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.

June 23, 2017

Global Voices
ISIS Attempts to Exploit Balkan War Wounds With Localized Propaganda

Memories of the 1992-1995 war are still fresh in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This mural next to children's playground commemorates the fallen from a Sarajevo neighborhood (its text reads “Honoring the Shahid and the fighters of Velešić”). By targeting its propaganda towards Bosnians, ISIS is trying to exploit the wounds from this war. Photo by GV, CC-BY.

In recent months, the militant group ISIS, which has brutalized large swathes of Iraq and Syria for a few years in the name of establishing a “caliphate,” has been increasing its propaganda aimed at the Western Balkans.

The countries of the Western Balkans — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia — are home to significant Muslim populations. By targeting its propaganda towards them, ISIS is trying to exploit the wounds of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, which saw people divided along ethnic and religious lines.

On June 8, Al Hayat Media, a media outfit for ISIS (also known as ISIL, Daesh, and Islamic State) published the 10th issue of their online magazine Rumiyah. It was circulated in nine languages, including Bosnian, with each version providing customized content to their sympathizers in different regions of the world.

Rumiyah has always published in Bosnian, but this issue marked the first time it had a message specifically for citizens of the Western Balkans. In it, ISIS claims they have “not forgotten” the region where they would bring “blood for the enemies and honey for the friends.” The rhetoric is full of menace for the “infidel” Serbs and Croats, and reminiscences of war crimes against Muslims from the past wars. The message includes especially dire threats for the “murtadd”– a term meaning someone who has renounced their own religion or heretic — referring to the majority of local Muslims of Bosnia, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia who do not support any kind of Islamic radicalism.

While large numbers of Muslims also live in the other Balkan countries, ISIS announcements have not mentioned them, nor their capitals as future targets for their “soldiers, cutting the heads and shedding the blood of infidels, until they submit and pay tribute.” A Bulgarian Twitter user commented that they prefer it that way.

For the second time “the Islamic State” publicly neglects us as an enemy worthy of their attention. It's quite OK for me if they continue in the same vein.

Rumiyah is not their only effort to target local audiences.

New channels, mostly in messaging application Telegram, have also recently been created. All information they contain is in Bosnian, including videos, posters, translations of statements from ISIS, and other types of propaganda. One of the newest channels was created on June 8, on the day when latest Rumiyah issue was published. Currently, there are four major channels which are very active.

Screenshots from a Telegram channel conveying ISIS propaganda in Bosnian, including links to resources, videos from the battlegrounds, and links to other articles.

A painful legacy of war

Religious identity played a major role during the armed conflicts that raged through former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001. Nationalist politicians nurtured and exploited divisions across ethnic and religious lines, pitting against each other the former neighbors that used to live in “brotherhood and unity” (the official slogan of the broken federation).

Most Balkan nationalists use the religious identity of the majority of the ethnic group they claim to represent as part of their ideologies. Groups like these claim that to be a good Croat, one has to be a pious Catholic, for example, or only devout Orthodox Christian Serbs are worthy of the name, or that being a Bosniak is inseparable from being a Muslim. (Albanian nationalism is an exception — even though most Albanians have Muslim heritage, those of other faiths are not looked down upon by compatriots.)

During these wars, over 140,000 people lost their lives, and several million were forced to leave their homes. Numerous war crimes were committed in the name of “defense” of one's chosen ethnicity and religion, and the trials for some of them are still going on. Meanwhile, the fact that various politicians and media have bestowed heroic status on some war criminals does not inspire confidence among the neighboring peoples.

This historical heritage is continuously revisited for political mobilization, and as a consequence aggressive attitudes towards other religions is ingrained in some Balkan citizens.

Western Balkan fighters in Syria and Iraq

Such ISIS propaganda isn't only aimed at recruiting new members, but also motivating sympathizers — some of whom have returned from fighting in Syria — to carry out attacks in the group's name, a call that could be made more potent given the recent history in the Western Balkans.

Balkan fighters started going to Syria in 2012-2013 after the Assad regime intensified its campaign against a popular uprising. Extremist groups presented these actions as an attack against Islam, even though the government's aim was not religious, but political, and exploited the opportunity to use the people's suffering as recruitment tool.

The following estimates combine the data published by authorities, as well as from reports by investigative journalists and think tanks, and my own personal reporting while in the field while working as a journalist. There are around 875 Western Balkan fighters in Syria and Iraq. Roughly speaking, between 90 and 200 are from Albania, between 217 and 330 from Bosnia, between 232 and 300 from Kosovo, between 100 and 146 from Macedonia, about 30 from Montenegro, between 50 and 70 from Serbia. There are also fighters from Slovenia and Croatia.

Many of these fighters belong to al-Qaeda's Syrian branch (known previously as Jabhat an Nusra, and today Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), and another part are among ISIS forces, in units lead by Albanians or Bosnians.

Some of the fighters coming from Bosnia originate in the Salafi communities such as those in the mountain villages of Gornja Maoča, Ošve and Dubnica. They are not result of missionary activity, but of settling of foreign fighters from the Bosnian War and their families.

Exploiting history

From 1992 to 1995, hundreds of fighters from various Muslim groups fought on the Bosnian side, and afterwards some of them settled in remote villages to avoid attention. They were already influenced by the ultra conservative Islamic movement Salafism and for two decades have lived in peace resembling the Puritan communities of the 16th and 17th centuries in Western Europe. In each such village they created infrastructure to support community funding and spiritual development, including small businesses and religious education facilities. Salafist communities also have real estate and travel agencies that work mostly with Arab tourists.

When the war broke out in Syria, some of these families went there, drawn by the promise of building an ideal Muslim state with the creation of a so-called caliphate in 2014 taking advantage of the chaos of the civil war in Syria and the repressions of the Syrian government. It should be made clear that not all Salafi are militant, and many of them continue to live in Bosnia, accepting its institutions.

Bosnian mountains in the vicinity of Sarajevo. Some foreign veterans of the Bosnian War had settled in villages in the area, forming Salafi communities. Photo by GV, CC-BY.

Balkan fighters also include Albanians, some of whom have been recruited by a mosque that operates outside of the control of the Muslim Community of Albania (KMSH, Komuniteti Mysliman i Shqipërisë), the mainstream religious organisation founded in 1923. The number of Albanians going to Syria, however, decreased from 20 in 2012 to only one in 2015 after the country adopted special legal measures against such fighters, making recruiting, funding or supporting fighters punishable by 15 years in prison.

Authorities in neighboring Macedonia adopted similar measures in 2015, criminalizing participation in foreign conflicts and related financing with five years in prison. In Kosovo, meanwhile, security forces had been openly cracking down on jihadist activity since 2014, when they arrested a dozen suspects, including imams.

But the threat posed by citizens who return home after fighting in Syria or Iraq remains. ISIS military failures increase this possibility, as analysts believe that the organization could turn its focus on Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Balkans, as important geopolitical areas with exploitable history of conflict and unresolved problems.

by Ruslan Trad at June 23, 2017 06:42 AM

June 22, 2017

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
Warc.games at IIPC

At IIPC last week, Jack Cushman (LIL developer) and Ilya Kreymer (former LIL summer fellow) shared their work on security considerations for web archives, including warc.games, a sandbox for developers interested in exploring web archive security.

Slides: http://labs.rhizome.org/presentations/security.html#/

Warc.games repo: https://github.com/harvard-lil/warcgames

David Rosenthal of Stanford also has a great write-up on the presentation: http://blog.dshr.org/2017/06/wac2017-security-issues-for-web-archives.html

by Adam Ziegler at June 22, 2017 07:54 PM

Creative Commons
Community update: Unsplash branded license and ToS changes

UPDATE: Unsplash has responded to CC’s concerns, and offered clarifications and additional information to address the issues. In particular, they have committed to making the license explicitly irrevocable. We will update this post as changes are made to the Unsplash license and terms to reflect these statements.

Unsplash, a photo sharing startup, has launched their own branded license and updated their terms to add new restrictions and remove CC0 from their platform. As a result of the changes, Unsplash images are no longer in the public domain. The permissions offered can be revoked at any time, and Unsplash now has the right to pursue infringement on behalf of their users. Also, in some cases, attribution is now required. The terms of the new Unsplash-branded copyright license may create issues for users who hope to re-use the images, and for those who shared using the service and wanted their works available under unrestricted terms.

Background

We feel it’s important to inform the CC community, as many have been supporters of Unsplash and we have been receiving questions from users in the open content and free software movements. We reached out to Unsplash and then also, with their consent, spoke to their legal counsel to understand the new license and terms.

Our intention is to ensure that CC community members understand what has happened to a service they have been using that incorporated CC tools, and to protect the content that was dedicated to the public domain. We don’t want to oppose a startup’s business and marketing decisions, nor deny them the IP they might now want to claim to protect their business model.

We understand from Unsplash that they felt that copycat services were detracting from their offering and upsetting their users. We are sympathetic to that challenge — the predominant players in photo sharing like Flickr, 500px, and Wikimedia Commons all use CC0 in their platforms, and have faced those issues with their users. But it’s also clear that Unsplash wanted to extend their brand to have their name incorporated into the license. That’s a perfectly valid business and marketing decision.

We’ve outlined some issues for consideration in more detail below for the benefit of contributors to Unsplash, and those who wish to re-use their images:

Revocability

The new Unsplash-branded license is, as written, revocable. This means that Unsplash or the author could, at any time, change their mind about how people can use the images they have previously downloaded. This is a significant change from CC0. (Note: Unsplash has since stated that the license is irrevocable. We await an update to the license terms to reflect this explicitly).

Irrevocability is a fundamental feature of CC tools, designed to ensure that anyone who uses the image can do so with the confidence that the author can’t withdraw the permissions they’ve previously granted. We believe that is essential to building a commons that people can rely on, and use permissively.

Attribution

CC0 does not require attribution, though we encourage users to do so because it gives gratitude to the creator, and can support further re-use by linking to the original work and its license. The new Unsplash-branded license doesn’t require attribution, but the Unsplash API guidelines do require attribution. So depending on how a user, a developer, or their app retrieves the image from the Unsplash service, they are subject to different terms.

Copyright and sub-licensing

The new Unsplash terms of service require users who share to grant a copyright license to Unsplash, which permits them to sub-license their work. Unsplash also requires users to grant them the authority to enforce copyright on their behalf. Beyond the compilation of photos in a competing service, it is not clear if there are other scenarios under which Unsplash would enforce copyright against reusers.

CC0 Collection and Archive

Following the switch to the new Unsplash-branded license, there is no marking of works that were previously shared in the public domain using CC0. The Unsplash API restricts/obscures the full CC0 collection, which we believe to be about 200,000 images, but it isn’t possible to access the complete archive. In order to ensure that the commons is maintained, we hope that Unsplash will either a) properly mark all the works shared using CC0 and/or b) make available a full archive of the CC0 works so they can be shared on a platform that supports open licensing and public domain tools. Previous platforms that have gone under or abandoned open license tools have shared their CC archives for this purpose. We hope Unsplash will follow the same path.

The post Community update: Unsplash branded license and ToS changes appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Ryan Merkley at June 22, 2017 03:54 PM

MIT Center for Civic Media
Hiring a Media Cloud Contract Software Engineer

Online media is in a state of flux. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, so-called fake news - these are all recent developments that have radically altered the landscape of news and information online.  We call this the "networked public sphere", and the Media Cloud project was created to track and understand it.  Come help us build data-centric tools for academic internet researchers and human rights activists that let them investigate coverage and conversations online about topics they care about.

The Media Cloud project is seeking a contract software engineer to help us build tools that facilitate research about the role of online media in civic discourse.  We are an open source project producing research about the networked public sphere, and helping others do their own research about online media.  We make available to the public our existing archive of more than 550 million stories, adding more than 40,000 new stories daily.

 

The contract software engineer will work on our server architecture, which collects, processes, and makes these stories available via an API.  They will work under senior engineers to plan, design, build, maintain, and run all levels of the project's platform. This includes back-end tools that collect and archive the data, researcher tools that enable analysis of that data, and occasional contributions to front end tools that expose the data and analysis to the public. Buzzwords - big data, quantitative text analysis, machine learning, etc.

 

Media Cloud is a joint project between the Center for Civic Media at MIT and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The position will be a 6-month contract position based at the Center for Civic Media (at the MIT Media Lab), but the engineer will work closely with members of the team from both centers.  The project is funded by human rights foundations. We produce both the open platform and research that helps our funders make decisions about how best to influence online civic conversations about democracy, activism, and health. This is a grant-funded contract position that we hope to extend, or turn into a staff position.

 

We are a diverse project of researchers and technologists who love to wrestle with hard questions about online media by using a combination of social, computer, and data sciences.  The ideal candidate will work well with all members of the team, from senior faculty to junior developers, and will thrive in an academic atmosphere that privileges constant questioning and validation at all levels of the platform and of our research products.  Experience building text-based big data systems, or working as a data scientist, is helpful, as is experience working on projects investigating online media.

 

Minimum Qualifications:

  • B.A. degree, preferably in computer science or data science related field;
  • at least two years experience working as a software engineer;
  • programming fluency – Python required, Perl and Javascript are helpful;
  • demonstrated ability to design, build, test, and deploy robust code;
  • demonstrated ability to iterate quickly through prototypes;
  • demonstrated ability to use data to validate architectural decisions using data.
  • interest in working on issues related to democracy, gender, race, health, and globalization.

Helpful Skills:

  • passion for solving difficult engineering and data problems;
  • experience writing, maintaining, and optimizing SQL queries against large databases;
  • experience implementing and maintaining a production ETL pipeline;
  • experience scaling platforms to handle large data sets;
  • experience writing web crawlers;
  • experience working with PostgreSQL and Solr / Lucene in Ubuntu environments;
  • knowledge and interest in social sciences;

Duties:

  • work with senior engineers to establish technical vision for project;
  • contribute to, and follow, a technical roadmap to meet research needs and complete grant deliverables;
  • collaborate with other developers, designers, and system administrators in implementing technical roadmap;
  • communicate project status internally and externally to our community of users;
  • maintain, upgrade, and build systems within large, existing codebase to collect, archive, and analyze content from online media;
  • writing code to scale systems to handle ever expanding data requirements.

Much of our substantive work focuses on issues of gender, race, and globalization.  We strongly encourage women, people of color, and people of any sexual identity to apply.

 

The job is based in Cambridge, MA, but much of our team is distributed around the world.  We are open to alternative working arrangements that include part time residence in Cambridge.

 

Apply by sending a cover letter, resume, and link to your GitHub profile to jobs@mediacloud.org

 

 

 

by rahulb at June 22, 2017 02:08 PM

Global Voices
Nigerians Celebrate the Election of Seven British-Nigerians to the UK Parliament

Others wonder if they could've been successful in Nigeria given the country's ethnic divisions.

Chi Onwurah, the member of parliament for Newcastle Central, at an MP Policy Exchange in 2013. Image by Flickr user Policy Exchange. CC BY 2.0.

On 8 June, a general election was held in Britain. Voters went to the polls to choose members of parliament from the 650 constituencies around the country. In a first of its kind moment, seven of the parliamentarians sent were of Nigerian origin. The Nigerian-based website Ventures Africa reported that “three of them won under Theresa May’s Conservative party while the other four won under Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.”

The seven elected MPs and the constituencies they are representing are: Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden), Chineylu “Chi” Onwurah, (Newcastle), Chuka Umunna (Streatham), Fiona Onasanya, (Peterborough), Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald), Kate Osamor (Edmonton) and Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden).

Back in Nigeria, the news was greeted warmly. Here is what the senior special assistant to the Nigerian president on foreign affairs and diaspora had to say:

However, some in the western African nation warned the Nigerian government against “appropriating the success of foreign citizens of Nigerian descent”:

Another Twitter user reminded that these MPs were not in the British parliament as representatives of Nigeria.

Omalicha questioned the Nigerian-ness of these new MPs.

A British-based Nigerian university lecturer, Dr Adebisi Adewole, pointed out that the ethnic divisions that define Nigerian politics means it's unlikely that the winning MPs would've been successful in their country of origin. He wrote:

In Nigeria, they would have been asked, ‘Who knows your family?’ ‘Ah, you are Igbo and you have Yoruba blood with your mother known to have dated an Hausa man’, ‘You are a woman’ ‘You are too young’, ‘How much do you have?’, ‘Who is your godfather?’, You are Muslim’, and so on. No one would have bothered much about the question of competence for the job…

The same sentiments were expressed by a Dapo Rotifa in a post on Facebook:

Splendid! 7 Britons of Nigerian descent won seats to the parliament in the British elections. And as expected we're all adulating, as we're wont to do, the feats our ‘compatriots’ achieved in a foreign land. That's deserving. It gladdens my heart too….

Let's go back to our brothers and sisters who won elections in Britain and our celebration of that. Actually I have a problem with us on that. Let me put it into question even if rhetorically: why do we celebrate a feat outside our shores but find such sacrilegious in our land? The Osun man celebrating our Nigerian exploit in Britain will cry foul if an Oyo who has lived all his life in Ile-Ife wants to stand for election in Osun. Yes, you can say it's a different environment but when are we going to start to make our own environment conducive to recognize the commonality of our humanity?

by Nwachukwu Egbunike at June 22, 2017 01:59 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Detained Telegram Channel Admins Go on Hunger Strike in Iran

Telegram channel admin Nima Keshvari was detained in mid-March 2017 by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

Six administrators of channels on the Telegram messaging application have gone on hunger strike in Iran's Evin Prison to protest their prolonged detention without access to legal counsel. The six men were arrested in the run-up to Iran’s May 2017 presidential election.

An informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that no charges have been issued against the detainees—who supported President Rouhani’s recent re-election bid—more than three months after their arrests by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in March 2017.

“Lawyers have come forward to defend them, but the prosecutor’s office and the judge have not allowed lawyers to see the prisoners according to a recommendation by the IRGC,” the source told CHRI.

“Legal representation becomes official after a client signs a document delegating his or her lawyer,” added the source. “This has not occurred yet.”

Ali Ahmadnia, Mojtaba Bagheri, Sobhan Jafari-Tash, Javad Jamshidi, Nima Keshvari and Saeed Naghdi began a hunger strike on June 19, 2017 in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A, which is controlled by the IRGC.

Their case is being tried at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Abolqasem Salavati.

Attorney Ali Mojtahedzadeh told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on June 21 that he was assisting Keshvari and Bagheri upon requests from their families, but his requests to meet them in the prison have been denied.

“The accusations mentioned in their case are related to their activities in support of the [Rouhani] government,” added Mojtahedzadeh. “You cannot accuse people of acting against national security when they are cooperating with the government.”

The centrist administration of President Hassan Rouhani, who maintains close ties with reformist factions, has been publicly criticized by the IRGC for refusing to censor some of Telegram’s features.

Rouhani also resisted pressure from hardliners to ban Telegram ahead of the March 2016 parliamentary elections and the May 2017 presidential and local council elections.

According to Telegram, some 40 million people use the app, mostly on their mobile phones, in Iran.

Between March 14-16, 2017, agents of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization rounded up eight administrators of 12 Telegram channels aligned with reformist factions that supported Rouhani’s bid for a second term.

Two were soon released, but six remain in detention and were forced to hand over control of their Telegram channels to the IRGC, which deleted all of their content.

Nearly two weeks after their arrests, on March 26, following calls by reformist members of Parliament for an explanation of the arrests, Rouhani asked the Interior Ministry to investigate the “suspicious arrests of a number of media activists on the eve of the elections.”

To date, the Ministry has not made its findings public and judicial officials have not commented other than to announce that the men were arrested in connection with alleged “security issues” and “indecent acts.”

“Regarding this particular case, there are matters that relate to the intelligence minister himself (Mahmoud Alavi) and therefore he cannot comment on this case or prepare a report about it,” said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei on April 12.

“I don’t know of any crime that the admins may have committed for which I share responsibility,” Alavi replied hours later. “It looks like they may have been arrested because of me.”

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Article 90:

“Whoever has a complaint concerning the work of the assembly [Parliament] or the executive power, or the judicial power can forward his complaint in writing to the assembly. The assembly must investigate his complaint and give a satisfactory reply. In cases where the complaint relates to the executive or the judiciary, the assembly must demand proper investigation into the matter and an adequate explanation from them, and announce the results within a reasonable time. In cases where the subject of the complaint is of public interest, the reply must be made public.”

Alavi was appointed to head the Intelligence Ministry by Rouhani.

CHRI has obtained an Instagram photo showing the Minister posing with some of the detained admins. The Instagram account has since been shut down.

Frustrated by the lack of due process in their loved ones’ cases, families of some of the detainees lodged a complaint on June 6 with Parliament’s Article 90 Committee, which is in charge of investigating public grievances.

According to CHRI’s source, the committee has not released the result of its investigation.

Thirty MPs wrote a letter to Alavi on May 30 asking him to explain why the admins had been under prolonged detention without legal counsel in violation of the Constitution.

“A number of pro- [Rouhani] government Telegram channel admins who were arrested in the run-up to the presidential election remain in legal limbo more than two months into their detention,” said the letter.

“Based on information we have received, these individuals have not been charged within the legal time limit under Article 32 of the Constitution and have been denied a lawyer in violation of Article 35.”

On June 6, Alavi responded to the MPs’ questions in a closed session of Parliament, but those deliberations have not been made public.

by International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran at June 22, 2017 01:27 PM

Global Voices
Detained Telegram Channel Admins Go on Hunger Strike in Iran

Telegram channel admin Nima Keshvari was detained in mid-March 2017 by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

Six administrators of channels on the Telegram messaging application have gone on hunger strike in Iran's Evin Prison to protest their prolonged detention without access to legal counsel. The six men were arrested in the run-up to Iran’s May 2017 presidential election.

An informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that no charges have been issued against the detainees—who supported President Rouhani’s recent re-election bid—more than three months after their arrests by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in March 2017.

“Lawyers have come forward to defend them, but the prosecutor’s office and the judge have not allowed lawyers to see the prisoners according to a recommendation by the IRGC,” the source told CHRI.

“Legal representation becomes official after a client signs a document delegating his or her lawyer,” added the source. “This has not occurred yet.”

Ali Ahmadnia, Mojtaba Bagheri, Sobhan Jafari-Tash, Javad Jamshidi, Nima Keshvari and Saeed Naghdi began a hunger strike on June 19, 2017 in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A, which is controlled by the IRGC.

Their case is being tried at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Abolqasem Salavati.

Attorney Ali Mojtahedzadeh told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on June 21 that he was assisting Keshvari and Bagheri upon requests from their families, but his requests to meet them in the prison have been denied.

“The accusations mentioned in their case are related to their activities in support of the [Rouhani] government,” added Mojtahedzadeh. “You cannot accuse people of acting against national security when they are cooperating with the government.”

The centrist administration of President Hassan Rouhani, who maintains close ties with reformist factions, has been publicly criticized by the IRGC for refusing to censor some of Telegram’s features.

Rouhani also resisted pressure from hardliners to ban Telegram ahead of the March 2016 parliamentary elections and the May 2017 presidential and local council elections.

According to Telegram, some 40 million people use the app, mostly on their mobile phones, in Iran.

Between March 14-16, 2017, agents of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization rounded up eight administrators of 12 Telegram channels aligned with reformist factions that supported Rouhani’s bid for a second term.

Two were soon released, but six remain in detention and were forced to hand over control of their Telegram channels to the IRGC, which deleted all of their content.

Nearly two weeks after their arrests, on March 26, following calls by reformist members of Parliament for an explanation of the arrests, Rouhani asked the Interior Ministry to investigate the “suspicious arrests of a number of media activists on the eve of the elections.”

To date, the Ministry has not made its findings public and judicial officials have not commented other than to announce that the men were arrested in connection with alleged “security issues” and “indecent acts.”

“Regarding this particular case, there are matters that relate to the intelligence minister himself (Mahmoud Alavi) and therefore he cannot comment on this case or prepare a report about it,” said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei on April 12.

“I don’t know of any crime that the admins may have committed for which I share responsibility,” Alavi replied hours later. “It looks like they may have been arrested because of me.”

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Article 90:

“Whoever has a complaint concerning the work of the assembly [Parliament] or the executive power, or the judicial power can forward his complaint in writing to the assembly. The assembly must investigate his complaint and give a satisfactory reply. In cases where the complaint relates to the executive or the judiciary, the assembly must demand proper investigation into the matter and an adequate explanation from them, and announce the results within a reasonable time. In cases where the subject of the complaint is of public interest, the reply must be made public.”

Alavi was appointed to head the Intelligence Ministry by Rouhani.

CHRI has obtained an Instagram photo showing the Minister posing with some of the detained admins. The Instagram account has since been shut down.

Frustrated by the lack of due process in their loved ones’ cases, families of some of the detainees lodged a complaint on June 6 with Parliament’s Article 90 Committee, which is in charge of investigating public grievances.

According to CHRI’s source, the committee has not released the result of its investigation.

Thirty MPs wrote a letter to Alavi on May 30 asking him to explain why the admins had been under prolonged detention without legal counsel in violation of the Constitution.

“A number of pro- [Rouhani] government Telegram channel admins who were arrested in the run-up to the presidential election remain in legal limbo more than two months into their detention,” said the letter.

“Based on information we have received, these individuals have not been charged within the legal time limit under Article 32 of the Constitution and have been denied a lawyer in violation of Article 35.”

On June 6, Alavi responded to the MPs’ questions in a closed session of Parliament, but those deliberations have not been made public.

by Center for Human Rights in Iran at June 22, 2017 01:25 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
06/22/2017: The rise of cryptocurrencies
Uber is looking to the future after investors pushed CEO Travis Kalanick to resign. But with old lawsuits still trailing the company, we'll discuss whether Uber can truly move forward and if an IPO is in its near future. Afterwards, we'll look at Tesla's scramble to keep up in the self-driving car race, and then talk about the surge in cryptocurrency prices over the last few months.

by Marketplace at June 22, 2017 05:11 AM

Global Voices
Thousands of Japanese Woodblock Prints Just Became Available Online
free images of japan

Detail from “The Warrior Fujiwara Hidesato Battling the Giant Centipede” by woodblock artist Katsukawa, Shuntei, 1770-1820. The woodblock print is inspired by the folktale “My Lord Bag of Rice” where warriors battle a giant centipede near the Seta Bridge at Lake Biwa in central Japan. Interpretation of image assisted by Matt Alt and Matthew Penney.

The United States Library of Congress has released nearly 2,500 woodblock prints into the public domain in its online collection “Fine Prints: Japanese, pre-1915.”

The Library's Prints and Photographs Division online collection curates woodblock prints and drawings from two artistic traditions, Ukiyo-e and Yokohama-e from the Edo (1600-1868) and Meiji (1868-1912) periods.

According to the Library of Congress, “The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful 250 years during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the shogunal seat of power.”

In terms of Yokohama-e, the Library of Congress notes that after new trade agreements with the West, Yokohama became a rapidly growing center of trade with the outside world starting in the 1850s:

For Japanese artists, the port city of Yokohama became an incubator for a new category of images that straddled convention and novelty. Building on methods of production and marketing established by Ukiyo-e artists and publishers, Edo print publishers began to send artists to Yokohama to sketch foreigners in situ. Bewhiskered men and crinoline-clad women were shown striding through the city, clambering on and off ships, riding horses, enjoying local entertainments, and interacting with an endless array of objects from goblets to locomotives.

The Library of Congress prints collection depicts a vast number of subjects including actors, women, landscapes, scenes from Japanese literature, daily life in Japan, and views of Westerners in Japan.

Here are just a few examples of the Library of Congress collection:

Hana noen shanaō

Description: “Hana noen shanaō” by Utagawa, Kuniyoshi, 1798-1861. “Print shows a person, possibly the warrior Ushiwakamaru (Minamoto no Yoshitomo) as a young man, climbing a tree and using a stick to taunt anthropomorphic creatures (goblins) who are picking up sticks to defend themselves; an old man is asleep against a tree in the background.”

Night moon over Mount Manno.

Description: “Night moon over Mount Manno” by Taiso Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892. “Print shows a demon-like wizard with wings and talons holding a piece of paper with writing on it before a woman with very long hair.”

Foreign settlement house in Yokohama.

Description: “Foreign settlement house in Yokohama” by Utagawa, Yoshikazu, active 1848-1863. “Japanese print shows a kitchen where food is being prepared and of adjoining rooms, in one room a man is getting a shave, in a foreign settlement house in Yokohama, Japan.”

Horse race in Ueno Park.

Description: “Horse race in Ueno Park, by Hashimoto, Chikanobu, 1838-1912 .”Japanese triptych print showing jockeys on horseback racing around a track surrounding a lake. A Japanese military officer and Japanese women view the race from an elaborately decorated grandstand. Animals and objects fall from the sky.”

A woman writing about memories of places visited

Description: “A woman writing about memories of places visited”. The work's creator is unknown.

The full collection can be viewed here.

According to the Library of Congress, there are no known restrictions on this collection, and reproduction is allowed by “fair use“.

by Nevin Thompson at June 22, 2017 04:28 AM

People Around the World Celebrate International Day of Yoga, an Ancient Indian Tradition

International Yoga Day 2015. Image from Flickr via user Narendra Modi. CC BY-SA 2.0

On June 21 this year, hundreds of thousands of people in more than 200 countries of the world celebrated International Yoga Day by practicing Yoga together in public. Social media spaces around the world were filled with images of people doing yoga and the hashtag #InternationalYogaDay was trending during the day.

Yoga can be viewed as a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India (between the sixth and fifth centuries BCE). Yoga gurus from India introduced the practice to the West in the late 19th and early 20th century and it is now a multi-billion dollar industry across the world. While in much of the Western world yoga is popular as a system of physical exercise, in India, it is much more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core.

Many countries which do not know our language, tradition, or culture, are now connecting to India through Yoga. Yoga connects body, mind and soul. It is playing a big role in bringing the world together too. – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, June 21, 2017.

