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 18, 2018

Global Voices
Guyana's LGBT community hosts its first ever gay pride parade

Rainbpw flag photo by Jaime Pérez, CC BY-NC 2.0.

“Spread love, not hate” is the mantra that rang out during Guyana's first gay pride parade, which took place on June 3, 2018. It was an event that allowed the country's LGBT community the opportunity to step out of the cloak of invisibility and claim their right to be proud of who they are and who they choose to love:

The festivities kicked off at the Square of the Revolution in the capital city of Georgetown, with participants wearing rainbow coloured garb and dancing to soca music as they marched in solidarity against hate and bigotry:

Anal sex (commonly known as “buggery” in many Caribbean territories) is still illegal in Guyana, despite the landmark rulings in the Caleb Orozco case in Belize in 2016, and the more recent Jason Jones case in Trinidad and Tobago, both of which deemed the criminalisation of sodomy unconstitutional. Both cases were not without controversy and negative reactions, region-wide — and neither was Guyana’s gay pride parade.

Netizens were quite vocal about their opposing views. In once Facebook thread, Yolanda Adams left a scathing comment that reflected just how much of a role religion plays in the issue:

Mr President stand your ground, if you only promote this act, the country will be curse[d] because God is totally against it. He has destroy[ed] a nation already because of this act and hasn't changed. These are not the days to please mankind, your first duty is to protect the inncocent (sic) children. Because if you don't you will answer to God.
So don't make decisions on Votes, God put you there not man.
So please put God first.

Shanna Leaona Patterson was also against the revocation of the law:

This government stands a better chance if they legalize small quantities of marijuana instead of antimen so they had better choose wisely

The Guyanese term for a male homosexual is an “anti-man”.

Facebook user Brenda Oliver had this to say:

People just trying a thing that will not pass in Guyana. Guyana is not America

Other Facebook users thought the event was a blatant contradiction of the country's laws, and there was a lot of discussion about religious damnation. One commenter suggested that the country had other issues to resolve — race relations, for example — that were more pressing. Those in support of the parade — or at least those reserving judgementappeared to be in the minority.

For Guyana's LGBT community, however, the event was a first step against the marginalisation they face because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Member of Parliament Priya Manickchand, who supports the community’s efforts, said that “people should be able to make their own choices”, and that the government had no place in people's bedrooms.

Her statements attracted online support. Facebook user Shannon Andre Persaud wrote:

I really can’t tolerate people against the LBGTQ community. What a tremendous step it was to see this embraced in Guyana but not of course without the ignorant trolls. But instead of engaging with discriminative and uneducated people, I unfriended and problem solved! Love is love ❤ And this world could do with less hatred and discrimination and lots more love and humanity. #isupportthelbgtqcommunity

There was also some advocacy on Twitter:

The parade is just one facet of the community’s fight for equal rights. Joel Simpson, managing director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation and Discrimination (SASOD) who organised the parade, had a message for government officials — the LGBT community expects to see action.

However, there is strong resistance. At a conference the day before the gay pride parade, members of the Georgetown Ministers’ Fellowship expressed their displeasure by threatening to withhold their votes during elections. The Christian community comprises more than 60% of Guyana's population and, as is the case in other regional territories, is lobbying against overturning age-old buggery laws. The Fellowship even threatened to block the parade, but with a strong police presence, there were no incidents.

Simpson, who attended the conference as a representative of the gay community, indicated that LGBT citizens were still waiting on a 2015 campaign promise of legislative change:

We are voting, tax paying law abiding citizens like everyone… We are not asking for anything special. We should enjoy protection from discrimination.

by Atiba Rogers at June 18, 2018 12:57 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Can you make money off of emoji?

More than 150 new emoji have been approved by the emoji standards body called Unicode. A redheaded person, a llama, toilet paper and bagels are just some of the new symbols. It's a big deal if you happen to be a redheaded llama farmer, but also because the release of new emoji is a carefully coordinated situation that requires approval from an emoji standards body called Unicode. And a design process that's specific to every operating system and, at least so far, no money changing hands. Jeremy Burge is Chief Emoji Officer for Emojipedia— which is kind of like Merriam-Webster for emoji. Burge spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about whether anybody makes money off emoji. 

by Marketplace at June 18, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
Greek and Macedonian nationalists oppose agreement that would end a quarter-century name dispute

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia and Greece, Nikola Dimitrov and Nikos Kotzias sign historic agreement, with Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras in the background on 17 June 2018 in the village of Psarades/Nivici in the Greek part of Prespa Lake District. Photo by the Government of Republic of Macedonia, Public Domain.

After the prime ministers of Macedonia and Greece delighted the international public by agreeing to end the 27-year-old Macedonia name dispute, their domestic rivals are attempting to sabotage the deal that would pave the way for Macedonia's entrance into the European Union (EU) and NATO.

The agreement involves concessions on both sides, including consideration of the main Greek demand that the future name of current Republic of Macedonia contains a geographic qualifier that would designate it as only a part of the geographical region of Macedonia, whose territory extends to Northern Greece, as well as parts of Eastern Bulgaria and Western Albania.

So what's the name both governments agree on? The Republic of North Macedonia.

The deal also addresses concerns by ethnic Macedonians, who comprise the majority of the Republic of Macedonia’s population. Their distinct identity has been denied by nationalists of the neighboring Balkan states, who claim that they are really an “estranged” sub-category of neighboring Slavic peoples — Bulgarians or Serbs — despite the fact that the markers of ethnic Macedonians’ identity, like their unique language and culture, had been recognized by the international community for decades.

With the deal, Greece agrees to respect them and designate their nationality as “Macedonian” or “citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia”.

For the Republic of North Macedonia, ending the dispute is a life-saving development. It means that Greece will lift the veto that has been blocking Macedonia’s entry into two key international organizations: NATO and the European Union. The majority of Macedonian citizens, who are otherwise divided across ethnic, religious and ideological lines, agree that achieving this consensual long-term strategic goal would help their multi-ethnic society move from being in a transitional state of limbo to becoming a normal European country.

NATO membership is particularly important, as it guarantees security and sustainability for the state — the very existence of which is disputed by various nationalist forces, and which has been brought to the edge of civil war twice in the last three years thanks to its former Russia-supported populist regime, which ruled the country from 2006 to 2017.

EU membership would provide more opportunities for good governance and economic development. Accession negotiations include a thorough review of all aspects of governance, which could result in a more efficient fight against corruption. Membership also provides additional mechanisms for the protection of citizens’ rights, subsidies for building infrastructure and other industries, and free movement and employment opportunities across the union. In recent years, over 120,000 Macedonian citizens (out of about two million) have requested citizenship in neighboring Bulgaria, primarily for economic reasons.

Neighborly trust versus nationalistic posturing

Contrary to the approach of former governments of the two Balkan nations, which mainly deepened the divisions between Macedonia and Greece, prime ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras have led a process of trust-building that the international community was happy to support.

When they announced that they had reached a deal to end the dispute which, for over a quarter of a century, had consistently generated tensions that teetered dangerously close to the possibility of a new Balkan war, their accomplishment was lauded as one worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.

One Macedonian Twitter user took former Macedonian prime ministers and presidents who had failed to solve the Macedonia naming dispute to task, accusing them of keeping the country isolated and poor:

Damn you, you know who you are, [Branko Crvenkovski], [Ljubcho Georgievski], [Vlado Buchkovski], [Kiro Gligorov], [Gjorge Ivanov]…
27 YEARS you took from the people of Macedonia.
27 YEARS of IMPRISONMENT prescribed by you.
27 YEARS for something that Zoran Zaev solved in 9 months.

Even though most Macedonians don’t consider the agreement perfect, they acknowledge that their country has been in a disadvantaged position and therefore had to compromise:

You may say what you like, but Zaev played this like a man and this was the only solution.

International reactions to the agreement have been overwhelmingly positive, with NATO and the EU jointly stating that they would welcome Macedonia's membership as soon as the deal is formally implemented:

Political cross-border enemies ‘unite’ in opposition to the agreement

In both countries, traditional nationalists have been organizing protests and political actions deeming the agreement treasonous and contrary to national interests. This includes VMRO-DPMNE in Macedonia and New Democracy in Greece, both former ruling parties which are members of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP). Like other international organizations, the EPP had called for constructive support for the deal by “all political parties”, using diplomatic language without openly reprimanding its members:

While in power, the two EPP “sister parties” exploited the fear and hate fueled by the Macedonia naming dispute to present themselves as defenders of their respective national interests and increase support from domestic right-wing voters:

BTW VMRO can only blame themselves for the citizens’ indolent acceptance of the name change… They turned them into paupers and now the most humiliating name is more acceptable than the humiliation of not being able to provide your own child with money to buy a sandwich for school lunch, clothes, afford a modest trip or a vacation….

In Greece, the parliamentary opposition led by New Democracy initiated a no confidence vote against Tsipras’ government ahead of the foreign ministers’ signing of the agreement on June 17, 2018. The government majority persevered, with lawmakers voting 153-127 against the motion, in the 300-member parliament.

In Macedonia, VMRO-DPMNE deemed the agreement “capitulation” to Greek blackmail, and vowed “to oppose it with all democratic means”. Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, who got into office with VMRO-DPMNE support in the 2014 elections — which were marred by allegations of fraud — echoed these claims.

In the period before the government published the full text of the agreement, VMRO-DPMNE made many attempts to persuade citizens that the agreement would be detrimental. On social networks, for instance, VMRO-DPMNE apparatchiks took part in seemingly coordinated efforts to convince non-English speakers that the new name implies that the word “Macedonia” would be “surrendered” and would designate only the Greek territory. Making an intentional typo, they claimed that the new name would be the “Republic North of Macedonia”, meaning an unnamed land to the North of Greek Macedonia, instead of the correct name, the “Republic of North Macedonia”:

Tweet: The former [VMRO-DPMNE] mayor of Kriva Palanka is using Google Translate to learn English.

Image: Screenshot of the Facebook post by Arsenco Aleksovski typing ‘Republic North of Macedonia’ in English and corresponding Macedonian translation, with his comment ‘Well this is even scarier? You can see for yourself on Google Translate.’

In a manner similar to the events that led to the attack on the Macedonian parliament on April 27, 2017, VMRO-DPMNE proxy groups, presenting themselves as “patriotic” civil society organizations and football fan groups, organized protests ahead of the signing that saw hate speech and the throwing of Molotov cocktails at the Macedonian parliament.

As in the past, such protests — with the call for a “Clean Macedonia” and chants calling for the killing of Albanians with gas chambers — provided a platform for those advocating ethnic cleansing against groups of people living in the country:

They sing against the accursed [ethnic slur] Albanians, while the problem with the name is with the Greeks. The drugs they take are hard.

In Greece and Macedonia, violent protests continued after the agreement was signed, with police in both countries using tear gas to disperse participants. In Skopje, police intervened after the demonstrators threw incendiary devices at them, and tried to storm the parliament again, while waving the old Macedonian “Vergina flag” (which was changed after a 1995 deal with Greece) as well as the flag of Russia.

The deal's signing is just a first step in a long process: it must be ratified in the parliaments of both countries and there could be a possible referendum over its approval in Macedonia. Its opponents will have more opportunities for obstruction.

by Filip Stojanovski at June 18, 2018 09:19 AM

June 15, 2018

Global Voices
Research reveals malicious digital campaign against Pakistani human rights defenders

Phishing attack. Image by Tumisu via Pixabay. CC0.

Cybersecurity researchers have found that commercially available spy software has been used to infiltrate the activist communities in Pakistan.

A May 2018 report by Amnesty International describes how rogue accounts engage with activists and trick them into downloading malicious software that can spy on them through their phones and computers. Lookout, a cybersecurity firm, also published similar findings that month.

Anna Neistat, Amnesty's senior director for research tweeted:

Human rights researcher and Executive Director of @EquidemResearch Mustafa Qadri tweeted:

The Amnesty report identifies a network of falsified social media profiles that use “social engineering” to gain proximity to human rights defenders, infect their devices with malware and obtain their email and social media credentials.

The report finds that attackers were using at least two different types of surveillance software, one known as Crimson, and the other StealthAgent.

A custom-build Android spyware, StealthAgent can intercept phone calls and messages, steal pictures, and track victims’ locations once installed on a victim’s Android phone. Amnesty believes this was custom-built for the attackers, but may have been derived from technical code in a commercial spy software called TheOneSpy, which is owned by the Australian company Ox-I-Gen. TheOneSpy is marketed as a tool for parents to monitor their children's mobile phone activities.

The report highlights the story of Diep Saeeda, a well-known activist from the eastern city of Lahore who became the target of a well‑orchestrated and relentless surveillance campaign.

Saeeda had been involved in Aman ki Asha, an initiative to bring peace between India and Pakistan. On December 2, 2017, one of her friends, Raza Mehmood Khan, a peace activist who tried to bring people from India and Pakistan together through activities like letter-writing, was subjected to an enforced disappearance.

According to Amnesty, a Facebook user who claimed to be an Afghan woman named Sana Halimi living in Dubai and working for the UN contacted Saeeda via Facebook to get information about her missing friend Raza Khan. The operator of the profile sent her links to files containing malware called StealthAgent which, if opened, would have infected her mobile devices.

The accounts under the name of Sana Halimi used for a profile picture a photo of Salwa Gardezi, a 21-year-old Pakistani business student and a chef from Lahore. Gardezi is known for her critiques of Pakistani military.

Gardezi registered an official complaint with the Federal Investigative Bureau or FIA.

It was very shocking for me because I have no relation or interest in politics or anything like that. It is a very horrifying phase for me to see my face used as Sana Halimi. I’d like to share that I feel physically threatened.

Unlawful surveillance of human rights defenders is not a new phenomenon and the threats attached to them are increasing. Surveillance of civil society organizations and individuals has become a tool used by repressive regimes to track activities and for the crackdown on voices of dissent.

In 2017, the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab uncovered Nile Phish: Large-scale phishing campaign targeting Egyptian civil society. This report describes Nile Phish, an ongoing and extensive phishing campaign against Egyptian civil society. In recent years, Egypt has witnessed what is widely described as an “unprecedented crackdown,” on both civil society and dissent. A 2016 research report by the same group showed evidence of attacks against journalists, activists, and dissidents in the United Arab Emirates.

Amnesty International and local civil society organizations have demanded that, as an elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Pakistan immediately order an independent investigation to uncover those running the campaign to ensure the security of human rights activists both online and offline.

by Qurratulain (Annie) Zaman at June 15, 2018 08:42 PM

This digital novel narrates the violence against ethnic Chinese during the 1998 riots in Indonesia

“We cannot heal what we will not face.”

A digital illustrated novel tells the stories of Indonesian Chinese who were attacked during the riots that toppled the Indonesian government in 1998.

In May 1998, violent riots erupted across Indonesia demanding the resignation of then President Suharto who had ruled the country for over three decades. The riots led to a change in government but thousands of innocent civilians — in particular, Indonesians of Chinese ancestry– were injured, raped, and killed. Many Orang Tionghoa (how Indonesians with full or partial Chinese ancestry are called) fled the country because of the escalating violence that targeted them.

A government report released in October 1998 revealed that, while some violent incidents against Indonesian Chinese were spontaneous, most cases appeared to be systematically planned by local thugs supported by powerful political and military forces. The report also documented cases of rape that victimized many Indonesian Chinese women.

After two decades, victims of the attacks in 1998 and their families continue to seek justice.

Written by Melbourne-based artist Rani Pramesti, the ‘Chinese Whispers’ illustrated novel narrates the tragedy that forced her to flee her beloved country in 1998. It also features the stories of women who witnessed the 1998 riots.

Global Voices interviewed her about the novel and her motivation for initiating this project:

The Chinese Whispers was inspired by my personal experiences of how the May 1998 racial violence impacted my sense of identity as well as by the historical context of May 1998.

I noticed how 1998 became an important unspoken issue (among) Chinese Indonesian diaspora in Australia.

I can’t speak for other people’s experiences. But I can speak about mine. My family and I were spared from (the) 1998 looting, rape, and violence but we lived the era where we were subjected to politically motivated racism. Being raised unequivocally Indonesian, a proud one that is, the 1998 riot questioned my identity.

Through the Chinese Whispers, I want to reveal what politically motivated racism (PMR) could do to people, (and it) doesn’t matter how many years after it happened. PMR has real human costs, not just in Indonesia but the entire world today.

She explained why she chose the title ‘Chinese Whispers’ for her novel:

During the creative process with the community, we talked about many things and everything. Yet, when I brought up the events that took place in 1998, of our whereabouts and what not, the voices in the room were reduced to whispers.

As a student of dramatic arts, I learned to observe tones, body languages, expressions. What I came across during the meetings and dramatic workshops, 1998 held a certain significance to the community.

Many said that the 1998 riot is something taboo to talk about. It remains sensitive, it’s hard to talk about the events, but taboo’s not the word to describe it.

And this is what she hopes her work will accomplish:

One day I attended a poetry reading by Mark Gonzales, one of his poems reads “We cannot heal what we will not face.” That rang true to me.

20 years on, 1998 is barely acknowledged. There [are] a lot of things to be done in terms of healing, to obtain some forms of justice. I’m not only talking about healing at the personal level, but also as a nation.

I want my readers to remember what 1998 entails and to be moved by the experiences of individuals who went through it.

In my work, my 12-year-old persona experienced having her identity torn apart by politically motivated racism.

I love how dramatic arts contributed in telling my personal stories. After all, despite the macro stories we hear everywhere, in the end, we are all human beings, we all have our micro stories and that is how we connect at the most profound level — from one person to another.

One of the pages of the Chinese Whispers. Used with permission.

Currently, the Chinese Whispers is available in Indonesian. Its English version is due out by the end of 2018. Rani's work can be found on her website and she can be reached through her Facebook page and Instagram.

by Juke Carolina at June 15, 2018 07:31 PM

Netizen Report: New rules in Cambodia and Tanzania force independent media to quiet down — or shut down altogether

A newsstand advertising The Citizen, an independent newspaper in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo by Adam Jones via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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

With elections approaching in July, Cambodia’s National Election Committee has published a set of plans intended to monitor and control online news.

A new inter-ministry working group, formed to investigate media outlets deemed to be spreading “fake news”, has put forth a new regulation that bans journalists from including “personal opinion or prejudice” in their reporting, publishing news that “affects political and social stability”, conducting interviews at polling stations or broadcasting news that could sow “confusion and loss of confidence” in the election. Violations are punishable by fines of up to USD $7,355.

The Ministry of Information will be empowered to censor websites and social media pages found in violation of the regulation. Internet service providers will be required to install software that enables the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to “easily filter or block any websites, accounts or social media pages that are deemed illegal”.

These measures follow the demise of the country's only two independent newspapers — The Phnom Pehn Post and The Cambodia Daily. After receiving crippling tax bills, the Daily ceased its operations in September 2017, while the Post's owner sold the newspaper. The publication now belongs to Sivakumar S Ganapathy, who is the managing director of a Malaysia-based ASIA PR company that has worked on behalf of Cambodia’s ruling party and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Meanwhile in Tanzania, a much-maligned “blogger tax” goes into effect on June 15, and will require bloggers and independent website owners to register and pay roughly $900 USD per year to publish online.

If blogs and other types of online content, such as YouTube channels, operate after June 15 without a license, they may be punished by a fine “not less than five million Tanzanian shillings” (around $2,500 USD), or imprisonment for “not less than 12 months or both.”

