made certain commitments, many of which are yet to be fulfilled. One person promised to buy one of the women a phone; others sent cash. Some people even advised me to start an organization that could support a rehabilitation centre serving the needs of sex workers. I insisted, however, that my job was that of storyteller, and that as readers they, too, had a responsibility to do something about the issue if they really cared about it.

While my initial motive was sheer curiosity, spending time with the women at Bwaise allowed me to uncover deep-seated issues that Uganda hasn't really grappled with. Things like child trafficking, sex slavery, parental neglect, extreme poverty, violence against women and crime. The more I talked to the women, the more I realized that the issues they faced were bigger than I had thought. And it was overwhelming: I almost gave up after listening to the second story.

It was the encouragement I received from organisations that work on these issues that propelled me to continue writing. Not for Sale Uganda, a social enterprise that co-develops ventures, social projects and brands to end human trafficking, said this in response to my story about a sex worker called Kemirembe:

“We must work together on giving hope to the most vulnerable. Kemirembe’s story is very touching. Not For Sale is now incorporated in Uganda and mainly our work will target people in Kemirembe’s situation or a quite similar one, provide social intervention and other sustainable social enterprises that can provide them with alternative dignified work.”

A reader who shared one of the stories on his Facebook page received an email from a friend in the US, saying:

“I’m coming to Uganda in August. I’m looking to help women involved in prostitution,” they wrote. “If you know of anyone or are willing to help me find people or ministries that are wanting to help women please let me know.”

Benjamin Musaasizi, a co-founder of Divine Hearts, a Christian organisation, commented on the blog post.

“We at Divine Hearts Foundation do appreciate your efforts in bringing such realities to the rest of the world and we are committed to working with you so as to find ways of helping these sisters of ours.”

I met with Benjamin in person and he pledged, on behalf of his organisation, that he would pay school fees for two of the sex workers’ children. A pledge like this, if fulfilled, could make a serious difference in the lives of these children.

by Prudence Nyamishana at May 22, 2017 12:45 PM

A Photographer Shines Light on the Abuse Women Suffer at Illegal ‘Conversion Therapy’ Clinics in Ecuador

Screenshot from the video “Until You Change”, made by Paola Paredes and shared on Vimeo.

Ecuadorian artist Paola Paredes has created a photo series, titled “Until You Change“, to protest against the existence of underground centers intended to “cure” homosexuality in Ecuador.

Most of these illegal centers are disguised as religious “clinics” to rehabilitate those with drug or alcohol addictions. According to the photographer, homosexual and transgender men and women sent by their families are locked up and subjected to brutal abuse and humiliation. On her website, the artist writes:

It was four years ago that I first learned about the private ‘clinics’ that claim to cure homosexuality in Ecuador. My first thought was that it could be me held there and told that, as a gay woman, I needed to change. Two years later, I came out to my family and was accepted by them. In my country, many young women and men are not so fortunate.

After investigating and interviewing different women who were kept in the “clinics”, Paredes reconstructed their stories using photography. Due to the difficulty of demonstrating these underground clinics’ practices, Paredes chose to play the protagonist in each photo.

As you can see in her work, the women are subjected to specific types of abuse, from the forced use of makeup, short skirts and high heel shoes to “reinforce their femininity”, to physical violence and “corrective” violations:

This is an image of a my new photographic series ‘Until You Change’

In Ecuador approximately 200 facilities exist to ‘cure’ homosexual men and women. Operations are masked under the guise of drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres. Imprisoned against their will those interned are subject to emotional and physical torture.
To raise awareness of an on-going human rights issue that continues to resist mainstream media in Ecuador, I recreated scenes form these ‘clinics’ based upon victim testimony. Being gay and from Ecuador, I chose myself as the protagonist of the images. I incorporated my own emotions and experiences with theatrical methods to explore the abuse of women in these institutions, staging a series of images based on the testimony of the women who I interviewed.

This is not the first time that these “dehomosexualization” clinics, generally associated with Evangelical Christian groups, have been the target of action, creative or otherwise. In 2012, several of these centers were investigated and later closed.

Nevertheless, the work of Paredes reveals that these secret centers continue to exist and implement treatments that violate human rights. In addition to the photography, she uploaded a video to Vimeo that documents the process of making the series and captures some of the specific traumatic experiences that survivors had told her they had experienced:

by Beccah Lewis at May 22, 2017 12:00 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
05/22/2017: Phoenix, Arizona — the next big tech hub?
Over the past several weeks, we've been exploring aspiring tech hubs across the country. Cities — big and small — want to be the next Silicon Valley. Well, what about Phoenix, Arizona? It's becoming a hotbed of startup activity that has attracted the likes of Uber, Waymo and Intel. We'll take a look at the city's strengths, along with some of the challenges it faces on the way.

by Marketplace at May 22, 2017 05:11 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Panic Over Russian Online Suicide Game Sparks ‘Whale Hunt’ in China

Whale-themed street art in Bishkek that was white-washed after panic over the so-called ‘Blue Whale’ game erupted. Image from Kloop.kg, creative commons.

China is cracking down on an online suicide game called “Blue Whale” that originated in Russia.

Authorities have begun blocking keywords related to the game on local search engines, and numerous game groups on social media have been dissolved. On May 12, a Chinese teen was arrested for spreading extremist thoughts online while participating in the game.

The game is organized through social media and players have to complete a series of tasks including waking up at 4:20 am for 50 consecutive days. Some of the tasks involve self-harm and players can ultimately be encouraged to commit suicide.

Russian media outlets have widely reported that the “Blue Whale” suicide game has been responsible for more than 130 suicides in Russia has been widely spread via tabloids in different countries, including China, though news outlets including Radio Free Asia, Meduza and fact-checking website Snopes have pointed out that the claim has not been proven and may be overblown.

The content and culture around the game are troubling, but China's response may be misguided and in fact creating more interest around “Blue Whale”.

On May 8, a number of Chinese media outlets issued a warning against the “invasion” of the Russian suicide game “Blue Whale”, urging Internet users to report to the police if they spotted the game groups. Local news outlet STV summed up the reports on the social media platform Weibo:

【自杀游戏已传入?】昨天(5月8日),国内多家媒体发出了危险警告,因为俄罗斯死亡游戏“蓝鲸”。如果身边有人使用“蓝鲸”、“四点二十叫醒我”等关键词在社交网站发布信息,并以蓝鲸配图,你就要警惕起来了,因为他很可能参加了死亡游戏“蓝鲸”。小坊特别提醒各位爸妈,千万留意你家孩子的QQ群,不开玩笑!

[Suicide game has arrived?] Yesterday (May 8), a number of media outlets issued a warning regarding the Russian suicide game “Blue Whale”. If you know someone using keywords like “Blue Whale” or “Wake me up at 4:20am” on social media with a “Blue Whale” image, please be cautious because he may have participated in the suicide game called “Blue Whale”. We, in particular, warn the parents, to please pay attention to your children’s QQ groups. This is not a joke!

The warning was based on the Chinese cyber police’s call for a boycott on the game. In China, where Internet censorship is systematic and pervasive, the noise around the game has turned into a political campaign. Global Voices also covered this phenomenon in two of China's Central Asia's neighbours, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Given China's sophisticated online censorship environment, the claim that the “Blue Whale” game had entered China on any serious scale should be viewed with some skepticism. As in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, evidence suggests that the real swell of interest in the game began after the media and online campaign against the groups.

Who's going whale hunting?