In 2014, Narendra Modi became the 14th Prime Minister of India and started spearheading an initiative to reclaim Yoga as an historic part of Indian culture. In September that year, he made a call to other nations at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for a day to celebrate yoga globally. In December 2014 a resolution was adopted in UNGA to mark June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, which has been celebrated across the world ever since.

In the same year, the Modi government cemented its focus on Yoga by appointing a minister for Yoga and traditional medicine. On December 1, 2016, Yoga was listed as part of UNESCO’s Intangible cultural heritage.

Here are some of the images that came out of India today showing people from all walks of life enjoying the day:

Yoga was even used in a protest against the government:

This year the International Yoga Day expanded to even more countries in the world:

Bollywood celebrities have also shared motivational pictures of themselves in Yoga poses on social media.

Yoga has always been a personal and individualistic practice, the meaning and benefits of which can only be determined by the practitioner. And this collective campaign of spreading Yoga to other countries of the world should bring tremendous benefit to millions of practitioners of this ancient Indian practice all over the world.

by Rezwan at June 22, 2017 04:03 AM

Doc Searls
On cryptocurrencies, blockchain and all that

Take a look at this chart:

CryptoCurrency Market Capitalizations

screen-shot-2017-06-21-at-10-37-51-pm

As Neo said, Whoa.

To help me get my head fully around all that’s going on behind that surge, or mania, or whatever it is, I’ve composed a lexicon-in-process that I’m publishing here so I can find it again. Here goes:::

Bitcoin. “A cryptocurrency and a digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency.” (Wikipedia.)

Cryptocurrency. “A digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. Cryptocurrencies are a subset of alternative currencies, or specifically of digital currencies. Bitcoin became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. Since then, numerous cryptocurrencies have been created. These are frequently called altcoins, as a blend of bitcoin alternative. Bitcoin and its derivatives use decentralized control as opposed to centralized electronic money/centralized banking systems. The decentralized control is related to the use of bitcoin’s blockchain transaction database in the role of a distributed ledger.” (Wikipedia.)

“A cryptocurrency system is a network that utilizes cryptography to secure transactions in a verifiable database that cannot be changed without being noticed.” (Tim Swanson, in Consensus-as-a-service: a brief report on the emergence of permissioned, distributed ledger systems.)

Distributed ledger. Also called a shared ledger, it is “a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple sites, countries, or institutions.” (Wikipedia, citing a report by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser: Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond block chain.) A distributed ledger requires a peer-to-peer network and consensus algorithms to ensure replication across nodes. The ledger is sometimes also called a distributed database. Tim Swanson adds that a distributed ledger system is “a network that fits into a new platform category. It typically utilizes cryptocurrency-inspired technology and perhaps even part of the Bitcoin or Ethereum network itself, to verify or store votes (e.g., hashes). While some of the platforms use tokens, they are intended more as receipts and not necessarily as commodities or currencies in and of themselves.”

Blockchain.”A peer-to-peer distributed ledger forged by consensus, combined with a system for ‘smart contracts’ and other assistive technologies. Together these can be used to build a new generation of transactional applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency at their core, while streamlining business processes and legal constraints.” (Hyperledger.)

“To use conventional banking as an analogy, the blockchain is like a full history of banking transactions. Bitcoin transactions are entered chronologically in a blockchain just the way bank transactions are. Blocks, meanwhile, are like individual bank statements. Based on the Bitcoin protocol, the blockchain database is shared by all nodes participating in a system. The full copy of the blockchain has records of every Bitcoin transaction ever executed. It can thus provide insight about facts like how much value belonged a particular address at any point in the past. The ever-growing size of the blockchain is considered by some to be a problem due to issues like storage and synchronization. On an average, every 10 minutes, a new block is appended to the block chain through mining.” (Investopedia.)

“Think of it as an operating system for marketplaces, data-sharing networks, micro-currencies, and decentralized digital communities. It has the potential to vastly reduce the cost and complexity of getting things done in the real world.” (Hyperledger.)

Permissionless system. “A permissionless system [or ledger] is one in which identity of participants is either pseudonymous or even anonymous. Bitcoin was originally designed with permissionless parameters although as of this writing many of the on-ramps and off-ramps for Bitcoin are increasingly permission-based. (Tim Swanson.)

Permissioned system. “A permissioned system -[or ledger] is one in which identity for users is whitelisted (or blacklisted) through some type of KYB or KYC procedure; it is the common method of managing identity in traditional finance.” (Tim Swanson)

Mining. “The process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the blockchain. (It is) also the means through which new bitcoin are released. Anyone with access to the Internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining. The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle. The participant who first solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards. The rewards, which incentivize mining, are both the transaction fees associated with the transactions compiled in the block as well as newly released bitcoin.” (Investopedia.)

Ethereum. “An open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality, which facilitates online contractual agreements. It provides a decentralized Turing-complete virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. Ethereum also provides a cryptocurrency token called “ether”, which can be transferred between accounts and used to compensate participant nodes for computations performed. Gas, an internal transaction pricing mechanism, is used to mitigate spam and allocate resources on the network. Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Development was funded by an online crowdsale during July–August 2014. The system went live on 30 July 2015, with 11.9 million coins “premined” for the crowdsale… In 2016 Ethereum was forked into two blockchains, as a result of the collapse of The DAO project. The two chains have different numbers of users, and the minority fork was renamed to Ethereum Classic.” (Wikipedia.)

Decentralized Autonomous Organization. This is “an organization that is run through rules encoded as computer programs called smart contracts. A DAO’s financial transaction record and program rules are maintained on a blockchain… The precise legal status of this type of business organization is unclear. The best-known example was The DAO, a DAO for venture capital funding, which was launched with $150 million in crowdfunding in June 2016 and was immediately hacked and drained of US$50 million in cryptocurrency… This approach eliminates the need to involve a bilaterally accepted trusted third party in a financial transaction, thus simplifying the sequence. The costs of a blockchain enabled transaction and of making available the associated data may be substantially lessened by the elimination of both the trusted third party and of the need for repetitious recording of contract exchanges in different records: for example, the blockchain data could in principle, if regulatory structures permitted, replace public documents such as deeds and titles. In theory, a blockchain approach allows multiple cloud computing users to enter a loosely coupled peer-to-peer smart contract collaboration.(Wikipedia)

Initial Coin Offering. “A means of crowdfunding the release of a new cryptocurrency. Generally, tokens for the new cryptocurrency are sold to raise money for technical development before the cryptocurrency is released. Unlike an initial public offering (IPO), acquisition of the tokens does not grant ownership in the company developing the new cryptocurrency. And unlike an IPO, there is little or no government regulation of an ICO.” (Chris Skinner.)

“In an ICO campaign, a percentage of the cryptocurrency is sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, but usually for Bitcoin…During the ICO campaign, enthusiasts and supporters of the firm’s initiative buy some of the distributed cryptocoins with fiat or virtual currency. These coins are referred to as tokens and are similar to shares of a company sold to investors in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) transaction.” (Investopedia.)

Tokens. “In the blockchain world, a token is a tiny fraction of a cryptocurrency (bitcoin, ether, etc) that has a value usually less than 1/1000th of a cent, so the value is essentially nothing, but it can still go onto the blockchain…This sliver of currency can carry code that represents value in the real world — the ownership of a diamond, a plot of land, a dollar, a share of stock, another cryptocurrency, etc. Tokens represent ownership of the underlying asset and can be traded freely. One way to understand it is that you can trade physical gold, which is expensive and difficult to move around, or you can just trade tokens that represent gold. In most cases, it makes more sense to trade the token than the asset. Tokens can always be redeemed for their underlying asset, though that can often be a difficult and expensive process. Though technically they could be redeemed, many tokens are designed never to be redeemed but traded forever. On the other hand, a ticket is a token that is designed to be redeemed and may or may not be trade-able” (TokenFactory.)

“Tokens in the ethereum ecosystem can represent any fungible tradable good: coins, loyalty points, gold certificates, IOUs, in game items, etc. Since all tokens implement some basic features in a standard way, this also means that your token will be instantly compatible with the ethereum wallet and any other client or contract that uses the same standards. (Ethereum.org/token.)

“The most important takehome is that tokens are not equity, but are more similar to paid API keys. Nevertheless, they may represent a >1000X improvement in the time-to-liquidity and a >100X improvement in the size of the buyer base relative to traditional means for US technology financing — like a Kickstarter on steroids.” (Thoughts on Tokens, by Balaji S. Srinivasan.)

“A blockchain token is a digital token created on a blockchain as part of a decentralized software protocol. There are many different types of blockchain tokens, each with varying characteristics and uses. Some blockchain tokens, like Bitcoin, function as a digital currency. Others can represent a right to tangible assets like gold or real estate. Blockchain tokens can also be used in new protocols and networks to create distributed applications. These tokens are sometimes also referred to as App Coins or Protocol Tokens. These types of tokens represent the next phase of innovation in blockchain technology, and the potential for new types of business models that are decentralized – for example, cloud computing without Amazon, social networks without Facebook, or online marketplaces without eBay. However, there are a number of difficult legal questions surrounding blockchain tokens. For example, some tokens, depending on their features, may be subject to US federal or state securities laws. This would mean, among other things, that it is illegal to offer them for sale to US residents except by registration or exemption. Similar rules apply in many other countries. (A Securities Law Framework for Blockchain Tokens.)

In fact tokens go back. All the way.

In Before Writing Volume I: From Counting to Cuneiform, Denise Schmandt-Besserat writes, “Tokens can be traced to the Neolithic period starting about 8000 B.C. They evolved following the needs of the economy, at first keeping track of the products of farming…The substitution of signs for tokens was the first step toward writing.” (For a compression of her vast scholarship on the matter, read Tokens: their Significance for the Origin of Counting and Writing.

I sense that we are now at a threshold no less pregnant with possibilities than we were when ancestors in Mesopotamia rolled clay into shapes, made marks on them and invented t-commerce.

And here is a running list of sources I’ve visited, so far:

You’re welcome.

To improve it, that is.

by Doc Searls at June 22, 2017 02:48 AM

June 21, 2017

Global Voices
As Deadline to Leave Saudi Arabia Nears, Ethiopian Workers Trapped Between Two Bad Choices

Screenshot from report ‘Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia are complaining about the slow performance of their Embassy’ on Ethiotube.

Thousands of Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have pleaded to the Ethiopian government to expedite their return by helping them prepare documents to secure exit visas, as the Gulf country prepares to begin deporting as many as half a million Ethiopians.

It has been nearly three months since the Saudi Arabian government gave 90 days to all unauthorized migrant workers in Saudi Arabia to leave the country.

Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Qatar are among the few countries in the world that force foreign workers to secure exit visas before they leave the country. In order to secure the visas, other documents must also be in order.

As the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT) outlet run from outside Ethiopia reported:

Since Saudi officials announced those with illegal status to leave the country Ethiopian immigrants are strongly accusing Ethiopian embassy in Saudi Arabia for not helping them to return to Ethiopia.

Yet roughly a week until the 90 days grace period ends and after months of bureaucratic delays at the Ethiopian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, only 80,000 Ethiopians were able to get travel documents that will legally help them exit the country.

An estimated 750,000 Ethiopian migrants live in Saudi Arabia, among which a significant majority are unauthorized workers.

Ethiopians enter to Saudi Arabia through various channels. Some traveled as authorized workers on planes but more people enter the country by land with the help of smugglers. There are also some who remained in the country after they travelled there for the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

So far, only 30,000 migrants were shuttled back to Ethiopia. However, with the current pace of repatriation, most migrants will still be in Saudi Arabia when the grace period ends. Saudi authorities have said they will start to raid and deport migrant workers on June 30.

In 2013 when Saudi authorities engaged in similar operations, Ethiopian migrants were the victims of deadly physical assaults. Workers who sought to return to Ethiopia were held in makeshift detention centers without adequate food or shelter.

During the 2013 deportation, Ethiopians used social media to organize their protest against Saudi Arabia.

Despite these hardships and the Ethiopian government's promises of a swift resettlement, there are migrants who do not want to return to Ethiopia, where there are few economic opportunities.

Nebiyu Sirak a citizen journalist based in Saudi Arabia reported:

It is horrifying that most Ethiopians have not shown an interest in returning home despite risk of violence.

As the workers fret for their futures, the Ethiopian government has pledged to cut by half the price of a plane ticket home for those who will fly with Ethiopian Airlines, as well as offering resettlement and jobs upon arrival. Most view these as false promises however.

by Endalk at June 21, 2017 05:46 PM

Where Did Indians’ Ancient Ancestors Come From? The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate Rages Once More

Map of Indo-European migrations. Image by Joshua Jonathan via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY SA 4.0

Indo-Aryan migration theory, a controversy for the ages, is fueling discussions once more in India after an article published in The Hindu newspaper highlighted the genetic evidence that the Indo-Aryan peoples came from Central Asia and Europe to South Asia.

Indo-Aryan peoples are an ethonolinguistic group of people that speak diverse Indo-Aryan languages and currently live predominantly in the South Asian region. The population of the modern descendants of this group is more than 1 billion, or a seventh of world's population.

There has been a long tug-of-war between those who are for and against the theory that Indo-Aryans arrived to India from outside. Among opponents of the theory in India are Hindu nationalists — who sometimes cast it as a product of colonialism designed to denigrate India — as well as some researchers.

The alternative theory proposed by opponents based on Rigveda, one of the oldest religious sculptures of Hinduism, suggests that the Aryans were indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. The idea of a pure Aryan race and the social division that many Hindu scriptures recommend based on one's race has pushed the conflict even further.

Mainstream researchers tend to reject this theory on the basis of linguistic and genetic studies. Instead, they say evidence points to Indo-Aryans and Iranians originating from the Proto-Indo-Iranians. After this split during the period 1800-1600 BCE, the latter group was settled around Iran while the former migrated to Anatolia (most of modern-day Turkey), Pakistan, northern India, and Nepal. The classic Indo-Aryan models attempt to explain how migrations would have happened around 1500 BCE from Central Asia and Eastern Europe to South Asia and Anatolia, which possibly brought the ancestors of the Indo-Aryan peoples and their language Sanskrit to India.

A detailed article published on June 16 in The Hindu, titled “How Genetics Is Settling the Aryan Migration Debate”, touches upon many other societal aspects linked to the hypothesis, such as the patriarchal social structure in India and how the Sanskrit language came to the Indian subcontinent along with the Aryans.

The article cites multiple instances of research carried out in different countries, both approving and disavowing the theory. One citation is of a recent piece of research done by 16 scientists that led to the publication of a peer-reviewed journal paper titled “A Genetic Chronology for the Indian Subcontinent Points to Heavily Sex-Biased Dispersals” published in the journal “BMC Evolutionary Biology”:

In particular, genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society. This was part of a much wider process of Indo-European expansion, with an ultimate source in the Pontic-Caspian region, which carried closely related Y-chromosome lineages, a smaller fraction of autosomalgenome-wide variation and an even smaller fraction of mitogenomes across a vast swathe of Eurasia between 5and 3.5 ka.

Harvard Professor David Reich, who has been working for a long time on this subject favoring the Indo-Aryan migration theories, is also mentioned. In 2009, he published the paper “Reconstructing Indian Population History“, and later in 2016 in an interview highlighted the mixed races of the Indian subcontinent:

In the beginning of 2007, we started studying at the whole genome level, the whole organism level, the DNA from initially twenty-five diverse Indian populations. It’s now more than 200 that we’ve studied. We picked these populations to be as diverse as possible, capturing the linguistic diversity of India. […]

[…] the great majority of Indian groups today are descended from a mixture of basically just two ancestral populations, one which we call the ancient ancestral North Indian and one which we call the ancestral South Indian. Everybody is mixed in India without exception. Even the most isolated groups, which are hunter-gatherers living in the forest or isolated places, everybody is mixed with at least 20 percent of each of these ancestries.

Scheme of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BCE according to the Kurgan hypothesis. Image via Wikimedia Commons by DBachmann. CC BY SA 3.0

‘If the evidence has really changed, I will also change my view’

Audrey Truschke, assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in the US, tweeted out the article:

Sitaram Yechury, a veteran leader of the Community Party of India, and Devdutt Pattanaik, a mythologist and writer, similarly hailed the article:

However, Anand Ranganathan, a consulting editor at the Indian news outlet Newslaundry.com, attacked the article in the Hindu:

Nityanand Jayaraman, a Facebook user, also pointed at the possibility of a close connection of north Indians with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan:

Interesting article on how Yogi Adityanath and Vishnu Bhagwat may be more closely related to their brothers in Pakistan and Afghanistan than they care to acknowledge. And about India's multiculturalism.

Sanjeev Sanyal, a writer who earlier opposed the Aryan invasion theory, has written on Facebook that he would read the recently published papers and is ready to change his opinion if there is a changed evidence:

The genetic evidence on “Aryan Invasion” appears to have shifted to support a migration around 2000 BC (according to this article anyway). Have not closely followed the latest papers, will need time to read the new papers on this. If the evidence has really changed, I will also change my view. Only way to do research.

The debate on whether Indo-Aryans migrated from outside India and brought their oldest language Sanskrit to the South Asian region continues to rage and pave the way for more anthropological research on the people, cultures and languages of the region. There are over 780 languages across India which makes India one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. However, of these languages, only 22 enjoy constitutional protection while over 196 languages are endangered.

by Subhashish Panigrahi at June 21, 2017 04:46 PM

In This Charming Argentinian Hamlet, No Cars Are Allowed

Spot in La Cumbrecita. Image on Flickr by user José e Marina (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Can you imagine how it must be to live in an all pedestrian town where there are virtually no cars? Such a place does exist, and it's called La Cumbrecita (The Little Peak). The small town is located just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Argentinian city of Córdoba, in Sierras Grandes in the province of Córdoba, and it has roughly 1,000 residents.

La Cumbrecita is a gem of ecotourism with an aesthetic that recalls a 15th century German town. It was founded less than a century ago, according to the province government's tourist website:

En el año 1932, viaja a Argentina desde Alemania el Dr. Helmut Cabjolsky acompañado por su familia. En la búsqueda de un lugar para vacacionar, compra en 1934 en las sierras de Córdoba un campo de aproximadamente 500 ha, el cual contenía como punto de referencia geográfico al denominado Cerro Cumbrecita.

La primera edificación [era para servir] de casa de veraneo para la familia Cabjolsky, pero muy pronto se transformó en albergue para alojar a los amigos de la familia. Años más tarde, dado el creciente interés turístico que despertaba el territorio, la casa comenzó a funcionar como una pequeña hostería.

Back in 1932, Dr. Helmut Cabjolsky went to Argentina from Germany together with his family. They were looking for a place to spend their vacations, so in 1934 he bought a 500-hectare land in the Córdoba mountains that had as geographical landmark: the so-called Cumbrecita hill.

The first building [was meant to be used] as summer house for the Cabjolskys, but soon after it became a guest house for family friends. Years later, due to the increasing tourist interest in the place, the house started to operate as a small hostel.

At first, the town wasn't designed as the tourist destination that it has now become:

La divulgación del encanto del lugar […] no fue intencional sino más bien circunstancial y de boca en boca, ya que nunca se había pensado en la posibilidad de que La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, podría transformarse en polo de atracción turística.

En la actualidad, el turismo en La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, es uno de los mayores atractivos de la región, llenando sus calles de visitantes nacionales e internacionales durante cada temporada estival.

As the place's charm spread by word of mouth […] the possibility of La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, becoming a tourist destination wasn't our intention, but rather circumstantial.

Today, La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, is one of the most attractive tourist places in the region. Every summer season its streets are always filled with national and international visitors.

“Welcome to La Cumbrecita, pedestrian town”. Entrance of La Cumbrecita. Image on Flickr by user Juan Pedro Diez (CC BY 2.0).

One of the rules of La Cumbrecita is that from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., streets are closed to automobiles. All vehicles must be parked at the town's entrance and tourists can only get in on foot.

According to a piece published on BBC Mundo, Ingrid Cabjolsky, granddaughter of the founder, remarked that she doesn't understand “why in historic centers in European capitals, cars are still allowed”:

Tú entras al centro de cualquier ciudad y está colapsada, tanto por la cantidad de autos como por la contaminación visual, ambiental y sonora.

You go to any city's downtown, and it's all jammed up, due both to the number of cars and to the visual, environmental and noise pollution.

As idyllic as it may sound, the place has its challenges:

Venir a vivir a La Cumbrecita no es fácil, porque al ser parte de una reserva natural los códigos de zonificación y edificación son muy estrictos: en busca de mantener la calma y el paisaje natural, por ejemplo, los lotes deben ser de mínimo 2.000 metros cuadrados.

Living in La Cumbrecita isn't easy. Being part of a nature reserve, zoning and building codes are very rigid: for instance, in order to keep the quietness and natural landscape, all lots must have at least 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet).

La Cumbrecita's website itself offers some warnings about what should be taken into consideration to have a pleasant visit:

En La Cumbrecita NO EXISTE Banco, NO HAY Cajero Automático, y NO DISPONEMOS de una estación de servicio para proveer combustible, por lo que recomendamos PREVER dichas necesidades.

La Cumbrecita es un pueblo peatonal, todos los circuitos internos están previstos para ser realizados a pie; es importante prever de CALZADO APROPIADO para recorrerlos. […] es necesario disponer de ABRIGO, LENTES DE SOL Y PROTECTOR SOLAR.

There ARE NO banks in La Cumbrecita, NO ATMs, and we DON'T have gas stations to pump fuel, so we recommend you anticipate those needs.

La Cumbrecita is a pedestrian town, all internal circuits are designed to be followed on foot. It's important to wear APPROPRIATE SHOES to go from one place to another. […] having a GOOD COAT, SUNGLASSES and SUN PROTECTION is a must.

On Twitter, people have posted photos from the town. Matías Di Santi showed us how La Cumbrecita welcomed him:

After the journey, this is how La Cumbrecita, in Cordobese lands, welcomes us.

Majo shared a moment of her childhood in town:

Retro moment: me at age 10 in La Cumbrecita.

Sou described how her experience was somewhat contradictory to the peace the town usually offers:

On May 1st [Labor Day in many countries], I went to La Cumbrecita (Córdoba), and there I was told they were already needing a break from all the tourists they were receiving.

Meanwhile, Aldana Martínez shared her bigger wish:

I'd do anything to move to La Cumbrecita.

by Gabriela García Calderón at June 21, 2017 03:49 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
How the Mexican Government Puts Citizens Under Systematic Surveillance

Mural No More Massive Spying by @WarDesignCo. Image via Flickr user Klepen, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Mexico has become a prime destination for the surveillance technology industry in the Americas. Trade fairs are held annually and relationships between manufacturers, distributors and the Mexican government has intensified rapidly throughout the administration of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. We are now beginning to see the causes and effects of these espionage practices.

Journalistic and independent investigations carried out by civil society organizations as well as various leaks have brought this relationship to light since 2013.

Purchases of surveillance equipment

In 2013, University of Toronto's Citizen Lab reported that spyware company Gamma Group was operating in Mexican telecommunications, which led to an investigation by various civil society organizations. That investigation along with journalistic research, documented the fact that FinFisher/FinSpy spyware had been acquired by several Mexican authorities through the company Obses de México.

Following a massive leak in 2015, we learned that the Mexican government had also purchased spyware from the controversial Italian firm, Hacking Team, through the intermediary, Teva Tech México SA. Those documents revealed that Mexico was the firm's main client worldwide, having made multi-million dollar purchases of surveillance tools called Galileo and DaVinci, both of which are commercial names for Remote Control Systems or RCS.

Later in September 2016, the New York Times revealed that the Mexican government had entered into contracts with the Israeli firm NSO Group to acquire Pegasus surveillance software.

By the end of 2016, additional reports documented purchases of equipment with interception capabilities known as IMSI-Catchers from companies in Finland and Switzerland each year from 2012 to 2015.

The most recent scandal took place on June 19, 2017 when 76 new cases of attempts to use Pegasus malware against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico were revealed thanks to research, documentation and publication of a report by Article 19 and Mexico City-based NGOs Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D) and SocialTIC, along with technical research by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

The New York Times published a detailed report about the investigation that appeared on the front page of the US newspaper:

We're on the front page of the NYT. Is it about corruption? No, they published about how Peña's government spies on journalists and activists #GobiernoEspía

How is this software used?

Mexico's legal framework authorizes interception of private communications for the purpose of investigating crimes — with previous approval from the federal judicial authority. The Mexican government has insisted that their use of surveillance technology has been authorized by relevant authorities. Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican embassy in Washington, confirmed this to the New York Times in a previous article about the Mexican government's million dollar contracts with the Israeli company NSO Group in 2013.

Nevertheless, evidence indicates that the tools have been used against activists, journalists and people who have expressed dissenting opinions or oppose the current government.

As a result of the multiple proofs of illegal digital surveillance utilizing software exclusively used by governments, on May 23, 2017, social organizations that were a part of the Secretariado Técnico Tripartita (Tripartite Technical Secretariat or STT) of the Open Government Alliance (AGA) stepped down from their positions in the group:

Due to espionage, civil society will cease participation in the Secretariado Técnico Tripartita for Open Government

Prior to the most recent revelation, the New York Times reported on February 11 that three members of organizations defending the right to health had all received text messages containing malicious links from Pegasus spyware, developed by NSO Group. They included Alejandro Calvillo, general director of El Poder del Consumidor (The Power of Consumers); Luis Encarnación, coordinator of the Coalición ContraPESO (Counterweight Coalition); and Dr Simón Barquera, a researcher attached to the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (National Institute of Public Health).

Research from the Citizen Lab confirmed the claim and detailed that during 2016, malware was used to take control of the activists’ devices in order to spy on their communications during a campaign to support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico.

According to the New York Times:

El descubrimiento de los programas espías en los teléfonos de los impulsores de un impuesto desata preguntas sobre si las herramientas están siendo usadas para promover los intereses de la industria refresquera de México.

The discovery of spyware on the phones of sugar tax supporters raises questions about whether the tools are being used to promote the interests of Mexico's beverage industry.

Citizen Lab's report on this case states that the same infrastructure of NSO Group was used in 2016 against Mexican journalist, Rafael Cabrera, while he was collaborating with Aristegui Noticias’ investigation on the “Casa Blanca”, which implicated the Mexican President and his wife in corruption. In August 2013, together with Lookout, they detected and reported on attempts to intercept Cabrera's cell phone as well as that of Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.

In the special report Cyberespionage of journalists, the newspaper Proceso pointed out that the presence of companies that commercialize these kinds of surveillance tools is not new.

En julio de 2015, Proceso reveló que Hacking Team catalogaba a sus clientes mexicanos en la categoría de “ofensivos”, es decir, los que utilizan los programas espías para penetrar y manipular los aparatos de sus objetivos.
También reportó que el Cisen utilizó el programa espía de la empresa italiana con fines políticos: durante 2013 la instancia solicitó más de 30 veces a Hacking Team que contaminara archivos titulados, entre otros: “Propuesta reforma PRD”, “Reforma Energética”, “La policía secuestra”, “CNTE” o “Marcos y Julio Sherer” (sic). Para infectar al objetivo, éste debe abrir un archivo y para ello, el título le debe llamar la atención.
Los correos electrónicos mostraron que NSO operó en México antes que HT y que la empresa italiana tenía la firme intención de rebasar a su homóloga israelí, la cual había obtenido jugosos contratos con dependencias federales y estatales en la administración de Felipe Calderón.

In July 2015, Proceso revealed that Hacking Team cataloged its Mexican clients in an “offensive” category, that is, those who use the spyware to penetrate and manipulate the devices of their targets.

Proceso also reported that Cisen used the Italian company's spyware for political purposes: during 2013 they made more than 30 requests to Hacking Team to infect files named: “Proposed PRD reform”, “Energy Reform”, “Police kidnapping”, “CNTE” or “Marcos and Julio Sherer” (sic) among others. In order to be infected, the person targeted has to open a file [sent typically via email or SMS by the attacker]. Attention-grabbing titles are used for this purpose.

The e-mails showed that NSO Group had been operating in Mexico before Hacking Team and that the Italian firm intended to surpass its Israeli competition, who had obtained juicy contracts with both federal and state dependencies during the administration of [previous Mexican president] Felipe Calderón.

A detailed investigation carried out by independent media groups Animal Político and Lado B describes how surveillance tools in the hands of government are used to illegally monitor political opponents. Such was the case of the Puebla state government headed by Rafael Moreno Valle, who used Hacking Team software to spy on his opponents, along with journalists and even academics approaching elections.

It is clear that Mexico has become a paradise for the surveillance industry. Companies focused on development and commercialization of spyware products and surveillance of telecommunications can sell their products to agents of the state in an environment of little transparency and even less accountability.

by Giovanna Salazar at June 21, 2017 03:33 PM

Global Voices
How the Mexican Government Puts Citizens Under Systematic Surveillance

Mural No More Massive Spying by @WarDesignCo. Image via Flickr user Klepen, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Mexico has become a prime destination for the surveillance technology industry in the Americas. Trade fairs are held annually and relationships between manufacturers, distributors and the Mexican government has intensified rapidly throughout the administration of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. We are now beginning to see the causes and effects of these espionage practices.

Journalistic and independent investigations carried out by civil society organizations as well as various leaks have brought this relationship to light since 2013.

Purchases of surveillance equipment

In 2013, University of Toronto's Citizen Lab reported that spyware company Gamma Group was operating in Mexican telecommunications, which led to an investigation by various civil society organizations. That investigation along with journalistic research, documented the fact that FinFisher/FinSpy spyware had been acquired by several Mexican authorities through the company Obses de México.

Following a massive leak in 2015, we learned that the Mexican government had also purchased spyware from the controversial Italian firm, Hacking Team, through the intermediary, Teva Tech México SA. Those documents revealed that Mexico was the firm's main client worldwide, having made multi-million dollar purchases of surveillance tools called Galileo and DaVinci, both of which are commercial names for Remote Control Systems or RCS.

Later in September 2016, the New York Times revealed that the Mexican government had entered into contracts with the Israeli firm NSO Group to acquire Pegasus surveillance software.

By the end of 2016, additional reports documented purchases of equipment with interception capabilities known as IMSI-Catchers from companies in Finland and Switzerland each year from 2012 to 2015.