Multiple major independent news sites have preemptively closed up shop, saying that the costs are high — both financially and legally. The extremely popular Jamii Forums — which has been dubbed both the “Tanzanian Reddit” and “Swahili Wikileaks” — has shut itself down last week on grounds that the law creates insurmountable regulatory barriers for sites like Jamii. In December 2016, Tanzanian police arrested Maxence Melo, co-founder, and director of Jamii Forums, for refusing to disclose information on its members, a demand made under the Cybercrimes Act.

Reporters Without Borders has called on the government to scrap the new regulation.

Bangladeshi secular writer and activist assassinated in public

Bangladeshi secular writer Shahzahan Bachchu was shot and killed near his home town of Munshiganj. Bachchu was known as an outspoken activist for secularism, and printed poetry and books on humanism and free thought. He was reportedly dragged out of a pharmacy and gunned down by men on motorcycles.

Bachchu’s death follows a series of attacks on humanists and freethinkers in Bangladesh, including the murders of writers and digital advocates Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananto Bijoy Das and Niloy Neel, among others. In the past, government officials including the prime minister Sheikh Hasina have blamed the attacks on atheists for criticizing religion.

Algerian blogger gets 10 years in prison for video interview

Algerian blogger Merzoug Touati was sentenced to ten years in prison in late May for reporting online about austerity strikes, job protests, and human rights violations. Touati, who has been in jail since January 2017, was convicted of providing “intelligence to agents of a foreign power likely to harm Algeria’s military or diplomatic position or essential economic interests” after posting an interview with an Israeli official online. Touati is expected to appeal the sentence.

Facebook user in India arrested for complaining about poor infrastructure

A man from Kerala, India was arrested by police after writing a Facebook post about a damaged road, calling on a local politician to repair it. The politician alleged that the post was “defamatory” and that insulted her gender and religion. She filed a complaint with police who subsequently made the arrest. The man was released on bail shortly afterward.

Russian journalist forced to resign over Instagram comments

Russian reporter Alexandra Terikova was forced to resign for posting an Instagram video of kindergarten students singing a song for Russian President Vladimir Putin and then giving an interview about the video to an independent channel. The video was posted alongside a sarcastic hashtag and a message critical of the jingoistic tone of the song.

A death sentence and a viral video mark the end of Telegram in Iran

An Iranian man is facing the death penalty for posts made on his Telegram app channel, where he allowed users to freely post their opinions. Hamidreza Amini will go to trial on June 25 on charges of “insulting the prophet”, “insulting the supreme leader”, “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public opinion”.

Amini was held in solitary confinement and interrogated without access to legal counsel after his arrest. He went on hunger strike on June 3 to protest his conditions and was hospitalized but then transferred back to prison before receiving adequate treatment, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

The Iranian Judiciary issued an order on April 30 to block Telegram on national security grounds. Since then, a parody song about the filtering of Telegram by the Iranian musical group DasandazBand has gone viral on social media, poking fun at government attempts to get Iranians to adopt the state-owned messaging platform Soroush platform.

Leading news sites blocked in Venezuela

Two Venezuelan news outlets that have managed report on the country’s ongoing political and economic crises for the past four years were knocked offline on major state-affiliated internet service provider networks during the first week of June. Anecdotal evidence and technical testing confirmed that both La Patilla and El Nacional were inaccessible on CANTV, the country’s largest telecommunications provider, which is controlled by state authorities.

The block followed a court-issued fine of one billion Venezuelan Bolivares (about USD $10,000) against El Nacional, on claims by the state that the newspaper had inflicted “moral damages” on United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Vice President Diosdado Cabello, when he served as president of the National Assembly.

Pakistani political party website blocked

Ahead of elections in Pakistan on July 25, the website of a political party named Awami Workers Party was blocked on multiple ISPs in Pakistan for at least three days. Despite writing to election commission and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (which is responsible for the blocking), party officials have been given no explanation for the block.

Brazil Electoral Court kicks off new fake news regulation

On June 7, Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) ordered Facebook to take down “untruthful information about [presidential] candidate Marina Silva” within 48 hours of the ruling. This was the first time that an injunction has been issued based on a 2017 resolution intended to regulate the spread of disinformation during the 2018 elections.

The court ruled in favor of the presidential candidate and her political party Rede, which challenged five links posted in 2017 by the right wing page “Partido Anti-PT” (the Anti-Worker's Party, in Portuguese) claiming Silva was being investigated by Operation Car Wash, a major money-laundering investigation involving more than 100 Brazilian oil executives and politicians. There have been no formal accusations of corruption against Silva. The page has more than 1.7 million followers.

Will France get a “fake” news bill?

The French parliament started debating a government-proposed bill aimed at curbing the “manipulation of information” in the three-month period preceding an election. The law would allow candidates to complain about the dissemination of false information about them online and judges will have 48 hours to decide on a case. During a parliamentary session discussing the bill on 7 June, leftwing and rightwing MPs from the opposition slammed the bill.

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by Advox at June 15, 2018 05:22 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: New rules in Cambodia and Tanzania force independent media to quiet down — or shut down altogether

A newsstand advertising The Citizen, an independent newspaper in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo by Adam Jones via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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

With elections approaching in July, Cambodia’s National Election Committee has published a set of plans intended to monitor and control online news.

A new inter-ministry working group, formed to investigate media outlets deemed to be spreading “fake news”, has put forth a new regulation that bans journalists from including “personal opinion or prejudice” in their reporting, publishing news that “affects political and social stability”, conducting interviews at polling stations or broadcasting news that could sow “confusion and loss of confidence” in the election. Violations are punishable by fines of up to USD $7,355.

The Ministry of Information will be empowered to censor websites and social media pages found in violation of the regulation. Internet service providers will be required to install software that enables the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to “easily filter or block any websites, accounts or social media pages that are deemed illegal”.

These measures follow the demise of the country's only two independent newspapers — The Phnom Pehn Post and The Cambodia Daily. After receiving crippling tax bills, the Daily ceased its operations in September 2017, while the Post's owner sold the newspaper. The publication now belongs to Sivakumar S Ganapathy, who is the managing director of a Malaysia-based ASIA PR company that has worked on behalf of Cambodia’s ruling party and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Meanwhile in Tanzania, a much-maligned “blogger tax” goes into effect on June 15, and will require bloggers and independent website owners to register and pay roughly $900 USD per year to publish online.

If blogs and other types of online content, such as YouTube channels, operate after June 15 without a license, they may be punished by a fine “not less than five million Tanzanian shillings” (around $2,500 USD), or imprisonment for “not less than 12 months or both.”

Multiple major independent news sites have preemptively closed up shop, saying that the costs are high — both financially and legally. The extremely popular Jamii Forums — which has been dubbed both the “Tanzanian Reddit” and “Swahili Wikileaks” — has shut itself down last week on grounds that the law creates insurmountable regulatory barriers for sites like Jamii. In December 2016, Tanzanian police arrested Maxence Melo, co-founder, and director of Jamii Forums, for refusing to disclose information on its members, a demand made under the Cybercrimes Act.

Reporters Without Borders has called on the government to scrap the new regulation.

Bangladeshi secular writer and activist assassinated in public

Bangladeshi secular writer Shahzahan Bachchu was shot and killed near his home town of Munshiganj. Bachchu was known as an outspoken activist for secularism, and printed poetry and books on humanism and free thought. He was reportedly dragged out of a pharmacy and gunned down by men on motorcycles.

Bachchu’s death follows a series of attacks on humanists and freethinkers in Bangladesh, including the murders of writers and digital advocates Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananto Bijoy Das and Niloy Neel, among others. In the past, government officials including the prime minister Sheikh Hasina have blamed the attacks on atheists for criticizing religion.

Algerian blogger gets 10 years in prison for video interview

Algerian blogger Merzoug Touati was sentenced to ten years in prison in late May for reporting online about austerity strikes, job protests, and human rights violations. Touati, who has been in jail since January 2017, was convicted of providing “intelligence to agents of a foreign power likely to harm Algeria’s military or diplomatic position or essential economic interests” after posting an interview with an Israeli official online. Touati is expected to appeal the sentence.

Facebook user in India arrested for complaining about poor infrastructure

A man from Kerala, India was arrested by police after writing a Facebook post about a damaged road, calling on a local politician to repair it. The politician alleged that the post was “defamatory” and that insulted her gender and religion. She filed a complaint with police who subsequently made the arrest. The man was released on bail shortly afterward.

Russian journalist forced to resign over Instagram comments

Russian reporter Alexandra Terikova was forced to resign for posting an Instagram video of kindergarten students singing a song for Russian President Vladimir Putin and then giving an interview about the video to an independent channel. The video was posted alongside a sarcastic hashtag and a message critical of the jingoistic tone of the song.

A death sentence and a viral video mark the end of Telegram in Iran

An Iranian man is facing the death penalty for posts made on his Telegram app channel, where he allowed users to freely post their opinions. Hamidreza Amini will go to trial on June 25 on charges of “insulting the prophet”, “insulting the supreme leader”, “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public opinion”.

Amini was held in solitary confinement and interrogated without access to legal counsel after his arrest. He went on hunger strike on June 3 to protest his conditions and was hospitalized but then transferred back to prison before receiving adequate treatment, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

The Iranian Judiciary issued an order on April 30 to block Telegram on national security grounds. Since then, a parody song about the filtering of Telegram by the Iranian musical group DasandazBand has gone viral on social media, poking fun at government attempts to get Iranians to adopt the state-owned messaging platform Soroush platform.

Leading news sites blocked in Venezuela

Two Venezuelan news outlets that have managed report on the country’s ongoing political and economic crises for the past four years were knocked offline on major state-affiliated internet service provider networks during the first week of June. Anecdotal evidence and technical testing confirmed that both La Patilla and El Nacional were inaccessible on CANTV, the country’s largest telecommunications provider, which is controlled by state authorities.

The block followed a court-issued fine of one billion Venezuelan Bolivares (about USD $10,000) against El Nacional, on claims by the state that the newspaper had inflicted “moral damages” on United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Vice President Diosdado Cabello, when he served as president of the National Assembly.

Pakistani political party website blocked

Ahead of elections in Pakistan on July 25, the website of a political party named Awami Workers Party was blocked on multiple ISPs in Pakistan for at least three days. Despite writing to election commission and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (which is responsible for the blocking), party officials have been given no explanation for the block.

Brazil Electoral Court kicks off new fake news regulation

On June 7, Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) ordered Facebook to take down “untruthful information about [presidential] candidate Marina Silva” within 48 hours of the ruling. This was the first time that an injunction has been issued based on a 2017 resolution intended to regulate the spread of disinformation during the 2018 elections.

The court ruled in favor of the presidential candidate and her political party Rede, which challenged five links posted in 2017 by the right wing page “Partido Anti-PT” (the Anti-Worker's Party, in Portuguese) claiming Silva was being investigated by Operation Car Wash, a major money-laundering investigation involving more than 100 Brazilian oil executives and politicians. There have been no formal accusations of corruption against Silva. The page has more than 1.7 million followers.

Will France get a “fake” news bill?

The French parliament started debating a government-proposed bill aimed at curbing the “manipulation of information” in the three-month period preceding an election. The law would allow candidates to complain about the dissemination of false information about them online and judges will have 48 hours to decide on a case. During a parliamentary session discussing the bill on 7 June, leftwing and rightwing MPs from the opposition slammed the bill.

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by Netizen Report Team at June 15, 2018 05:19 PM

Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari shot dead

Shujaat Bukhari, Srinagar based Journalist/Writer and Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir. Image via Twitter account of Shujaat Bukhari

Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of prominent Kashmiri English daily Rising Kashmir, was shot dead in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, sending shock waves throughout the region.

His vehicle was surrounded by a group of suspected militants who opened fire on him and his security personnel. Two security personnel later died as a result of their injuries at a hospital.

Bukhari's colleague said that he had just stepped outside his office after finishing his daily work and was heading to break his fast when the attack took place.

(Warning: Graphic image in the tweet below.)

Bukhari was one of the few moderate and bold voices in Kashmir who stood for dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Read more: The Kashmiri People Versus the Indian State

Protests for independence (called “azadi”) and self-rule in the Kashmir Valley have been active since 1989 and ever since, Jammu and Kashmir has been under Indian military presence with statutes such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act giving them wide-ranging powers. The Indian government has officially stated that it believes all of Jammu and Kashmir to be an integral part of India.

An Indian policeman stands near an alley in the uptown of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir. Image by the author via Instagram.

Bukhari had worked for several top national and international publications and written hard-hitting articles, never shying away from taking an unpopular stand. He was special correspondent with The Hindu newspaper from 1997 to 2012 and continued to write for Frontline magazine.

The Press Club of India has expressed its shock and dismay over the incident in the Kashmir valley.

The Editors Guild of India tweeted a statement:

Condolences are pouring in via social media.

Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of the Wire news portal, tweeted:

Marvi Sirmed, a member of the executive council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and special correspondent for the Daily Times Pakistan, tweeted:

This wasn't the first time that Bukhari was targeted.

On July 8, 1996, a militant group abducted 19 local journalists in the Anantnag district and held them as hostages for at least seven hours. Bukhari was among those abducted.

He was also given police protection after an attack against him in 2000.

Student politician Shehla Rashid tweeted:

Former chief minister of Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, tweeted:

According to Reporters Without Borders, Shujaat Bukhari escaped a murder attempt by armed men in June 2006. Shujaat Bukhari told Reporters Without Borders, “It is virtually impossible to know who are our enemies and who are our friends.”

Despite this, the guns couldn't silence his pen.

by Ieshan Wani at June 15, 2018 02:02 PM

Global Voices
Mob lynching in India based on WhatsApp rumors claims lives of two innocent men

Two men lynched on suspicion of being child abductors in Karbi Anglong in Northeast India. Screenshot via YouTube by The Assam News.

Mob lynchings in the state of Assam in Northeast India are nothing new. In February 2018, two Sikh men were killed in a mob lynching. A video of the attack that went viral the following month.

In June 2018, Assam has seen about four separate incidents of mob lynchings, fed by rumours of witches or child abductors that spread via Facebook, WhatsApp and word-of-mouth.

One of the attacks in Assam, in the Karbi Anglong district, resulted in the death of two innocent young men from the city of Guwahati. They were out for a walk in Kangthilangso when they were killed by a mob.

The incident

On 8 June 2018, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath were returning from Kangthilangso, a picnic spot with a waterfall in the vicinity, when they were attacked near the Pajuri Kachari village in the Karbi Anglong district.

According to reports, a man spotted them in their SUV and started shouting that Das and Nath were child abductors. He threw stones at the car and called for other people for help. A crowd of about 200 villagers gathered around the car, forcing the two friends out of the car and beating them to death.

Pajuri Kachari village and the surrounding area had reportedly been living in fear because rumours regarding “xopadhora” were being spread. Xopadhora is a myth about a child abductor who, according to some versions of the story, has long hair and sometimes carries bags to put children in. Other rumours suggested that two Bihari men abducting children.

Since central Assam has the highest number of child abductions and trafficking in the state, people there are understandably sensitive to such rumours.

A video of the mob lynching was circulated on social media, in which Das is seen shouting out, “I am an Assamese,” in an attempt to convince the attackers that they had the wrong man. The two were beaten to death.

Demands for justice and an end to lynch mob culture

Residents of Assam were quick to respond with rallies across Guwahati, the capital of the state. These public demonstrations demanded speedy justice for Das and Nath, stricter anti-mob lynching laws, and action against police officials under whose jurisdiction the incident fell.

A Facebook group called “Justice for Nilotpal and Abhijeet”, which garnered around 60,000 members in 24 hours, organized a candlelight march. A silent protest in Guwahati turned violent with the police resorting to the use of a lathicharge (baton) to control the situation.

Many also expressed their outrage on social media:

A few illustrations related to the victims and their assailants made the rounds on social media as well:

The family of Das urged people to not politicize the issue and not to fall prey to other rumours.

Punitive measures put into action by the government and the police

In the subsequent police investigation, many people were identified as having involvement in the killings and more than 20 arrests have been made. Police accused a man named Alphajoz Timung the instigator of the mob and have taken him into custody.

According to a statement of the director general of police, after being arrested and interrogated Timung revealed that he had an argument with Das and Nath after calling them xopadhora. The two left in their car after the argument. But Timung's anger supposedly led him to tell the villagers that the two had taken a child along with them.

This spread quickly and villagers stopped Das and Nath a few kilometres away.

In addition to the 20 people arrested for participating in the mob, at least 40 have been arrested on accusations of spreading child abduction rumours or publishing hate messages on social media.

Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted his condolences to the bereaved families:

Later, the Chief Minister’s Office tweeted about a meeting being held to discuss mob lynchings and social media rumours. The result of the meeting was a program called “Sanskar” that aims to create awareness regarding superstitions (“sanskar” can be roughly translated to “traditions”).

The Office later tweeted that authorities would also look into skills training for 5,000 youths from all districts of Assam to tackle superstitions.

Mob lynching is a serious issue that isn’t restricted to the state of Assam. In Aurangabad, Maharashtra, a western state in India, two men died in a case of mob lynching that was also fueled by rumors spread through WhatsApp messages. Any action taken against mob lynching will need to be done with the entire country in mind.

by Devika Sakhadeo at June 15, 2018 08:47 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
Seattle fought Amazon ... and Amazon won
The Seattle City Council voted this week to undo a new tax that would have made big businesses pay per employee to generate money for public housing and help for the homeless. Seattle's housing costs and homeless population have both exploded in recent years as the tech industry, mainly Amazon, has brought higher salaries and lots more jobs. But Seattle businesses, including Amazon, pushed back hard on the new tax. One month after it passed, the city council flipped the reset button. Mike Rosenberg, a reporter covering housing at the Seattle Times, spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about whether it was normal for businesses to fight city policy as hard as they did. (06/15/2018)

by Marketplace at June 15, 2018 08:30 AM

Global Voices
Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari shot dead

Shujaat Bukhari, Srinagar based Journalist/Writer and Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir. Image via Twitter account of Shujaat Bukhari

Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of prominent Kashmiri English daily Rising Kashmir, was shot dead in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, sending shock waves throughout the region.

His vehicle was surrounded by a group of suspected militants who opened fire on him and his security personnel. Two security personnel later died as a result of their injuries at a hospital.

Bukhari's colleague said that he had just stepped outside his office after finishing his daily work and was heading to break his fast when the attack took place.

(Warning: Graphic image in the tweet below.)

Bukhari was one of the few moderate and bold voices in Kashmir who stood for dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Read more: The Kashmiri People Versus the Indian State

Protests for independence (called “azadi”) and self-rule in the Kashmir Valley have been active since 1989 and ever since, Jammu and Kashmir has been under Indian military presence with statutes such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act giving them wide-ranging powers. The Indian government has officially stated that it believes all of Jammu and Kashmir to be an integral part of India.

An Indian policeman stands near an alley in the uptown of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir. Image by the author via Instagram.

Bukhari had worked for several top national and international publications and written hard-hitting articles, never shying away from taking an unpopular stand. He was special correspondent with The Hindu newspaper from 1997 to 2012 and continued to write for Frontline magazine.

The Press Club of India has expressed its shock and dismay over the incident in the Kashmir valley.

The Editors Guild of India tweeted a statement:

Condolences are pouring in via social media.

Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of the Wire news portal, tweeted:

Marvi Sirmed, a member of the executive council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and special correspondent for the Daily Times Pakistan, tweeted:

This wasn't the first time that Bukhari was targeted.

On July 8, 1996, a militant group abducted 19 local journalists in the Anantnag district and held them as hostages for at least seven hours. Bukhari was among those abducted.