On May 9, the day after the media warning, the Chinese Communist Youth League announced on Weibo the launch of a “Project Whale Hunt” campaign:

为何要将自己囚禁在幽深的海底?你明明可以翱翔在广阔的天空!捕鲸计划,已经启动…… ​​​​

Why are you locking yourself up under the deep sea? You could fly in the free sky! “Project Whale Hunt” has begun…

Another party-affiliated organization, Mama Juries, posted a similar message on Weibo on the same day:

【遇到“蓝鲸”,请举报!】《蓝鲸死亡游戏》(Blue Whale)是发源于俄罗斯的一种自杀式死亡游戏,游戏鼓励玩家在50天内完成各种残忍伤害自己的任务。很多青少年受其蛊惑结束了自己的生命!我国内地也出现了类似于 “4:20叫醒我” 的代号QQ群。QQ安全团队正在进一步进行排查和打击。“蓝鲸死亡游戏”这类行为已经涉嫌组织、教唆他人自杀自残,属于违法犯罪行为。妈妈评审团提醒广大家长警惕孩子手机里类似“蓝鲸”、 “4:20叫醒我” 等字眼的社交群,如果发现这类社交群,请立即举报!

[Please report on “Blue Whale”] is a suicide game originating from Russia. The game encourages gamers to carry out self-harm tasks consecutively over 50 days. Many young people have been induced to end their lives. QQ groups like “wake me up at 4:20am” have appeared in our country. The QQ security team has started cleaning up these groups. Behaviours associated with the “Blue Whale suicide game” are criminal behaviours as it involves organizing and inducing others to self-harm and suicide. Mama Juries reminds parents to check on your children’s mobile phone [to see if they are members of] social groups that have keywords like “Blue Whale” or “Wake me up at 4:20am”. If you spot the groups, please report them!

In this campaign, organizations such as the Communist Youth League and Mama Juries have been mobilized by the Beijing Internet Information Office. The same office has also demanded that major websites and social media platforms fall in line with the mass campaign and public reports.

On May 12, the Beijing Internet Information Office, Public Security Bureau, Administrative Law Enforcement in Cultural Market Team held a meeting with eight Internet companies to report on the crackdown on “Blue Whale”.

Chinese internet police's poster against the blue whale game.

According to a local media report, Internet giant Tencent has closed a few dozen QQ groups and blocked the related keywords from its search engines. Baidu has closed all the forum discussions with keywords like “Blue Whale” or “Blue Whale game”.

A message, “Please stay away from activities that could induce self-harm”, now pops up in the Baidu search engine when users search “Blue Whale”. All associated search results have been cleaned up to make sure that searches do not link to websites that advocate for self-harm or suicide.

Sina Weibo has blocked search terms and deleted messages associated with the game.

Cyber police offices from all across the country have assisted the crackdown either by reposting warning messages or investigating netizen reports. In most cases, the police have asked the group's administrator to dissolve the group.

Teen arrested in Guangxi

But in Guangxi province, Zhanjiang city police detained a 17-year-old on charges of “spreading extremism” by posting images and comments encouraging acts of self-harm “tasks” to a chat group on QQ on May 12.

The teenager told the police that he joined the QQ “Blue Whale” game group on May 9, after local media outlets launched the campaign.

According to Guangxi police, his QQ group originally set out to sell computer software and clothes. In order to attract more members he started posting information about “Blue Whale” after he read the authorities’ warning on local media outlets.

He also posted an image showing an arm with a blue whale cut into it and fabricated information that eleven members of the group have ‘finished the task’, managing to attract more than 200 new members to his group in the process.

The teen's experience suggests that media coverage and the aggressive effort to curb participation in the game may be attracting more public attention to “Blue Whale”, and thus having the opposite effect.

Those who cannot repress their curiosity will now inevitably find ways of accessing the game beyond the Great Firewall that defines the Chinese internet. In response, the Youth League has developed another spur to its campaign by spreading the Happy Blue Whale guideline online.

by Oiwan Lam at May 22, 2017 03:28 AM

Global Voices
Panic Over Russian Online Suicide Game Sparks ‘Whale Hunt’ in China

Whale-themed street art in Bishkek that was white-washed after panic over the so-called ‘Blue Whale’ game erupted. Image from Kloop.kg, creative commons.

China is cracking down on an online suicide game called “Blue Whale” that originated in Russia.

Authorities have begun blocking keywords related to the game on local search engines, and numerous game groups on social media have been dissolved. On May 12, a Chinese teen was arrested for spreading extremist thoughts online while participating in the game.

The game is organized through social media and players have to complete a series of tasks including waking up at 4:20 am for 50 consecutive days. Some of the tasks involve self-harm and players can ultimately be encouraged to commit suicide.

Russian media outlets have widely reported that the “Blue Whale” suicide game has been responsible for more than 130 suicides in Russia has been widely spread via tabloids in different countries, including China, though news outlets including Radio Free Asia, Meduza and fact-checking website Snopes have pointed out that the claim has not been proven and may be overblown.

The content and culture around the game are troubling, but China's response may be misguided and in fact creating more interest around “Blue Whale”.

On May 8, a number of Chinese media outlets issued a warning against the “invasion” of the Russian suicide game “Blue Whale”, urging Internet users to report to the police if they spotted the game groups. Local news outlet STV summed up the reports on the social media platform Weibo:

【自杀游戏已传入?】昨天(5月8日),国内多家媒体发出了危险警告,因为俄罗斯死亡游戏“蓝鲸”。如果身边有人使用“蓝鲸”、“四点二十叫醒我”等关键词在社交网站发布信息,并以蓝鲸配图,你就要警惕起来了,因为他很可能参加了死亡游戏“蓝鲸”。小坊特别提醒各位爸妈,千万留意你家孩子的QQ群,不开玩笑!

[Suicide game has arrived?] Yesterday (May 8), a number of media outlets issued a warning regarding the Russian suicide game “Blue Whale”. If you know someone using keywords like “Blue Whale” or “Wake me up at 4:20am” on social media with a “Blue Whale” image, please be cautious because he may have participated in the suicide game called “Blue Whale”. We, in particular, warn the parents, to please pay attention to your children’s QQ groups. This is not a joke!

The warning was based on the Chinese cyber police’s call for a boycott on the game. In China, where Internet censorship is systematic and pervasive, the noise around the game has turned into a political campaign. Global Voices also covered this phenomenon in two of China's Central Asia's neighbours, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Given China's sophisticated online censorship environment, the claim that the “Blue Whale” game had entered China on any serious scale should be viewed with some skepticism. As in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, evidence suggests that the real swell of interest in the game began after the media and online campaign against the groups.

Who's going whale hunting?

On May 9, the day after the media warning, the Chinese Communist Youth League announced on Weibo the launch of a “Project Whale Hunt” campaign:

为何要将自己囚禁在幽深的海底?你明明可以翱翔在广阔的天空!捕鲸计划,已经启动…… ​​​​

Why are you locking yourself up under the deep sea? You could fly in the free sky! “Project Whale Hunt” has begun…

Another party-affiliated organization, Mama Juries, posted a similar message on Weibo on the same day:

【遇到“蓝鲸”,请举报!】《蓝鲸死亡游戏》(Blue Whale)是发源于俄罗斯的一种自杀式死亡游戏,游戏鼓励玩家在50天内完成各种残忍伤害自己的任务。很多青少年受其蛊惑结束了自己的生命!我国内地也出现了类似于 “4:20叫醒我” 的代号QQ群。QQ安全团队正在进一步进行排查和打击。“蓝鲸死亡游戏”这类行为已经涉嫌组织、教唆他人自杀自残,属于违法犯罪行为。妈妈评审团提醒广大家长警惕孩子手机里类似“蓝鲸”、 “4:20叫醒我” 等字眼的社交群,如果发现这类社交群,请立即举报!

[Please report on “Blue Whale”] is a suicide game originating from Russia. The game encourages gamers to carry out self-harm tasks consecutively over 50 days. Many young people have been induced to end their lives. QQ groups like “wake me up at 4:20am” have appeared in our country. The QQ security team has started cleaning up these groups. Behaviours associated with the “Blue Whale suicide game” are criminal behaviours as it involves organizing and inducing others to self-harm and suicide. Mama Juries reminds parents to check on your children’s mobile phone [to see if they are members of] social groups that have keywords like “Blue Whale” or “Wake me up at 4:20am”. If you spot the groups, please report them!