The most recent scandal took place on June 19, 2017 when 76 new cases of attempts to use Pegasus malware against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico were revealed thanks to research, documentation and publication of a report by Article 19 and Mexico City-based NGOs Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D) and SocialTIC, along with technical research by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

The New York Times published a detailed report about the investigation that appeared on the front page of the US newspaper:

We're on the front page of the NYT. Is it about corruption? No, they published about how Peña's government spies on journalists and activists #GobiernoEspía

How is this software used?

Mexico's legal framework authorizes interception of private communications for the purpose of investigating crimes — with previous approval from the federal judicial authority. The Mexican government has insisted that their use of surveillance technology has been authorized by relevant authorities. Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican embassy in Washington, confirmed this to the New York Times in a previous article about the Mexican government's million dollar contracts with the Israeli company NSO Group in 2013.

Nevertheless, evidence indicates that the tools have been used against activists, journalists and people who have expressed dissenting opinions or oppose the current government.

As a result of the multiple proofs of illegal digital surveillance utilizing software exclusively used by governments, on May 23, 2017, social organizations that were a part of the Secretariado Técnico Tripartita (Tripartite Technical Secretariat or STT) of the Open Government Alliance (AGA) stepped down from their positions in the group:

Due to espionage, civil society will cease participation in the Secretariado Técnico Tripartita for Open Government

Prior to the most recent revelation, the New York Times reported on February 11 that three members of organizations defending the right to health had all received text messages containing malicious links from Pegasus spyware, developed by NSO Group. They included Alejandro Calvillo, general director of El Poder del Consumidor (The Power of Consumers); Luis Encarnación, coordinator of the Coalición ContraPESO (Counterweight Coalition); and Dr Simón Barquera, a researcher attached to the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (National Institute of Public Health).

Research from the Citizen Lab confirmed the claim and detailed that during 2016, malware was used to take control of the activists’ devices in order to spy on their communications during a campaign to support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico.

According to the New York Times:

El descubrimiento de los programas espías en los teléfonos de los impulsores de un impuesto desata preguntas sobre si las herramientas están siendo usadas para promover los intereses de la industria refresquera de México.

The discovery of spyware on the phones of sugar tax supporters raises questions about whether the tools are being used to promote the interests of Mexico's beverage industry.

Citizen Lab's report on this case states that the same infrastructure of NSO Group was used in 2016 against Mexican journalist, Rafael Cabrera, while he was collaborating with Aristegui Noticias’ investigation on the “Casa Blanca”, which implicated the Mexican President and his wife in corruption. In August 2013, together with Lookout, they detected and reported on attempts to intercept Cabrera's cell phone as well as that of Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.

In the special report Cyberespionage of journalists, the newspaper Proceso pointed out that the presence of companies that commercialize these kinds of surveillance tools is not new.

En julio de 2015, Proceso reveló que Hacking Team catalogaba a sus clientes mexicanos en la categoría de “ofensivos”, es decir, los que utilizan los programas espías para penetrar y manipular los aparatos de sus objetivos.
También reportó que el Cisen utilizó el programa espía de la empresa italiana con fines políticos: durante 2013 la instancia solicitó más de 30 veces a Hacking Team que contaminara archivos titulados, entre otros: “Propuesta reforma PRD”, “Reforma Energética”, “La policía secuestra”, “CNTE” o “Marcos y Julio Sherer” (sic). Para infectar al objetivo, éste debe abrir un archivo y para ello, el título le debe llamar la atención.
Los correos electrónicos mostraron que NSO operó en México antes que HT y que la empresa italiana tenía la firme intención de rebasar a su homóloga israelí, la cual había obtenido jugosos contratos con dependencias federales y estatales en la administración de Felipe Calderón.

In July 2015, Proceso revealed that Hacking Team cataloged its Mexican clients in an “offensive” category, that is, those who use the spyware to penetrate and manipulate the devices of their targets.

Proceso also reported that Cisen used the Italian company's spyware for political purposes: during 2013 they made more than 30 requests to Hacking Team to infect files named: “Proposed PRD reform”, “Energy Reform”, “Police kidnapping”, “CNTE” or “Marcos and Julio Sherer” (sic) among others. In order to be infected, the person targeted has to open a file [sent typically via email or SMS by the attacker]. Attention-grabbing titles are used for this purpose.

The e-mails showed that NSO Group had been operating in Mexico before Hacking Team and that the Italian firm intended to surpass its Israeli competition, who had obtained juicy contracts with both federal and state dependencies during the administration of [previous Mexican president] Felipe Calderón.

A detailed investigation carried out by independent media groups Animal Político and Lado B describes how surveillance tools in the hands of government are used to illegally monitor political opponents. Such was the case of the Puebla state government headed by Rafael Moreno Valle, who used Hacking Team software to spy on his opponents, along with journalists and even academics approaching elections.

It is clear that Mexico has become a paradise for the surveillance industry. Companies focused on development and commercialization of spyware products and surveillance of telecommunications can sell their products to agents of the state in an environment of little transparency and even less accountability.

by Erin Gallagher at June 21, 2017 03:27 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Angered by Online Censorship, Palestinians Say #NoToBlocking

One of the campaign's posters “#NoToBlocking”. Source: Twitter.

Angered by the Palestinian Authority's (PA) latest blocking of news websites belonging to rival political groups, Palestinian activists and journalists launched Monday evening a social media campaign to protest against the PA's censorship and crackdown on free speech, and what they deem as increasingly authoritarian policies.

The campaign called on the public to use the Arabic hashtag (), which translates to ‘no to blocking’, and demanded the PA's Attorney General to issue a public statement stating the reasons behind his decision.

An invitation to tweet: To reject the silencing of voices, to prevent the suppression of freedoms, and to protest the decision to block websites, join us on Monday at 10:30pm using the hashtag #NoToBlocking

On 12 June, the Palestinian Attorney General ordered Palestinian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the West Bank to block a number of websites that are not in line with the PA's political orientation. Initially, 11 websites affiliated with ex-Fatah leader Mahmoud Dahlan and Fatah's political rival, Hamas were blocked. An official at the Attorney General's office said the sites were blocked for violating “rules of publication.”

It remains unclear precisely which “rules” they were referring to, but the 1995 Press and Publication Law includes several vague and broad restrictions on freedom of expression.

On June 20, local observers reported that the number of blocked websites rose to 22. According to Palestinian news site Arab48, the Attorney General originally submitted a list of 40 websites and pages for these companies to block, including Facebook pages of multiple Palestinian social media influencers. This has not been confirmed or denied by the PA or local ISPs. As of June 21, no Facebook pages on the list had been blocked.

Activists were particularly angered by the lack of transparency on the reasons behind this blocking decision.

Journalist and blogger Marah Elwadia tweeted:

The PA blocks more than 22 websites without explanation and the list is growing, [PA] suppresses media and exercises dictatorship against it and its public #NoToBlocking

Other netizens remain skeptical as to the effectiveness of such blocking measures in this “social media age”.

They try to silence free platforms by all means, but the truth is above and beyond [their efforts], and the cowards cannot silence it #NoToBlocking

In the age of social media, the PA insists on making scandals and blocks websites. They are really pathetic #NoToBlocking

User Yahya Hilles had the following message for the PA and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The militant group has been staging its own crackdown on journalists and activists.

To the government of Ramallah #NoToBlocking and to the government of Gaza #NoArrests, we will not accept suppressing freedoms and silencing voices (Ramallah, Gaza)

Some have called for boycotting the ISPs who are seen as complicit in the PA's violation:

This is my last subscription with Hadara [an IPS in the West Bank] #NoToBlocking

Aljazeera journalist Suhaib Alassa slammed the PA for its double-standards:

How can the Palestinian Authority demand liberation from Israeli suppression, while human rights organizations are demanding it to respect Palestinians’ rights

Palestinian activists said they will continue their campaign until the Attorney General cancels his directive and unblocks the sites. In the meantime, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor took the issue to the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council and commented in a statement:

“The PA has closed and censored various online and print media outlets, and it systematically cuts the salaries of parliament deputies speaking loudly of their opposition.”

by Marwa Fatafta at June 21, 2017 02:35 PM

Global Voices
Angered by Online Censorship, Palestinians Say #NoToBlocking

One of the campaign's posters “#NoToBlocking”. Source: Twitter.

Angered by the Palestinian Authority's (PA) latest blocking of news websites belonging to rival political groups, Palestinian activists and journalists launched Monday evening a social media campaign to protest against the PA's censorship and crackdown on free speech, and what they deem as increasingly authoritarian policies.

The campaign called on the public to use the Arabic hashtag (), which translates to ‘no to blocking’, and demanded the PA's Attorney General to issue a public statement stating the reasons behind his decision.

An invitation to tweet: To reject the silencing of voices, to prevent the suppression of freedoms, and to protest the decision to block websites, join us on Monday at 10:30pm using the hashtag #NoToBlocking

On 12 June, the Palestinian Attorney General ordered Palestinian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the West Bank to block a number of websites that are not in line with the PA's political orientation. Initially, 11 websites affiliated with ex-Fatah leader Mahmoud Dahlan and Fatah's political rival, Hamas were blocked. An official at the Attorney General's office said the sites were blocked for violating “rules of publication.”

It remains unclear precisely which “rules” they were referring to, but the 1995 Press and Publication Law includes several vague and broad restrictions on freedom of expression.

On June 20, local observers reported that the number of blocked websites rose to 22. According to Palestinian news site Arab48, the Attorney General originally submitted a list of 40 websites and pages for these companies to block, including Facebook pages of multiple Palestinian social media influencers. This has not been confirmed or denied by the PA or local ISPs. As of June 21, no Facebook pages on the list had been blocked.

Activists were particularly angered by the lack of transparency on the reasons behind this blocking decision.

Journalist and blogger Marah Elwadia tweeted:

The PA blocks more than 22 websites without explanation and the list is growing, [PA] suppresses media and exercises dictatorship against it and its public #NoToBlocking

Other netizens remain skeptical as to the effectiveness of such blocking measures in this “social media age”.

They try to silence free platforms by all means, but the truth is above and beyond [their efforts], and the cowards cannot silence it #NoToBlocking

In the age of social media, the PA insists on making scandals and blocks websites. They are really pathetic #NoToBlocking

User Yahya Hilles had the following message for the PA and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The militant group has been staging its own crackdown on journalists and activists.

To the government of Ramallah #NoToBlocking and to the government of Gaza #NoArrests, we will not accept suppressing freedoms and silencing voices (Ramallah, Gaza)

Some have called for boycotting the ISPs who are seen as complicit in the PA's violation:

This is my last subscription with Hadara [an IPS in the West Bank] #NoToBlocking

Aljazeera journalist Suhaib Alassa slammed the PA for its double-standards:

How can the Palestinian Authority demand liberation from Israeli suppression, while human rights organizations are demanding it to respect Palestinians’ rights

Palestinian activists said they will continue their campaign until the Attorney General cancels his directive and unblocks the sites. In the meantime, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor took the issue to the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council and commented in a statement:

“The PA has closed and censored various online and print media outlets, and it systematically cuts the salaries of parliament deputies speaking loudly of their opposition.”

by Marwa Fatafta at June 21, 2017 02:29 PM

More Than a Year Later, Landslide Victims Scrape By in a Resettlement City in Myanmar

New City residents clear a small patch of land to grow corn and potatoes. The previous year, animals ate or destroyed all the food they planted. Photo and caption by Brennan O’Connor / The Irrawaddy

This article by Brennan O’Connor is from The Irrawaddy, an independent news website in Myanmar, and is republished by Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Extensive flooding in remote western Chin State, one of the poorest areas in Myanmar, caused massive landslides in 2015. In capital city Hakha, the landslides displaced thousands, wiping out half of the city’s farmland.

Around six months after the disaster struck, the state government started providing homes to victims in a new neighborhood called “Hakha Thar” in Hakha dialect, or “New Hakha” in English. It is informally referred to as New City, located several kilometers from the city center.

But, more than a year after the resettlement, residents only just received power and still do not have running water. They are left to rely on collecting rainwater and deliveries from local aid groups.

Sang Vel’s home was located in the landslide zone. She and her family were evacuated to a relief camp where they lived for eight months. It was a tough time; she explained how they needed to procure their own blankets to ward off the frigid temperatures during the winter months. They were relieved to move out of the camp and into a new home. But after living in New City for a year without basic amenities, the family is growing increasingly frustrated.

Overlooking Hakha, New City is located on several of the highest mountains in town. Most houses are identical: small, square structures slapped together quickly with wood and aluminum siding. The roads connecting them are still unpaved. The frequent wind that blows through Hakha creates dust storms in New City.

Like most residents, Sang Vel and her husband Dan Tlang Ti Phul are unemployed. Before the landslides they sold vegetables to local merchants. But the money they made before is too little to consider commuting by bus into the city. Instead, they rely on their son, who stays permanently in downtown Hakha with relatives, to deliver goods with the family’s three-wheeler.

During a public town meeting in late 2016, the Chin State government promised that funds from the 2017 budget would be used to complete unfinished public works in New City. There are signs this is starting to happen. Residents recently received electricity, a large water storage tank is finished and roadwork is underway.

No livelihood initiatives for residents have been announced, however. Most of the landslide victims worked in agriculture before the landslides, but much of the farmland has been buried.

After facing difficulties securing stable jobs in the city center—work was already scarce before the floods—those whose land wasn’t destroyed have returned to their farms, at least for part of the week. Yet the area remains at risk of landslides during this year’s monsoon season.

Workers wait to get paid for digging out a lake that was buried during the 2015 landslides. The lake will be used to collect rain for the city’s drinking water. Photo and caption by Brennan O’Connor / The Irrawaddy

Located on steep mountain ridges that overlook Hakha, the New City remains unfinished after more than a year since it was built. Photo and caption by Brennan O’Connor / The Irrawaddy

Landslides destroyed hundreds of homes in Hakha and half of the town’s farmland. Due to the loss of arable land many vegetables must be bought in by truck from other city centers in Chin State. Transport costs have resulted in higher food costs. Photo and caption by Brennan O’Connor / The Irrawaddy

The government built around 1,000 homes in the new city for victims of the landslides. Photo and caption by Brennan O’Connor / The Irrawaddy

by The Irrawaddy at June 21, 2017 01:34 PM

With Public Finances Under Strain, Mozambique’s Government Approves Purchase of Luxury Cars for Deputies

Each car costs around 220,000 US dollars, totalling around 3.8 million. Photo: @N93/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Mozambique’s public finances may even be out of control, but this did not stop the Assembly of the Republic acquiring 17 Mercedes Benz vehicles, model c-180, for use by their deputies. Each car costs around 220,000 US dollars, which equals around 3.8 million dollars in total.

The purchase, which has been causing indignation on social media, happened at a delicate moment for the country’s public finances. Mozambique’s previously booming economy was seriously shaken in 2016, when it became public that three companies had secretly contracted around 1.4 billion dollars – equivalent to 10% of the country’s GDP – in loans from British banks, with state guarantees but without the Assembly’s knowledge.

The state can now be subject to litigation by vulture funds which possess the bonds, similar to the example of what happened in Argentina in 2005. In the UK, the case gave fuel to the Jubilee Debt Campaign movement, a British activist group pressuring creditors to not block developing countries from renegotiating debt with British banks — something Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi is trying to do.

While the negotiations are not happening, the state finds itself obliged to penalize the population to balance the books in the short term: just last year, the government cut the 13th salary — a kind of Christmas bonus  — of some public servants.

The purchase of cars was made by the Assembly’s Permanent Commission, the body coordinating its activities, without, however, having been subject to discussion by the lawmakers.

Even on 9 June, two days after the decision was made public, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Economy and Finances spoke to the press, defending the apparently exorbitant spending on the deputies’ private transport:

É de direito que os membros da Assembleia da República sejam transportados por carros protocolares daquele nível, como acontece com os membros de outros órgãos de soberania do Estado.

It is right that the Assembly of the Republic’s members should be transported by official cars of that level, as is the case with members of other bodies of the sovereign state.

The university professor and deputy of the Municipality of Quelimane, Manuel de Araújo, criticised the purchase and clarified that the issue is not deputies’ entitlement, but the timing of the vehicles’ purchase with the news of the three companies’ “illegal borrowings”, as Mozambicans are calling them:

Não nos entendam mal, não estamos contra os Mercedes Benz que vos dão estatuto, estamos é contra o momento em que tomaram a soberana decisão de os adquirir sem olhar para o contexto em que o país se encontra por causa da vossa preguiça em fiscalizar as ações do governo! Ou seja o país está onde está em parte porque vós não fostes capazes de fiscalizar ação do governo e como se não bastasse incluíram tais dívidas [ilegais] na Conta Geral do Estado, tentando legalizá-las para que seja o pacato povo a pagar as falcatruas de uns e de outros”.

Do not misunderstand us, we are not against the Mercedes Benz that law accords you, we are against the moment when they took the sovereign decision to acquire them without looking at the condition in which the country finds itself because of your laziness in supervising the government’s activities! In other words, the country is where it is partly because you were unable to supervise government activities and, as if that were not enough, they included such [illegal] debts in the State General Account, trying to legalize them so that it is the quiet people who pay for others’ fraud.

Many also highlighted the chaotic situation of the country's public transport network — demand in large cities is largely served by informal and private transportation, open-top vehicles called “my love”. Zee Mavye, a graduate student at Eduardo Mondlane University, posted on his Facebook wall:

Veja só como é irónico: o patrão [povo que paga imposto] está no My love às 5h apanhando banho de nevoeiro a caminho do gabinete para garantir a não falência da empresa, enquanto o empregado [deputado] ainda está dormir para depois fazer se transportar num Benz com vidros fechados quando forem 8:30 depois de um café garantido pelos impostos do patrão. Mas bem bem, estes não engasgam se ao pensar no sofrimento do povo?.

Look how ironic it is: the boss [taxpaying people] is in a My Love at 5am getting a shower of fog on the way to the office to ensure the company does not go bankrupt, while the employee [deputy] is still sleeping, to be later transported in a Benz with closed windows when it is 8:30 after a coffee guaranteed by the boss's taxes. But fine, fine, these people do not choke when thinking of the suffering of the people?

The situation motivated Venâncio Mondlane, deputy of the smallest party with parliamentary seats, to launch a campaign rejecting the vehicles. Of the 250 deputies, he is the only one that has publicly shown indignation so far.

Opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, who has been operating in exile in the bushes of Gorongosa ever since the contested 2014 elections, described the decision as “regrettable” to the press by telephone — at a conference attended by Global Voices on 15 June — but said he would not mobilize his party to reverse it. “It must be emphasized that the party’s president does not give return orders. Why not give an order? Because it was the state that made the order and not us. Renamo’s deputies did not ask for luxury cars or choose the brands,” he said.

Jorge Matine, a researcher at the Public Integrity Center, a local organization working for public transparency, did not express much hope for reversing the situation: “The famous Mercedes are already in the possession of the respective leaders,” he said.

Other reactions on social media included that of the political analyst Domingos Gundana, who put the question on Facebook:

Será que não podiam ter esperado a normalização da economia, a redução do custo de vida no bolso do cidadão, não podiam dar prioridade à materialização do dossier Paz, aprovando os instrumentos que estão em discussão [no parlamento] para depois receberem os tais Mercedes como prémio pelo trabalho feito? Nem Paz temos, nem comida temos, nem transporte público temos, nem medicamentos temos, salários sem datas fixas, crianças a sentar no chão debaixo de árvores e alguém esbanja dinheiro por algo que não é prioridade.

Could they not have waited for the normalization of the economy, the reduction of the cost of living to match the people's budgets, could they not have given priority to the realization of the Peace dossier [to end the simmering conflict in the country], approving the instruments under discussion [in parliament], to receive such Mercedes afterwards as a reward for the job being done? We do not have peace, we have no food, we have no public transportation, we have no medicines, wages with no fixed dates, children sit on the ground under trees and someone squanders money on something that is not a priority.

Bitone Viage, a Mozambican graduate student in political science at the Federal University of Pará in Brazil, asked members of the Assembly of the Republic on Facebook not to view the place as a source of wealth:

Prezados não façamos da Assembleia da República um grande jackpot, onde o voto popular é visto como casa de loteria. Será que há mesmo necessidade de proverem Mercedes Benz aos nossos deputados. Aliás, estes por sua vez mesmo sabendo que estamos face a uma tal propalada crise, que moral prevalecerá para aceitar os ditos Mercedes?

We should not make the Assembly of the Republic a big jackpot, where the popular vote is seen as a lottery house. Is it really necessary to provide Mercedes Benz to our deputies? Incidentally, these people, for their part, even knowing that we are facing such an widespread crisis, what morality will prevail in accepting the so-called Mercedes?

There were also reactions on Twitter:

The government spends 228 million meticais on the latest Mercedes for deputies. With this crisis that money could have built universities

18 Mercedes how many school desks would that pay for? This is the question we should all be asking.

by Liam Anderson at June 21, 2017 01:22 PM

‘Minor Storm’ Causes ‘Major Losses’ in Parts of Trinidad & Tobago

A screenshot from a YouTube video by Alvin Birbal, showing the flooding in some parts of Trinidad & Tobago after the passage of Tropical Storm Bret on June 19, 2017.

As of 5 a.m. on June 20, 2017, the tropical storm warning that was in effect for Trinidad and Tobago was discontinued — but in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Bret, the humour and lightheartedness of storm night has taken a sobering turn.

A YouTube video uploaded by Alvin Birbal showed the devastating degree of flooding in south Trinidad as a result of the storm:

There were also reports of landslips, fallen trees, and rivers bursting their banks, but thankfully no loss of life, save for one incident in which a man fell and broke his neck running from the heavy rains.

Many netizens shared their photographs and videos via Twitter:

Photos of the effects of Tropical Storm Bret came in from far and wide:

Some folks simply tried to make the best of a bad situation:

On Facebook, Taran Rampersad shared photos and stories, and gave updates on several areas across the country, including reports that Mosquito Creek, a major south causeway that hugs the coastline, was flooded, making access from south Trinidad to the central and north of the island quite difficult. In a moment of frustration, he added:

Everyone sees what's wrong with Mosquito Creek – has seen it for generations. But it's South of the Light House, so no one seems to care.

Because most businesses and government services are centralised in Port of Spain, there is a common perception that any place beyond the lighthouse — which is situated on the perimeter of the capital city — is of no import. Nigel Wall, who posted a photo of the flooded Barrackpore area, echoed that concern:

Because the government and Port of Spain is ok, no word from the authorities on what they are doing in the South.

Facebook user Keith Francis added:

But under all seriousness, yunno if somebody had the presence of mind to put a piece of monitoring equipment in the Caroni and the Creek to tweet when the water level reach a particular height that might not be the worst public service in the world. #JustSaying

Facebook user Kelly Warren Fitzjames, who lives in Brasso Seco, a rural community in northern Trinidad, provided an update:

Rains all night and still falling, electricity gone since 9pm and roads blocked in several places (flooding and slush by quarry, land slides by Christophene king, large tree falls before Asa Wright and perhaps more). Ministry of Works already starting from quarry with back hoes to clear the roads. Phones still in operation (thanks to TSTT's new cell site generator) but cell phones will be losing charge soon with no way to recharge until roads are cleared and T&TEC can reach inside. No personal injuries or property damage that I know of after making several calls to residents.

The “Christophene king” she refers to is a farmer who grows the vegetable in an ecologically unsustainable way, causing great danger to the already precarious road that borders his area. Asa Wright is a nature centre that has taken great care to preserve the rain forest of Trinidad's northern range. TSTT is the state telecommunications provider, and T&TEC is the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission.

Meanwhile, Facebook user Rhoda Bharath shared a report on areas that were affected by the storm, and the Facebook page The Daily Corbeau posted a photo album of some of the damage caused.

The storm also affected the water supply in some areas:

As is often the case with these types of occurrences, politicians attempted to use the storm as a platform for one-upmanship, which some hashtagged a #NaturalPoliticalDisaster. The Rundown, a popular television show on CNC3, posted a photo of some of the opposition-affiliated lawyers involved in the current judicial controversy in Trinidad and Tobago, along with the following caption:

Rumour has it that the [opposition party] UNC plans to file an injunction in the High court to stop tropical storm Bret from passing over this country. #rumours

On Facebook, Rhoda Bharath warned of “mischief makers” circulating fake flood videos, and several people that Global Voices spoke to reported getting WhatsApp messages containing old flood videos.

Naturally, Wired868's Mr. Live Wire chose to look at the more amusing side of the situation, calling Tropical Storm Bret “the biggest case of overselling the damn thing since President Carmona claimed to be a superhero whose powers were pre-action protocol letters, distraction and donkey logic”, but Twitter user Judy Raymond summed it up well:

by Janine Mendes-Franco at June 21, 2017 12:41 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
06/21/2017: Crowdsourcing our brains
President Trump has called for a "sweeping transformation of the federal government's technology," but is that achievable? Matt Cutts of the U.S. Digital Service — which works on modernizing tech, one crisis at a time — joined us to talk about what his team does and whether progress is possible. Afterwards, we'll look at Amazon's latest attempt at world domination: the launch of a clothes shopping service that will let you order clothes and return them for free if you don't like them. And finally, we'll chat with Louis Rosenberg, CEO of Unanimous AI, about "swarm intelligence," which groups people together so that they can come up with the best solutions possible.

by Marketplace at June 21, 2017 05:33 AM

June 20, 2017

Global Voices
Offshore Asylum Seeker Detainees Win Historic Compensation in Australia
Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre

Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre. Image courtesy Behrouz Boochani. Used with permission.

An out-of-court settlement has highlighted the treatment by Australia of people seeking asylum who have been detained in Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre since 2012.

About 1,905 men are to share 70 million Australian dollars (about 52 million US dollars) in compensation from the federal government and security companies Transfield and G4S. The class action argued that they suffered “physical and psychological harm” in the detention centres.

Their lawyers, Slater and Gordon, spelt it out:

The defendants will also pay 20 million (about 15 million US dollars) in legal costs. After the announcement, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denied any admission of liability by the government.

John Lord and Martin Appleby, writing at the Australian Independent Media Network blog, called out the minister:

Shame, my country, shame on you that you would allow such evil to take place.

[…] Rather than defend their actions, which for the duration of the court proceedings would have caused considerable embarrassment for the government they chose, for 100 million dollars, to hide their atrocities from public view.

Refugee law professor Jane McAdam also questioned the minister's motives:

Iranian journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani has documented life on Manus capturing video with a mobile phone. The result is “Chauka Please Tell Us The Time”, a collaboration with Iranian-Dutch filmmaker Arash Kamali Sarvestani.

It premiered at the Sydney Film Festival on 11 June to an enthusiastic reception:

Behrouz posted his thoughts about the compensation deal on his Facebook page:

The compensation that Australia wants to pay to the refugees in Manus is not enough. They want to pay an average of about $35000 to each person and this amount can never cover four years of the suffering we have experienced. The majority of the refugees have been seriously damaged physically and mentally and this money is not even enough to cover the medical expenses they will have to pay as a result.

Most comments on his post were positive, but there was some opposition. Helen Yammine argued, “Why did they sneak in to Australia, they should have no right to compensation”.

Wendy Williams, a journalist with the non-profit Pro Bono Australia, is hopeful of a change to the current policy regarding people seeking asylum who come by boat:

The announcement should be the “final nail in the coffin” for offshore detention, according to social sector leaders.

Not everyone on Twitter was pleased with the payout:

There are many similar comments (with some dissenters) on conservative journalist Andrew Bolt's blog post “WE PAY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS A FORTUNE FOR REFUSING TO GO HOME“.

In contrast, some on Twitter drew attention to the large sums of money already spent on the offshore program. These have apparently run into the tens of billions:

Others compared the compensation with the “failed” program to resettle detainees in Cambodia:

Tim Byrnes captured the feelings of many online who are sympathetic to the plight of the detainees:

Earlier Global Voices posts about Manus Island include:

by Kevin Rennie at June 20, 2017 03:10 PM

The ‘Invisible’ Children Who Died in the Care of the Chilean State

Lissette's mother who, together with her attorney, sued the State of Chile. Photo by Univisión/ Sebastián Lafaurie, used with permission.

This report written by Daniela Mohor for Univisión was published by CONNECTAS. The following version has been published in Global Voices thanks to a content-sharing agreement.

The death of Lissette Villa, an 11-year-old girl in a children's home run by the Chilean state, uncovered a crisis in children's centers throughout country. According to official data, between 2005 and 2016 an estimated 865 children died while in the care of state-run children's service centers.

She only had two weeks left before she turned 12. But for Lissette, her upcoming birthday was only a source of distress. She knew at this age she would have to leave the home for minors where she had lived since 2014 and transfer to another home in the commune of Pudahuel in Santiago. The place was well known by children like her — victims of abuse and mistreatment, abandoned by family, or juvenile delinquents — as one of worst in the network of protection centers of the Chilean National Children's Service (SENAME).

Lissette never made it to the center in Pudahuel. On April 11, 2016, she died of cardiac arrest. The circumstances of her death are still under investigation. Although a report by the Investigative Police lists “suffocation due to imprudent and careless actions of her caregivers” the autopsy indicates that at the time of death she had “facial injuries.”

More than a year has passed since, but Lissette Villa's death is still in the news in Chile. Once it became public, her story of poverty, insecurity and violence forced Chileans to pay attention to what happens to almost 100,000 of the most vulnerable children who seek protection and psychiatric help from SENAME each year.

The information that has come to light since then is devastating: in October 2016, Solange Huerta, who assumed leadership of SENAME in the middle of the crisis, revealed that between 2005 and 2016, an estimated 865 children and adolescents died while in the care of children's services. Of that number, 249 were adolescents over the age of 14 with a criminal background; 406 were children in the custody of their parents or relatives in outpatient protection programs. But the group that has caused the most impact is the 210 children who, like Lissette, lived in protective housing because their parents and close relatives were unable to care for them. Of these children, more than half were disabled and about one-third were under 6 years old. For 47 of them, according to the SENAME report, the cause of death is inconclusive.