He was also given police protection after an attack against him in 2000.

Student politician Shehla Rashid tweeted:

Former chief minister of Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, tweeted:

According to Reporters Without Borders, Shujaat Bukhari escaped a murder attempt by armed men in June 2006. Shujaat Bukhari told Reporters Without Borders, “It is virtually impossible to know who are our enemies and who are our friends.”

Despite this, the guns couldn't silence his pen.

by Ieshan Wani at June 15, 2018 05:39 AM

June 14, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Nicaraguan protesters and journalists face violent attacks on the streets and online

“Stop the blockades”, a common phrase among Daniel Ortega's supporters referring to the blockades people have made in different cities in Nicaragua to limit people and vehicles circulation as a way of protesting against the government. Detail of the image shared by Twitter user Ricardo Zambrano, widely shared through social media.

Since April 18, 2018, Nicaragua has fallen into chaos and the rights of protesters and media have come under direct threat.

While demonstrators demanding social security and government accountability have endured violent attacks by police, military and other actors, journalists have been attacked and had their equipment and footage stolen. The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights estimates that 146 people have been killed in protests and crossfire, including video journalist Angel Gahona, who was shot as he filmed a protest on April 21.

Online censorship and intimidation of journalists and protesters have also been rampant. Multiple independent news outlets have had their websites attacked and in some cases brought down altogether. Just this week, Nicaraguans began reporting that their Wi-Fi networks were being hacked and re-named with a slogan supportive of the ruling government.

As political demands for regime change keep spreading, the effects of these incidents feel ever more acute, limiting access to information when it is needed most.

How it began

The crisis began on April 18, when the government – led by President Daniel Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo, who is also the vice president – unilaterally adopted an executive decree reducing the pension allowance by 5% and implementing additional social security taxes to employers and employees.

In response, retirees and students organized peaceful demonstrations to voice their disagreement but were met with anti-riot police forces and members of the Sandinista Youth parastatal group. Chaos erupted from there. Clashes have since turned violent and some protesters have reported that police are using live ammunition.

After failed attempts at a dialogue with Daniel Ortega for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, many Nicaraguans called for him to resign.

Physical attacks on journalists

Many journalists have faced threats online and in real life since mid-April. In one recent incident on June 10, Josué Garay, a journalist for La Prensa Nicaragua, was assaulted and robbed by people whom he believes are local members of the Sandinista Youth. His passport and cellphone (which contained video footage and information from his investigative work) were stolen.

It appeared the attackers wanted to threaten Garay and prevent him from leaving the country, on the basis of his journalistic activities. Garay shared his testimony on Facebook:

En la madrugada dos hombres entraron a mi casa y directamente, entre amenazas con machete y tubo, me exigieron el celular (corporativo de La Prensa), mi billetera y mis documentos, entre ellos mi pasaporte. Me golpearon la cara y reventaron mi boca. Me sacaron de la casa y tiraron al patio, exactamente al sitio donde boto la basura. Cuando uno de ellos me iba a machetear le pedí que no me hiciera daño y el otro le dijo: “Hay dejalo, ojalá escarmiente”. Gracias a Dios estoy bien. Sin celular, así que toda comunicación por acá. Gracias a quienes han estado atentos y me han ofrecido su casa para quedarme. Dios nos proteja de este régimen.

En the early morning, two men broke in my house and, in between threats [and holding] a machete and a pipe, directly demanded my cellphone (which is a corporate phone from La Prensa), my wallet, my documents, among those my passport. They hit me in the face and burst my mouth. They threw me outside and on the patio, exactly where I throw my garbage. When one of them was going to slice me with the machete, I asked him not to hurt me and the other one said to him: “Leave him, let's hope he'll learn his lesson.” Thank God I am alright. Without a phone, so every communication will be done here [on Facebook]. Thanks to those who have been attentive to me and offered me to stay at their home. God protect us from this regime.

This was not the first time he was attacked. On May 9, police officers threatened Garay and colleagues with firearms while they were reporting. Other journalists from La Prensa, including Uriel Molina and Ivette Munguía, have been assaulted and had their gear stolen by mobs and police. And on June 8, the studio of state-run Radio Nicaragua was set on fire.

SSID hacks

With mainstream media outlets accused of bias towards the government, many Nicaraguans have become especially dependent on the internet to stay informed. But this too is becoming difficult.

This week, hundreds of people reported that their SSID (their Wi-Fi username) had spontaneously changed in the middle of the night. All of those reporting the change are subscribers to Claro, a subsidiary of the Mexican telecommunications giant America Movil.

WiFi networks were renamed “QuitenLosTranques”, which means “#StoptheBarricades” — a reference to a common protest tactic of blocking roadways. This message has been used consistently, mainly as a hashtag, by government actors and supporters online. Barricades have been popping around the country in an effort to pressure Ortega to leave power and protect communities from state violence.

Demonstrators form a tranque in the Nueva Guinea region of Nicaragua. Photo shared on Twitter by Rezaye Alvarez.

This is the internet of the company CLARO in Nicaragua, @ClaroNicaragua. The people are the ones who pay internet service, not the government. Revise this or we won't pay. #sosnicaragua #OrtegaMurilloOut

Claro, which dominates the telecom market in Nicaragua, has publicly stated that the hack happened outside of their control and that they do not wish to engage with any type of political message

While it is clear that the perpetrators of these hacks are on the side of the government, it is not clear exactly who is responsible. But the technical components of such a hack could also allow the attacker to spy on the network activity of the subscriber, suggesting that this may be a tactic intended to intimidate subscribers.

Some Nicaraguans fear that the attacks are being carried out by hackers who support — or are working for — the Ortega government. Others suspect that Claro, the telecommunications company, is to blame. Claro has already been criticized for having complied to the government’s request of taking down three TV channels when the protests first started in April.

Apart from the censorship of [TV] channels that you applied before, the constant errors on Facebook and Twitter which weren't downloading the comments under posts, and you still say that the SSID name change is not your fault?

— #RespectTheCountry

Twitter users share ways to secure people’s SSID and change the username into one of the protests’ mottos, #QueSeRindaTuMadre (#YourMotherShouldSurrender).

Out of nicaragua 🇳🇮 respect the people

by Melissa Vida at June 14, 2018 02:34 PM

Global Voices
Taiwanese and Vietnamese activists are working together to pursue justice for the victims of the Vietnam marine life disaster

A Vietnamese fisherman in a one-man fishing coracle. Screenshot via YouTube from the episode “The Death of Vietnam's Fish” by Taiwanese public television program “Our Island”.

By the Global Voices Chinese Lingua team 

In 2016, toxic waste from the Taiwanese-owned Formosa steel plant caused a massive marine life disaster in Vietnam. Two years later with activists in prison and local livelihoods destroyed, the fight for justice is far from over and has seen significant collaboration between Taiwanese and Vietnamese.

The extent of the environmental damage remains unclear. The Vietnamese government has not released its official investigation report or environmental data to the public.

Authorities claim that almost all affected residents have been compensated; however, many of them say they have not received it or only received part of it.

While fish have started to return, their numbers are fewer than before the disaster. Fishermen have been left jobless, and people are worried whether it is safe to eat the caught fish.

Vietnamese from the affected region have protested, but their actions have met repression by authorities. Based on the investigation led by activists, scholars, and Vietnamese in Taiwan, 17 Vietnamese have been arrested or face arrest in relation with the Formosa disaster to varying degrees. Among them are:

  1. Nguyen Van Hoa, sentenced to seven years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” because he used a flycam drone to live-broadcast a fishermen’s protest around the steel plant;
  2. Hoang Duc Binh, sentenced to 14 years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” and “resisting officials in the performance of their duties” related to his coverage of the disaster on his blog;
  3. Nguyen Nam Phong, sentenced to two years in prison for “resisting officials” after he refused to open the door of the car he was driving, in which human rights defender Father Nguyen Dinh Thuc and Hoang Duc Binh were traveling, on the orders of a group of men in civilian clothes and uniformed police;
  4. Tran Hoang Phuc, sentenced to six years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” related to his work helping victims of the disaster;
  5. Bach Hong Quyen, currently in hiding because he faces charges of “causing public disorder” for organizing a march in 2017 to mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster;
  6. Thai Van Dung, a Catholic activist involved in protests who is wanted by police for allegedly violating his probation tied to an earlier conviction related to “activities aimed at overthrowing the People’s Administration” in 2013.

In addition to legal prosecution, Catholic priests and churches, which have been helping the fishing communities to get compensation, have received threats from a communist party-affiliated group called “Red Flag”. The mission of that group, according to a priest named Dang Huu Nam via Radio Free Asia, is “to constrain the Catholics from protesting against Formosa Steel Plant and to get rid of ‘Catholic enemies'”.

Criticism against the steel plant and the government's handling of the disaster, as well as calls for pollution monitoring, have been viewed as subversive to the one-party state.

Suppression of dissent, however, can't make the country's environmental problems go away.

After Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007, the ruling communist party has striven to boost economic growth through attracting foreign investment. But the rapid development has come at an environmental price.

In 2016, 50 major toxic waste scandals were reported in Vietnam. Among these scandals, illicit dumping of toxic waste into waterways is a particularly severe issue, and 60 percent of these violations were from foreign-invested firms.

With a coastline stretching 3,000 kilometers, Vietnam is home to one of the world's largest seafood industries. Around 3% of Vietnam’s export is seafood, and around 10% of the total population of Vietnam is estimated to have their main income come directly or indirectly from fisheries. Most of the fishing communities are poor, and fishing and aquaculture contributes to an average 75% of their household income. In addition, half of Vietnamese’ dietary protein is from these aquatic products.

The company behind one of the worst environmental disasters to hit the country, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corperation, is by far the largest foreign investment in Vietnam. It was initially formed by Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group in 2008 and later in 2015 attracted further investment from the Taiwan-based China Steel Corporation and Japan's JFE Steel.

Its operations were halted after the spill, but in mid-2017 they resumed, and they plan to increase its production capacity with a second blast furnace in 2018.

The 2016 fish kill hasn't been its only safety issue. In May 2017, a dust explosion took place during the plant's test operations. And in December 2017, the plant was fined 25,000 US dollars for burying harmful solid waste.

‘If we experience this kind of pain, we should not then inflict it on Vietnam’

The environmental disaster and its aftermath has been an embarrassing situation for Taiwan's government, given that the steel plant is owned by a Taiwanese company and the governments New Southbound Policy, which aims to enhance cooperation with fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Vietnam is a member.

Taiwan offered to send their environment specialists to Vietnam after the disaster, but were turned down. Beyond this, however, Taiwanese authorities haven't taken much action, and so Vietnamese in Taiwan and Taiwanese activists have tried different approaches to seek justice in the avenues available to them.

They have requested that Formosa Plastics Group publicize their environment monitoring data and take social responsibility, but so far have been ignored. They also questioned the other Taiwan-based investor, China Steel Corporation, but its representatives say they know nothing.

Because Vietnam's courts do not accept lawsuits against Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, Vietnamese had hoped that Taiwanese could help them sue the company in Taiwan. However, it is not possible, because Formosa steel plant is based in Vietnam.

Father Peter Nguyen Van Hung, a Vietnamese Catholic priest in Taiwan, has been travelling with other priests from the affected regions in Vietnam and a number of Taiwanese NGOs representatives to Europe in order to raise international attention of the environmental and human right issues caused by Formosa Plastics Group and the Vietnamese government. He also visited organizations in the US that are willing to provide legal support for the victims.

Father Hung also works with Vietnamese, scholars, and NGOs in Taiwan, including Environment Jurists Association (EJA), Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and Covenant Watch in Taiwan, to pressure Formosa Plastics Group and the Taiwanese government to face up to the disaster.

In December 2016, Taiwanese NGOs requested that Taiwan's Legislative Yuan host a public hearing about the incident and asked to review the Statute for Industrial Innovation, which is related to encouraging foreign investment. Though the Statute was eventually revised in November 2017, no audit or evaluation article was added to it, which means the Taiwanese government cannot penalize a corporation for environmental and human rights misdeeds overseas.

Before the environmental disaster was known, Formosa Plastics Group received another 3.5 billion US dollars in loans from more than 30 banks in Taiwan and overseas. Afterward, Taiwanese NGOs asked two banks that are 100% controlled by Taiwan government, Bank of Taiwan and Land Bank of Taiwan, to consider adopting the Equator Principles — a set of standards for financial institutions to assess environmental and social risk in project finance — but they declined. On the other hand, two others commercial banks among the 30, Cathay United Bank and E.SUN Commercial Bank, have signed them.

Taiwanese are no stranger to environmental disasters. Yuyin Chang of the EJA talked about how the past influenced their solidarity during a demonstration in 2016:

美國的RCA公司(民國)59年到80年在台灣設廠,造成台灣的土地、地下水的污染,以及人民許許多多健康的損害,目前都還在台灣訴訟當中,這是台灣人民切身的痛,我們台灣人民曾經有過這種痛,不應該再移植到越南去。

The US company RCA set up its factories in Taiwan from 1970 to 1991, and they caused a lot of pollution in Taiwan's land and groundwater and made a lot of people sick. This is a case still being litigated. This is the pain of Taiwanese. If we experience this kind of pain, we should not then inflict it on Vietnam.

by Guest Contributor at June 14, 2018 12:16 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Tesla gets a reality check
Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the electric car company would lay off about 3,000 people and work much harder to become profitable. On Wednesday, perhaps in a show of confidence to investors, Musk bought about $25 million worth of Tesla stock. The past few months have been tough for the company. There have been crashes involving Tesla's semi-autonomous mode, battles with investors and attacks on the media over negative coverage. But at the end of the day, Tesla has one thing it needs to accomplish: Make the Model 3 a success. And that is still proving harder than it should be. Maryann Keller, a consultant and independent auto analyst, spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about what's so hard about manufacturing this car. (06/14/2018)

by Marketplace at June 14, 2018 08:30 AM

Global Voices
Nicaraguan protesters and journalists face violent attacks on the streets and online

“Stop the blockades”, a common phrase among Daniel Ortega's supporters referring to the blockades people have made in different cities in Nicaragua to limit people and vehicles circulation as a way of protesting against the government. Detail of the image shared by Twitter user Ricardo Zambrano, widely shared through social media.

Since April 18, 2018, Nicaragua has fallen into chaos and the rights of protesters and media have come under direct threat.

While demonstrators demanding social security and government accountability have endured violent attacks by police, military and other actors, journalists have been attacked and had their equipment and footage stolen. The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights estimates that 146 people have been killed in protests and crossfire, including video journalist Angel Gahona, who was shot as he filmed a protest on April 21.

Online censorship and intimidation of journalists and protesters have also been rampant. Multiple independent news outlets have had their websites attacked and in some cases brought down altogether. Just this week, Nicaraguans began reporting that their Wi-Fi networks were being hacked and re-named with a slogan supportive of the ruling government.

As political demands for regime change keep spreading, the effects of these incidents feel ever more acute, limiting access to information when it is needed most.

How it began

The crisis began on April 18, when the government – led by President Daniel Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo, who is also the vice president – unilaterally adopted an executive decree reducing the pension allowance by 5% and implementing additional social security taxes to employers and employees.

In response, retirees and students organized peaceful demonstrations to voice their disagreement but were met with anti-riot police forces and members of the Sandinista Youth parastatal group. Chaos erupted from there. Clashes have since turned violent and some protesters have reported that police are using live ammunition.

After failed attempts at a dialogue with Daniel Ortega for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, many Nicaraguans called for him to resign.

Physical attacks on journalists

Many journalists have faced threats online and in real life since mid-April. In one recent incident on June 10, Josué Garay, a journalist for La Prensa Nicaragua, was assaulted and robbed by people whom he believes are local members of the Sandinista Youth. His passport and cellphone (which contained video footage and information from his investigative work) were stolen.

It appeared the attackers wanted to threaten Garay and prevent him from leaving the country, on the basis of his journalistic activities. Garay shared his testimony on Facebook:

En la madrugada dos hombres entraron a mi casa y directamente, entre amenazas con machete y tubo, me exigieron el celular (corporativo de La Prensa), mi billetera y mis documentos, entre ellos mi pasaporte. Me golpearon la cara y reventaron mi boca. Me sacaron de la casa y tiraron al patio, exactamente al sitio donde boto la basura. Cuando uno de ellos me iba a machetear le pedí que no me hiciera daño y el otro le dijo: “Hay dejalo, ojalá escarmiente”. Gracias a Dios estoy bien. Sin celular, así que toda comunicación por acá. Gracias a quienes han estado atentos y me han ofrecido su casa para quedarme. Dios nos proteja de este régimen.

En the early morning, two men broke in my house and, in between threats [and holding] a machete and a pipe, directly demanded my cellphone (which is a corporate phone from La Prensa), my wallet, my documents, among those my passport. They hit me in the face and burst my mouth. They threw me outside and on the patio, exactly where I throw my garbage. When one of them was going to slice me with the machete, I asked him not to hurt me and the other one said to him: “Leave him, let's hope he'll learn his lesson.” Thank God I am alright. Without a phone, so every communication will be done here [on Facebook]. Thanks to those who have been attentive to me and offered me to stay at their home. God protect us from this regime.

This was not the first time he was attacked. On May 9, police officers threatened Garay and colleagues with firearms while they were reporting. Other journalists from La Prensa, including Uriel Molina and Ivette Munguía, have been assaulted and had their gear stolen by mobs and police. And on June 8, the studio of state-run Radio Nicaragua was set on fire.

SSID hacks

With mainstream media outlets accused of bias towards the government, many Nicaraguans have become especially dependent on the internet to stay informed. But this too is becoming difficult.

This week, hundreds of people reported that their SSID (their Wi-Fi username) had spontaneously changed in the middle of the night. All of those reporting the change are subscribers to Claro, a subsidiary of the Mexican telecommunications giant America Movil.

WiFi networks were renamed “QuitenLosTranques”, which means “#StoptheBarricades” — a reference to a common protest tactic of blocking roadways. This message has been used consistently, mainly as a hashtag, by government actors and supporters online. Barricades have been popping around the country in an effort to pressure Ortega to leave power and protect communities from state violence.

Demonstrators form a tranque in the Nueva Guinea region of Nicaragua. Photo shared on Twitter by Rezaye Alvarez.

This is the internet of the company CLARO in Nicaragua, @ClaroNicaragua. The people are the ones who pay internet service, not the government. Revise this or we won't pay. #sosnicaragua #OrtegaMurilloOut

Claro, which dominates the telecom market in Nicaragua, has publicly stated that the hack happened outside of their control and that they do not wish to engage with any type of political message

While it is clear that the perpetrators of these hacks are on the side of the government, it is not clear exactly who is responsible. But the technical components of such a hack could also allow the attacker to spy on the network activity of the subscriber, suggesting that this may be a tactic intended to intimidate subscribers.

Some Nicaraguans fear that the attacks are being carried out by hackers who support — or are working for — the Ortega government. Others suspect that Claro, the telecommunications company, is to blame. Claro has already been criticized for having complied to the government’s request of taking down three TV channels when the protests first started in April.

Apart from the censorship of [TV] channels that you applied before, the constant errors on Facebook and Twitter which weren't downloading the comments under posts, and you still say that the SSID name change is not your fault?

— #RespectTheCountry

Twitter users share ways to secure people’s SSID and change the username into one of the protests’ mottos, #QueSeRindaTuMadre (#YourMotherShouldSurrender).