In this campaign, organizations such as the Communist Youth League and Mama Juries have been mobilized by the Beijing Internet Information Office. The same office has also demanded that major websites and social media platforms fall in line with the mass campaign and public reports.

On May 12, the Beijing Internet Information Office, Public Security Bureau, Administrative Law Enforcement in Cultural Market Team held a meeting with eight Internet companies to report on the crackdown on “Blue Whale”.

Chinese internet police's poster against the blue whale game.

According to a local media report, Internet giant Tencent has closed a few dozen QQ groups and blocked the related keywords from its search engines. Baidu has closed all the forum discussions with keywords like “Blue Whale” or “Blue Whale game”.

A message, “Please stay away from activities that could induce self-harm”, now pops up in the Baidu search engine when users search “Blue Whale”. All associated search results have been cleaned up to make sure that searches do not link to websites that advocate for self-harm or suicide.

Sina Weibo has blocked search terms and deleted messages associated with the game.

Cyber police offices from all across the country have assisted the crackdown either by reposting warning messages or investigating netizen reports. In most cases, the police have asked the group's administrator to dissolve the group.

Teen arrested in Guangxi

But in Guangxi province, Zhanjiang city police detained a 17-year-old on charges of “spreading extremism” by posting images and comments encouraging acts of self-harm “tasks” to a chat group on QQ on May 12.

The teenager told the police that he joined the QQ “Blue Whale” game group on May 9, after local media outlets launched the campaign.

According to Guangxi police, his QQ group originally set out to sell computer software and clothes. In order to attract more members he started posting information about “Blue Whale” after he read the authorities’ warning on local media outlets.

He also posted an image showing an arm with a blue whale cut into it and fabricated information that eleven members of the group have ‘finished the task’, managing to attract more than 200 new members to his group in the process.

The teen's experience suggests that media coverage and the aggressive effort to curb participation in the game may be attracting more public attention to “Blue Whale”, and thus having the opposite effect.

Those who cannot repress their curiosity will now inevitably find ways of accessing the game beyond the Great Firewall that defines the Chinese internet. In response, the Youth League has developed another spur to its campaign by spreading the Happy Blue Whale guideline online.

by Oiwan Lam at May 22, 2017 03:25 AM

May 21, 2017

Global Voices
‘No to Silence': Javier Valdez's Murder Highlights Persistent Perils for Mexican Journalists
Fotografía de Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) para Derecho Informar. Usada con permiso.

Photo by Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) for Derecho Informar (). Used with permission.

The award-winning Sinaloa journalist and writer, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, was shot to death on Monday, May 15, on a street in Culiacán, a city in northwest Mexico, in broad daylight. Valdez was the editor and reporter of the local media outlet Ríodoce and was considered one of the top experts on drug trafficking in Mexico.

He was the sixth journalist murdered so far this year. On the same day, a little later, the reporter Jonathan Rodríguez of the weekly El Costeño died in an attack, in which his mother was also injured.

Valdez specialized in reporting on issues related to the government’s “war” against drug cartels, as well as political corruption usually involving Mexican governors. His relentless focus was on the relatives, the displaced, the orphans, the widows. He cared about names, not numbers. This is how he explained why he did what he did in a speech at the book fair in Los Angeles, California in 2015:

Seguimos con un déficit de genitales en el país, hay un déficit de genitales, al país le falta ciudadanía, le falta recuperar la calle, la dignidad y creo eso es hasta tarea de los periodistas, tenemos que dejar atrás el periodismo cuenta-muertos, el ‘ejecutómetro’, y contar historias de vida en medio de la muerte, historias de estoicidad, de lucha.

Muchos podemos morir, y muchos han muerto, y no están dentro del negocio (del narco), y no han estado dentro del negocio, y no son víctimas colaterales, ni son números, son personas.

We continue to lack genitals in this country. There is a lack of genitals, there is a lack of citizenship. We need to recover the streets, dignity, and I think that’s up to journalists. We need to leave behind the kind of journalism that counts deaths, the ‘execution-meter’, and [instead] tell stories of life in the midst of death, stories of stoicism, of struggle.

Many of us can die, and many have died, who were not in the business (of drug trafficking)… [they] were not collateral victims, nor numbers, they were people.

“Los matan por haber cometido el gran error de vivir en México. Y ser periodistas”. Palabras de Javier Valdez #UnDiaSinPeriodismo 🏴. Ilustración de Pictoline. Usada con permiso.

“They are killed for having made the grave mistake of living in Mexico, and being journalists”. Words of Javier Valdez #ADayWithoutJournalism 🏴. Pictoline illustration. Used with permission.

Image: Have you seen them? Journalists are increasingly disappearing.
Being tortured.
Being assassinated in Mexico.

We can think that it’s only the messengers of the cartels that give the execution order.  But no. It’s not just the cartels that kill journalists.

Politicians also do their extermination homework. Police. Colluding agents.

State prosecutors. Government officials. Soldiers.

They kill them for the sin of denouncing their mismanagement.
“They are killed for having made the grave mistake of living in Mexico, and being journalists.”

Valdéz always knew that exercising his profession in Mexico put his life at risk, as do many of his colleagues. In fact, as early as 2009, a grenade exploded outside the doors of Ríodoce. On that occasion, there was only physical damage to the building and the reasons behind the attack was never clarified. However, his desire to inform and give a voice to those who were silenced by violence always helped him overcome his apprehensions.

In his column, Malayerba, for Ríodoce, he once wrote the following lines under the title “They are going to kill you”:

Pero él tenía en el pericardio un chaleco antibalas. La luna en su mirada parecía un farol que aluzaba incluso de día. La pluma y la libreta eran rutas de escape, terapia, crucifixión y exorcismo. Escribía y escribía en la hoja en blanco y en la pantalla y salía espuma de sus dedos, de su boca, salpicándolo todo. Llanto y rabia y dolor y tristeza y coraje y consternación y furia en esos textos en los que hablaba del gobernador pisando mierda, del alcalde de billetes rebosando, del diputado que sonreía y parecía una caja registradora recibiendo y recibiendo fajos y haciendo tin en cada ingreso millonario.

But he had a bulletproof vest on. The moon in his gaze resembled a lantern that lit up even during the day. The pen and notebook were routes of escape, therapy, crucifixion and exorcism. He wrote and wrote on the blank sheet and on the screen, and foam came out from his fingers, his mouth, touching everything. Weeping and rage and pain and sadness and anger and dismay and fury in those texts in which he spoke of the governor stepping on shit, of the mayor of bills overflowing, of the representative who smiled and looked like a cash register receiving wads of cash and making a “chi-ching” sound with every millionaire's deposit.

In 2011, Javier Valdéz received the International Press Freedom Award granted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). His speech (beginning at 5:13), re-emphasized the dangers faced by journalists in Mexico:

‘No to silence’

Reporters, activists, and readers shared their grief over the loss of such a committed voice, many of them recalling Valdez’s own words:

“Good journalism, brave, dignified, responsible, honest, doesn't have society; it's alone”: Javier Valdez. They killed him.

[In the image, Valdez's quote in full]: “Good journalism, brave, dignified, responsible, honest, doesn’t have a society; it is alone, and that also speaks of our fragility, because it means that if they go against us or those journalists and they hurt them, nothing will happen.” – Javier Valdez

The dedication of his last book.

NARCOPERIODISMO by Javier Valdez.

Image: To Maicol O’Connor (+) and Tracy Wilkinson, immeasurable journalists, whom I both miss and love.

To the Mexican journalists brave and worthy, exiled, hidden, disappeared, assassinated, beaten, frightened and giving birth to stories, despite censorship and dark canons.

To Tania, Saríah, Fran, Javier Erasmo and Gris. For being with me, supporting me and sowing in me, in spite of clouds. Or maybe that’s why.