The invisible children

“Lissette's case opened pandora's box,” said Sebastián Lafaurie, Lissette's mother's attorney, who has filed a complaint against SENAME. “After her death, the Public Ministry conducted an investigation into all of the centers across the country (around 260) which exposed negligence and failures in the system”:

Hoy sabemos que hay cientos de niños que murieron, pero no se denunciaban sus muertes. Quedaban ahí en el olvido, porque son niños que no le importan a nadie.

Now we know that hundreds of children died, but no one reported their deaths. They remained there forgotten, because they are children that no one cares about.

Anuar Quesille, protection officer from UNICEF Chile, commented:

Se ha tomado una serie de medidas importantes para la infancia, pero pese a todo eso, el Estado, independiente del gobierno de turno, se olvidó de los niños que son los más desfavorecidos en Chile: los que han sido víctima de alguna vulneración en sus derechos y que están al cuidado del Estado. Pareciera que esa es la gran raigambre olvidada de la infancia en Chile.

A number of important measures have been put in place for children, but despite all that the state, independent of the current government, has forgotten the most disadvantaged children in Chile: those who are victims, who have had their rights violated and are in the care of the state. It seems that this is the great forgotten branch of childhood in Chile.

Shocking stories

The consequences are very real. In the last several months since the revelation of SENAME's institutional crisis, the media has published shocking stories: Jean Alejandro, for example, who was taken away from his mother 39 days after he was born and died at 1 year of age from acute pneumonia, a result of the neglect of his caregivers. Another story was published about a group of adolescents who fled from children's homes and preferred to live in an unsanitary wasteland in the middle of Santiago rather than return to SENAME's centers. There are allegations of beatings, sexual abuse, rape and prostitution within the centers. Among the deaths, several children took their own lives.

María José Ortúzar, psychologist and family mediator who has a degree in domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse, said:

Es terrible. Aquí hay una muerte real, que es la de estos cientos de niños, pero también hay una muerte simbólica en la invisibilización de ellos. No tienen un espacio adecuado. El mundo sigue girando y ellos siguen en el Sename atravesando situaciones complejas, que los llevan muchas veces a escapar sin tener a dónde ir.

It's horrible. There is a real death here, the death of hundreds of children, but there is also a symbolic death in their invisibility. There's no room for them. The world continues turning while they in SENAME are dealing with complex situations, that many times drive them to escape without having anywhere to go.

María José Ortúzar has not lost hope that changes are beginning to happen. “There has always been a problem with children in Chile. It's something that's been underground for many years,” she said. “Now for the first time the issue has come to light and has been discussed in the public square for months. The subject has been opened.”

by Erin Gallagher at June 20, 2017 03:10 PM

Filmed Beating of Somali Woman Highlights the Dangers That Europe-Bound Refugees Face

A group of Somali migrants in Libya. Photo by Salman Jamal used with permission.

In Somalia, a lack of job opportunities and civil war lead youth to risk their lives to travel from their homeland to Europe. They face abuse and exploitation by armed groups as well as smuggling networks operating in Libya, where many of the precarious boat journeys depart from.

Sumaya Jama, 15, is one such Somali. She decided to head to Europe, but recently fell into the hands of a group that demanded US $8,500 for her release. They filmed her with her hands and feet bound on the ground being whipped.

The video (link leads to disturbing content) soon went viral, and resulted in a fundraising campaign among the Somali community that collected nearly US $15,000 to free her.

Sumaya had been living with her mother in Dadaab, Kenya, the second largest refugee center in the world, before she tried to travel to Europe. Her mother, Nim’o Sultan, 48, said she was shocked to watch her daughter tortured on video. She told the author of this post, “I was in complete shock to see her video that I can’t even explain. Not one human being deserves to be treated that way regardless of what they did.”

At the moment Sumaya is in Libya; it is not yet clear if she will reunite with her mother in Dadaab or attempt once again to make it to Europe.

Demanding ransom with torture videos

Following Sumaya’s release, the smugglers released more videos that show the abuse of three other Somalis. One of the disturbing videos is below:

Smugglers make ransom money by releasing torture videos of the refugees and migrants they hold. Salman Jamal, who reported Sumaya’s story and is a Universal Somali TV reporter based in Turkey, said the Somalis who appear in videos like this can’t afford their own ransom and need help to pay for their freedom. However, “most of the time the smugglers would do it just to show what they are capable of.”

Somali refugees don't always head to Europe, but there's danger in their journeys in other directions too. In March 2017, at least 42 Somalis were killed when an unknown helicopter fired on a boat carrying refugees off the coast of Yemen. They were travelling to Sudan.

by Faaris Adam at June 20, 2017 02:36 PM

Photos Capture the Delicate Beauty of Nepal's Butterflies

Red Lacewing. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

The Himalayan country of Nepal has always fascinated trekkers, climbers, wildlife lovers and adrenaline junkies. However, if you’re a lepidopterist, it’s the perfect place to follow your passion. Nepal boasts of having more than 650 species of butterflies, accounting for 3.72 per cent of world’s butterfly species.

Butterflies are found everywhere in Nepal – from the jungles in the southern plains to the mountains in the northern part. The hills around the Kathmandu Valley are good areas for spotting the winged creatures. The March-June and August-October periods are the peak butterfly watching seasons.

Susheel Shrestha, a freelance photographer, has captured more than 150 species of butterflies found in Nepal from the lowlands to a height of 3810 meters in Upper Mustang.

Winner of many national photo competitions, Shrestha told Global Voices: “The butterfly habitat is decreasing day by day due to increasing human population.”

Bitten by the bug of nature and wildlife photography, Shrestha continues to capture the butterflies and plans to produce a coffee table book to showcase Nepal’s beauty and promote tourism in the country.

Here are some of the butterflies he has shot with his camera in different parts of Nepal.

Lime Swallowtail. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Himalayan Five Ring. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Indian Cabbage White. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Indian Cabbage White on mustard flowers. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Group of Three-Spot Grass Yellow. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Three-Spot Grass Yellow mating. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Dark Clouded Yellow. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Yamfly. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Tailed Jay. Photo by Susheel Shrestha. Used with permission.

Shrestha isn't the only one documenting Nepal's butterflies. A British national, Colin Smith, spent more than 50 years studying butterflies in Nepal. He traveled to 40 districts collecting 25,000 butterflies and wrote the book Illustrated Checklist of Nepal’s Butterflies.

The butterflies collected by Smith — aka ‘Putali Baje’ meaning ‘Butterfly Granddad’ in Nepali — have been displayed at Natural History Museum, Kathmandu; Annapurna Butterfly Museum, Pokhara; and at Kathmandu University in Dhulikhel.

by Sanjib Chaudhary at June 20, 2017 02:19 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
06/20/2017: An industry where automation might be a positive
When we talk about automating jobs, we often think it's bad for workers. But in the garment industry, which can be known for tough hours and dangerous conditions, could it actually be a good thing if robots took over millions of jobs? Motherboard's Ankita Rao joined us to talk about this tension, along with companies that are developing machinery in this space. Afterwards, we'll chat with the chief marketing officer of GrubHub about whether the food-delivery space is becoming a little too crowded.

by Marketplace at June 20, 2017 04:02 AM

Global Voices
Tropical Storm Bret Hits Trinidad & Tobago — and Twitter

Bad weather in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007. Photo by Georgia Popplewell, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Tropical Storm Bret has its sights set on Trinidad and Tobago — a rare occurrence, considering that the twin island republic lies just below the hurricane belt and is usually spared the wrath of foul weather come the annual Atlantic hurricane season.

Quite apart from Isidore in 2002, which didn't have much of an effect on the two islands, the last time a tropical storm came close to this neck of the woods was 1993. It was also named Bret, but passed stealthily between Trinidad and Tobago causing slight flooding and power outages; Venezuela, however, suffered great damage and loss of life.

Given the sense of deja vu, you'd think Trinbagonians would be keen to take the storm seriously — the meteorological service and Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management have issued several advisories to this effect — and perhaps most people are. But they wouldn't be “Trinis” if they didn't put their brand of humour on the whole experience, which is where Twitter comes in.

On the eve of the storm, three hilarious new Twitter accounts appeared: @StormBret, @GalvanizeRoof and @God868 — the last of which, using the islands’ area code, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the nationwide notion that “God is a Trini”, ergo no harm can befall the country.

@StormBret took issue with this cavalier attitude early on, tweeting:

Everything is a joke for you all, I'm no comedian you know

Full of pluck and bravado, @StormBret promised to hit Trinidad and Tobago hard:

This, some netizens felt, would be a necessary wake-up call:

When one Twitter user challenged him, @StormBret replied:

I will hear about you

Others decided it was best to sweet talk the storm into sparing things that were important to them:

To which he replied:

Another Twitter user quipped:

While some were thanking the storm for an additional day off work after a long weekend, others were suggesting that “If anybody gives birth to a son 9 months from now then by rights u have to name him Bret!!”. @StormBret replied:

Naturally, politics had to come into play. When one Twitter user quoted the prime minister:

@StormBret shot back:

Meanwhile, @StormBret and @GalvanizeRoof got into a bit of an altercation, as storms and roofs are wont to do:

The more devotional Twitter users advised:

@StormBret dismissed the plea, saying:

Trini or not, @God868 was not impressed. Referring to a recent incident that caused widespread outrage, in which Roman Catholic priest Fr. Clyde Harvey was tied up and robbed at gunpoint in a church, the almighty tweeted:

Or, put another way:

Finally, @StormBret answered the question that was on every Trinbagonian's mind:

by Janine Mendes-Franco at June 20, 2017 03:25 AM

June 19, 2017

MIT Center for Civic Media
Civic Media Co-Design Studio 2017: By Any Media Necessary

This semester, the Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio was focused on youth media and gentrification. For this version of the course, we wanted to develop media projects that respond to the current political, cultural, economic, and environmental crisis with youth-led visions of a more just and creative future. We partnered with ZUMIX and The Urbano Project, two youth arts and media organizations in the Boston area, and NuVu Studio, an innovation school for middle and high school students in Cambridge. 

Co-Design Studio students, ages 11 to 26, gathered weekly at the Center for Civic Media to work on media projects to challenge narratives from a youth perspective, while discussing topics central to design justice, gentrification and transformative media organizing. The Studio made visits to NuVu, The Urbano Project, ZUMIX and other sites, and had visits from Evan Henshaw-Plath, Lawrence Barriner II from MIT CoLab, Marisa Jahn from StudioREV, Jose Gomez-Marquez from the MIT Little Devices Lab, Jorge Caraballo Cordovez from East Boston Nuestra Casa, and Mike Leyba and Homefries from Fair Economy and City Life/Vida Urbana. You can see the class syllabus here.

These are the resulting projects:

Open Book/Libro Abierto - atelier/co

Open Book Screenshot

 

Open Book/Libro Abierto is designed to be a versatile platform for community members to share their stories. The print medium allows users to interact with the book in a tactile way, physically making their mark on the story of their community. The book presents handwritten and printed words along with photos of community members, and offers viewers access to audio interviews via QR links. Our goal is to create a hackable book that invites viewers to share their stories and start conversations, responding in whatever medium they choose. The book will be exhibited in Urbano’s Nomadic Sculpture, where visitors will be able to read the stories and respond by writing directly in the book. We hope to foster productive and honest conversations about what displacement and community mean to the people of Egleston Square, both physically written in the book as well as verbally during and after the exhibition.

Here are the links to Open Book/Libro Abierto's projectfinal presentation slides, and to the case study.

 

East Boston Voices - Peas in a Podcast

Peas in a Podcast

"East Boston Voices" is a podcast special centered around events of gentrification and displacement in East Boston. The mission of Peas in a Podcast is to unveil the hidden stories of the neighborhood to the greater Boston community, hopefully instigating change among East Boston’s residents. Each member of the group interviewed someone in the community who’s dealing with the effects of gentrification and displacement directly, compiling their stories and presenting their contents to the audience with added data and thought-provoking questions.

Here are the links to Peas in a Podcast's episodesfinal presentation slides, and to the case study.

 
Homesticker

Homesticker

Displacement of residents is a growing problem in many communities in the Boston area. However, this crisis in the making remains mostly unknown, partially owing to the fact that those impacted are often low-income immigrants whose primary language is one other than English. To counter both the lack of attention as well as the anti-immigrant sentiment that buoys displacement, Homesticker proposes an interactive mobile installation that allows residents of neighborhoods to label locations that they consider to be their homes, giving a face to the victims of displacement and also demonstrating the problem’s magnitude.

Here are the links to to Homesticker's final presentation slides, and to the case study.

 

Rainbow

IMG_0748

Rainbow is a public installation that tells the stories of about Cambridge residents and their history with the area. The goal of the project to highlight important issues mainly gentrification in and around Central Square. Using audio recordings and photography, this installation will help the voices of people who live in the area to be heard and shed light on how universities and businesses are changing Central Square and making the low-income life increasingly difficult.

Here are the links to Rainbow's final presentation slides, and to the case study.

by Mariel Garcia Montes at June 19, 2017 03:52 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Chinese Cities Are Shaming Jaywalkers With Facial Recognition Software

In some cities, jaywalkers’ faces would be shown on big screen along with their personal information – names, IDs and household registration address (all partially hidden). Screen shot from CCTV.

This post was written by Catherine Lai and originally published on Hong Kong Free Press on June 19, 2017. The version below is published on Global Voices under a partnership agreement.

Efforts by some Chinese cities to use facial recognition software to shame jaywalkers have been met with concerns that the practice may violate pedestrians’ privacy.

Cities including Jiangbei, Jinan, and Suqian have recently implemented facial recognition software at busy intersections, after the system was first launched in Shenzhen in April.

The initiative is the latest attempt to discourage the common practice of jaywalking, in which pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and other road users disregard traffic rules and cross the street when the lights tell them to wait. Pedestrians are known to cross intersections in packs, disrupting the flow of traffic.

The system in Jinan automatically takes four photos and a 15-second video if there are pedestrians or non-motorised vehicles crossing the street. It automatically extracts photos of offenders’ faces, and shows the images on big screens placed at the intersection. The system works even in the dark, according to China National Radio.

It also uploads users’ information to the police system. After verification by officers, information – including the violator’s headshot, name, age, place of household registration and ID number – will be partially displayed on intersection screens, newspapers, and on the internet, according to Li Yong, a deputy research director with the Jinan traffic police.

According to Central Television, since Jinan implemented the facial recognition system in May, police have caught more than 6,200 jaywalkers. In addition to a fine, the jaywalkers have to take a traffic safety course and perform public duty as a crossing guard.

Li Yong claimed that the system has reduced incidents of jaywalking by 90 percent. But legal experts have raised concerns that such measures could potentially violate pedestrians’ privacy.

The city public security department is aware that the system violates individual's privacy, but Li argues that public interest supercedes the issue:

公共利益大于个人利益,通过曝光一部分人警醒众人,达到保障出行人员权益的目的。

Public interest is greater than individual interest. By exposing the misbehavior of a few individuals, the system sends a signal to the majority and protects the rights of travelers [drivers and pedestrians].

Li Xiandong, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told Legal Daily that one should ask whether there is a legal basis for exposing the personal information of offenders:

犯罪行为需要向单位通报,但一般的违法行为是否需要通报?民法对于隐私权的保护为原则性保护,公开必须谨慎,否则就可能侵犯隐私。

Criminal activity should be reported to [police] units, but should common violations [like jaywalking] be reported? Civil law protects the principle of the right to privacy, so publicizing data should be done cautiously, or it could infringe upon privacy.

Innovation vs. privacy

Zhang Zhuting, a professor at the government’s school for training transport officials, said solving problems using innovative technology should be encouraged, but officials should also take citizens’ privacy into consideration when exposing personal data, and do so in a measured way.

He suggested that the public be informed when they enter the zone that their personal information is being taken, and that any illegal behavior would be exposed. He also encouraged authorities to take steps to mask sensitive information or withhold it.

But few social media users on microblogging site Weibo have expressed concern about privacy issues. An online survey conducted by Sina showed 80 per cent of the over 2,000 respondents were in favour of the measure.

Many reactions on Weibo suggested support for the initiative. On a news thread for People's Daily, one user said:

支持,自己都不要脸了还怕什么曝光,不过我有点怕机器操作过于频繁出问题了

Support, if they are shameless, they would not mind exposing their faces. But I am a bit worried that the system will be overloaded.

But a number of Weibo users also posed questions about the current traffic signal system. On CCTV's news thread:

不支持,很多红绿灯不科学,没车过的时候人行道也是红灯,等到人行道绿灯了,走两步得让右转得车,让了右转得车再走几步又得让左转得车,左转得车让完了,灯已经变红了,卡在路中间特尴尬。尴尬几次之后,就跟着闯没车过得红灯了。

I don't support it. The signal system is not scientific. The signal is red when there is no car on the road. When the green light is on, the cars are allowed to turn right and pedestrians have to stop and give way. Then after they walk past the midway point, they have to stop again to let the cars from the other direction make their right turn. Then the light turns red again and pedestrians are caught in the middle of the road. To avoid such an awkward situation, people have developed the habit of crossing the intersections when there is no vehicle.

Another echoed:

这是一个对行人不友好的国家,尽快买车吧

This is a country not friendly to the pedestrians, better buy a car.

A more skeptical user quipped:

现在出门记得化妆 不然一不小心就上银幕了

Better wear makeup when going out, or your face will appear on the big screen.

by Hong Kong Free Press at June 19, 2017 02:52 PM

Global Voices
Chinese Cities Are Shaming Jaywalkers With Facial Recognition Software

In some cities, jaywalkers’ faces would be shown on big screen along with their personal information – names, IDs and household registration address (all partially hidden). Screen shot from CCTV.

This post was written by Catherine Lai and originally published on Hong Kong Free Press on June 19, 2017. The version below is published on Global Voices under a partnership agreement.

Efforts by some Chinese cities to use facial recognition software to shame jaywalkers have been met with concerns that the practice may violate pedestrians’ privacy.

Cities including Jiangbei, Jinan, and Suqian have recently implemented facial recognition software at busy intersections, after the system was first launched in Shenzhen in April.

The initiative is the latest attempt to discourage the common practice of jaywalking, in which pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and other road users disregard traffic rules and cross the street when the lights tell them to wait. Pedestrians are known to cross intersections in packs, disrupting the flow of traffic.

The system in Jinan automatically takes four photos and a 15-second video if there are pedestrians or non-motorised vehicles crossing the street. It automatically extracts photos of offenders’ faces, and shows the images on big screens placed at the intersection. The system works even in the dark, according to China National Radio.

It also uploads users’ information to the police system. After verification by officers, information – including the violator’s headshot, name, age, place of household registration and ID number – will be partially displayed on intersection screens, newspapers, and on the internet, according to Li Yong, a deputy research director with the Jinan traffic police.

According to Central Television, since Jinan implemented the facial recognition system in May, police have caught more than 6,200 jaywalkers. In addition to a fine, the jaywalkers have to take a traffic safety course and perform public duty as a crossing guard.

Li Yong claimed that the system has reduced incidents of jaywalking by 90 percent. But legal experts have raised concerns that such measures could potentially violate pedestrians’ privacy.

The city public security department is aware that the system violates individual's privacy, but Li argues that public interest supercedes the issue:

公共利益大于个人利益,通过曝光一部分人警醒众人,达到保障出行人员权益的目的。

Public interest is greater than individual interest. By exposing the misbehavior of a few individuals, the system sends a signal to the majority and protects the rights of travelers [drivers and pedestrians].

Li Xiandong, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told Legal Daily that one should ask whether there is a legal basis for exposing the personal information of offenders:

犯罪行为需要向单位通报,但一般的违法行为是否需要通报?民法对于隐私权的保护为原则性保护,公开必须谨慎,否则就可能侵犯隐私。

Criminal activity should be reported to [police] units, but should common violations [like jaywalking] be reported? Civil law protects the principle of the right to privacy, so publicizing data should be done cautiously, or it could infringe upon privacy.

Innovation vs. privacy

Zhang Zhuting, a professor at the government’s school for training transport officials, said solving problems using innovative technology should be encouraged, but officials should also take citizens’ privacy into consideration when exposing personal data, and do so in a measured way.

He suggested that the public be informed when they enter the zone that their personal information is being taken, and that any illegal behavior would be exposed. He also encouraged authorities to take steps to mask sensitive information or withhold it.

But few social media users on microblogging site Weibo have expressed concern about privacy issues. An online survey conducted by Sina showed 80 per cent of the over 2,000 respondents were in favour of the measure.

Many reactions on Weibo suggested support for the initiative. On a news thread for People's Daily, one user said:

支持,自己都不要脸了还怕什么曝光,不过我有点怕机器操作过于频繁出问题了

Support, if they are shameless, they would not mind exposing their faces. But I am a bit worried that the system will be overloaded.

But a number of Weibo users also posed questions about the current traffic signal system. On CCTV's news thread:

不支持,很多红绿灯不科学,没车过的时候人行道也是红灯,等到人行道绿灯了,走两步得让右转得车,让了右转得车再走几步又得让左转得车,左转得车让完了,灯已经变红了,卡在路中间特尴尬。尴尬几次之后,就跟着闯没车过得红灯了。

I don't support it. The signal system is not scientific. The signal is red when there is no car on the road. When the green light is on, the cars are allowed to turn right and pedestrians have to stop and give way. Then after they walk past the midway point, they have to stop again to let the cars from the other direction make their right turn. Then the light turns red again and pedestrians are caught in the middle of the road. To avoid such an awkward situation, people have developed the habit of crossing the intersections when there is no vehicle.

Another echoed:

这是一个对行人不友好的国家,尽快买车吧

This is a country not friendly to the pedestrians, better buy a car.

A more skeptical user quipped:

现在出门记得化妆 不然一不小心就上银幕了

Better wear makeup when going out, or your face will appear on the big screen.

by Hong Kong Free Press at June 19, 2017 02:48 PM

One Last Bolt: Jamaicans Party at National Stadium After Usain's Last Run on Native Soil

It was a Saturday night that many Jamaicans will remember for a long time. Jamaica's superstar athlete, Usain Bolt, ran his last race in Jamaica on June 10, 2017, provoking screams of excitement, vuvuzela blasts and a party atmosphere among 30,000 supporters at Kingston's national stadium.

The occasion was the JN Racers Grand Prix, which featured a host of other Olympic athletes — including Bolt's former training partner Yohan Blake — who was in good form and declared he was there to fill the vacuum left by Bolt – who is retiring, and will run his final international race at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in London in August.

The sprint legend received red carpet treatment and a guard of honour. Government officials, diplomats and celebrities flocked to the stadium, and social media was awash with tributes, selfies and videos of the race, in which Bolt got off to a slightly nervous start but soon caught up. It was a treat for athletics fans:

Video camera in hand, British track athlete and Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah, himself a Bolt fan, was keen to record the athlete's sprint, much to Jamaicans’ amusement:

The main event, which Bolt won quite easily, was the 100 meter sprint. Fans enthused:

Some were overcome with nostalgia:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Sports Minister Olivia Grange made the most of the wave of euphoria surrounding the event, having hosted International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe for the occasion:

Coe heaped praises on Bolt — whom he referred to as the GOAT (the Greatest Of All Time) — local journalist Abka Fitz-Henley reported:

Sports writer Andre Lowe noted Bolt's contribution to the “business” of sport:

His ascension has brought and will continue to push more talented Jamaican youth to the sport. In Jamaica, where not enough is taken seriously enough, athletics is now seen as big business – Bolt's brilliance has led a boom where the local industry is concerned. We are still far behind as it relates to sports tourism , but again, Bolt has been a major contributor to the thrust – or trickle – of the Jamaican sports tourism product.

Commentator Brian-Paul Walsh reflected that Usain Bolt's career was a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy local landscape:

While sentimentally observing the culmination of a spectacular career, it would be remiss to not contextualise those spectacular performances with the other national records we would rather not highlight, such as the galloping crime rate and the plummeting dollar.

As social and economic conditions deteriorated, Bolt's development accelerated, thrusting him and this nation into global news for sprinting at a time when we were also gaining notoriety for scamming. On a night when hearts were aflutter in anticipation of one final 100-metre race inside the National Stadium, there were many households in mourning over tragic losses to their families from that week's murder madness. While dignitaries gathered inside the royal box to snap shots with the greatest of all time, their minions made mischief in communities just beyond the bright lights.

In the midst of excruciating circumstances and with very little around us to provide hope, we are fortunate to have lived in this time and to have one of us brilliantly defy the odds and rise into the fullness of himself.

Bolt's old school in rural Trelawny proudly paid tribute:

Amidst all the Bolt euphoria at the event, one world record was broken in the 200 meters by South African Wayde van Niekerk. The stellar lineup of athletes reflected the growing stature of Jamaican track, which Bolt has been largely responsible for, and the event was widely covered by international media:

A local professional photographer took this stunning shot:

And the Gleaner's Ricardo Makyn captured this gem:

Not everyone was impressed by local media coverage of the event, however. University lecturer Damien King thought some were “cashing in”:

Bolt confided that his close friend, fellow Jamaican athlete Germaine Mason, who died in a motorcycle accident in Kingston in April 2017, was weighing on his mind — but as the races ended, it was time to relax and celebrate, with Bolt displaying his well-known love of dancing:

Although most of the lights had been turned off, Bolt continued to party:

Fireworks closed the show:

One media personality commented:

So what's next for the legendary Usain? He has not said much about his plans, although he will appear as a footballer in a video game:

Bolt's final professional race will take place at the IAAF World Championships in London this August, but his example will continue to inspire Jamaicans from all walks of life. Broadcast journalist Cliff Hughes shared:

Later that evening, the man himself tweeted, simply:

by Emma Lewis at June 19, 2017 10:31 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
06/19/2017: Planning a chance encounter
Perhaps you've seen pics of Apple's new campus in Cupertino. It's futuristic, elegant and reportedly costs about $5 billion. Lord Norman Foster, one of the lead architects on the project, shared with us how the design came to be and how architecture can be "a force for good." Afterwards, we'll look at the link between workplace design and productivity. Ben Waber, CEO of Humanyze, explains why so many companies rely on big, open workspaces, and what he thinks a next-generation tech office space should look like.

by Marketplace at June 19, 2017 04:33 AM

Global Voices
Thailand’s Junta Leader Wants Citizens to Answer Four Leading Questions About Elections

General Prayut Chan-o-cha. Photo from Prachatai website.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging citizens to visit government centers and answer four election questions that could determine the country’s future.

Prayut was the army chief who led the coup in 2014. He vowed that the military would restore civilian rule once political and electoral reforms were implemented. A constitution was approved in 2016 which laid the groundwork for the holding of elections but it was strongly criticized because it contained provisions that gave the military broad powers in the bureaucracy.

Below are the four questions listed by Prayut:

1. Will elections bring good governance?
2. What then, if elections do not bring good governance?
3. Is it right to only focus on elections, at the expense of the country’s future and other issues?
4. Should bad politicians be given a chance to run for office, and if conflicts return, who will solve them and by what means?

About 1,000 centers across the country were opened to receive responses from the people. The government is also thinking of doing the survey in malls in order to reach out to more people.

Leaders of political parties expressed concern about the real motives of Prayut in launching the unusual survey of public opinion. They are worried that Prayut could be softening the public towards the idea of extended military rule in the country. But Prayut supporters insisted that the junta leader is simply interested to learn the views of ordinary citizens, rather than paying attention to the loud voices of opposition politicians.

Sunai Phasuk, Asia’s senior researcher of Human Rights Watch, is doubtful about the reliability of the survey:

Few will be brave enough to say they oppose prolonged military rule, repudiation of election results, strong-man rule, or even another military coup. Why? Because they understand expression of dissenting opinion is punishable under the orders of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

NCPO is the name of the government established by the junta.

In the past three years, the junta has strictly regulated the media. It also used the Lese Majeste (anti-Royal Insult) law to arrest and prosecute individuals for criticizing the military dictatorship.

Independent news website Prachatai asked some activist groups to list their own leading questions for Prayut to answer. The New E-saan Movement reminded Prayut that coups undermine democracy:

Are you aware that coup d’etats violate democratic and human rights principles?

If in the future, Thailand experiences another coup d’etat, will it be charged as a crime against the state?

Unionist Sriprai Nonsee urged Prayut and the military to return power to the people:

Coup d’etats to seize power from the people are unlawful. How, then, can a junta meet standards of good governance? When will you return power to the people, by restoring the right to vote and by revising the constitution—which should come from the people genuinely? When will you return power to the people, by restoring the right to vote and by revising the constitution—which should come from the people genuinely?

Journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk tweeted four questions for Prayut:

by Mong Palatino at June 19, 2017 03:31 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Five Years on, Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi's Family Repeats Call for His Release

One of Amnesty International's campaign posters for Raif Badawi. Source: Twitter.

Activists are calling for the release of Saudi activist Raif Badawi, who has completed five years of his 10-year sentence in prison.

In 2013, a criminal court in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia sentenced Badawi to seven years in prison and 600 lashes on a charge of “insulting Islam through electronic channels”.

Badawi was prosecuted for creating the blog “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, an online forum he launched in 2008 debating the role of religion in the conservative kingdom.

In 2014, his sentence was increased to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.

The most recent campaign was launched by Amnesty International. The human rights group worked with Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, and their three children who live in Sherbrooke, Canada, to help free Raif.

They published a video of his three children demanding the release of their father.

- Ten years in prison, 100 lashes, for writing words for peace.
– It’s not fair that our father is in prison. He’s not killed anybody.
– We’ve had enough.
– He just created a blog.
– That’s not illegal.
– We’ve waited too long.
– We need to see our daddy.
– The thing I miss most about my dad…
– is his infectious smile.

On Twitter, Amnesty International's Gulf account invited its followers to tweet directly at Saudi Arabia's King Salman, asking him to free Raif.

Raif's children also shared additional messages for Raif through Amnesty's website.

“When we left to Canada, I thought you’d surprise us at the airport. But you weren’t there. I remained angry,” 14 years old Najwa writes.