Out of nicaragua 🇳🇮 respect the people

by Melissa Vida at June 14, 2018 08:07 AM

Trinidad and Tobago's religious leaders ‘unite to divide’ people around the issue of gay rights

A cross section of the crowd outside Trinidad's Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on April 12, 2018, after the high court ruled in favour of Jason Jones, who brought a case against the state claiming that the country's “buggery” law was infringing upon his constitutional rights. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

Two months after high court judge Devindra Rampersad ruled that sections of Trinidad and Tobago's Sexual Offences Act which criminalise anal sex between consenting adults are “unconstitutional”, a group of religious leaders has said that it will vigorously oppose the introduction of same-sex marriage as well as any amendment to the country's equality laws to protect sexual and gender minorities.

Members of the group included Roman Catholic archbishop Jason Gordon; representatives of Muslim and Christian evangelical sects; and secretary general of the Hindu organisation Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Satnarayan “Sat” Maharaj.

The religious leaders haven't always gotten along: In May 2016, Maharaj, known as a controversial figure, told Gordon's predecessor, Joseph Harris, to “mind [his] own damn business” when it came to the issue of child marriage, saying it was a matter for the Hindu community and the state. Child marriage has since been made illegal in Trinidad and Tobago.

But the group has found common cause in rhetoric about biology and gender, “Adam and Steve”, and the “fabric of society” — the traditional family structure — being “at risk”. Jason Jones, who brought the successful case against the state challenging the “buggery” law, called their position “disgusting”.

At a press conference “facilitated” by a new non-governmental organisation called Rebuild TT, the religious leaders called on the country's politicians to amend the Marriage Act through a special majority, in order to block the legalisation of same-sex marriage. They are also against any amendments being made to the country's Equal Opportunity Act.

The Roman Catholic archbishop was reported to have said, “A very vocal minority should not be able to get their agenda through.” He also claimed that his group's views reflected the opinion of 90% of Trinidad and Tobago's society, but did not cite any source for those statistics.

Judging by the widespread criticism online, social media users must comprise the remaining “10%” — the majority of whom feel that the religious group's priorities are misguided, and who were irked at hypocrisy of its stance, given the leaders’ personal histories and the histories of the institutions they represent.

On Twitter, journalist Judy Raymond commented:

Fellow journalist Kejan Haynes tweeted:

Haynes’ post was widely retweeted and posted on various other social media platforms. When challenged on his criticism of the religious leaders by another Twitter user who asked whether having a different belief system is tantamount to being intolerant, he replied:

Facebook user Patricia Worrell was also quite put off:

And on the news tonight, what do I see but Archbishop Jason Gordon holding hands with Sat Maharaj in a common stance of religious leaders against gays, who are, they say, degrading the moral fabric of our society.

In a totally unrelated story, I see Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Chilean bishops who were involved in covering up a child sex abuse scandal

However, it seems the clergy of the Catholic Church have been contributing their own widow’s mite to moral fabric disintegration in different parts of the world, Jason….How will you act on that? What do you say?

#lethewhoiswithoutsincastthefirststone

Activist Tillah Willah posted a photograph of the band of religious leaders, commenting:

Like heroes from a fairytale! Our very own dwarves Backwardo and Rapey, Pedo and Gropey, Grabby and Hatey. Here they are, mustering the remnants of their erectile tissue, to dig a hole back to the surface. Past the destroyed lives of child brides, the broken bodies of thousands of women forced to pray for their abusive partners, generations of boys abused by priests.
We're saved y'all. We're safe.

Then, of course, there were the memes. One spoofed the “Justice League” movies, calling the group the “Injustice League: Religious Leaders Unite to Divide T&T…Once and for All!”:

Another adapted a scene from American music artist Childish Gambino's popular video “This Is America“, instead showing the archbishop holding a gun to a rainbow equality flag:

Finally, in one of the most eloquent posts about the issue, poet Shivanee Ramlochan wrote:

Faulty men have run religion since we could trace the sign of the cross in the rich, lifegiving dirt. Men have always been asking themselves, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, then they have done the opposite, in Jesus’ blood-consecrated name. In Shiva’s. In the Prophet’s. The men who spoke compellingly of the need to refuse your rights today – those men not only work at cross-purposes to each other, they work at the ultimate cross-purpose: a refutation of the love that a benevolent God promises his children. They may speak for the ordering of their religious houses. But we know that that is not where you find God. They may denounce the worthiness of your moral constitution, and declare you members of a fringe, rogue group, one with a collective big mouth. But that is what maximum oppressors have always done. With muzzles. With inverted swastikas. With the promise of Hell, and the punishment of disenfranchisement, disrepute, and death. And everywhere, from Stonewall to Georgetown, we who are called rebels raise our hands, our persistently queer fists to the firmament from which raineth the rain of God, equally on us all, to say, you can’t kill us out of the rights we deserve. Some of us. Not all.

We are much more than ten percent. […]

My dear, queer friend, when you decide how you love God. Whether as a man who died on a cross. A serpent-tongued, blackskinned Goddess necklaced by skulls. A samaan tree. […] When you find your God, and your God finds you. When you commit yourself to that loving service, in all its light, dark and complication. No holy man can lay his tongue against you without also revealing the rot of his heart. No judgement issued from your body of worshippers – who, you plainly see, are not your family in love, but your acquaintances in enmity – can so much as blister the smallest dot on your soles.

They may throw you out. They may disown you. They may raise their hands against your body and reject you at the doors to your place of work. But if you want him. If you want her. They cannot take your God from you. They can only rob themselves.

Trinidad and Tobago's government has said that it will appeal the sodomy law ruling. A further hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 4, 2018, and Jones remains optimistic that the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), which was supportive in his case, will be instrumental in the move for inclusion of vulnerable communities in the Equal Opportunity Act.

by Janine Mendes-Franco at June 14, 2018 12:55 AM

June 13, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Leading independent websites go dark as Tanzania’s ‘blogger tax’ deadline approaches

Jamii Forum founder Maxence Melo. Photo via Facebook. Used with permission.

Alongside scores of independent blogs and social media pages, Tanzania's most popular independent news and user comment site, Jamii Forum, have shut themselves down in anticipation of the country's soon-to-be-implemented “blogger tax.”

On June 15, 2018, Tanzanian bloggers will have to register and pay over $900 USD per year to publish online. If blogs and other types of online content, such as YouTube channels, operate after June 15 without a license, they may be punished by a fine “not less than five million Tanzanian shillings” (around $2,500 USD), or imprisonment for “not less than 12 months or both.”

While the registration fee and subsequent fines are steep, many bloggers say the concern is not just about the money but also about the complexity and ambiguity of obliging the new regulations.

Since the directive was first issued by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) on March 16, 2018, Tanzanian bloggers and civil society organizations have responded actively to the new regulations in a variety of ways.

A coalition of the Legal and Human Rights Centre and other civil society organisations including Tanzania Human Rights Defenders, Media Council of Tanzania, Jamii Media, Tanzania Media Women Association and Tanzania Editors Forum created a petition which was presented at the Mtwara High Courts on May 4. The judge asked the team to resubmit their petition on technical grounds, during which time they secured a temporary injunction until May 28. However, their case was ultimately dismissed with the judge arguing that “the organizations failed to demonstrate how they would be affected by the regulations.”

Tanzanian bloggers have creatively protested against the new blogging regulations, openly commenting on the blogging regulations online. Aikande Kwayu, who has blogged particularly about Tanzanian politics and the 2015 elections (and also writes book reviews and flash fiction) suspended her website on May 1 in an act of protest.

Mtega, a tech and development blog owned by Ben Taylor who resides in the United Kingdom, invited Tanzanian bloggers to write guest posts on his blog. Chambi Chachage handed ownership of his blog Udadisi (“Curiosity” in Swahili) on April 27 to Takura Zhangazha, who resides in Zimbabwe. And Elsie Eyakuze put her blog The Mikocheni Report on hold, taking a break to become a “digital refugee”:

On June 11, the extremely popular Jamii Forum — which has been dubbed both the “Tanzanian Reddit” and “Swahili Wikileaks” — decided to shut down, creating big waves on the Tanzanian social media scene.

In December 2016, Tanzanian police arrested Maxence Melo, co-founder, and director of Jamii Forums, for refusing to disclose information on its members, a demand made under the Cybercrimes Act.

On June 12, Elsie Eyakuze tweeted with a reference to how social media has connected people offline in Tanzania, as well as Jamii Forums’ significant role as a platform for whistleblowers leaking documents related to corruption:

In an interview, Jamii Forum founder Maxence Melo told The Citizen: “It is obvious that our platform was being targeted when this regulation was formulated.”

The $900 USD annual license fee is a substantial amount of money in a country where nearly one-third of the population still live in extreme poverty. The requirement to register platforms and obtain a tax clearance certificate may be a bureaucratic hurdle as most bloggers are individuals without registered companies. Blog and online media owners are first required to be granted a license, and then, to make matters more complicated, they must adhere to a rather complex set of regulations.

On June 12, Aikande Kwayu elaborated in a tweet:

On April 12, Ben Taylor explained some of these complexities, highlighting that the regulations require a blog owner “must be able to identify everyone who posts content”, and a blog owner “must cooperate with law enforcement officers” in relation to these regulations.

A screenshot of TCRA regulations detailing questions and definitions related to the new law shared on Twitter.

Taylor suggests that this could entail “demands to reveal the identity of anyone posting on your site, making anyone who posts anonymous comments on blogs, newspaper sites or web forums vulnerable to having their identity exposed.”

In Tanzania, political tensions have risen over the past few years. Since the presidential elections in 2015, Tanzania's opposition has been restricted by a ban on opposition rallies and the stifling of independent media, sanctions, intimidation, and punishment of citizens for criticising President John P. Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Swahili for “Revolutionary Party”).

The country's Cybercrimes Act, passed in 2015, has played a significant role in stifling dissent. In 2015 and 2016 alone, at least 14 Tanzanians were arrested and prosecuted under the law, for insulting the president on social media.

Tanzania is not the only country taking control of its citizens’ use of online media in recent months. Uganda and Kenya have recently issued new online restrictions to content production and regulation.

by Pernille Baerendtsen at June 13, 2018 01:27 PM

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

“Read.” Photo via Flickr by Jesper Sehested and TheDyslexicBook.com. CC BY 2.0

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

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

To that end, one useful metric is how readers respond to our stories and translations. So let's take a look at who our readers were and what caught their attention during the week of June 4-10, 2018.

Where in the world are Global Voices’ readers?

Last week, our stories and translations attracted readers from 200 countries! The top 20 countries represented across all of Global Voices’ sites were:

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

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

177. Kosovo
122. Latvia
140. Palestine
40. Mozambique
188. Dominica

Global Voices in English

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

1. Puerto Rico’s flag is black and in ‘mourning’ over US-imposed oversight board (originally published in 2016)
2. How ‘African’ is Northern Africa?
3. Sorry, I don’t speak English. I speak Photography.
4. Singapore: Is it a city or country? (originally published in 2009)
5. Romanian government considering following Trump’s move and relocating its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Global Voices Lingua

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

Arabic

Bangla

Chinese (simplified)

Chinese (traditional)

Czech

Dutch

French

German

Greek

Hungarian

Indonesian

Italian

Japanese

Korean

Macedonian

Malagasy

Nepali

Polish

Portuguese

Punjabi

Russian

Spanish

Swahili

Turkish

by L. Finch at June 13, 2018 11:55 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Iranian parody band sings a love song for Telegram after its block

“Lovers of Telegram” is a parody love song for Telegram, after millions of Iranians were blocked by the government from using it.

Iranian musical group DasandazBand has recently seen their parody love song about the filtering of Telegram go viral on social media.

Think of the American Lonely Island band, but cultivated in the Islamic Republic of Iran and dealing with Iranian issues, and you'll get a sense of the comedy musicians behind DasandazBand. Instead of explicit material such as “I Just Had Sex” or “The Creep,” this musical troupe tackle controversial issues such as travelling with groups of friends that include men and women in “When you have friends who are game for a journey, but nowhere to go.”

Another is “The state of Iranians who go outside of Iran for five days,” which jokes about all the fake luxury such Iranians post on their social media accounts alongside their misplaced sense of being non-Iranian.

When you have friends who are game for a journey but you have nowhere to go 🤦😂

_____
Sponsor: Otaghak

The state of many Iranians when they leave the country for five days. 😂

The music video that went viral from DasandazBand, however, was about the government's decision to censor a platform used by almost all of Iran's internet users: the messaging service Telegram. Iran counted more than 40 million users of the app who relied it for a wide range of purposes including business, entertainment, communicating with friends and family, news, university, work, and politics.

The Iranian Judiciary issued an order on April 30, 2018 to block Telegram on national security grounds, a decision which seems to have been driven by the platforms perceived role of the platform during the January 2018 protests. Other reasons given for the order included Telegram’s failure to relocate its servers in Iran in compliance with Iranian law – i.e. potentially making the data of its Iranian users accessible to authorities – and its refusal to work with the Iranian authorities to regulate content on the platform.

The band released the video on their Telegram channel on May 8, a few days afterward. DasandazBand is based in Iran and maintains a channel on Iranian video host Aparat (YouTube is blocked in Iran), a platform that abides by the Islamic Republic's moral and political guidelines and thus censors content. It's notable, therefore, that DasandazBand has not featured its Telegram music video on Aparat, but only on their Twitter and Telegram accounts – both platforms that are now blocked in Iran.

💔The lovers of Telegram 😂😭@durov@telegram #filter #Telegram #filtering_Telegram 

The lyrics poke fun at the government's filtering of Telegram and their attempts to get Iranians to use the government-developed Soroush platform:

One day you came along and asked me to stay with you, and you promised you'll stay forever too. Now you're not around for me to tell you this, that someone wants to take your place with the name of Soroush.

They say he has everything you have and you'll not be missed that much but everyday I think of you and the walls that separate us, oh Telegram.

Just when I was relying on you, you were suddenly blocked and gone and all I have left is this VPN, that's the only bridge between you and I.

I remember all our groups and memories, what am I going to do with your stickers?

You were with me through all these years, now how can I install Soroush while you still linger?

On Telegram, DasandazBand's small following of only a few thousand saw the video receive over 40,000 views and widely shared and discussed on Twitter as well.

Measurements by the University of Tehran's Social Labs and the Google App store in Iran have both indicated that despite the censorship of Telegram, Iranians are increasingly finding effective circumvention tools to access the app. While usage of Telegram dipped when it was first filtered on April 30, recent weeks have shown usage in Iran slowly returning to former levels.

by Advox at June 13, 2018 10:59 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
The marriage of AT&T and Time Warner is good to go, apparently.
In a huge win for AT&T, a federal judge ruled that the company can buy Time Warner for an estimated $85 billion. The Department of Justice had sued to block the merger on antitrust grounds. It said that since AT&T also owns DirecTV, it could charge DirecTV competitors more to get, say, HBO or CNN, and that consumers would end up paying more as a result. And this won’t be the last big media merger headline this year. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Recode reporter Peter Kafka about what this means for the media landscape going forward. (06/13/2018)

by Marketplace at June 13, 2018 10:32 AM

Global Voices
Plastic trash is a serious problem in Uganda

A photo showing mixed biodegradable and plastic trash in a Kampala suburb. Photo by Enno Schröder. CC BY 2.0

World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5, as it has been every year since 1974. The theme for 2018 was “Beat Plastic Pollution” — a call to action that is especially important for Uganda, where it's all too common for people to throw away plastic bottles and bags on the street.

The plastic litter can clog up drainage channels, increasing city flooding, and end up in lakes and oceans, where fish consume them, becoming a health risk to both aquatic life and humans. In rural areas, many of the plastics end up in farmlands and gardens which affects the way crops grow because they block proper flow of water and air.

Uganda has tried to ban plastic bags (popularly known as kaveera), but implementation has been spotty because of lobbying by manufacturers, disagreement among politicians and a lack of public awareness about the need for the ban.

On the website Earth Finds Uganda, author Baz Waiswa summarized in 2016:

But in April 2015, despite numerous callous demonstration from members of private sector, including court battles, the Ministry of Water and Environment under National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) effected the ban on importation, manufacture and use of polythene bag of gauge below 30 microns.

The implementation however has not been a rosy one as affected businesses and other government agencies including cabinet fought the ban calling for its suspension. This back and forth has left the public in a state of indecision. Some traders stopped packing customer purchases in the kaveera while others continued to use the ban substance despite threats of legal action from NEMA.

This year on World Environment Day, President Yoweri Museveni ordered 45 plastic manufacturers to stop making polythene bags, once again trying to give teeth to the ban. It remains to be seen if this time it sticks.

In Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city, plastic litter can prevent the flow of waste water. The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has made an effort to provide street dustbins, do garbage collection in a more frequent manner, and encourage recycling by signing a memorandum of understanding with Coca Cola to increase what people earn from collecting plastic waste, from $0.05 per kilogram to $0.13.

Individuals are also making efforts to beat plastic waste. For instance, in 2017 CGTN Africa profiled young entrepreneurs who collect plastic material and turn it into building blocks.

This year, for World Environment Day, the environmental conservation group Little Hands Go Green visited different schools in eastern Uganda to teach children the dangers of using plastic bags:

The general manager for Little Hands Go Green also tweeted under the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution, encouraging travellers to properly dispose of their plastic drink bottles:

Plastic isn't the only source of environmental concern for the country. For example, extensive sand mining along the shores of Lake Victoria poses a threat to the aquatic life as the fish use the sand as their habitats and breeding places. The wetlands also work as a water catchment helping in the fight of floods. Uganda clearly has work to do when it comes to ensuring a sustainable and healthy environment for all its citizens.

by James Propa at June 13, 2018 10:13 AM

Leading independent websites go dark as Tanzania’s ‘blogger tax’ deadline approaches

Jamii Forum founder Maxence Melo. Photo via Facebook. Used with permission.

Alongside scores of independent blogs and social media pages, Tanzania's most popular independent news and user comment site, Jamii Forum, have shut themselves down in anticipation of the country's soon-to-be-implemented “blogger tax.”

On June 15, 2018, Tanzanian bloggers will have to register and pay over $900 USD per year to publish online. If blogs and other types of online content, such as YouTube channels, operate after June 15 without a license, they may be punished by a fine “not less than five million Tanzanian shillings” (around $2,500 USD), or imprisonment for “not less than 12 months or both.”

While the registration fee and subsequent fines are steep, many bloggers say the concern is not just about the money but also about the complexity and ambiguity of obliging the new regulations.

Since the directive was first issued by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) on March 16, 2018, Tanzanian bloggers and civil society organizations have responded actively to the new regulations in a variety of ways.

A coalition of the Legal and Human Rights Centre and other civil society organisations including Tanzania Human Rights Defenders, Media Council of Tanzania, Jamii Media, Tanzania Media Women Association and Tanzania Editors Forum created a petition which was presented at the Mtwara High Courts on May 4. The judge asked the team to resubmit their petition on technical grounds, during which time they secured a temporary injunction until May 28. However, their case was ultimately dismissed with the judge arguing that “the organizations failed to demonstrate how they would be affected by the regulations.”

Tanzanian bloggers have creatively protested against the new blogging regulations, openly commenting on the blogging regulations online. Aikande Kwayu, who has blogged particularly about Tanzanian politics and the 2015 elections (and also writes book reviews and flash fiction) suspended her website on May 1 in an act of protest.