A recently created website, El Mañanero Diario, gave an account of the demonstrations that took place to condemn the homicide of Valdez:

Periodistas de todo el país se manifestaron en protesta por el asesinato del periodista sinaloense Javier Valdez. Sinaloa, Ciudad de México, Guerrero, Baja California y Jalisco fueron algunos de los estados en los que los profesionales de la información salieron a las calles para condenar el asesinato de Valdez y exigir mayor seguridad y un alto a la violencia contra el gremio.

En el Ángel de la Independencia [en la capital mexicana], se reunió un grupo de fotoperiodistas quienes, sobre la glorieta, con gis blanco, escribieron: “En México nos están matando” y “No al silencio”, con palabras formadas por los retratos de reporteros asesinados, como Gregorio Jiménez y Miroslava Breach.

Journalists across the country demonstrated in protest at the murder of Sinaloa journalist Javier Valdez. Sinaloa, Mexico City, Guerrero, Baja California, and Jalisco were some of the states in which news professionals took to the streets to condemn the murder of Valdez and to demand greater security and a stop to violence against the profession.

A group of photojournalists met At the Angel of Independence [in the Mexican capital], along the roundabout, who with white chalk wrote: “In Mexico they are killing us” and “No to silence,” with words formed by portraits of murdered reporters such as Gregorio Jiménez and Miroslava Breach.

Fotografía de Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) para Derecho Informar (@DerechoInformar). Usada con permiso.

“In Mexico, they are killing us. No to silence.” Photo by Héctor Vivas (@hectorvivas) for Derecho Informar (). Used with permission.

Pantallazo del post público de Ximena Antillón.

Screenshot of the public post of Ximena Antillón.

Image: “The worst thing would be forbidding us to dream, to have illusions; to want to be better, to long for justice and peace, and maintain dignity. The worst thing would be to stop stoning stars. We can’t allow it. It doesn’t matter if we don’t knock any down.” – Javier Valdez Cárdenas

Your condolences for the murder of Javier Valdéz are not enough Mr. Peña Nieto. Stop this slaughter now or leave!

Image:

@GobMx condemns the murder of journalist Javier Valdez. My condolences to his family and friends.

A district attorney that doesn't work

The Mexican State has an office dedicated exclusively — in theory — to seeking justice in crimes committed against those who practice journalism or comment on the right to information or freedom of press and expression.

The official name of the office is the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against the Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) and operates under the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR).

FEADLE, however, is one more branch of the abstruse bureaucratic framework of the country, which absorbs countless public resources while delivering nothing in return.

Suffice it to say that in relation to the cases of homicides committed against journalists so far this year, not a single person has been arrested.

The Mexican independent website, Animal Político reported:

En algo más de seis años -de julio de 2010 al 31 de diciembre de 2016- se registraron 798 denuncias por agresiones contra periodistas.

Pues bien, de esas 798 denuncias, de las cuales 47 fueron por asesinato, la FEADLE informó en respuesta a una solicitud de transparencia que solo tiene registro de tres sentencias condenatorias: una, en el año 2012; y otras dos en 2016. O en otras cifras: el 99.7% de las agresiones no ha recibido una sentencia.

In just over six years – from July 2010 to December 31, 2016 – there were 798 reports of attacks on journalists.

Well, out of these 798 complaints, of which 47 were for murder, FEADLE reported in response to a request for transparency that it only has three convictions registered: one in 2012; and another two in 2016. Or in other words 99.7% of attacks have not led to a criminal conviction.

The recorded reasons for the closure of the investigations by the attorney general include “incompetence” and “non-prosecution.” These technical and legal terms invariably mean the referral of the file to another authority, and ultimately, the termination of the investigation before a formal accusation has been made in the presence of a judge.

The result is impunity for offenders and the denial of justice for victims.

The website Sin Embargo noted:

En 2010, mediante acuerdo, se creó la FEADLE en las entrañas de la PGR y con el antecedente de otro órgano, la Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP). Los delitos en contra de los periodistas se incrementaron sin que se supera de un solo proceso [juicio] que concluyera en sentencia penal.

Ése es el organismo al que el Jefe del Ejecutivo [el Presidente de México] le ha pedido que apoye en Sinaloa para esclarecer el asesinato de Valdez Cárdenas, un periodista que se distinguió por un conocimiento profundo de la región norte donde han operado grupos de narcotraficantes desde los años treinta del siglo pasado.

In 2010, by agreement, FEADLE was created within the purview of the PGR and against the background of another government body, the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Committed against Journalists (FEADP).  Crimes against journalists increased without […] a single process [trial] that concluded in a penal sentence.

This is the government body that the Chief Executive [the President of Mexico] has asked to support in Sinaloa in order to clarify the murder of Valdez Cárdenas, a journalist who reputed for his profound knowledge of the northern region where groups of drug traffickers have operated since the 1930s.

In spite of all these antecedents, in the days after the murder of Valdez, the Mexican State announced a set of measures to protect journalists; the main one being an enlargement of FEADLE's personnel.

The passivity or inefficiency with which the Mexican state responds to violence against journalist has offered a perverse incentive to all those interested in silencing voices to continue resorting to violence, driving threatened voices towards self-censorship or simply stopping work.

This trend is what caused Javier Valdéz to say “no to silence” and that is why today, we join the call #NiUnoMás.

by Omar Ocampo at May 21, 2017 02:15 PM

Doc Searls
An Archimedian Approach to Personal Power in the Land of Giants

archimedes120

On a mailing list that obsesses about All Things Networking, another member cited what he called “the Doc Searls approach” to something. Since it was a little off (though kind and well-intended), I responded with this (lightly edited):

The Doc Searls approach is to put as much agency as possible in the hands of individuals first, and self-organized groups of individuals second. In other words, equip demand to engage and drive supply on customers’ own terms and in their own ways.

This is supported by the wide-open design of TCP/IP in the first place, which at least models (even if providers don’t fully give us) an Archimedean place to stand, and a wide-open market for levers that help us move the world—one in which the practical distance between everyone and everything rounds to zero.

To me this is a greenfield that has been mostly fallow for the duration. There are exceptions (and encouraging those is my personal mission), but mostly what we live with are industrial age models that assume from the start that the most leveraged agency is central, and that all the most useful intelligence (lately with AI and ML being the most hyper-focused on and fantasized about) should naturally be isolated inside corporate giants with immense data holdings and compute factories.

Government oversight of these giants and what they do is nigh unthinkable, much less do-able. While regulators aplenty know and investigate the workings of oil refineries and nuclear power plants, there are no equivalents for Google’s, Facebook’s or Amazon’s vast refineries of data and plants doing AI, ML and much more. All the expertise is working for those companies or selling their skills in the marketplace. (The public minded work in universities, I suppose.) I don’t lament this, by the way. I just note that it pretty much can’t happen.

More importantly, we have seen, over and over, that compute powers of many kinds will be far more leveraged for all when individuals can apply them. We saw that when computing got personal, when the Internet gave everybody a place to operate on a common network that spanned the world, and when both could fit in a hand-held rectangle.

The ability for each of us to not only drive prices individually, but to retrieve the virtues of the bazaar to the networked marketplace, will eventually win out. In the meantime it appears the best we can do is imagine that the full graces of computing and networks are what only big companies can do for (and to) us.

Bonus link: a talk I gave last week in Munich.

So I thought it might be good to surface that here. At least it partly explains why I’ve been working more and blogging less lately.

by Doc Searls at May 21, 2017 11:02 AM

Global Voices
Why Doctors and Students Are Protesting Against Sri Lanka's Only Private Medical College

The main building of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine in Malabe near Colombo. Image by Mediajet via Wikimedia Commons

In Sri Lanka, doctors and students have been protesting for months requesting the government to shut down the private South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), the only private university in Sri Lanka currently training medical students.

They are against the privatization of education and claim that opening private universities will drastically affect children from poor families’ access to education opportunities.

In Sri Lanka, education is state funded and offered free of charge at all levels, including university level. Doctors affiliated to the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) staged a one-day strike earlier this month, protesting police action against students and demanding that the government shut down or nationalize the private medical university.