“For the longest time, I thought you had left us. I thought you didn’t love us anymore or didn’t care. For the longest time, I was worried sick about Mom. What was going to happen to us without you?”

Miriam, 10 was a four-year-old the last time she saw her father. She wrote: “I try to remember you. Your voice, your hugs, but I can’t. I was tiny, clinging on to Mom when we left you and ran away.”

The then 32-year-old was also ordered to pay a one million riyals fine (approximately US$266,600). In January 2015, he was flogged 50 out of the scheduled 1,000 lashes. His second flogging has been postponed due to Badawi's poor health.

by chrisrickleton at June 19, 2017 03:18 AM

Global Voices
What Next for US-Australian Relations After Malcolm Turnbull Mocks ‘The Donald'?
Malcolm Turnbull mocks Donald Trump at Midwinter Ball

Malcolm Turnbull mocks Donald Trump at Midwinter Ball – Image: Author's mockup from 9News video.

As has been widely reported, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently lampooned Donald Trump in a stand-up performance at Canberra's Midwinter Ball. The ball is the Aussie equivalent of the White House correspondents dinner that Trump boycotted this year, except that proceedings are supposed to be confidential.

The pair had a bumpy start to their relationship. A phone call in late January between the two was far from harmonious with Trump extremely critical of a refugee resettlement deal negotiated with the Obama administration. He allegedly told the PM that it was “the worst call by far” to a world leader and tweeted:

His administration eventually agreed to implement the agreement. Asylum seekers are currently being assessed with extreme vetting.

Audio of the send-up was leaked by veteran Australian political journalist Laurie Oakes. He argued that he did not feel obliged to follow the “off-the-record tradition” as he did not attend the event and thinks the ban is inappropriate. The Guardian's Katharine Murphy agrees:

This video was posted to the 9News Facebook page:

9News is Oakes’ employer. There have been hundreds of comments. They include support for or criticism of both Turnbull and Laurie Oakes.

Turnbull's routine involved some impersonations of the president complete with gestures. Politicususa summarised the script:

“The Donald and I … we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much We are winning like we have never done before. We are winning in the polls. We are. Not the fake polls. Not the fake polls. They’re the ones we are not winning in. We are winning in the real polls. You know the online polls. They are so easy to win. I know that, do you know that? I kind of know that. They are so easy to win. I have this Russian guy..”

Social media reaction was mixed. @tom_clift had a round up of Twitter responses for Oz pop culture website Junkee:

John Wren, an anonymous tweep, was one of many Australians on Twitter who mocked Americans’ supposed ignorance of the world:

There were a number of positive comments about Turnbull such as Alex's:

Perhaps it was a storm in a champagne glass as the Donald seems not to have taken the bait according to the US embassy in Canberra:

by Kevin Rennie at June 19, 2017 02:50 AM

Fake News Twists Hong Kong Airline Hostesses’ Refusal to Wear Chinese Name Tags

Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew. Photo from Flickr user: Dane Alegana (CC: AT)

The following article is based on a translation of a post that appeared first in Chinese on Hong Kong's Inmedia outlet.

News concerning changes to the outfits worn by airline cabin crews has stirred real debate among Chinese-speaking online communities in recent times.

In May, Emirates faced a furious backlash after demanding its Taiwan crew wear mainland China's national flag pin rather than the Taiwan island pin on their uniforms, following apparent pressure from Beijing. Emirates walked back the order after a number of people vowed to boycott the airline.

This month, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific airline suspended its new policy of adding Chinese names onto Hong Kong and Taiwan cabin crews’ name tags after the airline's union spoke out against the decision on privacy grounds.

Name tag politicization

While the political underpinnings of Emirates’ outfit policy were plain for all to see, the controversy over Cathay Pacific's name tag policy has mostly been stoked by ‘fake news’ originating in the mainland Chinese press.

The name tag furore was reported in Hong Kong as early as June 1. The union's arguments that it pushed back against the move in order to protect staff privacy would seem legitimate, since Chinese names are very specific and thus easy to track.

Nor is this a just a hypothetical danger. In fact, a number of air hostesses from Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific's sister airline, which adopted the Chinese name tag outfit last year, have filed complaints to the company after stalkers managed to find their names via social media platforms and send them disturbing messages.

Hong Kong versus China, but not quite

However, the news of the union's protest was twisted in mainland China on June 11 under an antagonistic headline: “Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Air Hostesses Refuse to Wear Chinese Name Tags Because They Don't Want to Please Mainland Chinese Passengers”.

The headline deliberately inverted one air hostess’ comment that the company originally adopted the new tags in order to “please mainland Chinese Passengers”. The report went on to suggest that the air hostesses now instead wanted to “please foreigners” with their English name tags.

The report published in various news portals including Sina and Sohu is symptomatic of Chinese government depictions of Hong Kong. Since the 2014 massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, mainland outlets have argued Hong Kong is a society with pro-Western values that fundamentally rejects Chinese identity.

Unfortunately, the same headline was copied and published in a Taiwan news outlet the next day.

Furthermore, another Taiwanese media outlet picked up the point about pleasing foreigners and added a further twist “Too Unfashionable! Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Air Hostesses Refuse to Wear ‘Chinese Name Tag’, Complain it Would Obstruct Their Chances of Making Friends with Foreigners”. The article was published June 12 and went viral on various online forums.

Clearing up confusion

To clarify the picture, the Chinese Q & A news team interviewed Dora Lai, the deputy head of Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union which has a 43-year history and more than 6,000 members. Lai said her union's opposition to the policy was “nothing to do with language”.

Her interview (abridged) is below.

問: 國泰航空公司是否曾提出要求空中服務員使用「中文名牌」?理由是甚麼?是為了討好大陸乘客嗎?
答:國泰航空公司要求空中服務員在名牌加上身份証明文件的「中文名字」,但名牌上的英文名字則不用按照文件規定。工會反對使用身份文件的名字作名牌的建議,但不肯定公司使用「中文名牌」政策是否為討好大陸的乘客。
工會估計有關措施,是為了跟國泰的全資附屬公司港龍航空看齊。港龍空中服務員早已使用「中文名牌」,但工會不認同港龍的措施。港龍航班較多的航班是來往大陸與本港,空中服務員的外站逗留(layover)時間較短,主要在外地停留一晚,不能與經常負責長途航班的國泰空中服務員相比。

Q: Did Cathay Pacific demand cabin crews wear “Chinese name tags”? What is the rationality behind the policy? Does the company want to please mainland Chinese passengers?

A: Cathay Pacific demanded that the “Chinese name” that appears on the name tags should be the same as the name on their identity cards, but the same requirement does not apply to the English name. The Union opposes the use of names registered to identity cards (real names) and is uncertain if the company's Chinese name tag policy is designed to please mainland Chinese passengers.

The union believes that the policy is to follow the practice of Cathay Dragon as that airline's air hostesses already wear Chinese name tags. But the union does not agree with Cathay Dragon's policy. Most of Cathay Dragon's flights are flying between mainland China and Hong Kong, the layover time for the crew is much shorter, usually within one night, while Cathay Pacific's flights are usually long distance [meaning hostesses stop in hotels for longer where they can fall prey to stalkers].

問:怎樣的名牌政策較為適合呢?

答:工會認為國泰應保持目前的名牌政策,由員工決定名牌的名字較好,因為名牌主要作用給予乘客方便稱呼,不必涉及服務員的個人私隱。

Q: What is the most appropriate name tag policy?

A: The Union believe the current name tag policy should be retained. The air hostesses can decide the name on the tag. The name tag is to make it more convenient for the passengers to address the air hostesses; that can be done without infringing on the air hostesses’ privacy.

問:是因為覺得使用中文太土氣嗎?

答:工會沒有收到任何如報導的反對原因︰「不夠高端洋氣,甚至還有點土氣,會影響結交洋人的機會」。不清楚文中原因的消息來源,我已讀過所有會員的意見書,亦未在社交網絡上看見此講法。其實,就算改用中文名牌,亦都會保留英文名字,「會影響結交洋人的機會」的講法並不正確。

Q: Do the air hostesses feel that Chinese names are ‘unfashionable'?
A: The Union has never heard of any reasons such as those that appeared in that report…I have no idea who exactly their source is. From all the opinions I have read from our members and my social media network, I have never come across such reasoning. Even if we use Chinese names, the English names remain on the name tag, so there is no grounds to say that a Chinese name tag would “obstruct the chance of making friends with foreigners”.

by Chinese Border-crossing Question and Answer at June 19, 2017 02:21 AM

Chronicles of a Concerned Venezuelan: Scenes to Help You (Try to) Understand Venezuela
"Water and Gas". Photo by Flickr User Sin.Fronteras. Used under CC 2.0 license.

“Water and Gas”. Photo by Flickr User Sin.Fronteras. Used under CC 2.0 license.

This post is the third of a series originally published by the author on Medium. Click on the links to read the first and second installment.

I wake up startled, staring into the darkness with eyes wide open. I do not know what awoke me, and the resulting sensation is a paralyzing confusion. The second blast goes off and I leap out of bed, still confused about what is happening. It takes a few minutes before the realization sinks in: the cacophony of clattering pots and pans, screaming neighbors, rising clamor and noise in the street. By then, tear gas has started seeping into my apartment, filling the place, enveloping me in a dense and suffocating cloud. My heart thumps and fear hammers my chest. I am not going to cry, I repeat to myself, exhausted but defiant. I am not going to cry.

I stumble around the dark apartment. Another blast goes off. It’s almost 11pm, the end of an especially strained and difficult day. I'd gone to bed less than an hour earlier, overwhelmed at the news of brutal repression and horrific beatings of civilians by police. Fatigued by the helpless frustration of being held hostage in this country. I make my way carefully now, with outstretched hands, listening to the metallic sound of pots banging, the rhythmic clack of tear gas guns discharging. In Venezuela the days don’t ever seem to come to a complete end. Violence remains, continues, spreads. Normal means a collection of pains and terrors. Of closed doors and a general state of suspicion. We have survived this way for over a decade now.

When I peer out of the window, I see the toxic smoke spiraling up from the street. It can’t reach far enough to seriously harm me because I live ten floors up, but I the odor clearly reaches me, a rancid sting that causes me to sneeze and gasp. A group of National Guardsmen move around surreptitiously in the dark, guns held aloft, firing upwards. I am almost unable to distinguish their figures from street lamps. They form a line in the center of the plaza. They wear helmets and breastplates. And they shoot. They shoot at buildings, down the deserted street. One, two, three times. Frozen, I watch them with a disorienting sense of surreality and incredulity. One of the blasts hits with a resounding echo and I throw myself down, hands over my head, shaking from head to foot. I am not going to cry, I repeat to myself, infuriated now. I am not going to cry.

Several of my neighbors lean out of windows, gesticulating and screaming at the top of their lungs. One hauls out a large casserole pan which flashes under the milky glow of the flashlight he's wielding. He strikes it with a clenched fist, euphoric with anger and anguish. I see him lean out into the void of night, shouting with all his might. The cacophony of metal and voice blend together in a single sound.

“Damn soldiers! Damn them all!” he screams. His voice is hoarse and tired. “Damn them! There are families here!”

Someone else joins in. He also screams, unleashing slogans, insults, vulgarities. Voices rise from everywhere in a discordant uproar. The only answers from below are blasts. Once more, and again. Tear gas thickens and smothers. A bright white wall running the length of the street obscures the full view. The image is tinged with something ghostly, brutal. An unthinkable images of the streets, the everyday landscape of a place I have seen every day for over twenty years.

It hurts to breathe. I rub my eyes and cough. My neighbor beckons to me from her window. “Come over to the door,” she shouts. I can barely make her words out over the clattering pans and screaming around us. There's a new blast. “Murderers!” The scream multiplies, elevates, rocks, trembles and flows outward. In the street, the national guardsmen advance and spread. I see their figures appear and disappear in the pearly darkness. A quick spark of light. And the sound of another blast embraces the world, throttles it. My throat thickens and closes in fear.

When I open the door, my neighbor slides her arm around my shoulders and places a damp cloth in my hands. “Wash your face off with this,” she whispers, “to get the gas off you, so you don't get intoxicated.” She inclines her head toward mine. “This is going to get worse,” she adds. She is shaking with fear, like me. I press her hand between mine, as firmly as I'm able. I do not know if it seemed that way.

“They're throwing bombs at buildings,” she tells me in a nervous whisper. “They say that by the street corner, they're trying to get some of them inside.”

She pushes me firmly into the hall. A group of neighbors are huddled there, half hidden in the gloom. A woman I remember from a nearby apartment sobs in a corner. Her cries sound small, fragile, painful. My neighbor shrugs and looks around. I feel her impotence. Like mine. Like everyone’s, I suppose.

“We don’t know what to do. The people downstairs just came up,” she explains to me quietly. “Let's just wait here until everything passes. Put this on your face so you can breathe.”

I obey. The rag is soaked in some liquid with a curious citrus smell infused with something I do not immediately recognize. I let myself slide down to the floor by the door. My heart is thumping so hard I can hardly breathe, my tightening throat grips me in a slow, blinding panic that I struggle to contain. I hear a new blast. An enraged shout. The sound of breaking glass. The woman's sobs in the hallway grow louder and take on a tone of childlike fright. Fear is everywhere, like an unbearable stench that steals my breath from me.

I cover my ears with my hands and try to stay calm. I am not going to cry, I tell myself. I am not going to cry, I repeat. We hear another blast.

The street is desolate now, with scorched garbage and pieces of broken glass scattered everywhere. An insignificant scene from some random pitched battle. I tread carefully, trying not to stumble. A woman advancing from a few feet away shakes her head and kicks what appears to be the twisted remains of a plastic container.

“You know what hurts the most?” She says when I catch up to her. Her face is sorrowful. Like mine, I suppose—I do not know what will happen next with all these protests. You feel the rage, the fury, but don’t know what will happen next.

Together, we walk a few feet further. The scorched remnants of one of the countless political campaign posters plastered all over the city float in a dirty puddle. I look at it and am overtaken by a feeling of deep disgust. I think back on all the years of political battles, of polemical debates. Of pained hatred spewing forth in all directions, emanating from a twisted core of intolerance and fanaticism. Nearly two decades of a blind fight that advances and retreats at the whims of the powerful, a confrontation fueled by resentment and fratricidal malevolence. How close are we to the abyss, I ask, and force myself to keep moving. How close are we to the final confrontation? Will that moment ever arrive?

A ramshackle fence is still standing two blocks from where I live, smeared and darkened with soot from where fire licked the wood. Someone told me several of the tear gas bombs launched that night landed near this rickety fortification. Amidst the clash of uniformed officials and protesters, this cheap bulwark of wood and plastic was battered by stones and broken bottles. I gaze at the ashen prints left by the fire and try to picture the scene in my mind: the group of invaders hiding in the dark in an embankment piled with garbage, listening to the same blasts as me, breathing the same tear gas, unable to escape or protect themselves. I quicken my pace, sickened and reeling. Terrified by the haunting effects of fears both tangible and imaginary.

A survivor among a group of locals who have taken cover in a vacant lot watches me, shielded by one of the last pieces of zinc sheeting in his possession. His face is taut and hollow with tension. Like mine, I remind myself. I hear a broken wooden door shut somewhere behind me. It makes a hollow sound, small, futile. It brings my thoughts back to the violence, the death, and the toxic cloud that enveloped the street the night before. We who were due to inherit the fulfilment of society’s vindications, the faithful believers in Hugo Chavez’s revolution, have instead fallen prey to a colossal, historical hoax. Who are the victims and enemies at the frontlines of this raging antagonism? Who will be the survivors?

The stench of tear gas lingers everywhere. An invisible trace that recalls the existence of something abject and difficult to adequately express. I stand in the middle of the street, contemplating the brittle normalcy around me. There is something unreal in this vision of the commonplace, of inertia, of violence on the other side of an imaginary border. This is how we've learned to live after 20 years, each and every day, with the aggression, abuse and fear that is now a regular part of our daily life. When will we realize we are prisoners of a failed and violent system? How much more do we need to understand the real scope of this ongoing tragedy? What unimaginable calamity will be next?

I know very little about civil war, even if at times I think I do. I know nothing about genocide and mass murder, in spite of how much I’ve read about those subjects in books, articles, and personal accounts. The only thing I know is helplessness, this sense of nameless terror that infuses everything I look at, everything I think about. I watch passersby trudge slowly down the street, women clutching children in their arms, men rushing to cross the avenue. How many of us understand what the tragedy of violence really means? How many of us truly realize the traumatic cost of a confrontation that warps us into irreconcilable enemies? I stand and gaze at the street where I grew up, its little details, the places I know by heart. Traces of violence everywhere. When did violence become part of my life? Of the everyday landscape?

I myself don't know, or even worse: I do not remember. And the possibility of forgetting, of losing that uniform gaze at both past and future, is more painful than anything else, more difficult to understand than any other thought. A hostage of my own memory.

At the bakery, a man comments aloud about the street protests happening in Caracas. His voice is ragged, angry, confrontational, pained. He does not make a partisan proclamation nor express a political opinion, but rather a sincere, concerned complaint. Our daily burden to bear.

“Something has to happen, for better or worse. Something has to happen from all this,” he repeats, shrugging his shoulders, shaking his head. “Something has to happen to make people understand how screwed we all are. All of us—no one is safe.”

Silence. Customers lined up at the counter avert their eyes, shake their heads, nervously clear their throats. The man clenches his fists, his face flushed with fury.

“Am I lying? All of us are fucked, aren't we?”

“The problem is we're all so used to ignoring what goes on, we look the other way and try to carry on like we did before. No one remembers they should stand up and face this,” says a woman next to the cash register. “In this country everyone goes on and acts like nothing ever happens.”

I'm irritated by the resigned, almost bored tone with which she speaks. But I also can't stop thinking about the truth of her words. Over the last decade-and-a-half under the Chávez administration, most Venezuelans have faced fear, hope, terror and exhaustion on a daily basis; a blank space without name or definition, whose emptiness seems to define better than anything else this point in history at which we live. Or perhaps there just isn't a name for this broken, soft indifference, this cracked exhaustion crushing our civic consciousness, this simple perception of reality we endure day by day. It's a kind of deaf battle against nothingness, against despair and distress.

There is a general murmur of approval. The man sighs, hunches his shoulders. Emotion colors his cheeks, makes him clench his fists. I relate to his frustration, his weariness. That fall into silence. The scene repeats itself a thousand times over, mirrors the twisted face of a country deeply wounded by fear.

“Venezuela is falling to pieces,” the man says. “We’re falling apart and I wonder if any of us are even aware of it.”

I think back to his words as I plod along the street amid the rubble of an unequal battle, fissured with a tenuous wound that never heals, the perennial sense of not recognizing the country I live in. With our national identity broken and crumbling into a mixture of grief and a slow, endless, deep suffering. This feeling of belonging nowhere and without a history.

Sitting in the living room of my house, I try not to cry. But I give in, of course, because of the deep anguish I carry everywhere; because of the daily crushing horror, because of this Venezuela which is not mine but that I must endure. I wonder how long I can resist, to avoid this reality from crushing me. What will happen next? And, of course, I have no answers. I've never had any and I suppose I never will. And that gaze into the void—into the abyss—is hard to bear. An deep sense of fear has become a way of life.

 

by Stephanie at June 19, 2017 12:16 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Palestinian Authority Once Again Censors Websites of Rivals and Critics

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in 2007. The blocked websites are critical of his administration. Photo by the World Economic Forum (CC BY-SA 2.0 )

The Palestinian Authority's (PA) Attorney General issued a Directive for the dozen Palestinian ISPs operating in the West Bank to block 11 websites affiliated with political rivals and critics of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Most of the websites are affiliated with the opposition Islamist party and militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip. One website is linked to Abbas rival and former Fatah member Mohammad Al-Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah in 2011.

The sites reportedly are being blocked only in the West Bank, due to “rules of publication”, which ban the publication of fake news and/or defamation. It remains unclear, which “rules” the PA has used to ban the websites, but the 1995 Press and Publication Law includes several vague and broad restrictions on freedom of expression. For example, publications are not allowed to “contradict the principles of …national responsibility” or publish material that is “inconsistent with morals” or which may “shake belief in the national currency.”

The order was issued on 12 June. Palestinians living in the West Bank say they have been unable to access the websites since the same date.

The websites include Amad.ps, Shehab News Agency associated with Hamas, and “Voice of Fatah” known to be close to Al-Dahlan. Hassan Asfour the chief editor of Amad expressed his opposition to the censorship in an opinion piece entitled “From Amad News to the Attorney General of the PA in Ramallah… Censorship will not conceal your scandals”: 

والأخير له موقفه من الحريات والديمقراطية وممارسة الحقوق كافة في إطار الحياة وما تقتضيه، عبّر عنها مراراً وتكراراً للإعلام والوفود، حتى اعتقد السامعون أنه الحارس الأمين لوعاء الحريات وممارستها بأمن وأمان، ولكن بحجب (أمد للإعلام) تسقط التصريحات ويصدق الواقع.

Abbas has his position on freedoms, democracy and the exercise of all rights within life's framework and its requirements, which he repeatedly expressed to media and delegations, until listeners believed he was the guardian of freedoms and their safe exercise. But with the blocking of Amad for Media, statements have fallen and reality has spoken.

A number of organizations have denounced the directive. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) published a statement calling for the PA to withdraw the directive, calling it a violation of freedom of expression and the Palestinian Basic Law. The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement (7amleh) also denounced the blocking order in a statement published on 16 June:

نجد في هذه الخطوة تعارضا كاملا مع المواثيق والمعاهدات الدوليّة ، ومسّا عظيما في الحقوق الرقمية لشرائح من المجتمع الفلسطيني، حيث يحق لكل فلسطيني تمثيله هو وآرائه ضمن العالم الرقمي، كما يحق له أيضا إتاحة المجال أمامه للوصول إلى أيٍّ من المواقع الإلكترونية والمصادر المعلوماتية التي تخص اهتمامته وتضمن حقوقه في التعبير عن أفكاره وطموحاته.

[We] find that this move fully contradicts all international treaties and conventions, and marks a significant violation of the digital rights of segments of Palestinian society. Palestinians have the right to have their opinions represented in the digital world, and to access any electronic websites and information sources that are of interest to them and that guarantee their rights to express their ideas and ambitions.

This is not the first time the PA censors websites. In 2008, there were reports that the PA censored one website in the West Bank called Dounia Al Watan, a Gaza based site that reports on corruption in the PA, while in 2012 they asked ISPs to block eight websites including Amad.ps, which is also one of the websites blocked this past week.

by Advox at June 19, 2017 12:03 AM

June 18, 2017

Global Voices
Palestinian Authority Once Again Censors Websites of Rivals and Critics

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in 2007. The blocked websites are critical of his administration. Photo by the World Economic Forum (CC BY-SA 2.0 )

The Palestinian Authority's (PA) Attorney General issued a Directive for the dozen Palestinian ISPs operating in the West Bank to block 11 websites affiliated with political rivals and critics of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Most of the websites are affiliated with the opposition Islamist party and militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip. One website is linked to Abbas rival and former Fatah member Mohammad Al-Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah in 2011.

The sites reportedly are being blocked only in the West Bank, due to “rules of publication”, which ban the publication of fake news and/or defamation. It remains unclear, which “rules” the PA has used to ban the websites, but the 1995 Press and Publication Law includes several vague and broad restrictions on freedom of expression. For example, publications are not allowed to “contradict the principles of …national responsibility” or publish material that is “inconsistent with morals” or which may “shake belief in the national currency.”

The order was issued on 12 June. Palestinians living in the West Bank say they have been unable to access the websites since the same date.

The websites include Amad.ps, Shehab News Agency associated with Hamas, and “Voice of Fatah” known to be close to Al-Dahlan. Hassan Asfour the chief editor of Amad expressed his opposition to the censorship in an opinion piece entitled “From Amad News to the Attorney General of the PA in Ramallah… Censorship will not conceal your scandals”: 

والأخير له موقفه من الحريات والديمقراطية وممارسة الحقوق كافة في إطار الحياة وما تقتضيه، عبّر عنها مراراً وتكراراً للإعلام والوفود، حتى اعتقد السامعون أنه الحارس الأمين لوعاء الحريات وممارستها بأمن وأمان، ولكن بحجب (أمد للإعلام) تسقط التصريحات ويصدق الواقع.

Abbas has his position on freedoms, democracy and the exercise of all rights within life's framework and its requirements, which he repeatedly expressed to media and delegations, until listeners believed he was the guardian of freedoms and their safe exercise. But with the blocking of Amad for Media, statements have fallen and reality has spoken.

A number of organizations have denounced the directive. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) published a statement calling for the PA to withdraw the directive, calling it a violation of freedom of expression and the Palestinian Basic Law. The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement (7amleh) also denounced the blocking order in a statement published on 16 June:

نجد في هذه الخطوة تعارضا كاملا مع المواثيق والمعاهدات الدوليّة ، ومسّا عظيما في الحقوق الرقمية لشرائح من المجتمع الفلسطيني، حيث يحق لكل فلسطيني تمثيله هو وآرائه ضمن العالم الرقمي، كما يحق له أيضا إتاحة المجال أمامه للوصول إلى أيٍّ من المواقع الإلكترونية والمصادر المعلوماتية التي تخص اهتمامته وتضمن حقوقه في التعبير عن أفكاره وطموحاته.

[We] find that this move fully contradicts all international treaties and conventions, and marks a significant violation of the digital rights of segments of Palestinian society. Palestinians have the right to have their opinions represented in the digital world, and to access any electronic websites and information sources that are of interest to them and that guarantee their rights to express their ideas and ambitions.

This is not the first time the PA censors websites. In 2008, there were reports that the PA censored one website in the West Bank called Dounia Al Watan, a Gaza based site that reports on corruption in the PA, while in 2012 they asked ISPs to block eight websites including Amad.ps, which is also one of the websites blocked this past week.

by Dalia Othman at June 18, 2017 11:58 PM

June 17, 2017

Global Voices
Years After Marriage, Indian Women Dare to Say Their Husbands’ Names for the First Time

Women in the small Indian village of Gumla Jam Gayi in Jharkhand. Image from Flickr by Chris Freeman. CC BY-NC 2.0

This post was written by Kayonaaz Kalyanwala 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.

In many parts of India, a woman will go to great lengths to avoid saying her husband’s name and even that of elder men in the family. Instead, she will use a pronoun or ‘father of my child’. From Chhattisgarh to Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh, women affirm that social pressure to respect one’s husband, and a fear of the consequences of not following the norm, keep this practice alive. Last year, a kangaroo court sentenced Malati Mahatoto from the Indian State of Odisha to be ostracized from her family and the entire village after she addressed an in-law by his name.

While many men also reciprocate the tradition by not calling their wives by their names, they face far lesser censure, if any, when they don’t follow the practice.

In a small village called Walhe, in Pune district, Maharashtra, nine women, including health workers and housewives, have become members of a unique club that are fast becoming the talk of the town. A space that is their very own to discuss and debate the nuances of patriarchy. The club is one of 56 being run across 13 states in India and is part of #KhelBadal, a campaign to dismantle patriarchy being run by Video Volunteers. Rohini Pawar, who for the past seven years has used her video camera to expose practices ranging from child marriages to ostracisation of people living with HIV/AIDS face, runs these clubs. She shares how these clubs have created a safe space for these women and turned them into agents of change as well.

The first video Rohini decided to screen in her discussion club was on the practice of women not addressing their husbands by their first name. She chose this because she wanted to throw open the conversation on patriarchy with an issue that the women could easily engage with. Not being able to call their husbands’ names out is a practice they have all dutifully upheld, and not once questioned. According to Rohini:

This custom indicates that a woman respects her husband and wants him to live a long life. A woman who doesn’t follow it will be seen as cunning, a woman with no morals. The tradition is so deeply rooted that we hadn’t given it thought until this discussion club.

To begin with, Rohini wanted to test out the waters at her own home where she had never called her husband by his name. She showed the discussion club video to her husband and mother-in-law. Rohini recounts:

My mother-in-law and husband were quiet for a long time after the video ended. Prakash, my husband, turned around and told me to call him by his name from then on.

Armed with this confidence, Rohini started her first discussion club. Many women hadn’t heard the word ‘patriarchy’ ever before; some believed that it was a good thing because it meant that the younger members of a family, especially girls and women, would remain protected. The session started with Rohini screening a video on the issue from Uttar Pradesh. After watching the video the women tried an exercise to get the discussion going. Rohini asked each participant to say her husband’s name in a variety of emotions – happy, angry, sad, loving and so on. She asked them all, “If we can’t say our husbands’ names, and they can call us whatever they like, does that mean they don’t respect us? Shouldn’t it be equal?”

“Some of these women have been married for 30 years and that was the first day they uttered their husbands’ names,” says Rohini Pawar, from Walhe Village, Maharashtra about breaking an age-old custom where married women are never supposed to say their husband’s names. Rohini says:

During the activity, one woman was so shy she just giggled for the duration of the exercise; another decided to vent all her cumulative frustration against him and his family by cursing him. The look on their faces was ecstatic. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Still high on an adrenaline rush of having smashed an age-old custom, the women decided that they would actually try to say their husband’s names when they got home. And they kept their word. Over the next few days, Rohini got a variety of updates.

One woman’s husband called Rohini to ask what ideas she was putting in the women’s heads: His wife wouldn’t stop calling out his name. Another club member decided to do it at dinnertime in front of her entire family. When her mother-in-law glared at her, she got scared and said that it was a mistake. Another woman said, “Rohini told me to do it.” One participant’s husband was less understanding and the situation ended in violence.

Rohini shares how women have tried to stop other practices like wearing vermilion on their forehead:

Why do only women have to show that we’re married? I told my husband that if he’d wear vermillion, I’d do it too. He just laughed, and I’ve stopped wearing it.

The other women haven’t stopped completely, but they feel that they’re in a better position to choose to not wear it on some days.