Mtega, a tech and development blog owned by Ben Taylor who resides in the United Kingdom, invited Tanzanian bloggers to write guest posts on his blog. Chambi Chachage handed ownership of his blog Udadisi (“Curiosity” in Swahili) on April 27 to Takura Zhangazha, who resides in Zimbabwe. And Elsie Eyakuze put her blog The Mikocheni Report on hold, taking a break to become a “digital refugee”:

On June 11, the extremely popular Jamii Forum — which has been dubbed both the “Tanzanian Reddit” and “Swahili Wikileaks” — decided to shut down, creating big waves on the Tanzanian social media scene.

In December 2016, Tanzanian police arrested Maxence Melo, co-founder, and director of Jamii Forums, for refusing to disclose information on its members, a demand made under the Cybercrimes Act.

On June 12, Elsie Eyakuze tweeted with a reference to how social media has connected people offline in Tanzania, as well as Jamii Forums’ significant role as a platform for whistleblowers leaking documents related to corruption:

In an interview, Jamii Forum founder Maxence Melo told The Citizen: “It is obvious that our platform was being targeted when this regulation was formulated.”

The $900 USD annual license fee is a substantial amount of money in a country where nearly one-third of the population still live in extreme poverty. The requirement to register platforms and obtain a tax clearance certificate may be a bureaucratic hurdle as most bloggers are individuals without registered companies. Blog and online media owners are first required to be granted a license, and then, to make matters more complicated, they must adhere to a rather complex set of regulations.

On June 12, Aikande Kwayu elaborated in a tweet:

On April 12, Ben Taylor explained some of these complexities, highlighting that the regulations require a blog owner “must be able to identify everyone who posts content”, and a blog owner “must cooperate with law enforcement officers” in relation to these regulations.

A screenshot of TCRA regulations detailing questions and definitions related to the new law shared on Twitter.

Taylor suggests that this could entail “demands to reveal the identity of anyone posting on your site, making anyone who posts anonymous comments on blogs, newspaper sites or web forums vulnerable to having their identity exposed.”

In Tanzania, political tensions have risen over the past few years. Since the presidential elections in 2015, Tanzania's opposition has been restricted by a ban on opposition rallies and the stifling of independent media, sanctions, intimidation, and punishment of citizens for criticising President John P. Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Swahili for “Revolutionary Party”).

The country's Cybercrimes Act, passed in 2015, has played a significant role in stifling dissent. In 2015 and 2016 alone, at least 14 Tanzanians were arrested and prosecuted under the law, for insulting the president on social media.

Tanzania is not the only country taking control of its citizens’ use of online media in recent months. Uganda and Kenya have recently issued new online restrictions to content production and regulation.

by Pernille Baerendtsen at June 13, 2018 08:10 AM

June 12, 2018

Global Voices
Argentina counts down the hours to the vote on legalizing abortion

Green handkerchief mob at the Congress. Image from the Facebook page of the National Campaign for the Right to “Safe, Legal and Free Abortion”, widely shared online.

On June 13, the members of Argentina's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, will decide if they will give preliminary approval to a bill that would legalize abortion. The debate started officially in March this year, a historic milestone in the long struggle for reproductive rights in the country.

For two months, the Chamber of Deputies listened to the different arguments for and against. The debate period gave way to certain modifications to the bill to gain votes from undecided deputies. The most significant ones are the possibility for doctors to invoke conscientious objection, although hospitals are obliged to have professionals on staff who would accept to go forward with the procedure. Also, consent from parents or legal guardians will be required for women under 16.

Meanwhile, another debate has taken place on and offline: every Tuesday since April, several human rights organizations and civil society groups, convened by the National Campaign for the Right to Safe, Legal and Free Abortion, have met in front of Congress with a green handkerchief as a symbol of the struggle. Their slogan reads: “Sexual education to have a choice, contraception to avoid abortions, legal abortion to avoid death”. There have also been demonstrations against the bill lead by different religious organizations and anti-abortion groups with the motto “Let's save both lives”.

On June 13, a vigil is scheduled to take place in front of Congress as the Chamber of Deputies deliberates. Several polls have pointed to general support for the bill among the population. Even renowned journalist Eduardo Feinmann, a passionate anti-abortion advocate, made a quick poll on Twitter and wasn't too happy with the results:

“Poll. Are you for or against legal, safe and free abortions?” [78% are for, 16% are against, 6% did not know].

However, so far an analysis of deputies’ voting intention shows a small inclination against legalization. There are still a lot of undefined votes, though, either because deputies are undecided or are keeping their position private to avoid pressure or threats.

The last day of formal debate featured a strong presentation by Minister of Health Adolfo Rubinstein in support of decriminalization:

Llevamos 35 años de democracia. El aborto es un tema que ha estado escondido bajo la alfombra. […] La evidencia es muy sólida respecto a que la despenalización reduce la mortalidad materna y el número de abortos totales. De alguna manera tenemos que actuar.

We've had 35 years of democracy. Abortion is a issue that has been swept under the rug. […] The evidence is solid: decriminalization reduces maternal deaths and the number of abortions. One way or another, we need to act.

If preliminary approval is granted, the bill will move to the Senate, where for the moment there are many more votes against legalization–for the moment, quite bigger. This tendency could change, however, according to the result of the debate taking place in the Chamber of Deputies, where those who are undecided play a crucial role.

“I'm just another green handkerchief looking at Congress”

It's impossible to ignore the influence of public opinion, not only in the polls, but also through different personal stories that are being shared online.

In one such testimony, a women talks in detail about the legal and bureaucratic obstacles she had to face when she needed a therapeutic abortion. Without making the names of the doctors public, she describes how some of them refused to help her, and how one of them asked for an unconscionable amount of money in exchange:

Mi cabeza y mi cuerpo no habían logrado resetearse y seguían aún con la angustia grabada de aquél momento en el que en vez de recibir la ayuda y contención médica e institucional que necesitaba, me encontré saltando al vacío sin red. Cuando dormía tenía pesadillas con el Dr. N y el Dr. B. […] No puedo dejar de pensar en el médico B. Sobre todo después de verlo en el Congreso argumentando a favor de la vida.

My head and my body had not been yet able to restart. I still had the anxiety of that moment in which, instead of getting the help and the unbiased position I needed from the medical institution and the doctor, I found myself jumping into a void without a net. Whenever I slept, I had nightmares with Dr. N and Dr. B […] I can't stop thinking about Dr. B. Especially after seeing him in Congress, arguing in favor of life.

And she concludes:

Siento que nos estamos jugando mucho en estos días. Algunas amigas me dan valor, como si me dieran la mano, como aquélla vez […] Soy sólo un pañuelo verde más mirando al Congreso y pidiéndole que vote la legalización del aborto.

I feel we've been risking a lot these last days. Some girlfriends give me strength. [It feels as if] they were holding my hand, like [they did] on that day […] I'm just another green handkerchief looking at Congress and asking it to vote in favor of legalizing abortions.

On Twitter, others have also expressed strong opinions and different views in favor of the bill:

The UN defined the criminalization of abortion as a method of torture. If the law is not approved, those responsable for that torture and the eventual deaths will be the deputies who voted against it. They will have to carry each and every woman who bleeds to death in their conscience. Abortion exists, legal or illegal.

[If you say] “I only support legal abortion in case of rape, if not, let them be screwed for opening their legs”, then you don't really care about [saving] “both lives” [as anti-abortion campaigners say]; what you want is to punish women, don't you think? Legal or illegal abortion, that is the question.

If the law is passed, Argentina would be the second country in Latin America to follow the global trend towards either legalizing or decriminalizing abortion. The first country in the region to do it was Uruguay in 2012. As a result, the maternal death rate dropped and has become the second lowest in Latin America.

Let's be like the countries we want to be like. Without corruption, integrated in the world, with a responsable macro-economy, social protection, political dialogue… and legal abortion.

by Laura Vidal at June 12, 2018 07:09 PM

Joi Ito
On Tea with Teachers


One of the greatest things at MIT are the student run programs. One program is Tea with Teachers. It's a fun thing where they do short interviews with various "teacher" types at MIT and post them on YouTube. I got to do one with them in September last year and they just posted it last week.

They also let me "highjack" their Instagram feed for a week too.

And I'm sorry about the chicken.

by Joi at June 12, 2018 04:03 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Telegram channel administrator could get death penalty for “insulting the Prophet”

Weakened by his hunger strike, prisoner of conscience Hamidreza Amini was transferred to a hospital in hand and ankle cuffs but was returned to prison before the treatment was completed. Photo shared with CHRI and reposted with permission.

Below is an edited version of an article that first appeared on the Centre for Human Rights in Iran website.

Hamidreza Amini could face the death penalty if he is convicted of “insulting the Prophet” for the content of his Telegram app channel, a source close to the prisoner of conscience told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on June 5, 2018.

Amini is due to go trial on June 25, 2018, for the charges of “insulting the prophet,” “insulting the supreme leader,” “acting against national security,” “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public opinion,” said the source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivities in Iran around speaking to foreign media.

A 47-year-old mobile phone repairman, Amini was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization in Tehran on December 2, 2017, for activities on his Telegram channel, which he managed under the pseudonym, “Ariyobarzan.”

According to the source who spoke with CHRI,

Hamidreza had created a Telegram channel where anyone could post her/his views, the IRGC held him responsible for everything others had written and when he told the investigator that he did not write those things, he was told that his channel and related groups had been shut down and therefore the IRGC could accuse him of anything they want.

“First of all, anyone is free to express his or her views and that’s what Hamidreza and the people in his group did,” the source said. “But most of the things he has been accused of, including ‘insulting the prophet,’ were written by others… He is being prosecuted for what 3,000 people did.”

Article 262 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code stipulates:

Anyone who swears at or commits qazf [slander] against the Great Prophet [of Islam] (peace be upon him) or any of the Great Prophets, shall be considered as Sāb ul-nabi [a person who swears at the Prophet], and shall be sentenced to the death penalty.

After his arrest, Amini was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A where he was interrogated without access to legal counsel.

In late February 2018, he was moved to the Great Tehran Penitentiary in Fashafouyeh, 20 miles south of Tehran, without a court order. However, he was returned to Evin Prison on June 3 after going on hunger strike to protest his condition, according to the source.

The source added that Amini was hospitalized for the effects of the hunger strike but transferred back to the prison before the treatment was completed.

by Center for Human Rights in Iran at June 12, 2018 02:49 PM

Creative Commons
Lithuanian translation of 4.0 available for use

lithuania-flag[Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
The Lithuanian translation of the 4.0 CC licenses and CC0 is now completed. Both the licenses and CC0 translation can be viewed on the Creative Commons website.

The 4.0 translations are much anticipated by local heritage institutions as an online tool for evaluation of validity of rights and labelling content in the process of creation. The possibility to link the users directly to CC licenses and tools in Lithuanian is particularly welcome.

The Lithuanian translations were written by volunteer lawyers from the CC Lithuania team: Jurga Gradauskaitė; Rėda Pilipaitė, Paulius Jurčys, and Olegas Juška. The process was supervised by Prof. Vytautas Mizaras from the Faculty of Law at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania.

The CC Lithuania team will proceed with seminars and notifications to let potential users know of the possibility to use 4.0 in their local language and to reinforce the message of the benefits of labeling and sharing content.

The post Lithuanian translation of 4.0 available for use appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jurga Gradauskaitė at June 12, 2018 01:44 PM

Global Voices
Iranian parody band sings a love song for Telegram after its block

“Lovers of Telegram” is a parody love song for Telegram, after millions of Iranians were blocked by the government from using it.

Iranian musical group DasandazBand has recently seen their parody love song about the filtering of Telegram go viral on social media.

Think of the American Lonely Island band, but cultivated in the Islamic Republic of Iran and dealing with Iranian issues, and you'll get a sense of the comedy musicians behind DasandazBand. Instead of explicit material such as “I Just Had Sex” or “The Creep,” this musical troupe tackle controversial issues such as travelling with groups of friends that include men and women in “When you have friends who are game for a journey, but nowhere to go.”

Another is “The state of Iranians who go outside of Iran for five days,” which jokes about all the fake luxury such Iranians post on their social media accounts alongside their misplaced sense of being non-Iranian.

When you have friends who are game for a journey but you have nowhere to go 🤦😂

_____
Sponsor: Otaghak

The state of many Iranians when they leave the country for five days. 😂

The music video that went viral from DasandazBand, however, was about the government's decision to censor a platform used by almost all of Iran's internet users: the messaging service Telegram. Iran counted more than 40 million users of the app who relied it for a wide range of purposes including business, entertainment, communicating with friends and family, news, university, work, and politics.

The Iranian Judiciary issued an order on April 30, 2018 to block Telegram on national security grounds, a decision which seems to have been driven by the platforms perceived role of the platform during the January 2018 protests. Other reasons given for the order included Telegram’s failure to relocate its servers in Iran in compliance with Iranian law – i.e. potentially making the data of its Iranian users accessible to authorities – and its refusal to work with the Iranian authorities to regulate content on the platform.

The band released the video on their Telegram channel on May 8, a few days afterward. DasandazBand is based in Iran and maintains a channel on Iranian video host Aparat (YouTube is blocked in Iran), a platform that abides by the Islamic Republic's moral and political guidelines and thus censors content. It's notable, therefore, that DasandazBand has not featured its Telegram music video on Aparat, but only on their Twitter and Telegram accounts – both platforms that are now blocked in Iran.

💔The lovers of Telegram 😂😭@durov@telegram #filter #Telegram #filtering_Telegram 

The lyrics poke fun at the government's filtering of Telegram and their attempts to get Iranians to use the government-developed Soroush platform:

One day you came along and asked me to stay with you, and you promised you'll stay forever too. Now you're not around for me to tell you this, that someone wants to take your place with the name of Soroush.

They say he has everything you have and you'll not be missed that much but everyday I think of you and the walls that separate us, oh Telegram.

Just when I was relying on you, you were suddenly blocked and gone and all I have left is this VPN, that's the only bridge between you and I.

I remember all our groups and memories, what am I going to do with your stickers?

You were with me through all these years, now how can I install Soroush while you still linger?

On Telegram, DasandazBand's small following of only a few thousand saw the video receive over 40,000 views and widely shared and discussed on Twitter as well.

Measurements by the University of Tehran's Social Labs and the Google App store in Iran have both indicated that despite the censorship of Telegram, Iranians are increasingly finding effective circumvention tools to access the app. While usage of Telegram dipped when it was first filtered on April 30, recent weeks have shown usage in Iran slowly returning to former levels.

by Mahsa Alimardani at June 12, 2018 01:43 PM

Could Jamaica's Data Protection Act shield politicians from journalistic scrutiny?

A special sitting of the Jamaican parliament at Gordon House. Photo by Number 10, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In the wake of the European Union's implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, Jamaicans are debating the implications of two new laws governing the collection and protection of personal data. Policymakers say these laws could more closely align the Jamaican system with newly implemented rules in Europe.

The first is the Data Protection Act, passed in November 2017, which seeks to strengthen citizens’ ability to control the use of their data and to proactively decide how it can and cannot be used by third parties. The second is the National Identification and Registration Act, that would govern the country's National ID system (NIDS). The proposed Data Protection Act is also intended to strengthen NIDS.

The intersection between the two pieces of legislation is not entirely clear, and public concerns about the laws — and their potential pitfalls — are still rising to the surface.

At a recent public forum, “Data Protection and You”, journalists at the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) expressed concern about the Data Protection Act for their sector.

Press Association president Dionne Jackson Miller observed, the Data Protection Act is 112 pages and difficult to digest — and in Jamaica, amending laws is a lengthy process — it is therefore critical to get the law right the first time:

While not opposed to the concept of a data privacy law, the PAJ has taken issue with several clauses in the Act. Although journalism, artistic and literary works are largely exempt under the proposed legislation, it stipulates that subjects can easily refuse to grant permission for use or publishing of information, which could have an adverse effect on journalists’ abilities to report on people — particularly those in power — without running afoul of the law.

In support of this concern, the international non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders has written to Andrew Wheatley, Jamaica's Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, who chairs the parliamentary committee reviewing the legislation:

While we do not dispute the existence of this Bill, which is meant to protect the private data of consumers, the Bill does not adequately distinguish gathering ‘data’ for journalistic activities from gathering data for regular commercial purposes. RSF believes the Bill may have a chilling effect on press freedom that could outweigh its benefits.

We acknowledge and appreciate that the drafted legislation considers press freedom, as indicated by section 37, which exempts journalists from a number of provisions data controllers—those who obtain, process, or use data—are obliged to follow. However, we believe the Bill should clearly exclude journalistic activity from its scope. A clear blanket exemption for journalists should be provided instead of a handful of provisions from which journalists are exempt.

Several governance concerns are being aired via traditional and social media — early alarm bells sounded with regard to the role of the all-powerful information commissioner who would monitor compliance with the Act, advise the minister and serve as the arbitrator in disputes. The commissioner would also appoint an “independent” data protection officer. Media stakeholders were generally uncomfortable with the scope of the commissioner's reach, as well as the role of the technology minister when it comes to freedom of the press.

The Private Sector of Jamaica (PSOJ) also has issues with the proposed law. The organisation's executive director, Jennifer McDonald, called it “another burden on the private sector,” pointing to a negative impact on the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as neighbourhood cook shops — an issue that Slash Roots Foundation also focused on in its submission to parliament. How will the legislation affect the “small man”?

One Jamaican internet specialist tweeted that this is not just a worry for small businesses. Regional telecommunications provider Digicel is among several larger international companies which are concerned that — since Jamaica is the first Caribbean country to introduce this type of legislation — it may create problems for its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours:

The Jamaica Computer Society agreed with Digicel, which has proposed a phased introduction of the Data Protection Act, suggesting a three-year implementation period.

Meanwhile, Minister Wheatley has announced the establishment of an academy to strengthen Jamaica's cybersecurity, in collaboration with the Israeli government — and it is details like these that made the moderator's final comments at the public forum almost a foregone conclusion:

These are highly complex and sensitive issues that will no doubt affect every Jamaican citizen. Are things moving too fast? It appears that more time is needed for discussion, dialogue and the dissemination of information — in digestible form — to the “man on the street”, even while the current political administration likely faces more challenges and delays before the Act is assented to.

by Emma Lewis at June 12, 2018 01:39 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
It takes "thousands of hours" to comply with GDPR, says one tech CEO
Europe's new privacy rules, called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are officially in effect. To comply with them, some small businesses and startups have had to put other work on hold while they make sure they’re not in violation. The GDPR requires companies that have European customers to get clear consent to gather their information and make data available to correct and even delete it, if the customer asks. And the fines for not complying are huge. Lawrence Coburn is CEO of a company called DoubleDutch that makes mobile apps for conferences. The apps collect location information, demographic data and sometimes contact and job information from attendees from all over the world. Coburn spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about how much stress the GDPR has caused him.

by Marketplace at June 12, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
Should you have to save a child to be allowed to stay in France?
Sans-papiers

“Let's give undocumented workers rights!” Protest on 1 May 2018. Photo by Flickr user Jeanne Menjoulet. CC BY 2.0

An undocumented Malian immigrant's heroic feat of saving a 4-year-old on the evening of 26 May 2018 in Paris’ 18th arrondissement has taken France by storm and highlighted the difficult situation many “sans-papiers” (those without papers) face.

Mamadou Gassama, 22, saw the young boy as he was hanging from the guardrail of a fourth-floor balcony, having fallen from the floor above. A neighbour was standing by, unable to reach the child due to the dividing wall between the two apartments. Gassama then scaled the building's balconies in 30 seconds, grabbed the child and passed him to the neighbour.