Defying a court order, about 5,000 members of the inter-university students federation (IUSF) carried on with the protest on May 17. Failing to stop them, the Police tear-gassed the protesters and drove them into a nearby park. Several protestors were injured and admitted to nearby hospitals.

The protests caused severe traffic congestion in the area of Colombo where they took place.

Several students and a Buddhist Monk were arrested during the protest.

The case against SAITM

Since its launch in 2008, SAITM has been the centre of many controversies as students from state-run schools and doctors in government services have questioned its educational standards and medical facilities. More than Sri Lankan Rs 3 billion (US $6.5 million) have been invested by SAITM into the institution including a teaching hospital with 850 beds. The institute claims that its standards and facilities are superior to those of state-run medical universities.

In 2013, the University Grants Commission (UGC) of Sri Lanka granted degree-awarding status to the institution amidst protests from the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) and the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA).

In July 2016, however, the Government of Sri Lanka suspended new admissions to the medical faculty of SAITM after a series of proposals were issued by a high-powered committee of professors following accusations about the standard of the education there.

Now a legal battle is brewing over whether to allow graduates of SAITM to work as doctors in Sri Lanka.

From July 2016, the Sri Lanka Medical Council has refused to register the first batch of 30 SAITM graduates on the ground that the MBBS programme followed by SAITM medical students does not qualify them to intern at hospitals.

Free Education Or Freedom Of Education

On January, 31, in a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka directed the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) to grant provisional registration to the South Asian Institute of Technology and Management (SAITM) Medical graduates.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) vehemently protested this ruling and various student bodies, including the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF), held a series of protests in the Sri Lankan capital in the following week.

On February 7 the CEO of SAITM, Dr Sameera Senarathne was shot at by two unidentified gunmen riding on a motorbike, but escaped unhurt. The attack highlighted the polarisation surrounding the issue of private medical institutions operating in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan Medical Council has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the January 31 judgement by the Court of Appeal.

Hilmy Ahamed wrote in a blog for Groundviews:

The state university students who benefit from taxpayers’ money through free education, and political opportunists have continued to protest the SAITM University’s medical degree programme as a threat to free education. They ignore or fail to protest over the hundreds of other degree awarding programmes undertaken by various private educational institutions. Why is it that only the private medical degree programme is seen as a threat to free education? The medical mafia of the GMOA, which holds the stick to ransom every time the Government takes any decision, which benefits the majority of the citizens of the country, are spearheading a campaign against the verdict of the Appeal Court.

And Devan Daniel wrote in the Echelon:

Three decades ago, Sri Lanka had a shortage of doctors, where for each doctor, there were 6,000 people in the population. Things have improved over the years, and today there is a doctor for every 1,100 persons in the country. But according to Fitch Rating Lanka, a credit rating firm, compared with the world average of 670 people per doctor, demand is growing for doctors and better medical care in Sri Lanka.

With the government’s limited ability to set up medical schools or expand existing ones, the private sector must play a role.

The government response

Earlier this month the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena criticised the recent protests and referred to the steps taken by the government to resolve issues with regard to the private medical college, including imposing better education standards on SAITM and taking over SAITM's private hospital.

In April, 2017 the government issued this letter describing their decision regarding SAITM students, including the requirement for a further period of clinical training and a mandatory examination under the joint supervision of the Sri Lanka Medical council and the University Grants Commission:

Image via SAITM Facebook page (click on image to enlarge)

Caught in the crossfire

Amidst these battles that have dominated the mainstream and social media spaces, the main victim has been the students of SAITM and ordinary people. The Colombo Telegraph recently featured many SAITM students in their ‘My SAITM Story’ campaign, which appeared to be aimed at evoking empathy among readers. There is also a Facebook page titled Why do we need SAITM? that provides reasons as to why the institution needs to exist as a private entity. The page “Know SAITM”, on the other hand, focuses on exposing the institution, by claiming it is not up to the standard and is charging exorbitant fees.

People reacted on Twitter:

Dr. Ruvan Weerasing analyzed most of the opposing views in an Oped titled “To SAITM Or Not To SAITM – Is That The Question?” for the Colombo Telegraph and argued that a more rational debate over ‘whether or not the private sector can provide medical education’ was needed.

The SAITM authorities announced in a Facebook post that they are presently cooperating with the Government on the proposals that have been made and will obey the Supreme Court's decision.

Hilmy Ahamed opined:

It is left to be seen, if the Medical Mafia continues to deprive the right of a private medical education in Sri Lanka for our youth.

by Rezwan at May 21, 2017 10:30 AM

First- and Second-Generation Dutch Wonder Whether They'll Ever Be Considered Locals

Linawati Sidarto has lived in Amsterdam almost as long as she lived in Indonesia, but she says she doesn't think she'll ever be able to feel Dutch. Credit: Venetia Rainey

This story by Venetia Rainey originally appeared on PRI.org on May 16, 2017. It is republished here as part of a partnership between PRI and Global Voices.

Linawati Sidarto surveys the shelves in a small toko, or Indonesian grocery store, in Amsterdam.

“I need to get sambal of course, the hot sauce,” Sidarto says as she selects the biggest jar of a fiery-red paste commonly used in Indonesian cooking.

Sidarto, 51, often comes to this toko to buy food that reminds her of home. She was born in Jakarta, but has lived in Amsterdam for 19 years, almost as long as she lived in Indonesia. She has a Dutch husband and two teenage daughters whom she describes as “very Dutch.” She also speaks fluent Dutch — yet she still doesn't quite feel like she belongs.

“There's a bit of a derogatory word for [non-Western] migrants, which is allochtoon,” Sidarto explains. “My children will always say, ‘Ah yeah, but mum, you're an allochtoon, you would never understand.'”

She laughs before adding: “It’s a running joke, but there's some truth behind it. Emotionally, I will never feel like I'm Dutch. I will probably never ever be able to say that I’m Dutch.”

This question of who is Dutch — and what being Dutch means, and who gets to decide — has been fiercely debated in the Netherlands during recent months, with a divisive election in March revolving around issues of identity, integration and Islam. Extreme right-wing politician Geert Wilders was instrumental in stirring up nativist sentiment. Elements of his rhetoric were also adopted by the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte. His open letter to people in the Netherlands to “act normal or get out” was widely interpreted as a call for immigrants to integrate — assimilate, even — to the greatest extent possible.

For relative newcomers like Sidarto, however, it's not always so straightforward.

“[The Dutch] don't necessarily easily let other people in their inner circle,” she explains, recalling her first years here when she was in her 30s. “They do not ask you to come around to have dinner at their house or have a drink. They're polite with you at work, and then they leave. That was very, very difficult for me in the beginning.”

Coming from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, Sidarto spoke the language pretty well before she even arrived and had relatives already living in the Netherlands. Still, she struggled to make it her home. Even now, most of her friends are other immigrants or Dutch people who have lived abroad.

For Kami Zarker, 42, the experience of trying to become Dutch was even trickier.

Zarker arrived as a refugee from Iran in 1994; he was then a 21-year-old with no Dutch language skills and zero knowledge about the Netherlands. At a botanical garden in Amsterdam, where he goes to be reminded of his home country, he explains how, in his first years here, he worked hard to learn Dutch and make friends. His application for asylum was denied, but he managed to get a study visa instead, and eventually was granted citizenship.

Zarker now has an Iranian wife and two kids in Amsterdam. When he goes back to Iran, he says he no longer feels at home — but nor does he feel fully at home in the Netherlands. He jokingly describes himself as 60 percent Dutch and “40 percent myself.”

“I think if I'm here over 100 years, I will not really be Dutch,” Zarker says with a shrug. “I try to be that, but I am not.”

For second-generation immigrants, the question of how Dutch they are is even thornier.