For many of the women, this discussion club is a safe space where they can share their opinions and aspirations. “We make an excursion out of each discussion club. We usually pack lunch and water and go to the field. I don’t want the women to worry about who might hear what,” she says. In the past few months, they have celebrated birthdays with cakes for the first time in their lives; they have danced and sung and talked about things they have never given a second thought to.

Rohini says:

I have worked on these issues for so many years and even I haven’t talked about some of these things, like how our identities are tied to our husbands’, this honestly. It feels great to be able to say some things out loud, no matter how small they seem.

At one discussion club, we were talking about the concept of honour and how it is related to clothes. Many women in the group haven’t worn anything but saris since they got married. Most are fine with it but some wanted to wear a salwar-kurta; they didn’t dare.

After much debating and discussion on the merits of choosing your own clothes, the morality related to saris and so on, Rohini smuggled her own set of kurtas (upper garments) to a discussion club so that the women could wear them. The women have now decided to plan a trip to Goa so that they can wear jeans, and Rohini is certain that she can pull it off.

Asked whether things have changed in the five months since the first discussion club, Rohini explains how a wheel is beginning to turn:

Our steps have been small. Many women tried it a few times but then they stopped saying their husband’s name. Some, including myself, do it but only when they are alone and no other family member is around. Only one or two continue to say their husbands’ names; now only one or two women wear vermilion on their forehead all the time.

The women in the discussion club know that the changes they want to create in their own lives, the bargain for more agency over their mobility or choice of clothes are a complex river to navigate. Buoying each other’s confidence, they acknowledge that they’re in this together. As Rohini explains:

Each one of us is a victim of patriarchy. I am too. But this club gives each one of us the confidence that change will come. And I know that it won’t be limited to just 30 families, there will be a chain reaction when every woman at the club goes home and shares what we talk about and do. We’re all in it together.

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,” offering hyperlocal context to coverage of global human rights and development challenges.

by VideoVolunteers at June 17, 2017 11:22 AM

Japan's Controversial Anticonspiracy Bill Becomes Law
Taro Yamamoto

Opposition politician Yamamoto Taro signals his displeasure with the government's anti conspiracy bill before submitting his vote. Caption: “Conspiracy law approved and enacted in Japan's Upper House.” Screencap from ANN News official YouTube channel.

On June 15, Japan's parliament ratified a controversial “anti-conspiracy” bill into law. Despite concerns by opposition politicians, ordinary people and even United Nations commentators about how the vague nature of bill will affect ordinary Japanese citizens with no connections to organized crime, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's ruling coalition used every parliamentary trick in the book to cut off debate and ram the bill through Japan's bicameral Diet before a parliamentary recess starting on June 18.

There are fears the vague nature of the new law, which covers nearly 300 crimeswill erode personal liberties in Japan by providing authorities with broad surveillance powers, leaving the question of who can be monitored open to interpretation.

Japan's ruling coalition, headed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has argued the new law is needed in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, at a time when threats to national security are perceived to be increasing.

However this argument belies the fact that his Liberal Democratic Party 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.

The Japanese government has also suggested conforming with UN conventions is the main motivation for creating the new law. But Colin Jones, a law professor who teaches at the University of Kyoto, noted in an article for the Japan Times that two UN representatives have explicitly criticized the new law:

Ever since the Meiji Period (1868-1912), treaties and other countries have been used to justify laws the Japanese people neither want nor need, so there’s nothing new here. However, in this case there hasn’t been any serious effort to articulate concrete deficiencies in existing laws — such as bad guys who got away because of them — that will be remedied by the new ones. In fact, I read the convention in vain for mention of a requirement to criminalize conspiracy, other than in connection with money laundering.

The fact that a U.N. treaty is central to the justification for the new law might explain why the government seems particularly annoyed at concerns expressed by not one but two U.N. experts regarding the law’s potential for arbitrary use and infringement of civil liberties.

The two UN experts are Joseph Cannataci, United National Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, and David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In a report released in May 2017, Kaye criticized Japan's State Secrecy Act, implemented in late 2014 as having a chilling effect on journalism and free expression.

In a separate letter sent to the Japanese government (which can be read in its entirety here), also sent in May, Cannataci  criticized the new anti-conspiracy bill, which was at the time being debated in committee before being passed into law. In his letter, Cannataci worries that the broad scope of the law may “lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and freedom of expression” in Japan.

Specifically, Cannataci says in his letter, the law, which is ostensibly aimed at organized crime in Japan, does not precisely define what an “organized criminal group” might be, while including 277 types of crimes that might be covered under the law. One example of a possible implementation of the law, Cannataci says in his letter, is that it may legitimize and facilitate government surveillance of NGOs perceived to be acting against the government interest.

Cannataci also noted the anti-conspiracy law covers crimes “which appear to be totally unrelated with the scope of organized crime and terrorism” such as the theft of forestry products and the destruction of cultural properties.

The Japanese government responded to Cannataci's letter by saying his characterization of the anti-conspiracy legislation was “extremely unbalanced” and adding that his behavior was “hardly that of an objective expert.”

However, there were Japanese voices who also made the same points as Cannataci. Following the passage of the bill into law Thursday, Osaka Seiji, an opposition politician who sits on the parliamentary judicial affairs committee that reviewed initial drafts of the bill, said:

I have been completely opposed to the government's rationale for the anti-conspiracy law ever since the legislation was proposed in the Diet. It's possible that the law, which is intended to deal with organized crime groups, will expand to affect ordinary citizens. The law does not concretely define what, when and where it means to “plan” a crime. The rationale for the law is the polar opposite (of who the law will affect). Why did we even bother debating the bill in the Diet? This law should never have been passed.

Yamamoto Taro, a popular populist politician said the new law will affect ordinary people:

Yamamoto Taro: “Does the new law treat everyone who lives in this country as potential criminals?” #conspiracy bill #yamamoto taro

Ordinary citizens themselves turned out to protest against the new law.

I have uploaded a photo of protesters demonstrating in front of the National Diet as the anti-conspiracy law was ratified in the evening of June 15th. […]

by Nevin Thompson at June 17, 2017 07:48 AM

Hong Kong Activists Urge Restaurants to Remove Shark Fin Soup From Menus

Shark Fin Protest outside one of Maxim's restaurant. Photo taken by PH Yang. Non-commercial use with permission.

Dozens of activists protested on 10 June outside the flagship restaurant of Maxim's Group in Hong Kong against the selling of shark fin soap in its restaurants’ menus.

The protesters, a number of whom were children, wore finless shark costumes splattered with red paint and chanted, “When the buying stops, the killing can too”. Photos of their demonstration were shared on Twitter.

Hong Kong is the world’s center in shark fin trade, accounting for about half of the global shark fin trade every year. The demand for shark fin soup at Chinese banquets is behind the finning of 73 million of sharks every year. Currently around a quarter of the world's shark and ray species are threatened with extinction.

While a survey in 2015 indicated that 94 percent of the respondents did not want to consume the threatened species, local restaurants have refused to take the luxurious dish off their menus. In most cases, consumers are compelled to choose the restaurants’ set menus for their wedding or festival banquets, which usually include shark fin soup. As indicated in the Hong Kong Shark Foundation’s survey, which covered 375 Chinese restaurants in the city, 98 percent had shark fin soup on their 2016 Lunar New Year menus.

Maxim is one of the largest restaurant groups in Hong Kong and operates more than 980 restaurant outlets in Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The majority of its high-end Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong are serving shark fin soup.

A petition demanding the restaurant group to stop selling shark fin soup explained the rationale behind the protest:

The company has been resisting calls to drop shark fin soup from their set menus, ignoring the will of many good Hong Kong people who are against this cruel and unsustainable tradition.
Maxim's claim they only serve shark fin soup made from blue sharks, but according to recent scientific evidence, blue shark populations around the world are being wiped out by greedy overfishing.
Is Maxim's going to wait until blue sharks go extinct before it admits that there is a problem?
Maxim's has a firm responsibility to end this practice to save sharks and the marine environment by immediately removing shark fin from all its menus, especially its set menus. Just as Hong Kong consumers have a responsibility to stop eating shark fin, restaurant groups like Maxim's also have an equal responsibility to stop selling it.

WildAid Hong Kong, the animal right organization behind the anti-shark fin protests, also alleged that it is easy to order endangered shark species, like whale shark, basking shark and silky shark — which are listed on Appendix II of the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) — in Hong Kong restaurants “upon request”.

Hong Kong is a signatory to the CITES and according to the treaty, endangered species listed on Appendix II “must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival”.

The group pointed out in their Facebook page:

Despite claims by Maxim's management that it serves only blue sharks in its restaurants, the undercover footage demonstrates that the chain privately offers other more ‘exotic’ species. These are usually made available by restaurant staff acting autonomously of management to please their more demanding clientèle. Laxity and poor transparency is endemic across Hong Kong's Chinese restaurant industry, and supply chain secrecy is a problem in Hong Kong's notoriously crime-riddled shark fin trade.

by Oiwan Lam at June 17, 2017 02:49 AM

June 16, 2017

Global Voices
Announcing the 2017 Global Voices Summit: Join us in Colombo, Sri Lanka on December 2-3!

Floating market, Colombo, Sri Lanka. PHOTO: Amila Tennakoon (CC BY 2.0)

We're excited to announce that the 2017 edition of the Global Voices Summit will take place on December 2-3 in Colombo, Sri Lanka!

Our seventh Summit takes us for the second time to South Asia, where we'll convene two days of public conversations and workshops with bloggers, activists, technologists, journalists, policymakers, development experts and others from around the world and address the evolving state of citizen media, open Internet advocacy, open Internet culture, and grassroots activism from a Global South perspective. Like all GV events, the 2017 Summit, will be a great opportunity for learning and sharing with a diverse and dynamic global community.

Supported by Groundviews, with sponsorship from the Mozilla Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and others, our 2017 meeting will analyze the challenges to the open internet, looking at questions of open architecture and conditions for safe and free expression in an environment of increasing threats to both. We will explore how key ideas in the architecture of the internet and of discourse can rewire our societies for resilience, reflection and deep research.

Stay tuned for the launch of the Summit website and details on venues, registration, programming and more—and do save the date!

by Georgia Popplewell at June 16, 2017 08:21 PM

Creative Commons
Toward a Better Internet: Building Prosocial Behavior into the Commons

What does it mean to exhibit prosocial behavior? For our purposes, we mean behavior that leads to healthy collaboration and meaningful interactions online. Specifically, we are interested in prosocial behavior around online content sharing. How can we help people make the human connections that make sharing meaningful?

In this post, we distill learnings from the “How to encourage prosocial behavior” session at the recent CC Global Summit in Toronto, and outline the next steps for CC in this space. Specifically, Creative Commons will launch an investigative series into the values and behaviors that make online collaboration thrive, in order to embed them more deeply into the experience of sharing with CC.

Read on for all of the glorious details, or skip to the end for next steps.

Creative Commons: Remix by Creative Commons / CC BY-SA

When we launched our new strategy in 2016, we focused our work with user-generated content platforms on increasing discovery and reporting of CC-licensed works. Since the majority of the 1.2 billion CC-licensed works on the web are hosted by third parties, re-establishing relationships with them (e.g. Flickr, Wikipedia) was important, as was establishing relationships with newer platforms like Medium.

In year 2 of our strategy, we are broadening our focus to look more holistically at sharing and collaboration online. We are investigating the values and behaviors associated with successful collaboration, in the hopes that we might apply them to content platforms where CC licensing is taking place.

cc-summitCreative Commons Global Summit 2017 in Toronto by Sebastiaan ter Burg / CC BY

As a first step, we asked the question — How can we help people make the human connections that make sharing meaningful? — at this year’s CC Global Summit in Toronto. (This question is also central to our 2016-2020 Organizational Strategy, where we refocused our work to build a vibrant, usable commons, powered by collaboration and gratitude.) In a session entitled, “How to encourage prosocial behavior,” our peers at Medium, Wikimedia, Thingiverse, Música Libre Uruguay, and Unsplash shared the design factors they use to incentivize prosocial behavior around CC content, particularly behavior that helps people give credit for works they use and make connections with others. Programming diversity expert Ashe Dryden shared additional insights into how current platforms often approach design from a position of privilege, unwittingly excluding marginalized groups and potential new members.

We structured the discussion into three parts:

Part 1 – The Dark Side, or defining the problem. We asked our peers to detail examples of negative behaviors around content sharing and reuse.

Part 2 – What Works, or identifying solutions. We asked for technical and social design nudges that platforms have implemented that work to increase sharing and remix. We also discussed community-driven norms and behavior “in the wild.”

Part 3 – What can we do? We wrapped by discussing what we might do together to design and cultivate online environments conducive to healthy and vibrant collaboration.

Part 1 – The Dark Side

In part 1, we heard the standard issues one might expect around CC licensing, and also negative behaviors that occur with online content sharing more generally, regardless of the © status of such content. Specific to CC were issues such as: users claiming CC0 public domain works as their own and monetizing them; misunderstanding what it means to share under a CC license vs. just posting it online; and lack of clarity on when or how a CC license applies. More generally, negative behaviors around online content sharing included harassment based on gender, ethnicity, and other identities, which discourage potential new members from joining a community.

The behavioral tendencies and tensions we surfaced that were most relevant to the question — How can we help people make the human connections that make sharing meaningful? — were:

  1. Users prefer real people (user identities with a history of credible content contributions) to automated accounts. CC users are smart and can quickly recognize the difference between a real user and a bot.
tony-buser-slide“How to encourage prosocial behavior” session slide by Makerbot’s Tony Buser
  1. Harassment marginalized groups face is more subtle than one might expect, and often serves to reinforce norms previously set in a space that does not account for diversity of gender, ethnicity, or geography. Overreliance on data or AI may also serve to reinforce these norms (that unintentionally discriminate) because data on which design is based is faulty or not representative of marginalized groups. Ultimately, this prevents the community from obtaining new members, particularly those from more diverse backgrounds, and from evolving into a truly open, inclusive environment inviting to “creators across sectors, disciplines, and geographies, to work together to share open content and create new works.”
    • Example: 80-85% of current Wikipedia editors are males from North America and Western Europe. 38% of Wikimedia users reported some level of harassment, including stalking, doxing, attacking off the wiki on other platforms, such as Facebook, based on gender, ethnicity, and other identities.
  2. On platforms, users enter into legal contracts and social contracts that are separate and often in direct tension with one another. This plays out specifically in the world of copyright, where people’s desires and expectations about how content will be used are often different from the rules dictated by copyright law (which are therefore, embedded with CC licenses).
hobbit-contractHobbit Contract by Henry Burrows / CC BY-SA
  • Example: A user may post discriminatory, harassing, or violent speech on a platform under the guise of parody. As a copyright matter, parody is clearly a fair use. As an ethical matter, whether the parody constitutes harassment may not be so clear, since a parody, as a satirical imitation, essentially mocks or belittles some aspect of the original work, and possibly the author. As a result, parody can often generate confrontation and controversy in a community. With the legal and social contracts in tension, the platform must decide which to uphold for its users, with either decision potentially alienating one segment of its community. This example also raises the issue that many users expect a platform to be the enforcer of ethical norms, a position not all platforms hold.
  1. When different values are in tension with each other, it is hard to design community rules that can be applied both consistently and fairly. Some rules may even serve to disproportionately affect one group of people over others.
    • Example: Medium has an “all-party consent” rule with respect to posting screenshots of personal 1:1 exchanges, such as text messages. This policy is designed to protect everyone’s expectation of privacy related to personal communications. It is also designed to apply to all users equally, with some exceptions for situations involving public figures or newsworthy events. In some cases, however, this policy can mean that a person with less power in an exchange is prevented from fully telling their story, since it is often when a powerful or privileged person behaves badly in private that the other person involved wants to publicly expose that behavior. As a result, this policy may allow some users to keep evidence of their private bad acts out of public exposure or scrutiny, while preventing users from a marginalized group (who may benefit from exposing the interaction or fostering public discussion of it) from being able to show the details of an exchange they think is important to show.

Part 2 – What Works, or identifying solutions.

In part 2, we learned about the different platform approaches to both incentivizing contributions of content to the commons and to incentivizing prosocial behavior around the content that made it personal and meaningful to users.

Platform approaches included:

  • a prosocial frame to license selection, asking creators the kinds of uses they envision for their works, versus what license they might want to adopt
  • a curated public space for licensed works, such as a radio channel, where the platform facilitates distribution to other users and potential fans
Screenshot of Radio Común by Música Libre Uruguay / CC BY-SA
  • collaborative education projects facilitated by the platform, such as an FAQ about music licensing and distribution built with the community
  • foregrounding the reuse and remix aspect of CC content in a variety of ways, such as: featuring remixes on the platform’s home page, displaying an attribution ancestry tree on the work’s page, sending alerts when a creator’s content is reused, and reminding users of the license on a work upon download
  • remix challenges and related competitions, run by the platform to foster reuse

We also learned about approaches to disincentivize the negative behaviors and tendencies we discussed in part 1. These included:

  • crowdsourced tracking of misuses and misbehaviors
  • redirecting license violations to the community to handle (e.g. community forums), utilizing community pressure to behave well
  • a safe space for new users to practice contributing before moving into the actual project, especially for projects with contribution rules and norms that are difficult for new members to get right the first time, e.g. Teahouse space for Wikipedia
teahouse-screenshotScreenshot of Teahouse page by Wikimedia Foundation / CC BY-SA
  • follow-on events or projects to retain new members after initial engagement, such as face-to-face edit-a-thons
  • allowing for flexibility with regards to many community rules, noting that some rules may disproportionately affect marginalized groups
  • emphasizing a personal profile or identity for each user, so that other users recognize that these contributions were made by a real human being and not an anonymous internet entity
  • adding friction into certain workflows, such as at the moment of publication of a post or comment, to discourage negative behaviors and remind the user that there is a real human being at the other end of the exchange
  • making community rules more visible at the appropriate steps in the sharing process, so users are more likely to respond and adhere to them

Part 3 – What can we do?

In part 3, we discussed the importance of designing for good actors. Despite the examples of negative behaviors, the platforms in the room noted that the majority of CC uses have a positive outcome , and that people in content communities are passionate about Creative Commons as a symbol of certain values, and about sharing and remixing each others works. We shared positive examples that were completely community-driven, such as unexpected reuses of a particular 3D design that led to the creation of a prosthetic hand, and a sub-community of teachers that split off to bring 3D design to students in the classroom.

More importantly, we discussed what we could do next, together. Here is the short list of ideas that emerged in the last half hour of our discussion:

  • Prosocial behavior toolkit for platforms, a “prosocial” version of the CC platform integration toolkit we created in year 1 of our new strategy
  • Reinvesting in the tools that make it easier to comply with CC license conditions, e.g. one-click attribution in browsers, WordPress, and other platforms
  • API partnerships that bring CC media into platforms more easily, e.g. Flickr + Medium or WordPress
  • Supporting the good actors and amplifying their voices
  • Explore areas like reputational algorithms, possibly community-driven, to discourage bad behaviors
  • Explore the role of bots in trolling and antisocial behavior, and how that affects human behavior on a platform
  • And more!

What’s next

Asking the simple question — How can we help people make the human connections that make sharing meaningful? — elicited exciting discussion and surfacing of issues we had not considered before this summit session. Informed by the overwhelming response and interest from our platform partners and community, we will forge ahead with the next phase of our platform work, focusing on collaboration, in addition to discovery.

As a next step, Creative Commons is launching an investigative series into what really makes online collaboration work. What does it take to build a vibrant sharing community, powered by collaboration and gratitude? What are the design factors (both social and technical) that help people make connections and build relationships? How do we then take these factors and infuse them into communities within the digital commons?

The series will include:

  1. A series of face-to-face conversations on how to build prosocial online communities with CC platforms, creators, and researchers. To kick off the series, we are hosting a private event in San Francisco this June; stay tuned for public follow-on events in the series in a city near you!
  2. Research and storytelling of collaboration as it occurs over time through interviews and thought pieces.
  3. A prosocial platform toolkit that distills all of the applicable design factors into one comprehensive guide.
  4. Reporting of the most impactful stories in the next State of the Commons.

If any of this of interest to you, join the conversation on Slack.

If you would like to be invited to a future event, sign up for our events list.

The post Toward a Better Internet: Building Prosocial Behavior into the Commons appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jane Park at June 16, 2017 06:36 PM

Doc Searls
Google enters its chrysalis

crysalisIn The Adpocalypse: What it MeansVlogbrother Hank Green issues a humorous lament on the impending demise of online advertising. Please devote the next 3:54 of your life to watching that video, so you catch all his points and I don’t need to repeat them here.

Got them? Good.

All of Hank’s points are well-argued and make complete sense. They are also valid mostly inside the bowels of the Google beast where his video work has thrived for the duration, as well as inside the broadcast model that Google sort-of emulates. (That’s the one where “content creators” and “brands” live in some kind of partly-real and partly-imagined symbiosis.)

While I like and respect what the brothers are trying to do commercially inside Google’s belly, I also expect them, and countless other “content creators” will get partly or completely expelled after Google finishes digesting that market, and obeys its appetite for lucrative new markets that obsolesce its current one.

We can see that appetite at work now that Google Contributor screams agreement with ad blockers (which Google is also joining) and their half-billion human operators that advertising has negative value. This is at odds with the business model that has long sustained both YouTube and “content creators” who make money there.

So it now appears that being a B2B creature that sells eyeballs to advertisers is Google’s larval stage, and that Google intends to emerge from its chrysalis as a B2C creature that sells content directly to human customers. (And stays hedged with search advertising, which is really more about query-based notifications than advertising, and doesn’t require unwelcome surveillance that will get whacked by the GDPR anyway a year from now.) 

Google will do this two ways: 1) through Contributor (an “ad removal pass” you buy) and 2) through subscriptions to YouTube TV (a $35/month cable TV replacement) and/or YouTube Red ($9.99/month for “uninterrupted music, ad-free videos, and more”).

Contributor is a way for Google to raise its share of the adtech duopoly it comprises with Facebook. The two paid video offerings are ways for Google to maximize its wedge of a subscription pie also sliced up by Apple, Amazon, Netflix, HBO, ShowTime, all the ISPs and every publication you can name—and to do that before we all hit Peak Subscription. (Which I’m sure most of us can see coming. I haven’t written about it yet, but I have touched hard on it here and here.)

I hope the Vlogbrothers make money from YouTube Red once they’re behind that paywall. Or that they can sell their inventory outside all the silos, like some other creators do. Maybe they’ll luck out if EmanciPay or some other new and open customer-based way of paying for creative goods works out. Whether or not that happens, one or more of the new blockchain/distributed ledger/token systems will provide countless new ways that stuff will get offered and paid for in the world’s markets. Brave Payments is already pioneering in that space. (Get the Brave browser and give it a try.)

It helps to recognize that the larger context (in fact the largest one) is the Internet, not the Web (which sits on top of the Net), and not apps (which are all basically on loan from their makers and the distribution systems of Apple and Google). The Internet cannot be contained in, or reduced to, the feudal castles of Facebook and Google, which mostly live on the Web. Those are all provisional and temporary. Money made by and within them is an evanescent grace.

All the Net does is connect end points and pass data between them through any available path. This locates us on a second world alongside the physical one, where the distance between everything it connects rounds to zero. This is new to human experience and at least as transformative as language, writing, printing and electricity—and no less essential than any of those, meaning it isn’t going to go away, no matter how well the ISPs, governments and corporate giants succeed in gobbling up and spinctering business and populations inside their digestive tracts.

The Net is any-to-any, by any means, by design of its base protocols. This opens countless possibilities we have barely begun to explore, much less build out. It is also an experience for humanity that is not going to get un-experienced if some other base protocols replace the ones we have now.

I am convinced that we will find new ways in our connected environment to pay for goods and services, and to signal each other much more securely, efficiently and effectively than we do now. I am also convinced we will do all that in a two-party way rather than in the three-party ways that require platforms and bureaucracies. If this sounds like anarchy, well, maybe: yeah. I dunno. We already have something like that in many disrupted industries. (Some wise stuff got written about this by David Graeber in The Utopia of Rules.)

Not a day goes by that my mind isn’t blown by the new things happening that have not yet cohered into an ecosystem but still look like they can create and sustain many forms of economic and social life, new and old. I haven’t seen anything like this in tech since the late ’90s. And if that sounds like another bubble starting to form, yes it is. You see it clearly in the ICO market right now. (Look at what’s lined up so far. Wholly shit.)

But this one is bigger. It’s also going to bring down everybody whose business is guesswork filled with fraud and malware.

If you’re betting on which giants survive, hold Amazon and Apple. Short those other two.

by Doc Searls at June 16, 2017 05:58 PM

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
IIPC 2017 – Day Three

On day three of IIPC 2017 (day 1, day 2), we heard more about what I see as the two main themes of the conference: archives users and metadata for provenance.

On the user front, I’ll point out Sumitra Duncan’s talk on NYARC Discovery; like WALK, presented yesterday, this project aggregates search across multiple archives, improving access for users. Peter Webster of Webster Research & Consulting and Chris Fryer from the Parliamentary Archives spoke about their study of the archive’s users: the questions of what users want and need, and how they actually use the archive, are fundamental. How we think archives should or could be used may not be as pertinent as we imagine….

On the metadata front, Emily Maemura and Nicholas Worby from the University of Toronto spoke about the ways in which documentation and curatorial process affect users’ experience of and access to archives – the staffing history of a collecting organization, for example, could be an important part of understanding why a web archive contains what it does. Jackie Dooley (OCLC Research), Alexis Antracoli (Princeton University), and Karen Stoll Farrell (Frick Art Reference Library) presented their work on developing web archiving metadata best practices to meet user needs – and it becomes clear that my two main themes could really be seen as one. OCLC Research will issue their reports in July.

I’ll also point out Nicholas Taylor’s excellent talk on the legal use cases for archives, and, of course, LIL’s Anastasia Aizman and Matt Phillips, who gave a super talk on their ongoing work on comparing web archives. Thanks again, and hope to see you all next year!

by Ben Steinberg at June 16, 2017 04:59 PM

Creative Commons
Network Strategy: What’s next

writing-summit

For the first time, the CC movement has completed a comprehensive and collaborative effort to renew and grow its network, finalized at the recent Global Summit in Toronto. It’s important to acknowledge the hard work of all the people involved from the beginning, which included research (the Faces of the Commons is a 300 page multi region report with recommendations and insights), an open consultation with the broad CC community including Affiliates, partners, funders, and the CC Board, and 22 online and in-person meetings and more than the eighty percent of the active members of the network involved. This bottom-up process included discussions, proposals and specific edits and changes, reflecting the dynamic global community we have built together around Creative Commons during all this years. We all should be proud of all this process.

This new Strategy has a lot of benefits:

  1. Global collaboration. Connected with the work of the Platforms, communities will work together to set priorities, goals, objectives and strategies.
  2. Resilience. The previous model for Affiliate involvement was focused on institutional relationships. Today, we are focusing on individuals and supporting organizations instead. We are providing a path to create a network of trust and real collaboration for the future.
  3. Growth and inclusion. The new strategy is meant to include new and diverse global voices in the conversation and to provide more capacity and agency for teams working locally. We are creating a strategy focused on supporting and activating people.
  4. Shared decision-making, goal-setting, structure for collaboration. The new strategy creates new governance bodies to provide space for the community to identify priorities for the global work. This is a first for CC: the network takes care of the network.
  5. Resource allocation. The strategy creates two funds specifically focused on the network to support community activities, actual project work and identified movement priorities.

It has been a long road, but now the strategy work is complete. For the transition period, we are planning to focus on Chapters, Platforms and Governance.

writing-summit

Chapters (formerly Country teams). The local work is key for the new Network Strategy. To coordinate this efforts we will trust in Chapters as units for the governance and to coordinate local work. After concerns from several affiliate teams, we’ve decided to use Chapters instead of a reference of a “country” or “nation”. However, it will be those borders that we use to organize each team (with some exceptions, for example in Mainland China and Taiwan). These Chapters will be made up of people, with individuals whose work is focused on the place where they live, have accepted the Creative Commons Charter and have been vouched by two actual members. The membership recruiting process is starting in the coming weeks. More details of this process will be published very soon.

We expect Chapters to have their first team meeting no later than January 2018, primarily to appoint a coordinator (which will be the main point of contact for the movement), elect a representative to send to the Global Network Council, and draft a plan of work for the rest of the year.

Platforms. Platforms are areas of work, a collaborative space for individuals and institutions to organize and coordinate themselves across the broad network. Platforms will be the way we will create and communicate spaces of strategic collaboration to have worldwide impact. They will be the way our network will work collaboratively.

The conversation on platforms started at the Global Summit. So far, community members have organized around:

  • Copyright Reform Platform
  • Open Education Platform
  • Open GLAM Platform
  • Community development Platform

You can learn more about it and how to get involved and participate on our wiki and directly on Slack.

There may be more platforms in the future, but during this transition period -before the new Governance structure is set up by the next Global Summit on 2018- the work of the platforms will be oriented to fill a specific need and requirement from the network on each area, being particular activities, documentation or products.

These platforms will set specific priorities and plan of work in the coming months, to develop their plan of work until next Global Summit on 2018.

Governance. The main governance body for the new Strategy is the Global Network Council, and it’s important to us to focus on establishing the new Chapters as soon as we can, and to make that happen we will be opening the membership process in the coming weeks for anyone to join. For the transition period, during the coming days there will be an open call to constitute an Advisory Committee, to advise on this transition and provide support to the Chapters, with global and diverse representation.

 

The post Network Strategy: What’s next appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Claudio Ruiz at June 16, 2017 03:08 PM

Global Voices
Deadly Landslides in Bangladesh Disrupt Road Networks and Create Food and Fuel Crisis

Screenshot from YouTube video uploaded by user News of the day.

Heavy monsoon rains since the night of Sunday, June 11 caused landslides in five districts of Bangladesh, killing at least 150 people, burying many in their homes while they were asleep. Many still are trapped under the mud, and rescuers are struggling to continue their work as the weather is not in their favor.

Thousands of homes have been also destroyed or damaged in the hill districts of Chittagong, Rangamati, and Bandarban, and more than 10,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters.