Gassama told his own account of what happened in subsequent interviews (via Brut Magazine):

Beaucoup de personnes sont en train de crier…mais je n'ai regardé personne, j'ai couru, j'ai traversé la route. C'est ma première fois [escalader un immeuble], Je n'ai pas pensé à ça [qu'il risquait sa propre vie], j'ai juste pensé à l'enfant, j'ai voulu le sauver.

A lot of people were shouting. I didn't look at anyone, I ran and followed the route. It was my first time [climbing a building], I didn't think about [how I was risking my own life]. I just thought about the child, I wanted to save him.

Some bystanders filmed the scene with their mobile phones. Several amateur videos have been uploaded online, the first of which reached 547,000 views, 739 comments and 3,600 likes within two days. That video was later taken down for copyright reasons as several people claimed its ownership. However, the following video is still online:

The child had been left alone in the apartment by his father, who had gone shopping and had been held up on his way home. The father was taken to court the next day.

Gassama was invited to the Elysée by French President Emmanuel Macron, who awarded him with a diploma and a medal for his heroic courage. Macron also announced that Gassama's immigration situation would be regularised immediately, and that he would be given a job at the Paris fire brigade. Furthermore, Macron invited Gassama to apply for citizenship.

The story has made headlines in French and foreign media channels and continues to be widely discussed on social networks. The television and radio site France Info has published and regularly updates a complete collection of articles on the different aspects of the feat.

The hashtag #MamadouGassama began trending on Twitter on 28 May, and has collected many reflections on the complexities and simplifications of the issue of asylum seekers and “economic migrants” in France.

‘I'm happy for #Mamoudou Gassama but I weep for my continent’

In Mali, although a peace deal was signed in 2015, the conflict in the northern region continues to negatively affect the country. Political strife and the strengthened presence of Islamist armed groups are the main causes of the ever-present volatility and violence.

As such, folks like Gassama continue to leave Mali to escape the situation in the hope of providing a secure future for their families.

Once news of his action to save the child spread, the first reactions in Gassama's home country were to celebrate the Malian “Spider-Man”:

#Mali🇲🇱: The highest honour for Mamoudou Gassama, the Spiderman 🕸🕸 of #Paris🗼

There was also a mixture of pride and regret for all the talent that Africa has lost:

Outrage directed at African leaders was also not far behind:

‘Can we imagine [a France where] it isn't necessary for a migrant to save a child to be treated with dignity?’

Around 1,000 asylum-seekers and migrants are sleeping on the streets of Paris, mainly scattered across the north-east of the city and in the borough of Seine-Saint-Denis. The situation has become considerably more difficult for migrants in Paris since the destruction of camps in mid-August, where more than 2,700 people were living around Porte de la Chapelle. Since then, they have been constantly moved on and hassled at night by authorities.

On April 23, the French National Assembly passed the first reading of a controversial new asylum and immigration bill that would make the process of seeking asylum stricter and enforce the expulsions of men and women whose refugee status had been denied.

The conversation surrounding Gassama's feat often pointed out this context. Le Monde Afrique explored the question in a French-language video: “Mamoudou Gassama, a Malian hero for how many undocumented immigrants?”

 

Some highlighted the ill treatment that migrants and their allies receive:

 

Can we imagine that France will become a country where

✅ it isn't necessary for a migrant to save a child to be treated with dignity?

✅ someone who saves a migrant in the Mediterranean, Col de l'Échelle or elsewhere isn't seen as a delinquent?

Others called out how authorities were using the case to cast themselves in a positive light:

Empty PR move. @EmmanuelMacron receives #MamoudouGassama, the hero migrant. At the same time, his police force will continue to pursue all of his unfortunate brothers and to harass the allies who come to their aid. A sinister and immoral comedy of power without principles.

Outside of France, a Dutch caricaturist compared a “good” and “bad” migrant:

A good or bad migrant? The @Royaards press artist tells us how this drawing “aims to highlight the hypocrisy of Europeans”

From the anti-migrants side, conspiracy insinuations gathered under the hashtag #mamoudoufake in particular. However, they were quickly debunked. While some suggested that young Malian should enlist in the Malian army to fight the jihadists, other far-right personalities or ordinary citizens expressed bitterness at the outcome of the situation:

The widespread media brainwash of the supposedly positive virtues of immigration, exploiting the courage of #MamoudouGassama is really indecent.

Selective empathy for migrants

What will happen when the media attention wanes?

Gassama isn't the first person to be regularised in France for an outstanding act of bravery. Mohssen Oukassi was an undocumented Tunisian migrant who was regularised after saving several people from a fire in 2014. But Oukassi's pathway to citizenship has stalled, he faces a lack of support for health issues from the fire, and finds himself unemployed.

Satire site Le Gorafi summarised the current situation:

 

Breaking news: the Minister of the Interior reminds us in a letter that the time for empathy towards undocumented immigrants will end today at midday.

The site also published the following tongue-and-cheek commentary, in light of the controversy of “crimes of solidarity” which has led to many citizens being harassed for aiding migrants:

Coupable d’avoir régularisé le sans-papiers Mamoudou Gassama, le président de la République a été mis en examen pour délit de solidarité.
« La loi c’est la loi. Aider un sans-papiers en France est un délit. Qu’on soit président ou pas. M. Macron doit assumer la gravité de ses actes. Que les Français soient rassurés, ce hors-la-loi est désormais entre les mains de la police » nous déclare solennellement le ministre de l’intérieur, Gérard Collomb.

Guilty of having regularised undocumented immigrant Mamoudou Gassama, the President of France is under investigation for a crime of solidarity.
The law is the law. Helping an undocumented immigrant is illegal in France, whether you're the president or not. Rest assured, this unlawful act is now in the hands of the police”, Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb solemnly announces. 

For another take on this topic from Global Voices, please read: From zero to superhero.

by Daniel Hirst at June 12, 2018 08:53 AM

June 11, 2018

Global Voices
Meet the candidates competing to be Mexico's next president
democracy-mexico

Scene from a polling booth in Mexico. Images by ProtoplasmaKid used under the licence CC-BY-SA 4.0.

This is the second in a four-part series on Mexico’s upcoming elections on July 1, 2018.

In Part I, we briefly discussed the history behind elections in Mexico and the background to the upcoming polls. Now, we take a look at the candidates aspiring to run a country where citizens – as in many other parts of the world – are disenchanted with the political class in general, and particularly with the various scandals of excesses and corruption in recent years.

Without further ado, we present the contenders to become the next president:

Ricardo Anaya

Restoring peace means that people have a secure and well-paid job. For that reason, in my government we will generate the conditions for more investment and for all morelianos [inhabitants of the Mexican municipality of Morelia] to live better

Ricardo Anaya Cortés is the standard bearer of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) in coalition with the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) and the “Movimiento Ciudadano” (MC). This pragmatic alliance has been criticized for uniting a conservative, a right-wing party (the PAN) with a party identified as liberal or left-wing (the PRD).

Anaya, 39 years old, is the youngest candidate. He has never held a popularly elected post in the executive branch of government, but he served as a legislator at the local and federal levels.

His detractors have made mediatized accusations of corruption against him, for having owned an industrial-use building that was implicated – according to his critics – in a money laundering case.

José A. Meade

Tweet image: We are not going to elect a candidate, but a president, I have no doubt and neither do you that I am the best.

Tweet text: I have no doubts

Without being formally a member of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), José Antonio Meade Kuribreña was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. He has held several posts in public administration, both during the PAN’s period in power and during the presidency of the PRI’s Enrique Peña. Among them, he was notably Foreign Affairs Secretary, Finance and Public Credit Secretary, Social Development Secretary, and Energy Secretary.

As well as being the PRI’s candidate, he also represents the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico or PVEM) and the Partido Nueva Alianza (New Alliance Party PANAL).

Although Meade has not been directly accused of corruption, he headed the Ministry of Social Development which was implicated in a massive embezzlement scheme revealed by independent journalists and an anti-corruption non-governmental organization in an investigation known as “La Estafa Maestra” [the Master Fraud]. Additionally, he was head of the Ministry of Energy for a short period during the preparation of constitutional reforms regarding energy.

Andrés M. López

We will win on the first of July and we will not let down the people. Power only makes sense, and becomes virtuous, when it puts itself at the service of others.

In this contest, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is representing the political party that he founded: Movimiento Regeneración Nacional (MORENA). He was a presidential candidate twice before. In the 2006 elections (as a PRD member) he declared himself the “legitimate President” in response to the unfavorable result.

López (also known as AMLO for his initials) was head of Mexico City's government. During his term, numerous cases of corruption came to light that were linked to his closest colleagues; one of them, René Bejarano, was surprised in the act of receiving millions of dollars in cash, which was video recorded and released in a national news broadcast.

López’s proposals are the best known and most easily identifiable. They include providing possible amnesty to some offenders in the context of the armed conflict and reversing controversial reforms undertaken during the current president’s term, especially those in energy and education. Critics see him as the most populist of the candidates.

While MORENA is seen as a liberal or left-wing party, in the presidential race it has found itself in coalition with the Partido Encuentro Social (Social Encounter Party PES), notorious for its ultra-conservatism.

Jaime Rodríguez

Tweet image: Impunity is born with the judges and magistrates of this country.

Tweet text: It is necessary to clean the corrupt system from the top and I will do it. Why? Because Mexico deserves justice, that we listen to the citizen and above all, that they can feel calm and confident in their authorities. Give a RT if you want to end the corruption.

Jaime Heliodoro Rodríguez Calderón, better known as “El Bronco” presents himself as an independent candidate, despite his previous affiliation to the PRI. He currently serves as the governor of Nuevo León, a post which he also came to as an independent.

“El Bronco’s” inclusion on the ballot has been much discussed, as the electoral authorities noted several irregularities in his compliance with the legal requirements for this candidacy. Ultimately, it was the judiciary that ordered Rodriguez be qualified as a candidate.

His most controversial proposal is that of “cutting off” the hands of corrupt public servants. He expressed this idea in the first debate between the candidates at the end of April 2018, and he did not hesitate to clarify that he meant it literally.

Margarita Ester Zavala Gómez del Campo, who was previously a member of the PAN, was also running as an independent candidate. She is the wife of former president Felipe Calderón and had served as a legislator. However, on May 15, the former First Lady announced that she would withdraw from the contest.

Our introduction to the candidates to succeed Enrique Peña as Mexico’s president ends here. In our next article, we will take a look at opinion polls and the broader state of the country that these aspiring presidents want to govern.

by Liam Anderson at June 11, 2018 09:01 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Russian journalist forced to resign for criticizing pro-Putin propaganda on Instagram

Russian police cadets from Volgograd, Russia, singing a praise song for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Screenshot by Runet Echo. Source: YouTube

On May 24, 2018, reporter Alexandra Terikova was forced to resign for posting an Instagram video of kindergarten students singing a song for Russian president Vladimir Putin and then giving an interview about it to an independent channel.

Terikova, who works with N1, a small local TV network in Nizhnevartovsk in western Siberia, posted a video of her daughter and other children in their nursery school singing a song with the chorus “Uncle Vova, we are with you!”

Uncle Vova, we are with you. Now in our kindergarten as well. I’m not actually very keen about any commanders leading my Alisa to a last-ditch battle. #unclevovawearewithyou #staples

The hashtag #staples (#скрепы) is a sarcastic nod to Vladimir Putin's annual address to the Russian parliament in 2012 where he lamented Russian society's lack of “spiritual staples” holding the nation together. She also quotes the song's lyrics (Vova is short for Vladimir):

Двадцать первый век настал, шар земной от войн устал
Население шара гегемон достал
В Евросоюзе мнения нет, Ближний Восток стонет от бед
За океаном лишен власти президент

Припев:

А нам от северных морей, вдаль до южных рубежей
От Курильских островов, до Балтийских берегов
А на земле сей был бы мир, но если главный командир
Позовет в последний бой, дядя Вова, мы с тобой

А что достанется тому, поколению моему
Дать слабинку, потеряем всю страну
А наши верные друзья, это Флот и Армия
Память дружбы деда красная звезда

Припев

Не достанется гряда, самураям никогда.
Грудью встанем за столицу янтаря.
Севастополь наш и Крым, для потомков сохраним.
В гавань Родины Аляску возвратим.
Припев

The twenty-first century is here, the planet is tired of wars,
The planet's population is tired of hegemony,
There's no unity in the European Union, the Middle East is languishing in misfortune
And a president across the ocean is robbed of his power.
Chorus:
And our land is the northern seas, all the way to the southern frontiers,
From the Kuril islands to the Baltic shores.
We wish the Earth could live in peace, but if our commander in chief
Beckons to fight the final battle, we are with you, Uncle Vova!
And what will my generation have left,
If we let our guard down and lose the country?
Our truest friends are our Army and the Navy,
The memories of friendship and my grandpa’s red star.
Chorus
We will never surrender this ridge to the Samurai,
We will defend the amber capital [Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost exclave] with our lives,
We will preserve Sevastopol and our Crimea for future generations
And we will return Alaska to its home harbor in the motherland.

Chorus

The song initially appeared last November as a music video directed by Anna Kuvychko, a State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian parliament) lawmaker with the ruling party United Russia. The video, starring students from a local cadet school in Volgograd — formerly Stalingrad, the site of the most ferocious and deadly battle of the Second World War — has a ratio of 17,000 likes to 40,000 dislikes on YouTube and caused a massive backlash online for its jingoistic tone and exploiting children for militaristic propaganda: 

On June 6, Terikova gave an interview to TV Rain (Dozhd), an independent TV channel, where she explained that some of her fellow parents in the kindergarten were quite supportive of the performance and cheered on their four and five-years-old kids as they awkwardly sang out lyrics. She protested to the teacher, but her complaints were dismissed, she says.

On June 8, Terikova’s supervisor, her network’s chief executive officer, “very rudely” informed her that “with political ambitions like yours, your place is at the channel you just gave an interview to”, said Terikova in a follow-up interview to TV Rain.

She then posted a photograph of her resignation notice, saying that she was the first Nizhnevartovsk reporter to be fired for her dissident views.

Journalists losing their jobs over critical statements or attending opposition rallies are a common occurrence in Russia. In 2012, Pavel Lobkov, who now works for TV rain, was fired from the NTV channel. In 2015, Konstantin Goldenzweig was fired from the same NTV for giving an interview to a German TV station where he referred to Vladimir Putin's “well-known cynicism.”

by RuNet Echo at June 11, 2018 06:09 PM

Algerian blogger sentenced to ten years in prison, in another blow to free expression

Merzoug Touati. Photo shared on the facebook page of his blog Alhogra

An Algerian court in the city of Bejaia sentenced blogger Merzoug Touati to ten years in prison on 24 May. His crime? Reporting online about anti-austerity strikes, job protests, and human rights violations committed by Algerian authorities.

Touati, who has been in jail since January 2017, was convicted of providing “intelligence to agents of a foreign power likely to harm Algeria's military or diplomatic position or its essential economic interests”, for conducting and posting online an interview with an Israeli official.

On 9 January, 2017 Touati posted an interview with Hassan Kaabia, the Israeli foreign ministry's spokesperson for Arabic-speaking media on YouTube and on his blog, Alhogra, which is no longer online. The interview focused on protests and riots that erupted in the northern province of Bejaia and other parts of the country, with Algerians voicing their opposition to austerity measures including an increase in value-added, income and property taxes, and a decrease in fuel subsidies.

In the interview, Touati asked Kaabia about claims made by an Algerian government minister that foreign powers had meddled in the country's affairs and orchestrated the protests. Kaabia denied any Israeli involvement.

Kaabia also told Touati that before 2000 there was “communication” between the Algerian and Israeli governments, but could not confirm if Algeria hosted a diplomatic office representing Israel in the past.

Algeria and other Arab league governments, with the exceptions of Egypt and Jordan, do not officially recognize or have diplomatic relations with Israel due to the latter's occupation of Palestinian territories. However, some governments currently and in the past have maintained communication channels with or hosted offices representing Israel. Such relations are often kept secret by Arab governments due to the popular support to the Palestinian cause in the region.

Touati is expected to appeal the sentence in the coming weeks.

In a press release, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Regional Director Heba Morayef said:

Merzoug Touati’s arrest, trial and sentence is further proof that freedom of expression remains under threat in Algeria, where the authorities continue to use a range of repressive laws to quell dissent.

Freedom of expression is under siege in Algeria and Touati's conviction is but the latest of a series of legal threats targeting people who cross certain red lines. Many social media users, bloggers and journalists who have cast a discerning eye on ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika (who has been ruling the country since 1999), the police, the judiciary, and religious institutions have been subject to legal threats from state authorities.

Blogger Slimane Bouhafs is currently serving a three-year jail sentence over posts deemed insulting to Islam. Saïd Chitour, a media fixer and stringer who worked for international media outlets such as the BBC and the Washington Post, has been in jail for a year now. Algerian authorities accuse him of “complicit relations with a foreign power”.

Despite the threats and the restrictions, a number of activists gathered in Bejaia in the evening of 6 June to demand the release of Merzoug Touati.

Will their calls be heard? Or will they once again fall on deaf ears?

by Afef Abrougui at June 11, 2018 06:08 PM

Global Voices
Russian journalist forced to resign for criticizing pro-Putin propaganda on Instagram

Russian police cadets from Volgograd, Russia, singing a praise song for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Screenshot by Runet Echo. Source: YouTube

On May 24, 2018, reporter Alexandra Terikova was forced to resign for posting an Instagram video of kindergarten students singing a song for Russian president Vladimir Putin and then giving an interview about it to an independent channel.

Terikova, who works with N1, a small local TV network in Nizhnevartovsk in western Siberia, posted a video of her daughter and other children in their nursery school singing a song with the chorus “Uncle Vova, we are with you!”

Uncle Vova, we are with you. Now in our kindergarten as well. I’m not actually very keen about any commanders leading my Alisa to a last-ditch battle. #unclevovawearewithyou #staples

The hashtag #staples (#скрепы) is a sarcastic nod to Vladimir Putin's annual address to the Russian parliament in 2012 where he lamented Russian society's lack of “spiritual staples” holding the nation together. She also quotes the song's lyrics (Vova is short for Vladimir):

Двадцать первый век настал, шар земной от войн устал
Население шара гегемон достал
В Евросоюзе мнения нет, Ближний Восток стонет от бед
За океаном лишен власти президент

Припев:

А нам от северных морей, вдаль до южных рубежей
От Курильских островов, до Балтийских берегов
А на земле сей был бы мир, но если главный командир
Позовет в последний бой, дядя Вова, мы с тобой

А что достанется тому, поколению моему
Дать слабинку, потеряем всю страну
А наши верные друзья, это Флот и Армия
Память дружбы деда красная звезда

Припев

Не достанется гряда, самураям никогда.
Грудью встанем за столицу янтаря.
Севастополь наш и Крым, для потомков сохраним.
В гавань Родины Аляску возвратим.
Припев

The twenty-first century is here, the planet is tired of wars,
The planet's population is tired of hegemony,
There's no unity in the European Union, the Middle East is languishing in misfortune
And a president across the ocean is robbed of his power.
Chorus:
And our land is the northern seas, all the way to the southern frontiers,
From the Kuril islands to the Baltic shores.
We wish the Earth could live in peace, but if our commander in chief
Beckons to fight the final battle, we are with you, Uncle Vova!
And what will my generation have left,
If we let our guard down and lose the country?
Our truest friends are our Army and the Navy,
The memories of friendship and my grandpa’s red star.
Chorus
We will never surrender this ridge to the Samurai,
We will defend the amber capital [Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost exclave] with our lives,
We will preserve Sevastopol and our Crimea for future generations
And we will return Alaska to its home harbor in the motherland.