“I get that question all the time,” says Huda Abu Leil, a 22-year-old social work student who was born in the Netherlands. Her father is from Palestine, and her mother is from Morocco. “‘What do you feel? Do you feel Palestinian or do you feel Moroccan or do you feel Dutch?'”

“Sometimes I feel Dutch, but with all these things that happen in the world, some Dutch people don't see me [as] Dutch,” Abu Leil adds, a note of frustration in her voice. “I always think, ‘Oh, OK, what am I?'”

Abu Leil went to an Islamic school here and wears a loose headscarf. She says all but one of her friends are Muslim, which she admits she finds “weird.” Still, she has never felt she had to justify her identity to anyone, apart from one time.

Pouring some sweet Moroccan tea, a staple in her house, she recalls an incident during her first year at the university when her classmates reproached her and her Muslim friends for being too “cliquey.” Abu Leil couldn't see what was wrong — she says everyone at her university hung around in a clique of some sort. It got so tense that a professor intervened and asked Abu Leil and her friends what was going on.

“And we were angry, because we thought, ‘Why are you coming to us, why don’t you talk to the classmates [too]? Why is it always us? What did we do wrong?’ When I think about it, it makes me angry and confused.”

The idea that a newcomer has to go the extra mile to fit in is a common one in the Netherlands, indeed in many countries.

But at what point does someone who has built their life here just get to be themselves and still feel like they belong?

Venetia Rainey reported this story from Amsterdam.

by Public Radio International at May 21, 2017 10:00 AM

Viral Video Triggers Debate Over Patriotic Education in China, Again

Lui Hulan (1932-1947) is a Chinese communist heroine widely used in school textbooks.

A video showing a schoolboy crying while reciting the biography of communist heroine Lui Hulan went viral online last week in China.

The boy was reading the textbook in a “crying tone”, a recital skill widely taught in schools, and ended up bursting into tears while his classmates burst into laughter. Below is a copy of the clip, via YouTube:

Reactions to the video were divided. Some were touched by the child's patriotic spirit, while others accused China's system of brainwashing.

Born in 1932, Lui Hulan participated in the Chinese Communist revolution when she was a 10-year-old and joined the party in 1946. She assisted the CCP in the assassination of her village chief in Yunzhouxi, Shanxi province and was beheaded by the Kuomintang soldiers in January 1947, when she was just 15.

Similar to Lei Feng, Liu is a prominent figure in modern-day Chinese patriotic education.

The viral video was shared by a number of users on Weibo, and the following two reactions sum up the differing views of the incident:

洗脑教育,不好笑,很悲哀。怂恿一个孩子去送死不被唾弃反被歌颂,所以人性在这社会荡然无存

Brain-washing education. Nothing laughable. Very sad. Encourage a kid to die and praise it. That’s why our society is so inhuman.

有人说刘胡兰的事迹是怂恿未成年人去送死,是洗脑。像你们这种蝇营狗苟的市井之徒怎么能明白先烈的献身精神,她才15岁就懂得保护战友,而你们都已经成年人了,却只知道喷,在你们眼中,出卖战友保全自己大概就是所谓的人性吧,一副汉奸嘴脸,中华民族崛起靠的从来不是你们这帮垃圾

Some said the story about Lui Hulan is encouraging teenagers to die and brainwashing. Vulgar people who live like bugs and dogs cannot understand the spirit of heroes who sacrificed themselves. She knew how to protect her fellows when she was just a 15-year-old. You are all grown up and all you can do is split people up. In your view, betraying your fellows is human nature, [you are] a bunch of traitors. The Chinese nation will rise without such a bunch of craps.

Skipping the antagonistic traitor-patriot discourse, Weibo user @byelove1212 argued that school pedagogy should stress positive role models:

刘胡兰10岁参加革命,14岁参与刺杀村长,1947年15岁被杀,她杀的与杀她的都是中国人,都是自己的同胞。即使在革命的年代,这种精神也不值得提倡,没有任何理由可以让一个本该天真浪漫的花季少女为所谓的“革命”献身。在高度文明的现代,更不该提倡,15岁的她该读书、唱歌、吃零食、无忧无虑、被这世界温柔对待。
所以我的孩子不需要学习杀同胞的所谓“英雄”,而应学习排队、爱护环境、垃圾分类、文明礼让、尊重他人、自信快乐、勇敢善良、伸出援手这些最基本的东西,这些做好了,才是真正的正能量!

Lui Hulan joined the revolution when she was 10 and participated in the assassination of village chief when she was 14. She was killed in 1947 when she was 15. Those she killed and those killed were all Chinese, all are fellows. Even during the revolution era, such a spirit should not be advocated. There is no justifiable reason to let an innocent teenage girl sacrifice herself for the so-called “revolution”. In civilized modern times, [such behavior] should not be encouraged. A 15-year-old girl should be reading, singing, eating snacks, carefree and treated gently by the whole world. My kids do not need to follow the so-called “heroes” who killed their fellow countrymen. They should learn how to line up, love the environment, recycle used items, act in a civilized manner, respect others, be confident and happy, be brave and kind, helpful to others and etc… all the basic behaviours. This would be genuine positive energy.

Another weibo user “Head of Entertainment” said:

对于刘胡兰,我的观点是让刘胡兰成为历史,不要歌颂,不要倡导,不要让历史重演!

Regarding Liu Hulan, my view is to let Liu Hulan becomes history, don’t glorify her, don’t advocate, don’t let history repeat itself.

Similar debates happened two years back in the form of letters exchanged between a father and a school teacher. The Chinese Communist Youth League republished the two letters on Weibo to facilitate the discussion.

The father’s letter was believed to be written by a liberal opinion leader and published anonymously back in April 2014. Below is a partial translation of the letter:

这些人让一个十三、四岁的孩子去参加你死我活的政治斗争,当同龄人还在草地上天真烂漫地追逐嬉戏的时候,她却和一群大人杀了她们的村长。而后不久又被对方捉到同样残忍地把她的头铡了下来。从这里面我看不到有任何值得称赞的品质和任何值得坚守的理想。相反包括后来那些心智和谋略非凡的大人物对她的嘉奖和称赞都将是耻辱的记忆。我也同样是在这种斗争、仇恨教育中长大,所幸我最终挣脱。…到我的孩子被教导去学刘胡兰,我心如刀绞。出于一个父亲的责任,我本能的想为孩子去抵挡可能对她心灵带来的戕害。望老师理解,以后这个活动请允许我们放弃。

These people let a 13-14 year-old kid get involved in a life and death political struggle. While people of her age were chasing around in the grasslands, she joined a group of adults to help murder her village head. Later she was beheaded in the same brutal manner. I can not see any praiseworthy quality or ideal here. On the contrary, those strategists who praise her are shameful. I grew up in such a kind of struggle-and-hate education. Fortunately, I disentangled myself from that… now that my kids are being taught to follow Liu Hulan, my heart aches as if it were stabbed by a dagger. As a responsible father, my instinct is to protect my kids from such spiritual harm. I hope the teachers can understand and allow us to abstain from such activities.

The response from a ‘teacher’ is widely believed to have been written by a party ideologue. The letter argued that the younger generation should be prepared for the worst. The response featured an image of Japanese soldiers toying with the corpse of a Chinese baby with bayonets during the Second World War.

Below is a partial translation of the letter:

我们的孩子虽然生活在和平年代,但是谁也无法保证他们永远生活在和平年代。大家都想远离是非,远离暴力,远离政治,但这是不可能的,我们离不开政治,也无法让战争之类的伤痛绝迹。…
你孩子这个年纪,不止需要童话,还需要英雄。她早已到了可以有偶像,会去欣赏、仰慕一些人的时候了。你觉得刘胡兰不该是她学习的英雄,不知道该会是谁家英雄,在填充着她的精神世界。这些英雄,真的都不关政治,不带血腥?是屠恶龙的王子,还是蜘蛛侠呢?