In the second day of the landslides in the Rangamati, Chittagong and Bandarban hill areas, the death toll rose to 129 including four rescuers from the army. Rescue work is still going on.

Officials fear that the death toll could rise as rescuers find it difficult to reach remote areas. Without proper rescue gear, the villagers are using shovels to try to dig bodies out of the mud.

It is not the first time that landslides have caused casualties in Bangladesh. Every year, Bangladesh is hit by storms, floods, and landslides during monsoon season. But this time around has had particularly severe consequences. Some of the districts, especially Rangamai, faces acute food, fuel, power and drinking water crises following the landslides. The main road connecting Rangamati to Chittagong and the rest of the country was severed by the landslides and could not be restored till Thursday. The other main road leading to Khagrachari, another hill district, has also has been damaged.

Adibasi Nayan writes on Facebook:

ভূমিধ্বসে এতগুলো যে প্রাণ হারালো এটুকুতে শেষ নয়, আরো অনেকের প্রাণ যাবে'। [..] বুঝতে পারছেন কি? প্রেট্রোল পাম্পে তেল, সংকট, বাজারে মরিচের দাম ৬০০ টাকা কেজি চালের দাম বেড়ে দিগুন, সবজির বাজার ধরা যাচ্ছে না আগুনের মত তাপ’ যে আলুর দাম কেজি ১৫ টাকা সে আলুর দাম দাম বেড়ে ৫০ টাকা কেজি হয়েছে” আরো বাড়বে বলে আশঙ্কা তারপর ও খুলাচ্ছে না মজুদ শেষ, সারা দেশের সাথে যোগাযোগ বিচ্ছিন্ন নৈসর্গিক স্বর্গ রাঙ্গামাটি।

The landslide took scores of lives. But it does not end there. More lives will be lost. […] Do you get it? There is no more fuel available in petrol pumps, Chili costs now 600 taka (six times the normal price), the price of staple rice has doubled. The vegetable prices are out of control, potatoes are 50 taka per kg (from the usual 15 taka). The prices will go up as available stocks are decreasing. Rangamati, the place known for its natural beauty, is detached from the rest of the country.

A damaged road in Rangamati. Image via Dipu Sring Lapcha. Used with permission.

Dipu Sring Lapcha posted some images on Facebook that show the extent of the damage in Rangamati, and he reported that vehicles are not running because of the shortage of fuel.

According to the district officials, the Chittagong-Rangamati road link will take minimum two weeks to repair. Heavy downpour in this region is preventing rescuers from removing the debris and piles of landmass lying around.

Muktasree Sathi Chakma described on Facebook on Thursday, June 15 the panic that indigenous people living in Rangamati were experiencing:

It started raining again… last four days’ life. every night we go to bed after packing our bags, so that if landslides take place or trees start falling down we can run away with the things we need. It started raining again.

And on Friday, June 16 she warned:

It started raining again! To the indigenous peoples in Rangmati, particularly who are in risky houses. Please move out from your home and go to shelter center.

‘We can't do anything except mourn the dead’

On social media, some have criticized that the world is ignoring this tragedy in Bangladesh. Md Abdullah Al Mamun wrote on Facebook:

ম্যানচেস্টারের কয়েকটা মানুষের জন্য কেদে কেটে বুক ভাসায় ফেলার ভান করি।অথচ প্রায় ১৪০ টা মানুষ যারা পাহাড় ধ্বসে মিশে গেছে মাটির সাথে, যাদের মধ্যে ৪ জন সামরিক সেনাও ছিলেন তাদের নিয়ে কোন কোন হ্যাশট্যাগ হয়না, কোন ফ্রেম তৈরী হয় না, কোন সেফ মার্কিং হয়না।

We have seen people mourning for the killings in Manchester. But more than 140, including four soldiers, have already perished in landslides in our own country. We don't see any use of a hashtag or frames or safety checks on Facebook.

Many South Asian countries are frequently hit by flooding and landslides during the monsoon season. More than 200 people were killed in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago when the monsoon triggered landslides and the worst flood in a decade.

According to news reports, Bangladesh's meteorological department warned about excessive rain and possible landslides this time around. Authorities earlier marked around 600 homes as at risk, but they were not shifted to safer spaces.

Each year more and more hills are being demolished for the area to be sold as land plots for settlements. The writer behind Sobuje Bacho (Live in Green) blog alleged:

কিছু অর্থ-লোলুপ প্রভাবশালী মানুষ এবং সরকারের পাহাড় ও ভবন সংক্রান্ত কয়েকজন রুই কাতলা তাদের পাহাড়ের উপর অস্থায়ী ঘর তৈরী করে থাকতে দেয় এবং অর্থ উপার্জন করে। যার কারনে তাদের উচ্ছেদ অভিযান কখনও সফল হয় নি। পাহাড় কেটে বন ধংস করে তারা ঘরবাড়ী বানায় ফলে অতিরিক্ত বৃষ্টি হলে মাটি ভেজা ও ভারী হয়ে পড়ে : যার ফলাফল ভূমিধ্বস।

Some greedy and influential people let people settle in the hills by bribing forest officials. The government cannot stop these people from settling in landslide prone areas. They build their houses by cutting hills and loosening the mud. In the event of excessive rain, this loose soil becomes heavy and they slip. The result is a landslide.

Journalist Probhash Amin wrote:

পাহাড় কেটে, গাছ কেটে, বসতি গড়ে পাহাড়গুলোকে আমরা মৃত্যু উপত্যকায় পরিণত করেছি। এখন প্রকৃতি প্রতিশোধ নিচ্ছে। আমরা অসহায়, নিহতদের স্মৃতির প্রতি গভীর শ্রদ্ধা জানানো ছাড়া আমাদের আর কিছুই করার নেই।

We have demolished the hills, cut the forests to settle people in the hill districts. Now they have become death valleys and nature is taking revenge. We are helpless, we can't do anything except mourn the dead.

 

by Palash Ranjan Sanyal at June 16, 2017 02:56 PM

Witch Doctors’ Latest Victims Are Bald Men in Mozambique, Police Say

Superstitions hold that bald heads contain gold.

Police in Zambézia warn the population that bald men in Mozambique could be the target of attacks. Photo: Anders Bolin/Flickr, CC-BY-NC 2.0

A new phenomenon of kidnapping bald people for organ trafficking, reportedly for superstitious reasons, is worrying the police in Mozambique’s Zambézia province, whose government launched a series of operations to curb the practice.

At the beginning of June, three men were killed in the district of Milange, a few kilometres from the Malawian border. One of the victims was found decapitated and with parts of his organs removed. Two men were arrested and subsequently admitted that the organs were to be used by witch doctors in Tanzania and Malawi.

The motive behind the killings is local superstitions which hold that the head of a bald man contains gold or can bring riches, a Zambézia’s police spokesperson told the BBC. This is the first time bald men have been the subject of recorded attacks in Mozambique.

But there have been other instances in the country where killings motivated by dark magic have been reported, particularly affecting albino people. The situation became so dire that the United Nations was compelled to conduct a mission in 2016 to investigate the practice in the Southeast African nation.

The persecution of people with albinism has been reported in other countries in Southern Africa, in particular neighbouring Tanzania, where the government has been developing campaigns to combat superstition and prejudice and arresting suspects.

In Mozambique, some people took to social media to discuss this latest attacks against bald men in the country.

Ukombe Weya, a resident of the city of Maputo, gave a warning to those intending to travel there.

Atenção Homens calvos viajando para Moçambique

Homens calvos em Moçambique estão sendo alvo de ataques rituais, alertou a polícia Moçambicana, após o recente assassinato de três homens calvos para as partes dos seus corpos. Dois suspeitos foram presos no distrito central de Milange, onde ocorreram os assassinatos.

Warning for bald men travelling to Mozambique

Bald men in Mozambique are being targeted by ritual attacks, the Mozambican police warned, after the recent killing of three bald men for body parts. Two suspects were arrested in the central district of Milange, where the murders happened.

Hussene Algy Adamo, a student living in the city of Inhambane, in southern Mozambique, said that the local police were already dealing with the case:

PRM acredita no envolvimento de curandeiros na morte de homens calvos vulgo carecas.

A perseguição e assassinato de indivíduos calvos para a extracção e venda dos seus órgãos, no distrito de Morrumbala, província da Zambézia, para presumíveis rituais supersticiosos, tem motivações culturais e é encomendada pelos médicos tradicionais, considera a Polícia da República de Moçambique (PRM), que indica, também, existir uma crença segundo a qual as vítimas têm, na cabeça, algum poder que gera fortuna. Nos últimos dias, pelos três homens com problemas de calvície foram mortos naquela parcela do país.

PRM believes witch doctors are involved in the death of bald men.

The tracking and murder of bald individuals for the theft and sale of their organs, in Morrumbala district, Zambézia province, for presumed superstitious rituals, has cultural motivations and is ordered by traditional healers, the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) believes, which also indicates the existence of a belief that the victims have, in the head, some power which generates wealth. In recent days, three men with problems with baldness were killed in that part of the country.

Angela Ferreira Samantha shared on Facebook a report by the blogger Armen Snaippa, who suggested that the issue is part of the larger social challenges affecting Mozambique:

EU QUERIA UM MOÇAMBIQUE COM VERGONHA NA CARA

Um país onde as pessoas tivessem vergonha de sair a rua vestidas como se fossem a gravação de um filme porno, onde os professores tivessem vergonha de pedir sexo em troca de notas e as alunas de oferecer sexo em troca de notas, emprego e outros benefícios, uma nação onde as pessoas procurassem empregos honestos e não tivessem que ferir ou mesmo tirar a vida dos outros para ganhar o seu pão, um país onde não se caçassem nem albinos e nem calvos ou carecas para práticas obscuras ou de “magia negra” visando o enriquecimento fácil.

I WOULD LIKE A MOZAMBIQUE WITH A SENSE OF SHAME

A country where people were ashamed to go outside dressed as if it was a porn movie shoot, where the teachers were ashamed to ask for sex in exchange for grades and the students were ashamed to offer sex for grades, jobs, and other benefits, a nation where the people looked for honest jobs and did not have to hurt or even take the lives of others to earn their bread, a country where neither albinos nor bald people were hunted for dark practices or “black magic” aimed at easy enrichment.

Despite the seriousness of the events, some did not miss the chance for a bit of macabre humor. Zenaida Machado, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Angola and Mozambique, and an avid Twitter user, took to the platform to point out that the Morrumbala district chief Pedro Sapange and Zambezia police spokesman Inácio Dina were both bald.

by Liam Anderson at June 16, 2017 01:14 PM

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
IIPC 2017 – Day Two

Most of us attended the technical track on day two of IIPC 2017. (See also Matt’s post about the first day.) Andrew Jackson of the British Library expanded on his talk the previous day about workflows for ingesting and processing web archives. Nick Ruest and Ian MIlligan described WALK, or Web Archiving for Longitudinal Knowledge, a system for aggregating Canadian web archives, generating derivative products, and making them accessible via search and visualizations. Gregory Wiedeman from University at Albany, SUNY, described his process for automating the creation of web archive records in ArchivesSpace and adding descriptive metadata using Archive-It APIs according to DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard).

After the break, the Internet Archive’s Jefferson Bailey roared through a presentation of IA’s new tools, including systems for analysis, search, capture (Brozzler!), and availability. Mat Kelly from Old Dominion University described three tools for enabling non-techical users to create, index, and view web archives: WARCreate, WAIL, and Mink. Lozana Rossenova and Ilya Kreymer of Rhizome demonstrated the use of containerized browsers for playback of web content that is no longer usable in modern browsers (think Java applets), as well as some upcoming features in Webrecorder for patching content into incomplete captures.

Following lunch, Fernando Melo and João Nobre from Arquivo.pt described their new APIs for search and temporal analysis of Portuguese web archives. Nicholas Taylor of Stanford University Libraries talked about the ongoing rearchitecture of LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe), expanding its role from a focus on the archiving of electronic journals to a tool for preserving web archives and other digital objects more generally. (In the Q&A, LOCKSS founder David Rosenthal mentioned the article “Familiarity breeds contempt: the honeymoon effect and the role of legacy code in zero-day vulnerabilities”.) Jefferson Bailey returned, along with Naomi Dushay, also from the Internet Archive, to talk about WASAPI (the Web Archiving Systems API) for transfer of data between archives.

After another break, LIL’s own Jack Cushman took the stage with Ilya Kreymer for a fantastic presentation of warc.games, a tool for exploring security issues in web archives: serving a captured web page is very much akin to hosting attacker-supplied content, and warc.games provides a series of challenges for trying out different kinds of attacks against a simplified local web archive. Mat Kelly then returned with David Dias of Protocol Labs to discuss InterPlanetary Wayback, which stores web archive files in IPFS, the InterPlanetary File System. Finally, Andrew Jackson wrapped up the session by leading a discussion of planning for an IIPC hackathon or other mechanism for gathering to code.

Thanks, all, for another excellent day!

by Ben Steinberg at June 16, 2017 11:22 AM

Global Voices
Japanese Traditional Sweets Day Means Twitter Is Full of Mouth-Watering Photos of ‘Wagashi’
水仙まんじゅう

Making suisen manjuu (水仙まんじゅう) at Iseya, a traditional Japanese confectionery shop in Obama, Fukui Prefecture. Photo by Nevin Thompson.

June 16 is Japanese Traditional Sweets Day and Twitter users are uploading pictures of their favorite confections using the hashtag “” (wagashi no hi).

Japanese traditional sweets, known as wagashihave long been associated with good fortune and gift giving, and Traditional Sweets Day has been observed for more than a thousand years. Today, wagashi are still an important part of the Japanese tea ceremony, and the hundreds of varieties of confections are also a popular treat.

For example, dorayaki, a sort of pancake filled with sweet red bean paste, is still very much a popular snack.

To kick the day off, a Japanese yuru-kyara or mascot holding a dango, a popular traditional sweet, explained the origins of the day:

Hi, I'm Taishikun, Osaka's official wagashi ambassador. On June 16 it's wagashi no hi! Long ago, in the olden days, on the 16th we would eat 16 pieces of wagashi to ensure happiness. The day was originally call “kajou” (嘉祥, 嘉定). And so the 16th is wagashi no hi.

Yet another mascot, Gunma-chan, who represents the Japanese prefecture of Gunma, showed off some elaborate wagashi that are representative of the delicate details common in some varieties of Japanese sweets:

[…] Since today is wagashi no hi, here are some wagashi that look just like me, Gunma-chan. These were made in the city of Kiryu, in the mountains of Gunma.

Many people are uploading photos of their own favorite traditional treats:

It seems like today is wagashi no hi! Here's a photo of some momoyama (a confection made with rice flour) and nerikiri (a sweet made from white azuki bean paste, sugar and yamaimo, a kind of starchy mountain yam) that I ate a while ago.

[…] Here are some photos of my favorite Japanese traditional sweets. (❁´ω`❁)

Wagashi come in all shapes and sizes, some whimsical and others more like works of art.

These are super tasty #awesome_photos #photo #wagashinohi #follow_me

Just as wagashi are connected to traditional Japanese culture, so is the old imperial capital of Kyoto, which has its own traditions associated with the tea ceremony and sweet confections. One Japanese cafe has capitalized on wagashi no hi to invite people to try out its own beautiful creations in the lead up to the Gion Matsuri, one of the most famous festivals in Japan that is as old as the thousand-plus year-old tradition of wagashi no hi itself.

Good morning! It's just a couple of weeks until the Gion Matsuri and the beginning of summer in Kyoto. […] Kyoguku, our traditional Japanese cafe, will be open today for wagashi no hi starting at 11:30AM. We hope to see you!

#Shimizu Temple #Japanesestylecafe #wagashinohi

Japanese wagashi are not just limited to delicate confections. Shaved ice, served with macha tea and a macha syrup, is also popular in some traditional Japanese cafes.

It's wagashi no hi, so we're having macha.

Of course, marketers are also trying to take advantage of the hashtag on June 16. Giant candy maker Glico reminded everyone about their own product. While not exactly a traditional, this Japanese snack has become popular all over the world.

It's been more than 50 years since this candy was first introduced to Japan. #wagashinohi

To see more photos of traditional Japanese sweets, follow the hashtag #和菓子の日 on Twitter.

by Nevin Thompson at June 16, 2017 10:57 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
06/16/2017: A gathering between Trump and the tech world
The White House and Silicon Valley are meeting up to try to make the federal government run better — whether or not each really wants to work together. On Monday, the newly created American Technology Council will gather for the first time to try to change up how the government uses digital services. Tony Romm, a senior editor at Recode, joined us to talk about the major tech CEOs who might show up, along with key tech issues the White House has its eye on. Afterwards, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Justin Haywald, the managing editor of Gamespot, and then look at the Grammys' plans to allow online voting.

by Marketplace at June 16, 2017 10:00 AM

Global Voices
Black, Female, Spanish, and a Police Officer
C.A.E.O. en su uniforme. Foto usada con permiso.

CAEO in her uniform. Picture used with permission.

The following is an adaptation of an interview conducted by Lucía Mbomío and published originally on Afroféminas. It is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

While CAEO (who prefers to go by her initials for this interview) was studying law enforcement on her path to become a police officer in Spain, she almost believed that her dream wouldn’t be achievable. The lack of similar role models in the profession is noticeable, and not all those around her were confident that she’d be capable of success in the field.

Nonetheless, she persisted. Now, after nearly a decade, she has completed not just her studies, but her childhood dream of becoming a member of the police force in Spain, showing once and for all to those who doubted, that yes, it can be done.

The following is an interview that touches on weighty issues including male chauvinism and racism, but also dives into one woman’s unfaltering passion for her profession.

Lucía Mbomío (LC): How is it to be a black woman and a police officer in Spain?

C.A.E.O.: No le veo distinción alguna respecto a una policía de raza blanca, pero cierto es que es un gran orgullo que, a pesar de los prejuicios que hay en esta sociedad, yo sea una mujer policía y sobre todo, siendo negra.

CAEO: I don’t necessarily see a difference between how I’m treated in the police force compared to a white police officer. That said, it’s a great honor that, despite the many prejudices in this society, I’m not only a female police officer, but also a black police officer.

LC: What do you like best about your job?

C.A.E.O.: La labor que desempeñamos en muchos ámbitos, tanto de investigación como en ayuda al ciudadano.

CAEO: I like how my work touches many different fields, from conducting investigations to helping out the everyday citizen.

LC: What would you describe as the hardest part?

C.A.E.O.: Saber actuar en todo tipo de situaciones que se nos presenta y saber tratar con todo tipo de personas.

CAEO: I’d say the hardest part is knowing how to act in any given situation, and figuring out how to deal with any kind of person.

LC: Do you remember the greatest day of your career in the National Police? Tell us about it.

C.A.E.O.: Aunque no tenga nada que ver con la labor policial, para mí el día más bonito fue cuando me presenté en un despacho de la Comisaría de Algeciras para realizar las prácticas en uno de sus grupos y me atendió un compañero, el cual, sin dejarme apenas hablar, dijo que si venía a arreglar papeles para extranjería era en la primera planta.

En la actualidad, es mi marido.

CAEO: Although it doesn’t have anything to do with police work, the best day for me was when I presented myself to the Algeciras Precinct to do an internship in one of their groups. A man attended me and, without hardly letting me speak, he told me that if I was filling paperwork for the foreigners office, I’d better head to the first floor.

Nowadays, he is my husband.

LC: Do you think the economic crisis has transformed law enforcement? If yes, then how so?

C.A.E.O.: Trasformado no, la policía sigue haciendo sus mismas funciones, pero sí es cierto que el número de opositores ha aumentado con la crisis dada la poca salida laboral.

CAEO: I wouldn’t say transformed. The police continue doing the same work as ever. It is true, though, that the number of people applying to the police has grown considerably given the lack of job opportunities.

LC: Switching to the topic to gender, how many women work in the same police station as you?

C.A.E.O.: Aquí me pierdo un poco porque no sabría decirte un número exacto ni aproximado, pero somos bastantes.

CAEO: I’m not exactly sure. I really couldn’t tell you an exact, or even an approximate number, but there’s a lot of us.

LC: Would you describe your work environment as a bit male chauvinistic?

C.A.E.O.: Partiendo de que vivimos en una sociedad machista sí, hay y habrá machismo como en todos los sitios. En mi profesión se percibe un poco, especialmente en compañeros más veteranos, aunque cada vez son menos.

CAEO: Considering that we live in a male chauvinistic society, then yes. There is, and will continue to be, male chauvinism in all different areas. In my profession, you feel it every once in a while, especially with older, more veteran colleagues, but it’s gradually lessening.

LC: Were there many people of color within the police force academy?

C.A.E.O.: No, en mi año había una chica mestiza y yo, aunque había también gente árabe y alguna persona originaria de Latinoamérica. Considerando que éramos unas 2,500 personas en la escuela de formación, no, no éramos muchos.

CAEO: No, in my class there was just one girl from a mixed-racial background and myself, although there were several students of Arab background, as well as one person originally from Latin America. However, considering there were about 2,500 students then no, I can’t say we were many.

LC: Do you know others that are police officers of color?

C.A.E.O.: Personalmente conozco a cinco, dos chicas mestizas y un chico en la Policia Nacional y otros dos guardias civiles, todos de raza negra. Pero me consta que existen algunos más.

CAEO: Personally, I know five — two women and one guy with mixed-race heritage in the National Police Force, and two civil guards who are black. But I’m sure there are others.

C.A.E.O. con uniforme de policía y vestida de civil. Foto usada con permiso.

CAEO dressed in her police uniform and in civilian clothing. Photo used with permission.

LC: Among other things, the police force hears a lot of criticism for perpetuating racism by using racial profiling. As a member of the police force, what do you make of this critique?

C.A.E.O.: Creo que esa es una defensa del ciudadano extranjero muchas veces fácil de utilizar e innecesaria. Dentro de la policía hay diferentes brigadas y cada una de ellas tiene su cometido, depende lo que se busque se identifica a unas personas u otras.

Yo he realizado servicios uniformada, así que he tenido que identificar o, incluso, detener a algún extranjero que me ha llegado a decir que soy racista y que lo detengo o lo identifico por ser negro.

Para mí es un arma de doble de filo. Mi marido dice que a él le ha parado la policía más veces en estos 8 años de relación, que en los 40 años que tiene y creo que eso tiene solo un motivo: yo. Con esto quiero decir, que si se detiene a una persona de raza negra no es por racismo sino por un hecho concreto.

Hay otras veces que sí buscas a personas con situación irregular en España. Si estoy yo con mi marido paseando, hay más probabilidad de que la irregular sea yo que él.

Ahora bien, reconozco que el hecho de que siempre te paren para pedirte la documentación es algo incómodo y más cuando, en muchas de las ocasiones, no es porque te vean en una zona conflictiva ni porque hayas efectuado un movimiento extraño o sospechoso.

CAEO: I think that claim is sometimes used unnecessarily or as a cheap shot. Within the police force, there are multiple different brigades and each one of them has their own tasks. Depending on what they are looking for, they take a closer look at some people versus others.

As a police officer, I’ve also had to identify, or even detain, foreigners who have sometimes accused me of racism and profiling based on the color of their skin.

For me, it’s a double-edged sword. My husband claims that he’s been stopped by the police more times in the last eight years since we’ve been in a relationship, than ever before in his 40 years. I credit this to one reason only: me. Despite this, I’d like to make it clear — if the police detain a person of color, it’s not due to racism, but because of a concrete reason.

There are some situations when officers keep a closer eye on situations that are considered “irregular,” or out of the norm in Spain. If I’m taking a walk with my husband, I suppose that I’m the one that sticks out in a crowd instead of him.

On the other hand, I realize that the fact that people of color are continually stopped and asked for their official documents is uncomfortable. Much of the time, I admit the officers don’t ask for paperwork because the “offender” is in a conflict zone or because they’ve done anything suspicious.

LC: How do you think we can change this negative view of the police force? Maybe with internal police organizations, presence in the media, more people of color in the police force?

C.A.E.O.: […] El racismo está en toda partes, nunca he entendido ni entenderé las generalizaciones. El racismo no se quita con una formación, las cosas las percibes y las sientes de diferentes maneras, con la experiencia personal que vives día a día y con la educación recibida en el transcurso de tu vida. Eso es mucho más que una formación que te puedan dar en un momento dado.

¿Más personas negras dentro del cuerpo? Soy nacida en España, mis padres llegaron aquí cuando tenían 6 años, siempre me he codeado con gente de mi raza y la verdad es que nunca en mi círculo he escuchado a amigos o familiares decir que se han presentado alguna vez a las oposiciones de la Policía Nacional.

Con esto quiero decir que, quizás, si no hay mucha gente de diferentes razas dentro del Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, es porque ellos mismo piensan que es imposible, es más, eso mismo pensaba yo. Mientras estaba opositando, mi propio círculo de amigos cercanos me decía que no iba a aprobar por ser negra. Cuando realice el examen, había una parte de mí que decía que sería un esfuerzo en vano, porque de tanto escucharlo me lo llegué a creer. De hecho, muchas veces cuando conocía a gente y me preguntaban y ¿tu qué estás haciendo? yo decía “estudiando unas oposiciones de administrativo”, por vergüenza a que se rieran de mí.

CAEO: Racism is found all around, unfortunately, and I’ve never been one to condone generalizations. Racism doesn’t end thanks to groups or committees. It’s the personal experience one lives through, the things we perceive and what we feel, day-to-day, as well as the education we receive throughout our lives — this is what can put an end to racism. That is a lot more than the momentary relief a course or a group may give you from what surrounds us in our environment.

You ask about more people of color within the police force? I was born in Spain, my parents arrived here when they were six years old, and I’ve always been associated with, and nudged towards, people of my race. The truth is, I’ve never even heard any of these friends or acquaintances trying to apply to National Police.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe, there aren’t many people of color within the National Police force simply because they believe, as I used to, that it’s impossible to find a way in. While I was studying in the police academy, even my own circle of friends told me I’d never be able to succeed here, simply because I’m black. When I took the first exam, there was a part of me thinking that this would be an effort in vain — I’d heard so many times that I would fail, that I began to believe it myself. In fact, when people used to ask me what I did for a living, I would say I was studying administration, out of a fear that they would laugh at me.

LC: Considering that there aren’t many non-white officers in the police, how do people react when they see you out in the field? How do other police officers react?

C.A.E.O.: Para la gente de fuera, hasta para los mismos compañeros es un caso inusual. Muchas veces me han preguntado si soy española. Puedes llegar a entender que esa pregunta te la haga la gente de fuera porque desconocen los requisitos que se piden a la hora de opositar, pero cuando me lo preguntan personas que pertenecen a mi profesión, me choca más.

CAEO: For those outside the field, they typically think it’s pretty unusual to see a black police officer. I’ve been asked many times if I’m originally from Spain. I can understand this question from people outside the force because they just don’t know the many requirements it takes to become a police officer; however, when I get this question from people within my profession, it hits me harder.

LC: Do you have any particular anecdotes, either positive or negative, that illustrate this point?

C.A.E.O.: Tendría para escribir un libro. No sabría definir cuál es positiva o negativa, porque soy muy pasota a la hora de llevarme ciertos comentarios al ámbito personal.

He estado realizando servicio uniformada en las elecciones generales y ha venido un ciudadano a decirme: “Perdone, es usted es policía?”. Acto seguido, me ha entrado la risa y le he respondido que no, que es un disfraz que me compré en la tienda de la calle de atrás.

He estado prestando servicio uniformada en un Centro de Internamiento para Extranjeros (CIE) y al entrar algún compañero perteneciente a otra plantilla diferente a la mía, creyó que era una interna que se había disfrazado de policía para hacer la gracia.

He tenido que identificarme junto con mi marido ante la policía. A él apenas le miran su carnet profesional y la placa emblema. Sin embargo, a mí me la quitan de la mano, la cogen, la miran de una manera y de otra, como si de un extraterrestre se tratase.

Estando en Barcelona, en una misa el día de Nuestro Patrón, tuve que leer un discurso. Al salir de la iglesia, se acercó una mujer para decirme que había leído en español muy, muy bien.

Historias así tengo para aburrir. Todas estas anécdotas demuestran que a la gente, ya sea de fuera como de dentro del Cuerpo Nacional de Policiá le cuesta ver e imaginar que existan uniformadas negras.

CAEO: I’d have enough to write a book! I wouldn't know whether I’d define any as positive or negative, probably because I don't easily these comments as personal.

There was one time during the general elections, when I was in my official police uniform, when a man came up to me and said, “Pardon, ma’am, but are you a police officer?” I burst out laughing and told him that no, actually, this was a costume I bought just down the street.

There was another time that I was introduced, in my official uniform, to the Internment Center for Immigrants (CIE) and, as soon as I entered, one colleague who works on a different floor from me, immediately thought that I was actually a newly arrived immigrant dressed as a police officer as a joke.

In the past, I’ve had to identify myself, along with my husband, before the police. With him, they just take a quick glance at his badge and ID and they’re done. When they get to me, however, they snatch my badge from my hand, examine it carefully this way and that, peering at it as if it were an alien.

There was another time in Barcelona, I attended a mass for the feast of our patron saint where I had to read a short piece. As soon as I left the church, one woman hurried up to pay me the compliment that I read Spanish very, very well.

I could go on forever. The point here is that most people, whether or not they’re part of the police force, struggle to imagine that there are black women in police uniform.

LC: What advice would you give other people (women, men, of any race) who want to become police officers?

C.A.E.O.: Que con esfuerzo y constancia se consigue todo, que ellos y ellas mismos(as) no se pongan prejuicios, al menos, sin antes intentarlo.

CAEO: With perseverance and effort, you can succeed. Don’t let the prejudices get to you, at least not before giving the job a fair shot.

by Jessica Korneff at June 16, 2017 09:55 AM

Ditching the Egyptian Islands: Between Cash, Legitimacy, and Public Outrage

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting held at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., April 5, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith). Photo from Flickr user Secretary of Defense. CC BY 2.0

Following his formal rise to power in 2014, President Abdelfattah Sisi and his government have curtailed democratic freedoms, tightened the grip on press platforms, and limited the role of civil society.