Chorus

The song initially appeared last November as a music video directed by Anna Kuvychko, a State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian parliament) lawmaker with the ruling party United Russia. The video, starring students from a local cadet school in Volgograd — formerly Stalingrad, the site of the most ferocious and deadly battle of the Second World War — has a ratio of 17,000 likes to 40,000 dislikes on YouTube and caused a massive backlash online for its jingoistic tone and exploiting children for militaristic propaganda: 

On June 6, Terikova gave an interview to TV Rain (Dozhd), an independent TV channel, where she explained that some of her fellow parents in the kindergarten were quite supportive of the performance and cheered on their four and five-years-old kids as they awkwardly sang out lyrics. She protested to the teacher, but her complaints were dismissed, she says.

On June 8, Terikova’s supervisor, her network’s chief executive officer, “very rudely” informed her that “with political ambitions like yours, your place is at the channel you just gave an interview to”, said Terikova in a follow-up interview to TV Rain.

She then posted a photograph of her resignation notice, saying that she was the first Nizhnevartovsk reporter to be fired for her dissident views.

Journalists losing their jobs over critical statements or attending opposition rallies are a common occurrence in Russia. In 2012, Pavel Lobkov, who now works for TV rain, was fired from the NTV channel. In 2015, Konstantin Goldenzweig was fired from the same NTV for giving an interview to a German TV station where he referred to Vladimir Putin's “well-known cynicism.”

by RuNet Echo at June 11, 2018 05:57 PM

Algerian blogger sentenced to ten years in prison, in another blow to free expression

Merzoug Touati. Photo shared on the facebook page of his blog Alhogra

An Algerian court in the city of Bejaia sentenced blogger Merzoug Touati to ten years in prison on 24 May. His crime? Reporting online about anti-austerity strikes, job protests, and human rights violations committed by Algerian authorities.

Touati, who has been in jail since January 2017, was convicted of providing “intelligence to agents of a foreign power likely to harm Algeria's military or diplomatic position or its essential economic interests”, for conducting and posting online an interview with an Israeli official.

On 9 January, 2017 Touati posted an interview with Hassan Kaabia, the Israeli foreign ministry's spokesperson for Arabic-speaking media on YouTube and on his blog, Alhogra, which is no longer online. The interview focused on protests and riots that erupted in the northern province of Bejaia and other parts of the country, with Algerians voicing their opposition to austerity measures including an increase in value-added, income and property taxes, and a decrease in fuel subsidies.

In the interview, Touati asked Kaabia about claims made by an Algerian government minister that foreign powers had meddled in the country's affairs and orchestrated the protests. Kaabia denied any Israeli involvement.

Kaabia also told Touati that before 2000 there was “communication” between the Algerian and Israeli governments, but could not confirm if Algeria hosted a diplomatic office representing Israel in the past.

Algeria and other Arab league governments, with the exceptions of Egypt and Jordan, do not officially recognize or have diplomatic relations with Israel due to the latter's occupation of Palestinian territories. However, some governments currently and in the past have maintained communication channels with or hosted offices representing Israel. Such relations are often kept secret by Arab governments due to the popular support to the Palestinian cause in the region.

Touati is expected to appeal the sentence in the coming weeks.

In a press release, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Regional Director Heba Morayef said:

Merzoug Touati’s arrest, trial and sentence is further proof that freedom of expression remains under threat in Algeria, where the authorities continue to use a range of repressive laws to quell dissent.

Freedom of expression is under siege in Algeria and Touati's conviction is but the latest of a series of legal threats targeting people who cross certain red lines. Many social media users, bloggers and journalists who have cast a discerning eye on ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika (who has been ruling the country since 1999), the police, the judiciary, and religious institutions have been subject to legal threats from state authorities.

Blogger Slimane Bouhafs is currently serving a three-year jail sentence over posts deemed insulting to Islam. Saïd Chitour, a media fixer and stringer who worked for international media outlets such as the BBC and the Washington Post, has been in jail for a year now. Algerian authorities accuse him of “complicit relations with a foreign power”.

Despite the threats and the restrictions, a number of activists gathered in Bejaia in the evening of 6 June to demand the release of Merzoug Touati.

Will their calls be heard? Or will they once again fall on deaf ears?

by Afef Abrougui at June 11, 2018 02:41 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Why the end of net neutrality might look good ... at first
Pending some surprise moves by the House of Representatives, net neutrality will officially be repealed today. Those regulations prevented internet providers from blocking or interfering with or discriminating against the content they distribute. Now critics say cable and wireless broadband providers can block access to any site they want, charge more for services that compete with what they might offer — like Netflix or Hulu — and create paid fast lanes or even high-priced bundles that include some sites and exclude others. So what's likely to happen and when? Rob Frieden is a professor of telecommunications and law at Pennsylvania State University. He spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about what internet providers wanted to do that they couldn't under the old rules. (06/11/2018)

by Marketplace at June 11, 2018 10:30 AM

June 09, 2018

Global Voices
Japan's Hirokazu Kore'eda wins big at Cannes. Here's a short selection of his films.
万引き

Caption: “(Director Hirokazu Kore'eda), winner of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or.”  Screencap from GAGA (distributor and promoter of ‘Shoplifters’) official YouTube channel.

In May, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore'eda became the first Japanese director to win a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 21 years. This was the sixth time Kore'eda had been nominated for an award at Cannes; the Japanese director had won the Cannes Jury Prize in 2013 for his movie ‘Like Father, Like Son’.

The Cannes Festival is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, on the French Riveria. Widely considered to be the most prestigious film festival in the world, Cannes features just a small, exclusive list of films each year for competition. The festival has launched the careers of many influential filmmakers, with past winners of the Palme d'Or including ‘The Piano’ by Jane Campion, ‘Pulp Fiction’ by Quentin Tarantino and ‘The Third Man’ by Carol Reed.

The last Japanese director to win the Palme d'Or was the Japanese New Wave‘s Shohei Imamura, for his film The Eel.

This year, Kore'eda won the Palme d'Or for his film ‘Shoplifters’. The movie, which Kore'eda says is based on real events, stars frequent Kore'eda collaborators Lily Franky and Kirin Kiki and tells the story of a family of shoplifters living on the poverty line, struggling to get by in Tokyo.

Kore'eda's films typically explore family relationships, while documenting human experiences. Although Kore'da is often compared with mid-century Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, Kore'eda himself has said as a director he feels he has more in common with Ken Loach, the British social realist film director whose naturalism attempts to “capture the truth of the moment.”

Some suggest ‘Shoplifters’ is intended to be a commentary on an economically struggling Japan that has seen economic disparity increase over the past two decades, as wages have stagnated.

‘Shoplifters’ has indeed provoked a reaction in Japan. For example, notorious Japanese right-wing commentator and rhinoplasty tycoon Takasu Katsuya has criticized Kore'eda's film, saying:

Isn't it a global embarrassment that a Japanese person has won an award for making a film about a family of Japanese shoplifters? Just one more example of a nation on the decline.

In response to the sniping by Takasu and others, in a recent interview with the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan Kore'eda said:

A film is not a vehicle to accuse, or to relay a specific message. If we reduce a film to this, we lose all hope for cinema to ignite a richer conversation. I have never made a film to praise or to criticize something. That kind of filmmaking is nothing but propaganda.

After winning the Palme d'Or in May, Kore'eda also turned down an invitation to meet and be recognized by Japan's culture ministry, explaining:

Reflecting on the past where the film industry became united with ‘national interest’ and ‘national policy,’ I tend to think that keeping a clear distance from government authority is the right thing to do.

A short selection of Hirokazu Kore'eda's films

Since 1991, Hirokazu Kore'eda has made 18 films and television documentaries. Nearly all of them use a realistic style to explore the human experience, often in the context of family.

Maborosi (幻の光, 1995)

Based on the book by novelist Teru Miyamoto, ‘Maborosi’ (‘mirage’ or ‘phantom lights’) tells the story of a young mother, widowed following the unexplained suicide of her husband, who remarries and moves to the remote Noto Peninsula. According to a New York Times review:

Watching the film, which has little dialogue and many lingering shots of the Japanese landscape, one has an uncanny sense of entering the consciousness of the main character and seeing through her eyes, all without really knowing her.

The indoor ‘tatami shots‘ Kore'eda employs as a director in this film, combined with his focus on character and family life have led to comparisons with director Yasujiro Ozu.

After Life (ワンダフルライフ, 1998)

In this 1998 film, the recently deceased get into heaven by selecting their happiest memory — remembering this happy moment will be how they spend eternity. Those who cannot decide on a memory are instead employed as bureaucrats, counseling the newly dead while they remember the past. While writing the script for ‘After Life’, Kore'eda Hirokazu actually interviewed 500 people, asking them to choose one memory they would want to remember for the rest of time.

Writing in 1999, Roger Ebert said:

Kore-eda, with this film and the 1997 masterpiece ‘Maborosi,’ has earned the right to be considered with Kurosawa, Bergman and other great humanists of the cinema. His films embrace the mystery of life, and encourage us to think about why we are here, and what makes us truly happy.

Nobody Knows (誰も知らない, 2004)

Based on true events, ‘Nobody Knows’ tells the story of four children abandoned by their mother — with a father nowhere to be seen — in a Tokyo apartment. With parents and adults absent,the children recreate their own family as they struggle to survive, with the film demonstrating how social bonds have been severed in contemporary Japan.

Still Walking (歩いても 歩いても, 2008)

With its low, interior shots and scenes of family life, the 2008 ‘Still Walking‘ has also led to comparisons with Ozu. Set over the course of a weekend as a family gathers to commemorate a death, ‘Still Walking’ examines how families communicate — or choose not to.

Says reviewer Peter Bradshaw:

Unlike family dramas as conceived of in British or American drama, there are no crockery-smashing rows. ­Resentments and anger are contained within the conventions of politeness and respect. But this, I think, reflects the truth about the quiet, undramatic real lives of all families anywhere […]

To learn more about Hirokazu Kore'eda's films, the British Film Institute (BFI) has an excellent starter guide.

by Nevin Thompson at June 09, 2018 05:39 PM

June 08, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Jogging through Tiananmen Square: What happens when Facebook meets China's censorship regime?

Mark Zuckerberg jogs through Tiananmen Square in March 2016. Photo via Facebook.

In March 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a trip to China.

While in Beijing, Zuckerberg went for a jog. As if he were a regular tourist, posting updates to his buddies back in Silicon Valley, he wrote on his Facebook page:

It's great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven.

This was remarkable on several levels. Facebook has been almost continuously inaccessible in China since 2009, as some of Zuckerberg's followers were quick to point out — practically speaking, how did he post that update? Others remarked on the conspicuous cloud of smog hanging in the background.

But several netizens seized on the particulars of this seemingly harmless act of jogging through Beijing. Tiananmen Square, they noted, is no ordinary public plaza. In the comment field beside the post, an argument broke out between users — much of it written in Chinese — about exactly what happened 29 years ago in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

One user wrote that on that date, 29 years ago this week, 6,400 peacefully demonstrating students were shot and killed by police. Another retorted that only students who attacked police were shot at. Users offered vastly different estimates of how many students died that day.

 

Multiple users remarked on pollution and human rights after Mark Zuckerberg posted about his jog through Tiananmen Square in March 2016. Photo via Facebook.

It is not surprising that Zuckerberg's followers had such wide-ranging ideas of what truly happened. After all, this history has been systematically disappeared from the public record in China, both online and off.

The 1989 protests and ensuing massacre at Tiananmen Square represent the most sensitive and heavily censored topic on the Chinese internet — conversations like the one on Facebook can scarcely take place on Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo, if at all.

The Chinese government prohibits all forms of offline and online discussion on the Tiananmen protests. It requires internet companies and platforms to censor websites, stories and academic texts related to the protests, along with all online posts that mention “Tiananmen Square”, “June 4″, and “Hu Yaobang” (the politician whose death sparked the protests). Even images of candlelight, symbolizing a vigil, have been banned in the past.

Facebook is no stranger to this regime. Despite having been blocked in mainland China since 2009, the 2.2 billion user social media network is accessible and popular in Taiwan and in Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China that has a semi-autonomous system of governance, but ultimately lies under the thumb of Beijing.

In 2017, approaching the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a user in Hong Kong created a profile picture frame commemorating the victims. Facebook’s picture frame function allows users to change their profile photos in support of a cause. The frame in question, pictured below, carries messages calling for justice for Tiananmen protesters and an end to “dictatorial rule” in China.

Fung Ka Keung (right) and the June 4 profile picture frame. Photo: Fung Ka Keung/HK Alliance, via Facebook.

Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union Chief Executive Fung Ka-keung, who made the frame, received a notification within 24 hours saying that his design was rejected. Facebook said the frame “belittles, threatens or attacks a particular person, legal entity, nationality or group.”

This was a surprising response for a social media platform once lauded for its catalytic effect on social movements against authoritarian governments in countries ranging from Egypt to Ukraine to Venezuela.

Facebook users in Hong Kong protested the removal of the frame and expressed concern that the site was curbing their freedom of expression, in what they suspected was an effort to appease the central Chinese government and perhaps increase Facebook's chances of re-entry into the lucrative Chinese market.

After the incident was reported in the news, the social media giant publicly apologized and approved the frame. In a brief statement, Facebook called the rejection a “mistake”.

But did the company really remove the frame in error? It is impossible to know. Was this the decision of a machine? Of a human moderator who thought the word “vindicate” was reason enough to reject the frame?

Or was it — as Hong Kongers suspected — a more calculated move, intended to kowtow to Beijing?

Just last week, another message promoting solidarity with the Tiananmen protesters was censored on Facebook. The message invited supporters to join an event in Hong Kong called “The Voice of Dissent”, on the eve of the 29th anniversary of the massacre. Automated messages from Facebook identified the message as spam. This may have been a technical designation, due to a generic email address that appeared in the message, but it still raised suspicion among Hong Kongers that something was amiss.

Screen shot of Voice of Dissent message, with Facebook response.

In its current form, Facebook does not offer users a way to ask questions about the company's actions and be guaranteed a concrete, specific answer. When a piece of content is removed from the platform, there is not a meaningful process of appeal where users can expect an explanation of why this piece of content, specifically, was removed.

When we are left to wonder if the reasons are purely technical, or not. For some of us, it is too easy to imagine that, when it comes to China, there is a bigger political agenda at stake.

Between the Cambridge Analytica revelations, congressional hearings in the US and the EU's freshly-implemented General Data Protection Regulation, there is a strong chance that Facebook's ability to monetize user data will soon face new limitations. This means that Facebook will need to find new ways to make money and grow its business. Entering the Chinese market — if the Chinese government will give its blessing — would be a surefire way to secure the company's future.

And when we think back on Mark Zuckerberg happily jogging in the same public space where thousands of students were killed by their the same government that Zuckerberg seeks to appease, it is difficult to imagine that this, like the rejection of the commemorative frame, is just a mistake.

For some years now, Zuckerberg has been too powerful and had too many resources at his disposal not to know how his actions are interpreted by the global public. He cannot claim ignorance at this point in the game, nor can he afford to.

These and many other gestures of good will toward the Chinese government send clear signals of deference to the state and the Chinese Communist Party, and clear signals of disregard to human rights advocates, political prisoners and victims of human rights abuses.

As human rights activist Cao Yuzhou put it:

The floor you stepped on has been covered by blood from students who fought for democracy. But, enjoy your running in China, Mark.

by Ellery Roberts Biddle at June 08, 2018 09:09 PM

Global Voices
Jogging through Tiananmen Square: What happens when Facebook meets China's censorship regime?

Mark Zuckerberg jogs through Tiananmen Square in March 2016. Photo via Facebook.

In March 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a trip to China.

While in Beijing, Zuckerberg went for a jog. As if he were a regular tourist, posting updates to his buddies back in Silicon Valley, he wrote on his Facebook page:

It's great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven.

This was remarkable on several levels. Facebook has been almost continuously inaccessible in China since 2009, as some of Zuckerberg's followers were quick to point out — practically speaking, how did he post that update? Others remarked on the conspicuous cloud of smog hanging in the background.

But several netizens seized on the particulars of this seemingly harmless act of jogging through Beijing. Tiananmen Square, they noted, is no ordinary public plaza. In the comment field beside the post, an argument broke out between users — much of it written in Chinese — about exactly what happened 29 years ago in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

One user wrote that on that date, 29 years ago this week, 6,400 peacefully demonstrating students were shot and killed by police. Another retorted that only students who attacked police were shot at. Users offered vastly different estimates of how many students died that day.

 

Multiple users remarked on pollution and human rights after Mark Zuckerberg posted about his jog through Tiananmen Square in March 2016. Photo via Facebook.

It is not surprising that Zuckerberg's followers had such wide-ranging ideas of what truly happened. After all, this history has been systematically disappeared from the public record in China, both online and off.

The 1989 protests and ensuing massacre at Tiananmen Square represent the most sensitive and heavily censored topic on the Chinese internet — conversations like the one on Facebook can scarcely take place on Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo, if at all.

The Chinese government prohibits all forms of offline and online discussion on the Tiananmen protests. It requires internet companies and platforms to censor websites, stories and academic texts related to the protests, along with all online posts that mention “Tiananmen Square”, “June 4″, and “Hu Yaobang” (the politician whose death sparked the protests). Even images of candlelight, symbolizing a vigil, have been banned in the past.

Facebook is no stranger to this regime. Despite having been blocked in mainland China since 2009, the 2.2 billion user social media network is accessible and popular in Taiwan and in Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China that has a semi-autonomous system of governance, but ultimately lies under the thumb of Beijing.

In 2017, approaching the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a user in Hong Kong created a profile picture frame commemorating the victims. Facebook’s picture frame function allows users to change their profile photos in support of a cause. The frame in question, pictured below, carries messages calling for justice for Tiananmen protesters and an end to “dictatorial rule” in China.

Fung Ka Keung (right) and the June 4 profile picture frame. Photo: Fung Ka Keung/HK Alliance, via Facebook.

Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union Chief Executive Fung Ka-keung, who made the frame, received a notification within 24 hours saying that his design was rejected. Facebook said the frame “belittles, threatens or attacks a particular person, legal entity, nationality or group.”

This was a surprising response for a social media platform once lauded for its catalytic effect on social movements against authoritarian governments in countries ranging from Egypt to Ukraine to Venezuela.

Facebook users in Hong Kong protested the removal of the frame and expressed concern that the site was curbing their freedom of expression, in what they suspected was an effort to appease the central Chinese government and perhaps increase Facebook's chances of re-entry into the lucrative Chinese market.

After the incident was reported in the news, the social media giant publicly apologized and approved the frame. In a brief statement, Facebook called the rejection a “mistake”.

But did the company really remove the frame in error? It is impossible to know. Was this the decision of a machine? Of a human moderator who thought the word “vindicate” was reason enough to reject the frame?

Or was it — as Hong Kongers suspected — a more calculated move, intended to kowtow to Beijing?

Just last week, another message promoting solidarity with the Tiananmen protesters was censored on Facebook. The message invited supporters to join an event in Hong Kong called “The Voice of Dissent”, on the eve of the 29th anniversary of the massacre. Automated messages from Facebook identified the message as spam. This may have been a technical designation, due to a generic email address that appeared in the message, but it still raised suspicion among Hong Kongers that something was amiss.

Screen shot of Voice of Dissent message, with Facebook response.