Although our kids are living in a peaceful era, no one can guarantee that they can enjoy peace forever. We want to stay away from violence and politics, but this is impossible, we can’t stay away from politics and we can’t stop wars and other painful incidents…Your kids not only need children’s tales but also heroes. She can have idols and know how to appreciate others. You think she should not follow Liu Hulan, but other heroes have occupied her world. Are these other heroes not political, not violent? How about the prince of slayer or the spider man?

In the end, the letter criticized the father’s attitude as shameful:

有这样的思维,大概跟最近“污化英雄”的社会环境有关。
让孩子去认识自己民族的英雄,并没有什么过错。…刘胡兰无疑是个英雄,让这么小的英雄牺牲了,是那个时代的悲剧,但我们不能因此否定英雄,甚至要让孩子“远离”。…
最后说一句,你这样的教育孩子的方式,不但会毁了自己的孩子,而且错误的观念和态度,还将影响许多人。让孩子远离自己民族的英雄,这是可耻的!

Such thoughts are likely related to the recent cultural phenomenon of “stigmatizing heroes”. There is nothing wrong with letting our kids learn about their national heroes… Lui Hulan is a genuine heroine, she sacrificed herself at a young age. It was a tragedy of her time but we can’t simply denounce her and ask our kids to “stay away”…

by Oiwan Lam at May 21, 2017 05:42 AM

May 20, 2017

Global Voices
Japanese Committee Clears Path for Vague and Controversial Anti-Conspiracy Bill

Image chyron:  “Upheavel: vote forced on conspiracy bill. ‘Unacceptable!'… Strong condemnation from opposition committee members.” Opposition politician and member House of Representatives Committee on Judicial Affairs (left), clashes with fellow committee member Tsuchiya Masatada, member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (right), as the governing party forces a vote in committee to close debate on a controversial terrorism bill. Screencap from ANN News official YouTube channel.

Despite public protests, resistance from opposition politicians and international condemnation, Japan's ruling coalition ended committee discussions on a controversial anti-conspiracy bill May 19, paving the way for its passage into law before the Japanese parliament breaks for summer next month.

There are fears the vague nature of the bill, which will cover nearly 300 crimeswill erode personal liberties in Japan once it is passed, providing authorities with broad surveillance powers, and leaving the question of who can be monitored open to interpretation.

Japan's ruling coalition, headed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and the Liberal Democrats, has tried for years to revise Japan's existing Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds. The goal, according to the Japanese government, is to join the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, at a time when threats to national security are perceived to be increasing.

Japan's last large-scale domestic attack was carried out in 1995, by the group Aum Shinrikyo.

A Q&A published in the English-language version of Nikkei Asia explains:

Legislation proposed by past governments sought to make punishable acts of conspiring to commit serious crimes as a “group.” Such a broad definition sparked fear that harmless situations — say, co-workers talking at a pub about beating up their boss — could run afoul of the law.

This time, the government has dropped the word conspiracy and adopted the label of plotting to commit “terrorism” and other organized crimes.

Despite these changes, members of the House of Representatives Committee on Judicial Affairs, which has been debating and making changes to the bill since April 18, have expressed concern “ordinary people” are still in danger of coming under investigation on suspicion of conspiracy if the bill was enacted in its current form.

The bill, which would punish “preparations for terrorism or similar acts,” is said to only apply to “terrorist groups and other organized criminal groups.” But the definition of “group” is vague. According to the Nikkei Q&A:

A group is defined in the bill as two or more people, and the proposed charge would apply to those who plan one of the many listed offenses, in which at least one member makes specific preparations to carry out the offense. Punishment would be meted out to all members of the group, regardless of whether they were the one who made specific preparations. The list of offenses was narrowed down from the original 676 to 277.

Despite the implications the bill has for civil liberties in Japan, committee members have also expressed concerns about Justice Minister Kaneda Katsutoshi's understanding of basic legal concepts.

During committee discussions, Justice Minister Kaneda frequently relied on bureaucrats to whisper correct responses to questions.

Writing for the Japan Times, Tomohiro Osaki reports:

(Justice Minister) Kaneda said in April that “objective evidence” will be a major factor in deciding whether someone is plotting a crime, providing as an example: “If you walk under cherry blossom trees with beer and a lunch box, that’s considered as hanami (cherry-blossom viewing). But if you do so carrying a map, binoculars and a notebook, that might be your attempt to inspect a crime scene beforehand.”

In response, a committee member from an opposition party said, “You can still carry binoculars for bird-watching … That’s no clear criterion.”

Despite the concerns of committee members, on May 19 the ruling coalition used its majority to end debate in the  committee, and sent the the bill to Japan's parliament where the government will use its majority to pass it into law before the June 18 recess.

Like other controversial pieces of legislation passed by the Abe government, the bill has generated criticism both inside and outside of Japan.

Tokyo Shimbun reported that Joseph Cannataci, United National Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, has been critical of of the bill:

International expert warns: Conspiracy bill “arbitrary enforcement”. Special #rapporteur delivers notified Japanese prime minister.

Notable article: How there are even international concerns about the new conspiracy bill. http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2017052090065838.html 

Reuters reported that Japanese spokesperson Suga Yoshihide tried to reassure the public about the intent of the legislation, saying it would would not target the “legitimate activities” of labor unions or other civil groups.

However, Shirakawa Yasuhiro, speaking for the National Police Agency, refused to confirm Suga's comments.

by Nevin Thompson at May 20, 2017 03:30 PM

May 19, 2017

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
LIL Talks: Seltzer!

In this week’s LIL talk, Matt Phillips gave us an effervescent presentation on Seltzer, followed by a tasting.

We tasted

  • Perrier – minerally, slightly salty, big bubbles with medium intensity
  • Saratoga – varied bubble size, clean… Paul says that this reminds him of typical German seltzers
  • Poland Springs – soft, smooth, sweet and clean
  • Gerolsteiner – Minerally with low carbonation
  • Borjomi – Graphite, very minerally, small bubbles, funk

Of course, throughout the conversation, we discussed the potential for the bottles affecting our opinions. We agreed that for a truly objective comparison, we’d transfer the samples to generic containers.

Though our tech and law talks are always educational and fun, our carbonated water talk was a refreshing change.

by Andy Silva at May 19, 2017 06:21 PM

Global Voices
Argentines Rally Against Ruling That Could Shorten Prison Sentences of Dictatorship-Era Criminals

Main act of the protest against the 2×1 for genocide accused ruling in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Photo Nuevo Encuentro, shared publicly on Facebook.

Argentines marched in cities across the country on May 10, 2017, to repudiate a Supreme Court decision regarding a measure known as “two for one” (2×1) that would reduce the sentence of a serviceman convicted of crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina.

The ruling refers to an old convention of Argentine criminal law that was intended at the time to reduce the prison population. It was established so that those who were detained without trial for more than two years would have the right to compensation for the delay in the form of double time served for however long they were held without conviction.

For the people protesting against the Supreme Court's ruling, it sets a precedent that could result in many of those who were members of the dictatorship's repressive forces being released early. The following video by Emergentes summarizes what the ruling means for Argentines and the reasons they reject it:

La gente manifestándose también es una respuesta simbólica y firme [de] lo que no queremos que vuelva a pasar nunca más

The people protesting are also a firm and symbolic response to what we do not want to happen ever again.

On May 3, 2017, the majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Luis Muiña, who was convicted of “illegal deprivation of freedom aggravated by the use of violence or threats.” In a country where the wounds of the dictatorship have not yet healed, a ruling like this is a low blow in the eyes of those who have spent more than four decades fighting for justice.

The reaction of human rights organizations, political parties and citizens was swift, both in the streets and on social media, where the indignation was palpable in tweets using the hashtags #Noal2x1 (No to 2×1) and #Noal2x1aGenocidas (No to 2×1 for genocide criminals):

#NOal2x1aGenocidas… This country can’t take any more… What else is coming!? Please, how much injustice!

Image: Not one genocidal criminal on the streets. No to the 2X1 law. We will protest at the Plaza de Mayo.