His latest controversial exertion of power involves the transfer of ownership of the Tiran and Sanafir Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, a move that recently won parliamentary approval, despite some irregularities in the process.

Egypt's sovereignty over the Tiran and Sanafir islands has been a public point of contention since Saudi Arabia's King Abdelaziz Salman met with Sisi in 2016 in Cairo. The oil-rich kingdom pledged billions of dollars for aid and investment, signed a bilateral accord to establish an industrial zone in Egypt, and announced a series of agreements between the two countries.

Given Egypt's struggling economy, the cash flow was purportedly a prime motive for Sisi and his retinue to lavish their Saudi ally with a substantial return: two islands in a strategic corner of the Red Sea.

The initial agreement provoked public outcry as many Egyptians took to streets, calling for Sisi to step down and accusing him of “selling” the lands. The protests — in and of themselves significant given the shrinking space for peaceful assembly under Sisi — appeared to work, and Egypt's Administrative Court of Justice blocked plans to transfer the lands in June 2016.

That ruling was further backed up by Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court in January 2017. An excerpt from the decision reads:

أخيرا، قد وقر واستقر في عقيدة المحكمة، أن سيادة مصر على جزيرتي تيران وصنافير مقطوعٌ بها، وأن دخول الجزيرتين ضمن الأراضي المصرية ما انفك راجحا رجحانا يسمو إلى اليقين، ذلك كأثر لسيادتها المستقرة من ناحية، وأن الحكومة لم تقدم ثمة وثيقة أو شيء آخر يغير أو ينال من هذا الأمر.

Finally, and as it has been settled for the court, that the sovereignty of Egypt over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir is indisputable, and the inclusion of the two islands within the Egyptian borders has been an issue of certainty. This comes as a result of its stable sovereignty from one hand, and from the other, the government did not submit any document or other evidence that prove otherwise.

However, this popular triumph did not last long. “The government has insisted, under Saudi pressure, to go ahead with the transfer, turning to Parliament after making a series of arrangements to ensure the deal will be passed,” independent newspaper Mada Masr explained.

Although the agreement required over 500 members of parliament of a total of 596 eligible voting incumbents to approve it, as Mada Masr noted, the landslide in question was, indeed, an easy job for the government.

On June 14, Egypt's parliament backed the transfer plans. House of Representatives Speaker Ali Abdelaal declared, “I announce the House's final approval of the maritime demarcation agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed on April 8, 2016.

Whipping the votes involved “current pressures, blackmail and major security threats to parliamentarians who were determined to reject the vote,” a parliamentary source told Mada Masr, on the condition of anonymity.

Pressing forward with the transfer of the islands despite the two court rulings and the vocal outrage of the people is a worrying signal of Sisi's disregard for the judiciary and the people — as well as risky politics. Egypt is due for presidential elections in 2018, and his critics are painting him as abusing power and betraying the national will with this move. The islands could end up not only representing Egyptian sovereignty, but Sisi's own legitimacy.

‘When you sell your land, when you sell your honor, then you are a traitor’

Egyptians outraged over the land deal called for marches on June 16 to protest against Sisi's decision.

And on social media, Egyptians pressed their country's right to the islands. The president of the Al Hayat party Michael Mounir published two photos from the congress library, dating back to 1897, showing Egypt's maritime borders with Tiran and Sanfir included.

Photo published by @MichaelMeunier on Twitter. Source.

In a viral Facebook post, political satirist Bassem Youssef vented his revulsion to the government and its actions over Tiran and Sanafir, saying, in a excerpt:

انا عمري ما تخيلت اني اكتب كمية الشتايم دي بس عمري ما تخيلت اننا نبقى بالموات و السلبية و قلة الحيلة دي و الارض بتتباع عادي. احه، يعني المفروض الاسبوع ده عادي جدا ان البرلمان بيناقش نسيب ارضنا لبلد تانية و لا لا؟ كس ام المهانة و الذل

I never imagined that I may write all these slurs, but I never imagined that we may be in such inefficacy, passivity, and helplessness, while the lands are being sold without a hitch. Fuck it! Is it normal that, this week, the parliament would be discussing relinquishing our lands to another country or not? Fuck this disgrace and humiliation

Youssef continued to voice his rage:

الجيل اللي اتغلب على امره و هو بيشوف البلد بتتباع حتة حتة و مش عارف يعمل حاجة. للاسف لو حد حاول يعمل حاجة مصيره يا السجن يا الموت . يلعن روحنا كلنا واحد واحد. يلعن ابو ده زمن على دي بلد على ابونا كلنا.

This generation has been helpless while seeing the land being sold in pieces, unable to do anything. Unfortunately, if anyone tries to do anything, he's either destined to imprisonment or death. Damn our souls, everyone of us. And damn this age and this country and all of us.

Likewise, political activist and journalist Nourhan Hefzy wrote on her Facebook account:

طب لؤاءات وضباط الجيش مش غيرانين حتى لكون مضيق تيران هتحول لممر دولي ملناش سيادة حقيقية عليه بعد ما دفعنا دم عشان يفضل تحت سيادتنا، مبيفكروش في تامينا في معارك قادمة ولا خلاص اسرائيل امان وحبيبة، حقيقي اللي لازم يتحمل المسئولية كاملة ويتجرس قبل السيسي هو الجيش من اكبر لؤاء لاصغر ضابط قرروا يفرطوا عادي

Colonels and military officials do not seem to care that Tiran's island strait will be an international maritime passage without any sovereignty from our behalf. Even after we fought for it, they do not think of securing us [Egyptians] from future battles; when did Israel become a friend? The one who should entirely bear responsibility is the army. They decided to let go so easily

The wave of rage extended to Twitter.

Many Egyptians, including human rights activists, journalists and politicians channeled their voices through a viral hashtag, namely “تيران_صنافير_مصرية” which translates to “Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian”.

Journalist Amr Khalifa wrote on his Twitter account:

When you sell your land, when you sell your honor, then you are a traitor

Activist Hazem Amin tweeted a photo of former President Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown in July 2013 by Sisi, saying:

One day we smeared you for intending to give up part of Sinai, which turned out to be untrue. Now, I do not know what to tell you. Who's the traitor and who sold [the lands]!

Meanwhile, calls for mass protests across the country spread in a viral hashtags: “نازلين بكرة عشان” which translates as “We are going down tomorrow” and “سقطت شرعيتك يا سيسي” which means “your legitimacy has fallen, Sisi”.

Egyptian politician Amr Abdelhady wrote:

The rejection to sell Tiran and Sanafir is judicial and political, and we go down tomorrow to tell the world that the people reject the sale of the islands. I pray to God to bring Sisi's life to an end as the latter brought Rabaa to an end

Activist Mohamed Emam tweeted:

If we don't go down, the decision to sell will not be halted. Today's bargain started with Tiran and Sanafir and the next one will be Sinai. Next Friday [we go]. Your legitimacy has fallen, Sisi

Another Twitter user posted a photo, calling on people to head to streets:

We shall head to streets on Friday. Rebel!

by Salma Essam at June 16, 2017 07:50 AM

The Disturbing Wedding Trend in China of Groomsmen Sexually Assaulting Bridesmaids

Screenshot from the viral video.

Teasing the bride and groom on their wedding day is part of Chinese marriage custom. However, in recent years, that custom has been twisted in an alarming way in mainland China to include groomsmen sexually assaulting bridesmaids.

The trend is in the spotlight thanks to two recent cases. The first is a viral video (content is disturbing) circulating on Chinese social media. The video shows a bridesmaid being restrained and sexually assaulted by two men in a vehicle in Xi'an city. The woman screams and struggles while the two men forcibly take off her underwear, laugh and command her to “make sex noises”.

The video was uploaded to social media on June 8 and went viral. Two days later on June 10, Xi’an police took a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old into custody; the victim, however, said she did not want to pursue the case against them.

Very often, the bridesmaids refrain from reporting the assault to the police as they don’t want to “taint” their best friend’s marriage with a criminal investigation. Moreover, it's likely the groomsmen or wedding guests would defend the assault claiming that it was part of the Chinese custom to “naohun” (闹婚) — which literally means “to make turbulence at a wedding”.

However, the concept of bridesmaids is very much Western, not Chinese. If you take a close look at the Chinese wedding custom, the Chinese bride is assisted by a “wedding master” (喜娘/大妗) who is supposed to know all the ritualistic etiquette. Marriage was mostly by arrangement in China until the late 1900s. It is customary for wedding guests to compel the groom into drinking as well as to tease the bride to “encourage” them for their first night together. In some regions, wealthy families would hire prostitutes to entertain the guests, but that was not part of the customary practice.

But now, the “naohun” custom has somehow provided an excuse for sexual assault and harassment during weddings.

‘A high risk role — sexual harassment, rape and now death’

Another recent case of “naohun” taken to disturbing lengths ended in tragedy on June 13 in Guangzhou with the death of one of the bridesmaids.

According to witness accounts as reported by local media outlets, after the groomsmen handed over the customary red packet gift for the bride’s family, the family opened the door. The men rushed in and chased after the bridesmaids who ran upstairs to hide. One of the bridesmaids who hid on the fourth floor was killed when she fell from a balcony.

Though the case is still under investigation, netizens could not help but associate the bridesmaid’s death with “naohun”. Below are some comments in a news thread on Chinese social media platform Weibo:

做伴娘要不被性侵强奸,要不被弄死,风险真大,

Bridesmaid is such a high risk role — sexual harassment, rape and now death.

失足?无人推无人挤会失足?玩伴娘摸奶猥亵还不够?草菅人命的恶俗风气,政府要出面治一治了!

Accident? How could she fall if no one pushed her? Sexual harassment and groping breasts is not enough? If the custom is so vulgar and harms people’s lives, the government should intervene.

For the victim, finding justice is complicated

As for the viral video, both state-affiliated news outlets and netizens condemned the two men who attacked the woman. But after local news reported that the bridesmaid had forgiven the two men because they were acquaintances, some turned their anger on the bridesmaid:

我们都以为伴娘受了委屈,在网上声讨,谁知道人家自己根本不追责

We thought the bridesmaid was bullied and we slammed the men online, now she doesn’t want to pursue the case.

既然你愿意被摸,以后发视频的时候尽量开心点。别让我们误会

If you really want to be touched, please act happy in future videos. Don’t misguide us.

Some were more sympathetic towards the bridesmaid’s decision. Weibo user “I love Google” commented on a news thread:

知道受害者为什么不打算追责吗?因为都是亲戚同乡,对方肯定出动大批人出来说情,受害人不给面子,以后在本地就很难待下去。但嫌疑人触犯的是刑法,受害人不追责,也应该提起公诉,公安和检察部门不要尸位素餐。

Do you want to know why the victim does not want to pursue the case? Because they have a kinship affiliation. The other side must have mobilized social pressure, accusing the victim of making them lose face and she probably couldn't stay in the local community if she pursued the case. However, the case is criminal in nature. Even if the victim does not want to pursue, authorities can file charges. The police and prosecutors should perform their duty.

Lawyer Ye Xuefei also argued in legal terms that the police should pursue criminal charges against the two suspects regardless of the bridesmaid's decision:

根据视频记录,两名男子已经涉嫌强制猥亵罪,该案属于公诉案件,只要公安机关立案受理,不以受害人不追责而撤销。受害人不追责可以认为是对嫌疑人行为的谅解,只能影响量刑,不影响定罪

Judging from the video, the two men allegedly committed sexual assault. It is a case for the public prosecutor, which means if the public security authorities take that as evidence, regardless of the victim's attitude, they could pursue it. The attitude of the victim has an impact on the sentencing, not the conviction.

Wang Zhian, who works in media, made a sarcastic remark on using Chinese custom as an excuse to “forgive” a criminal act:

这算什么性骚扰?闹伴娘是中国千百年来的文化传统,正准备申请非物质文化遗产。这是怎么了?怎么能用西方那一套资产阶级的标准来审视中国的传统文化?今后哪个中年男子还敢去参加别人的婚礼?

How can that be sexual harassment? Teasing the bridesmaid is Chinese culture and tradition and we are ready to apply for it to be declared [UNESCO] Intangible Cultural Heritage. How can we use Western capitalist values to examine Chinese custom? If so, no men would dare to attend another's wedding.

Note: Background about Chinese marriage custom was derived from an extended conversation on “Chinese Cross-Border Question and Answer”, a closed editorial chat group of which the author of the post is a member.

by Oiwan Lam at June 16, 2017 03:15 AM

June 15, 2017

Global Voices
One Woman Is Behind the Most Up-to-Date Interactive Map of Femicides in Mexico
Pantallazo del Mapa de Feminicidios en México.

Screenshot of the Femicides in Mexico Map.

The interactive Femicides in Mexico Map, the most comprehensive and up-to-date of its kind in the country, is – according to its fundraising page – a “citizen-led, civic, independent initiative based on open data which, using geographical coordinates, has been mapping cases of femicide since 2016″. So far, it has recorded 2,355 cases.

The map's creator uses the practical definition of the United Nations model protocol for the investigation of gender-related killings of women, which defines “femicide” as:

the murder of women because they are women, whether it is committed within the family, a domestic partnership, or any other interpersonal relationship, or by anyone in the community, or whether it is perpetrated or tolerated by the state or its agents.4

Her sources are newspaper reports and official statements on femicides, and her motivation is simple and clear: to name every single one of the women so that they are not forgotten.

She uses the pseudonym “Princesa” (“Princess”) to conceal her true identity so as to ensure her safety. Princesa says she became aware of community affairs through her mother, now 80 years old. Her mother, originally from the state of Zacatecas but who moved to Mexico City, is a working woman, the granddaughter of revolutionaries, with strong religious beliefs and who fights for the rights of the just and those of workers.

Princesa studied physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and developed a passion for seismology and tsunamis. She ended up working commerce, but also became involved with maps when she collaborated with the intersectional peace project Nuestra Aparente Rendición (“Our Apparent Surrender”) and with online grassroots groups that track cases of kidnappings. Her dedication and technical knowledge gradually grew, as well as her ability to deal with big data and to use tools for the systematisation of geographical coordinates.

On the Femicides in Mexico Map's Facebook page, she receives messages from the press, politicians, legislators and ordinary people interested in her documentation project, but for her, the most important messages are those from the family members of the victims. Seeing the names of their daughters and the places in which they lost their lives on the map is a way of recognising that they have a name, a history, and that their lives have value, Princesa says, as she recalls some of those messages.

And she adds:

Este mapa sirve para visibilizar los sitios dónde nos están matando, encontrar patrones, reforzar los argumentos sobre el problema, georeferenciar la ayuda, fomentar la prevención e intentar evitar los feminicidios.

This map makes it possible to highlight the places where we're being killed, identify patterns, back up arguments concerning the problem, georeference sources of help, encourage prevention and try to prevent femicides.

Princesa's project is undertaken pro bono, so she is in constant need of support. For this reason, she has opened a fundraising page on the Generosity website, where she explains a bit more about her motivation:

[…] reúne información fundamental para que personas periodistas, investigadoras, activistas, defensoras de derechos humanos, buscadoras de justicia y tomadoras de decisiones comprendan la realidad del feminicidio en México. Es una realidad cruda, granular y en constante aumento.

[The goal is to] gather essential information so that journalists, researchers, activists, human rights campaigners, those who seek justice and those who take decisions understand the reality of femicide in Mexico. It is a harsh, day-to-day reality which is constantly increasing.

The “Chicas Poderosas” (“Powerful Girls”) community support Princesa's appeal:

A picture says more than a thousand words and there are still a thousand stories to be told. Support the Femicide Map #MapadeFeminicidios https://t.co/jd4XqyVpcu  #Niunamenos

Princesa says she's happy doing something for people. Her mother and sister think likewise; her father always asks her to be careful, but also to not give up doing it because it is so worthwhile.

by Daragh Brady at June 15, 2017 07:00 PM

Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab
IIPC 2017 – Day One

 

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It's exciting to be back at IIPC this year to chat Perma.cc and web archives!

 

The conference kicked off at on Wednesday, June 14, at 9:00 with coffee, snacks, and familiar faces from all parts of the world. Web archives bring us together physically!

 

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So many people to meet. So many collaborators to greet!

 

Jane Winters and Nic Taylor welcomed. It’s wonderful to converse and share in this space — grand, human, bold, warm, strong. Love the Senate House at University of London. Thank you so much for hosting us!

Leah Lievrouw, UCLA
Web history and the landscape of communication/media research

Leah told us that computers are viewed today as a medium — as human communication devices. This view is common now, but hasn’t been true for too long. Computers as a medium was very fringe even in the early 80s.

We walked through a history of communications to gain more understanding of computers as human communication devices and started with some history of information organization and sharing.

Paul Otlet pushed efforts forward to organize all of the world’s information in the late 19th century Belgium and France.

The Coldwar Intellectuals by J Light describes how networked information moved from the government and the military to the public.

And, how that network information became interesting when it was push and pull — send an email and receive a response, or send a message on a UNIX terminal to another user and chat. Computers are social machines, not just calculating machines.

Leah took us through how the internet and early patterns of the web were formed by the time and the culture — in this case, the incredible activity of Stanford, Berkley. Mileu of the Bay Area — bits and boolean logic through psychedelics. Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture is a fantastic read on this scene.

Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the WELL online community, and so on.

We’re still talking about way before the web here. The idea of networked information was there, but we didn’t have a protocol (http) or a language (html) being used (web browser) at large scale (the web). Wired Cities by Dutton, Blumer, Kraemer sounds like a fantastic read to understand how mass wiring/communication made the a massive internet/web a possibility!

The Computer as Communication Device described by J.C.R. Licklider and Bob Taylor was a clear vision to the future — we’re still not at a place where computers understand us as humans, we’re still are fairly rigid with defined request and responses patterns.

The web was designed to access, create docs, that’s it. Early search engines and browsers exchanged discrete documents — we thought about the web as discrete, linked documents.

Then, user generated content came along — wikis, blogs, tagging, social network sites. Now it’s easy for lots of folks to create content and and the network is even more powerful as a communication tool for many people!

The next big phase came with mobile — about mid 2000s. More and more and more people!

Data subject (data cloud or data footprint) is an approach that has felt interesting recently at UCLA. Maybe it’s real-time “flows” rather than “stacks” of docs or content.

Technology as cultural material and material culture.

 

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University of London is a fantastic space!

 

Jefferson Bailey, Internet Archive
Advancing access and interface for research use of web archives

Internet Archive is a massive archive! 32 Petabytes (with duplications)

And, they have search APIs!!

Holy smokes!!! Broad access to wayback without a URL!!!!!!!

IA has been working on a format called WAT. It’s about 20-25% the size of a WARC and contains just about everything (including title, headers, link) except the content. And, it’s a JSON format!

Fun experiments when you have tons of web archives!!! Gifcities.org and US Military powerpoints are two gems!

 

Digital Desolation
Tatjana Seitz

A story about a homepage can be generated using its layout elements — (tables, fonts, and so on). Maybe the web counter and the alert box mark the page in time and can be used to understand the page!

Analysis of data capture cannot be purely technical, has to be socio-technical.

Digital desolation is a term that describes abandoned sites on the web. Sites that haven’t been restyled. Sites age over time. (Their wrinkles are frames and table !!?? lol)

Old sites might not bubble to the top in today’s search engines — they’re likely at the long tail of what is returned. You have to work to find good old pages.

 

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The team grabbing some morning coffee

 

Ralph Schroederucla, Oxford Internet Institute
Web Archives and and theories of the web

Ralph is looking at how information is used and pursued.

How do you seek information? Not many people ask this core question. Some interesting researcher (anyone know?) in Finland does thought. He sits down with folks and asks “how do you think about getting information when you’re just sitting in your house? How does your mind seek information?”

Googlearchy — a few sites exist that dominate !

You can look down globally at which websites dominate the attention space. The idea that we’d all come together in a one global culture, that hasn’t happened yet — instead, there’s been a slow crystallization of different clusters

It used to be an anglo-ization of the web, now things may have moved to the south asian – Angela Wu talks about this.

Some measurements show that American and Chinese devote their attention to about the same bubble of websites — it might be that Americans are no more outward looking than are Chinese

We need a combined quantitative and qualitative study of web attention — we don’t access the web by typing in a URL (unless you’re in internet archive) we go to google

It’s hard to know about internet as a human right
Maybe having reliable information about health could be construed as civil rights
And unreliable, false information goes against human rights

 
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London is a delightful host for post-conference wanderings

 

Oh, dang, it’s lunch already. It’s been a fever of web archiving!

We have coverage at this year’s IIPC! What a fantastic way to attend a conference — with the depth and breadth of much of hte Perma.cc team!

Anastasia Aizman, Becky Cremona, Jack Cushman, Brett Johnson, Matt Phillips, and Ben Steinberg are in attendance this year.

 

Caroline Nyvang, Thomas Hvid Kromann & Eld Zierau
Continuing the web at large

 

The authors conducted a survey of 35 master thesis from University of Copenhagen found that there were 899 web refs, 26.4 web refs on avg, 0 min, 80 max.

About 80% of links in theses were not dated or loosely dated — urls without dates are not reliable for citations?

Students are not consistent when they refer to web material, even if they followed well known style guides.

The speakers studied another corpus — 10 danish academic monographs and found similar variation around citations. Maybe we can work toward a good reference style?

Form of suggested reference might be something like

 

Where page is the content coverage, or thing the author is citing. Fantastic!

What if we were to make the content coverage in a fragment identifier (the stuff after the # in the address? Maybe something like this,

web.archive.org/<timestamp>/<url>#<content coverage>

 

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And totally unrelated, this fridge was spotted later that day on the streets of
London. We need a fridge in LIL. Probably not worth shipping back though.

 

Some Author, some organization

The UK Web Archive has been actively grabbing things from the web since 2004.

Total collection of 400 TB of UK websites only, imposing a “territorial” boundary –
.uk, .scot, .cymru, etc.

Those TLDs are not everything though — if the work is made available from a website with a uk domain name or that person is physically based in uk

 

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Fantastic first day!! Post-conference toast (with a bday cheers!)!!

Untitled

Recap, decompress, and keep the mind active for day two of IIPC!

The day was full of energy, ideas, and friendly folks sharing their most meaningful work. An absolute treat to be here and share our work! Two more days to soak up!

 

by Matt Phillips at June 15, 2017 06:06 PM

Global Voices
Netizen Report: China Has a New Cybersecurity Law

18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Photo by Dong Fang, VOA, public domain.

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

It has been only two weeks since China's new Cybersecurity Law came into force, but its effects are already being felt across social and news media networks.

On June 1, public social media accounts were officially barred from writing or republishing news reports without a permit, as stipulated by the Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Service.

On June 7, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s online censorship agency, shut down at least 60 major celebrity news accounts across Weibo, Tencent, NetEase and Baidu. The CAC said the move is intended to “proactively promote socialist core values and develop a healthy and positive atmosphere” by curbing coverage of sensationalist celebrity scandals.

This marks a shift in focus for the CAC. In the past, many believed that the driving force of censorship was mainly political and that people could enjoy “online freedom” as long as they refrained from commenting on current affairs. The crackdown on entertainment news indicates that ideological struggle is not only directed against foreign enemies, but also at thoughts and activities seen to go against “socialist core values.”

The new cybersecurity law has also become a point of contention for foreign technology companies operating in China. Among other things, it requires that companies store their data in China and that users register with their real names to use messaging services. Officials have yet to convey much information about how the law will be implemented, but these provisions do not bode well for the protection of digital rights.

Online censorship keeps rising in Egypt

Media rights advocates and independent news outlets in Egypt are reporting that web censorship has continued to rise since authorities officially banned 21 news websites in late May, alleging that they were “supporting terrorism and spreading lies.” These websites include the Arabic edition of Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and local independent news site Mada Masr, among others. This past week, the Association for Freedom of Thought in Egypt reported that five virtual private network sites (which help circumvent censorship) were blocked, along with blogging platform Medium, and multiple Turkish and Iranian media outlets. On June 11, the group reported that the total number of sites currently blocked in the country had risen to 64.

Egyptian lawmakers consider data localization for Uber

Egypt’s Parliament will soon consider a bill that would require ride-sharing companies to keep their servers in Egypt and provide their data — which includes a digital map of customers, drivers and their journeys — to “relevant bodies” in government. Egyptian military intelligence has attempted to access the tracking software of the ride-sharing services Uber and Careem, but their requests to the companies have thus far been rejected on the basis of jurisdiction, as the companies’ servers are located outside of Egypt.

Egyptian authorities have engaged in increasing levels of surveillance of citizens over the past few years, including the use of phishing attacks to gain access to the accounts of Egyptian activists (uncovered by the Citizen Lab under the moniker “Nile Phish”) and prosecuting citizens for posts on social media sites.

Rouhani’s ICT Minister brags of Internet censorship

Despite having touted his efforts to protect access to social media platforms in Iran, recently re-elected President Hassan Rouhani’s government announced that it has improved Internet control methods and shut down a number of platforms.

The ICT Minister boasted to the parliament: “over the part three years, we have closed 7 million addresses that have been notified to us by the relevant authorities and blocked 121 relevant pieces of software as well as circumvention tools.”

Vietnamese blogger to be stripped of nationality and expelled

Blogger and former university lecturer Pham Minh Hoang, who is a dual citizen of France and Vietnam, recently published an open letter stating that authorities were stripping him of his Vietnamese citizenship. The decision, signed by the President of Vietnam, is effective immediately.

A member of the opposition group Viet Tan, Hoang was sentenced in 2011 to 17 months in prison and three years under house arrest for his blog posts about education and the environment. Authorities are likely to expel Hoang if the decision holds. He will be the only activist to have his citizenship revoked in modern times.

Can Venezuela ban anonymity on social media?

Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) issued a statement on June 12 indicating that regulators are working on a proposal to ban anonymous speech on social media, reasoning that it has led to an untenable amount of violent and abusive behavior online.

The move comes several months into a multi-pronged crisis of civil unrest, economic downturn and government repression, in which online harassment and attacks — targeting both government and civil society entities — has played a significant role. It is unclear how the policy would be implemented over platforms such as Twitter, which allow for the use of pseudonyms.

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by Advox at June 15, 2017 05:42 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: China Has a New Cybersecurity Law

18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Photo by Dong Fang, VOA, public domain.

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

It has been only two weeks since China's new Cybersecurity Law came into force, but its effects are already being felt across social and news media networks.

On June 1, public social media accounts were officially barred from writing or republishing news reports without a permit, as stipulated by the Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Service.

On June 7, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s online censorship agency, shut down at least 60 major celebrity news accounts across Weibo, Tencent, NetEase and Baidu. The CAC said the move is intended to “proactively promote socialist core values and develop a healthy and positive atmosphere” by curbing coverage of sensationalist celebrity scandals.

This marks a shift in focus for the CAC. In the past, many believed that the driving force of censorship was mainly political and that people could enjoy “online freedom” as long as they refrained from commenting on current affairs. The crackdown on entertainment news indicates that ideological struggle is not only directed against foreign enemies, but also at thoughts and activities seen to go against “socialist core values.”

The new cybersecurity law has also become a point of contention for foreign technology companies operating in China. Among other things, it requires that companies store their data in China and that users register with their real names to use messaging services. Officials have yet to convey much information about how the law will be implemented, but these provisions do not bode well for the protection of digital rights.

Online censorship keeps rising in Egypt

Media rights advocates and independent news outlets in Egypt are reporting that web censorship has continued to rise since authorities officially banned 21 news websites in late May, alleging that they were “supporting terrorism and spreading lies.” These websites include the Arabic edition of Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and local independent news site Mada Masr, among others. This past week, the Association for Freedom of Thought in Egypt reported that five virtual private network sites (which help circumvent censorship) were blocked, along with blogging platform Medium, and multiple Turkish and Iranian media outlets. On June 11, the group reported that the total number of sites currently blocked in the country had risen to 64.

Egyptian lawmakers consider data localization for Uber

Egypt’s Parliament will soon consider a bill that would require ride-sharing companies to keep their servers in Egypt and provide their data — which includes a digital map of customers, drivers and their journeys — to “relevant bodies” in government. Egyptian military intelligence has attempted to access the tracking software of the ride-sharing services Uber and Careem, but their requests to the companies have thus far been rejected on the basis of jurisdiction, as the companies’ servers are located outside of Egypt.

Egyptian authorities have engaged in increasing levels of surveillance of citizens over the past few years, including the use of phishing attacks to gain access to the accounts of Egyptian activists (uncovered by the Citizen Lab under the moniker “Nile Phish”) and prosecuting citizens for posts on social media sites.

Rouhani’s ICT Minister brags of Internet censorship

Despite having touted his efforts to protect access to social media platforms in Iran, recently re-elected President Hassan Rouhani’s government announced that it has improved Internet control methods and shut down a number of platforms.

The ICT Minister boasted to the parliament: “over the part three years, we have closed 7 million addresses that have been notified to us by the relevant authorities and blocked 121 relevant pieces of software as well as circumvention tools.”

Vietnamese blogger to be stripped of nationality and expelled

Blogger and former university lecturer Pham Minh Hoang, who is a dual citizen of France and Vietnam, recently published an open letter stating that authorities were stripping him of his Vietnamese citizenship. The decision, signed by the President of Vietnam, is effective immediately.

A member of the opposition group Viet Tan, Hoang was sentenced in 2011 to 17 months in prison and three years under house arrest for his blog posts about education and the environment. Authorities are likely to expel Hoang if the decision holds. He will be the only activist to have his citizenship revoked in modern times.

Can Venezuela ban anonymity on social media?

Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) issued a statement on June 12 indicating that regulators are working on a proposal to ban anonymous speech on social media, reasoning that it has led to an untenable amount of violent and abusive behavior online.

The move comes several months into a multi-pronged crisis of civil unrest, economic downturn and government repression, in which online harassment and attacks — targeting both government and civil society entities — has played a significant role. It is unclear how the policy would be implemented over platforms such as Twitter, which allow for the use of pseudonyms.

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by Netizen Report Team at June 15, 2017 05:40 PM

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