Tweet: #NuncaMas [Never Again] #NoAl2x1AGenocidas This Wednesday everyone will go to the Plaza. FOR THE MEMORY OF THE 30,000 FELLOW [ARGENTINES WHO DIED]!

Image: Let's defend our history. Not one genocidal criminal on the streets.

Tweet: This Wednesday we mobilize together with human rights organizations to prove that this country is standing up! #Noal2x1 #NoAl2X1Genocida

“Argentina cannot go backwards on human rights issues. The message of impunity cannot invade our streets” @SergioMassa

They kidnapped, tortured, raped, killed, stole babies, planned misery. Not one genocidal criminal free #MisionesPresente#NoAl2x1AGenocidas

The general slogan that encompassed the call to action was clear — “Neither forgetfulness, nor forgiveness, nor reconciliation” — and white handkerchiefs, the symbol of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo association of mothers whose children were disappeared during the dictatorship, dominated the mobilization.

Here are some images of the massive march shared by the collective Emergentes:

Downtown Buenos Aires filled with white handkerchiefs. Photo: Emergentes, used with permission.

“Never again.” March in Buenos Aires against 2×1 for the genocides. Photo: Emergentes, used with permission.

March in Buenos Aires against 2×1 for the genocides. Photo: Emergentes, used with permission.

Symbolic representation of the victims of forced disappearance during the dictatorship. Photo: Emergentes, used with permission.

The government's response

Secretary of Human Rights Claudio Avruj denied any interference of the Executive Branch in the Judiciary, and stated that it would be a mistake to confuse the court's decision with a decision of the government: “The first thing we proposed was respect for the independence of the branches of government. […] This has nothing to do with the unwavering commitment to the fight against impunity.”

On the same day as the march, Argentine President Mauricio Macri spoke out against the 2×1 ruling in a move that many considered “took too long to happen.” Meanwhile, the Senate issued a law, previously approved by consensus in an emergency session of the Chamber of Deputies, which limits the scope of the ruling and restricts its application in cases of people convicted of war crimes and genocide.

The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in the Senate session where the 2×1 decision was ruled inapplicable for those convicted of crimes against humanity. Photo: Emergentes, used with permission.

Despite the quick issuing of the law and the clarifications of the secretary of human rights, this controversial week does not bode well for President Mauricio Macri’s public image in the face of upcoming legislative elections in October 2017. It only adds to the general discontent within an important sector of Argentine society that already disapproves of several state policies enacted during his 16-month administration.

by Erin Gallagher at May 19, 2017 04:47 PM

Creative Commons
Everything really is political

Everything is political

With these welcoming words, Creative Common’s CEO Ryan Merkley confirmed I was in the right place. It was my first time at the global Creative Commons summit, and though I knew a bit about Creative Commons, this was my first adventure into meeting and learning from the community.

ryanImage by Sebastian Ter Burg, CC BY

The open data community that I’m part of has a lot of overlap with the Creative Commons space. Not just because we both talk about licenses for data or content, but moreso due to our community’s enthusiasm to use tech and data and information to further our shared values – chief amongst them, a belief that open is better.

In Canada we’ve got great momentum going in terms of applying this belief to how our government works. Code for Canada has recently launched, we’ve got a new chief digital officer in Ontario, and adoption of the Open Data Charter at the federal and provincial governments. Cities across Canada are showing renewed focus on their open data plans. So how to build on this momentum of openness?

By increasing our political action. Many of us have a handle on how tech and systems work, how they can be open, how they can be applied – and yes, we’ve got lots of opinions on it all too. As a community, we need to show up more to support our governments in their work to do tech right.

When I needed a jolt of inspiration in doing this work a few years back, I watched the Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about Aaron Swartz, in Lawrence Lessig’s words, “one of the early architects of Creative Commons”. To help share this inspiration and keep the discussion moving along, we’ll be hosting a joint movie night, put on by the Toronto Public Library, Creative Commons Canada, and the Open Data Institute of Toronto – details will be shared as we have them.

Aaron had a fierce political belief in the power of opening up information. It’s on us as a bigger and broader open community to think strategically about what we can do politically to make sure this happens. I’m excited for our communities to continue to converge and collaborate and I’m grateful for the summit experience that confirmed another global community of people keen to do this work.

The post Everything really is political appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Bianca Wylie at May 19, 2017 03:19 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Azerbaijan Blocks Independent Media (And Actually Admits it)

Earlier this month Azerbaijan's Ministry of Transportation, Communication and High Technologies broke the habit of a lifetime by securing a court order to block key independent media outlets, including three online websites and two satellite TV channels.

That isn't to say that the Ministry had not blocked websites before — just that it had never admitted to doing so. As in other heavy handed ex-Soviet states such as Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, previous reports of blocks were met with a shrug of the shoulders from authorities.

The May 12 court decisions affected azadliq.info, the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty; Berlin-based dissident media outlet Meydan.TV; and satellite TV channels Turan TV and Azerbaijani Saadi (Azerbaijan Hour).

The state prosecutor claims that these websites “pose a threat” to Azerbaijan's national security and accuses them of sharing content that promotes violence, hatred, extremism, violates privacy and constitutes slander.

But recent articles published by Azadliq Radio do not match this description. The site's current page features stories on suicide rates in Azerbaijan, public protests, and the business dealings of Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva's private foundation, which surfaced new revelations regarding the financial activities of the president's relatives and his inner circle.

What's more, the court order does not just block the resources. It can be used as a premise to prosecute the outlets’ employees on the same spurious security grounds on which they were blocked.

Another website targeted recently by authorities was opposition media outlet abzas.net. In April, its editor Ulvi Hasanli told Meydan.TV that beginning in March this year, the website's editors and readers had noticed access issues.

The access issues began shortly after the parliament in Azerbaijan introduced amendments to the law on “Information, Informatisation and Protection of Information” and the law on telecommunications.

A detailed report published by Amnesty International highlighted additional digital attacks against journalists, activists and rights defenders in Azerbaijan:

We documented a series of spearphishing attempts using a custom malware agent that has targeted critics of the Azerbaijani government over at least thirteen months. The recent samples of the malware are consistent with independent reports of an increase in the compromise of social media accounts of activists. The victims and targets identified, as well as the political theme of bait documents, indicate that the campaign is largely targeting human rights activists, journalists, and dissidents. This campaign also aligns with findings by VirtualRoad.org in their report, “News Media Websites Attacked from Governmental Infrastructure in Azerbaijan”, which links some of the same network address blocks with “break-in attempts” and “denial of service attacks” against several independent media websites

In recent days, users in Azerbaijan have been reporting difficulties receiving incoming international calls via Skype and WhatsApp.

It is impossible to talk either with whatsapp, or skype. Are these also blocked?

There have been issues receiving international calls via Whatsapp and Skype in recent days. Looks like Aliyevs are short on cash, their mobile operators ran out of money.

Its been 5 days now that its been impossible to make calls with Whatsapp. Looks like they must have done this for security reasons but its still possible to make calls using Facebook messenger easily. They might have forgotten about that one.

Yes, its been like this for the past five days. Not possible to talk when receiving an international call. This was one thing we had left and they have taken it too. May God punish them. All they think about is how to shut people up and oppress them.

Hebib Muntezir, one of the founders of the now-officially-blocked Meydan TV offered a speedy solution to getting round the blocks:

The temporary [so far] access issues with Skype and WhatsApp can be circumvented by using VPNs.

It is worth noting that Azerbaijan is currently hosting the Islamic Solidarity Games, an international event that attracts kicked off on May 12 — the same day the court ordered the websites blocked — and will continue until May 22. The games are an Olympic-style competition open to all Muslim nations, in which some 3000 athletes from 50 countries participated this year.

Azerbaijan's National Olympic Committee proudly tweeted:

Repression of critical journalism and internet censorship: these are some of modern Azerbaijan's strongest traditions.

by Arzu Geybullayeva at May 19, 2017 11:46 AM

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