In its current form, Facebook does not offer users a way to ask questions about the company's actions and be guaranteed a concrete, specific answer. When a piece of content is removed from the platform, there is not a meaningful process of appeal where users can expect an explanation of why this piece of content, specifically, was removed.

When we are left to wonder if the reasons are purely technical, or not. For some of us, it is too easy to imagine that, when it comes to China, there is a bigger political agenda at stake.

Between the Cambridge Analytica revelations, congressional hearings in the US and the EU's freshly-implemented General Data Protection Regulation, there is a strong chance that Facebook's ability to monetize user data will soon face new limitations. This means that Facebook will need to find new ways to make money and grow its business. Entering the Chinese market — if the Chinese government will give its blessing — would be a surefire way to secure the company's future.

And when we think back on Mark Zuckerberg happily jogging in the same public space where thousands of students were killed by their the same government that Zuckerberg seeks to appease, it is difficult to imagine that this, like the rejection of the commemorative frame, is just a mistake.

For some years now, Zuckerberg has been too powerful and had too many resources at his disposal not to know how his actions are interpreted by the global public. He cannot claim ignorance at this point in the game, nor can he afford to.

These and many other gestures of good will toward the Chinese government send clear signals of deference to the state and the Chinese Communist Party, and clear signals of disregard to human rights advocates, political prisoners and victims of human rights abuses.

As human rights activist Cao Yuzhou put it:

The floor you stepped on has been covered by blood from students who fought for democracy. But, enjoy your running in China, Mark.

by Ellery Roberts Biddle at June 08, 2018 09:01 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Whether or not Papua New Guinea bans Facebook, critics say free speech still under threat

Students in IT class at the Hohola Youth Development Centre. Flickr photo by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (CC BY 2.0)

Papua New Guinea’s reported plan to ban Facebook for a month has raised concerns about government suppression of free speech.

On 29 May 2018, the Post-Courier newspaper reported on a proposal of the Communications and Information Technology Department to ban the social network in order to analyze its use and protect the safety of users. The article quoted Communications Minister Sam Basil as follows:

The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed…We cannot allow the abuse of Facebook to continue in the country.

Basil even suggested that the government can ask local tech companies to develop a similar platform “that is more conducive for Papua New Guineans to communicate within the country and abroad as well.”

The proposed ban was widely condemned in and outside of Papua New Guinea.

But Basil was quick to deny that the ministry has a plan to ban Facebook and accused the Post-Courier of distorting his statement. The newspaper stood by its story and the reporter who interviewed the minister.

During a subsequent parliamentary session, the governor of the Eastern Highlands province asked about the possibility of regulating and even banning Facebook to stop the spread of misinformation.

Opposition members of parliament accused the ruling party of trying to stifle public criticism. This was what MP Bryan Kramer told the media:

I believe the real intent behind the plan is to silence growing public criticism against the Government in relation to corruption. There is also the issue of prosecuting those who are staunch critics and running anti-corruption campaigns naming high level Government officials.

Kramer also called Basil’s proposal as “dumb” on his Facebook page. After this, Basil threatened that Kramer could be charged and arrested for defamation because of his Facebook post.

Gary Juffa, another member of the opposition, urged his fellow politicians to accept criticism and focus more on debating the other more urgent concerns of the citizens:

Let's debate and act on how our people's feelings are hurt and indeed their well-being is affected because they cannot access the services they deserve rather than be outraged because people have said something about us. Mere words.

The Media Council of Papua New Guinea also released a statement expressing concern about the reported Facebook ban:

While we appreciate that there is available content on Facebook that is classified illegal and deemed detrimental to the future of our people, we feel that any attempt to censor, curb, or restrict our people’s protected right to freedom of expression in any form, is an attack against our freedom as the media.

Facebook ban during APEC Summit?

The opposition also suspects that the government’s Facebook ban could be linked to the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit set for later in the year. Basil has denied this.

Paul Barker, the director of the Institute of National Affairs, rejected the idea of banning Facebook during the APEC summit:

It would be a travesty if PNG sought to close down Facebook during the APEC month, making PNG seem rather foolish, as it would be both an attack on embracing technology, undermining the information era and mechanisms for accountability, but also damaging business and welfare.

Writer Scott Waide concurred:

It is a highly embarrassing position to be in as members of APEC discuss the region’s economic future with e-commerce and social media being a pivotal focus of the talks.

Any shutdown of Facebook for any length of time is contrary to the spirit of the discussions where wider access to ICT forms the basis of future economic policies.

He also emphasized the importance of Facebook for small businesses and other needs of the community:

In Lae City where I live, Facebook is a primary means of reporting crimes to the police. The Lae Police Metropolitan Command has a Facebook page linked to its crime reporting systems and toll free number. It is an integral part of policing.

Researcher Kasek Galgal is skeptical about the methodology that the government will use in undertaking an in-depth study of Facebook. He gave this reminder:

If the government is serious about protecting its citizens online, then creating an environment where they can safely use the internet should be the goal, not blocking parts of it altogether.

According to news reports, Facebook has reached out to Papua New Guinea authorities to address the concerns of the government.

by Mong Palatino at June 08, 2018 08:46 PM

Global Voices
Whether or not Papua New Guinea bans Facebook, critics say free speech still under threat

Students in IT class at the Hohola Youth Development Centre. Flickr photo by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (CC BY 2.0)

Papua New Guinea’s reported plan to ban Facebook for a month has raised concerns about government suppression of free speech.

On 29 May 2018, the Post-Courier newspaper reported on a proposal of the Communications and Information Technology Department to ban the social network in order to analyze its use and protect the safety of users. The article quoted Communications Minister Sam Basil as follows:

The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed…We cannot allow the abuse of Facebook to continue in the country.

Basil even suggested that the government can ask local tech companies to develop a similar platform “that is more conducive for Papua New Guineans to communicate within the country and abroad as well.”

The proposed ban was widely condemned in and outside of Papua New Guinea.

But Basil was quick to deny that the ministry has a plan to ban Facebook and accused the Post-Courier of distorting his statement. The newspaper stood by its story and the reporter who interviewed the minister.

During a subsequent parliamentary session, the governor of the Eastern Highlands province asked about the possibility of regulating and even banning Facebook to stop the spread of misinformation.

Opposition members of parliament accused the ruling party of trying to stifle public criticism. This was what MP Bryan Kramer told the media:

I believe the real intent behind the plan is to silence growing public criticism against the Government in relation to corruption. There is also the issue of prosecuting those who are staunch critics and running anti-corruption campaigns naming high level Government officials.

Kramer also called Basil’s proposal as “dumb” on his Facebook page. After this, Basil threatened that Kramer could be charged and arrested for defamation because of his Facebook post.

Gary Juffa, another member of the opposition, urged his fellow politicians to accept criticism and focus more on debating the other more urgent concerns of the citizens:

Let's debate and act on how our people's feelings are hurt and indeed their well-being is affected because they cannot access the services they deserve rather than be outraged because people have said something about us. Mere words.

The Media Council of Papua New Guinea also released a statement expressing concern about the reported Facebook ban:

While we appreciate that there is available content on Facebook that is classified illegal and deemed detrimental to the future of our people, we feel that any attempt to censor, curb, or restrict our people’s protected right to freedom of expression in any form, is an attack against our freedom as the media.

Facebook ban during APEC Summit?

The opposition also suspects that the government’s Facebook ban could be linked to the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit set for later in the year. Basil has denied this.

Paul Barker, the director of the Institute of National Affairs, rejected the idea of banning Facebook during the APEC summit:

It would be a travesty if PNG sought to close down Facebook during the APEC month, making PNG seem rather foolish, as it would be both an attack on embracing technology, undermining the information era and mechanisms for accountability, but also damaging business and welfare.

Writer Scott Waide concurred:

It is a highly embarrassing position to be in as members of APEC discuss the region’s economic future with e-commerce and social media being a pivotal focus of the talks.

Any shutdown of Facebook for any length of time is contrary to the spirit of the discussions where wider access to ICT forms the basis of future economic policies.

He also emphasized the importance of Facebook for small businesses and other needs of the community:

In Lae City where I live, Facebook is a primary means of reporting crimes to the police. The Lae Police Metropolitan Command has a Facebook page linked to its crime reporting systems and toll free number. It is an integral part of policing.

Researcher Kasek Galgal is skeptical about the methodology that the government will use in undertaking an in-depth study of Facebook. He gave this reminder:

If the government is serious about protecting its citizens online, then creating an environment where they can safely use the internet should be the goal, not blocking parts of it altogether.

According to news reports, Facebook has reached out to Papua New Guinea authorities to address the concerns of the government.

by Mong Palatino at June 08, 2018 08:43 PM

Netizen Report: In another blow for free speech, Egypt’s parliament passes cybercrime law

Army truck and soldiers in Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 2011. Photo by Ramy Raoof via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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

On June 5, Egypt’s parliament approved a cybercrime law that will dictate what is and is not permissible in the realms of online censorship, data privacy, hacking, fraud and messages that authorities fear are spreading “terrorist and extremist ideologies.”

The law gives investigative authorities the right to “order the censorship of websites” whenever a site hosts content that “poses a threat to national security or compromises national security or the national economy.”

The law also creates a stronger legal basis from which authorities can pursue voices of dissent or political criticism. While the Egyptian government is notorious for censoring websites and platforms on national security grounds, there have been no laws in force that explicitly address this practice until now.

In the month of May 2018 alone, authorities picked up multiple bloggers and well-known social media activists on similar grounds.

On May 23, Egyptian police raided the home of journalist and blogger Wael Abbas and arrested him. His whereabouts are still unknown but authorities confiscated his personal computer, phones, and books, according to a statement published by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). The network condemned the arrest, describing it as a “kidnapping,” given that authorities forcibly entered Abbas’ home, blindfolded him and took him into custody while still in his night clothes.

While Abbas was able to publish a brief sentence on his Facebook account which said: “I am being arrested,” no official statement has yet been issued by the Egyptian authorities on the incident. An Egyptian journalist, known to be closely allied with the authorities, blamed Abbas for publishing “fake news” about military operations in Egypt’s Sinai region.

Just a few days prior, another blogger, human rights activist and labor lawyer Haitham Mohamedein, was seized by Egyptian authorities. He had been accused of a number of crimes, including “using the internet to incite against the state” and “incitement to protest.” He was detained for 15 days while authorities investigated his activities.

Shadi Abou Zeid, who had previously worked as a producer for a well-known satirical show featuring a chatty puppet character named Abla Fahita, was also arrested for “spreading false information on Facebook about the economic and political states of the country with the intention to undermine trust in the Egyptian state.” He is currently in custody as part of a 15-day detention and is awaiting formal charges.

Nigerian woman loses her job over critical tweets

A Nigerian woman employed by the presidential amnesty office lost her job after criticizing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife Aisha on Twitter. The office described her tweets as a “threat to national security” and dismissed her under public service rules that define “false claims against government officials” as serious misconduct.

Azerbaijani human rights lawyer abducted, detained

Azerbaijani human rights lawyer Emin Aslan was abducted by men in plainclothes just days after re-entering his native country, after completing a law degree in the US. During that time, his Facebook account — which had been deactivated for months — suddenly became active. His phone also appeared to be in use, even though since his return to Azerbaijan, Aslan had not used his phone. More than a day later, authorities revealed that Aslan was in their custody, and was being held in administrative detention for 30 days on charges of “disobeying the police”.

Facebook shared your data in order to create ‘Facebook-like experiences’

Facebook established data sharing agreements with phone and device makers including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung that granted the companies access to substantial amounts of data on users and their friends without their explicit consent, according to a report by the New York Times. Some partners can retrieve information including a user’s relationship status, religion, political leaning, and events, among other data. In a response, Facebook asserted that the APIs it developed for device makers were necessary to create “Facebook-like experiences” on their devices, and that the partners signed agreements preventing them from using the data for any other purpose.

“We are not aware of any abuse by these companies”, Facebook said, but added that it is winding down access to them and has already ended 22 of its partnerships. The report raises more questions about Facebook’s commitment to privacy protections in the wake of this spring’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data mining company used data from Facebook beyond the boundaries of the two companies’ initial agreement.

Google drops drone footage analysis program after employee protest

Google announced it will not renew its contract for Project Maven, a controversial project to provide artificial intelligence to the US Department of Defense to aid in analyzing drone footage. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition asking the company to cancel its contract for the project, and dozens resigned in protest.

Civil society calls for input on digital future at the G20

A coalition of civil society advocates working at the intersection of human rights and technology wrote an open letter calling on government participants in the G20 summit in Argentina to ensure that “the evolving digital society supports a healthy web ecosystem and puts people first.” They touched specifically on the importance of meaningful access to ICTs, privacy and data protection rights, freedom of expression, cybersecurity and increased competition in digital services.

 

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Advox at June 08, 2018 08:02 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: In another blow for free speech, Egypt’s parliament passes cybercrime law

Army truck and soldiers in Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 2011. Photo by Ramy Raoof via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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

On June 5, Egypt’s parliament approved a cybercrime law that will dictate what is and is not permissible in the realms of online censorship, data privacy, hacking, fraud and messages that authorities fear are spreading “terrorist and extremist ideologies.”

The law gives investigative authorities the right to “order the censorship of websites” whenever a site hosts content that “poses a threat to national security or compromises national security or the national economy.”

The law also creates a stronger legal basis from which authorities can pursue voices of dissent or political criticism. While the Egyptian government is notorious for censoring websites and platforms on national security grounds, there have been no laws in force that explicitly address this practice until now.

In the month of May 2018 alone, authorities picked up multiple bloggers and well-known social media activists on similar grounds.

On May 23, Egyptian police raided the home of journalist and blogger Wael Abbas and arrested him. His whereabouts are still unknown but authorities confiscated his personal computer, phones, and books, according to a statement published by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). The network condemned the arrest, describing it as a “kidnapping,” given that authorities forcibly entered Abbas’ home, blindfolded him and took him into custody while still in his night clothes.

While Abbas was able to publish a brief sentence on his Facebook account which said: “I am being arrested,” no official statement has yet been issued by the Egyptian authorities on the incident. An Egyptian journalist, known to be closely allied with the authorities, blamed Abbas for publishing “fake news” about military operations in Egypt’s Sinai region.

Just a few days prior, another blogger, human rights activist and labor lawyer Haitham Mohamedein, was seized by Egyptian authorities. He had been accused of a number of crimes, including “using the internet to incite against the state” and “incitement to protest.” He was detained for 15 days while authorities investigated his activities.

Shadi Abou Zeid, who had previously worked as a producer for a well-known satirical show featuring a chatty puppet character named Abla Fahita, was also arrested for “spreading false information on Facebook about the economic and political states of the country with the intention to undermine trust in the Egyptian state.” He is currently in custody as part of a 15-day detention and is awaiting formal charges.

Nigerian woman loses her job over critical tweets

A Nigerian woman employed by the presidential amnesty office lost her job after criticizing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife Aisha on Twitter. The office described her tweets as a “threat to national security” and dismissed her under public service rules that define “false claims against government officials” as serious misconduct.

Azerbaijani human rights lawyer abducted, detained

Azerbaijani human rights lawyer Emin Aslan was abducted by men in plainclothes just days after re-entering his native country, after completing a law degree in the US. During that time, his Facebook account — which had been deactivated for months — suddenly became active. His phone also appeared to be in use, even though since his return to Azerbaijan, Aslan had not used his phone. More than a day later, authorities revealed that Aslan was in their custody, and was being held in administrative detention for 30 days on charges of “disobeying the police”.

Facebook shared your data in order to create ‘Facebook-like experiences’

Facebook established data sharing agreements with phone and device makers including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung that granted the companies access to substantial amounts of data on users and their friends without their explicit consent, according to a report by the New York Times. Some partners can retrieve information including a user’s relationship status, religion, political leaning, and events, among other data. In a response, Facebook asserted that the APIs it developed for device makers were necessary to create “Facebook-like experiences” on their devices, and that the partners signed agreements preventing them from using the data for any other purpose.

“We are not aware of any abuse by these companies”, Facebook said, but added that it is winding down access to them and has already ended 22 of its partnerships. The report raises more questions about Facebook’s commitment to privacy protections in the wake of this spring’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data mining company used data from Facebook beyond the boundaries of the two companies’ initial agreement.

Google drops drone footage analysis program after employee protest

Google announced it will not renew its contract for Project Maven, a controversial project to provide artificial intelligence to the US Department of Defense to aid in analyzing drone footage. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition asking the company to cancel its contract for the project, and dozens resigned in protest.

Civil society calls for input on digital future at the G20

A coalition of civil society advocates working at the intersection of human rights and technology wrote an open letter calling on government participants in the G20 summit in Argentina to ensure that “the evolving digital society supports a healthy web ecosystem and puts people first.” They touched specifically on the importance of meaningful access to ICTs, privacy and data protection rights, freedom of expression, cybersecurity and increased competition in digital services.

 

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Netizen Report Team at June 08, 2018 07:53 PM

Creative Commons
Act now to stop the EU’s plan to censor the web

As the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament is nearing a vote on the proposed reform of the EU copyright rules, time is running out to make your voice heard. The vote will take place on June 20.

The final copyright directive will have deep and lasting effects on the ability to create and share, to access and use education and research, and to support and grow diverse content platforms and information services. As it stands now, the copyright reform—especially Article 13—is a direct threat to the open web.  

Article 13 is the proposal that would require online platforms to monitor their users’ uploads and try to prevent copyright infringement through automated filtering.

If you’re in the EU go to https://saveyourinternet.eu/ and tell Members of the European Parliament to delete Article 13 from the copyright directive. From the website:

Article 13 will impose widespread censorship of all the content you share online, be it a parody video, a remix, a meme, a blog post, comments on Reddit, a piece of code, livestreaming your gaming experience, or even a link in a tweet.

The filtering requirement violates fundamental rights enshrined in existing EU law, such as the provision in the E-Commerce Directive that prohibits general monitoring obligations for internet platforms.

One example of the negative consequences of Article 13 is that it will limit freedom of expression, as the required upload filters won’t be able to tell the difference between copyright infringement and permitted uses of copyrighted works under limitations and exceptions. Article 13 fails to uphold rules that protect the ability of EU citizens to use copyright-protected works in transformative ways. And it puts into jeopardy the sharing of video remixes, memes, parody, and code, even works that include openly licensed content.

Now the European Parliament is the last line of defense that can put the copyright reform back on track—or at least remove the most harmful parts of the draft legislation, particularly Article 13.

To provide a little background, for the last several years the EU has been working on revising its rules on copyright. Ever since the European Commission released its lackluster draft Directive on copyright in 2016, Creative Commons and dozens of organisations have been engaging policymakers to make crucial changes in order to protect user rights and the commons, enable research and education, and promote creativity and business opportunities in the digital market.

A few weeks ago the ambassadors of the EU countries agreed to a version of Article 13 that fails to address the biggest shortcomings of the Commission’s original proposal, and in a number of ways actually makes it worse.

Contact Members of the European Parliament now!

Send your representatives an email, tweet, or phone call before June 20 and tell them you need copyright laws that protect an Internet where you can share news and culture with your friends and family, where you can expect to be treated fairly, and where your rights as EU citizens are protected. Tell them to delete Article 13.

The post Act now to stop the EU’s plan to censor the web appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at June 08, 2018 03:46 PM

Global Voices
The death of Afonso Dhlakama: Mozambique's legendary politician and ex-guerilla leaves a legacy

Afonso Dhlakama on the campaign trail with the Mozambican National Resistance in Maputo, Mozambique during the 2014 elections. Photo: Adrien Berbier/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

On May 3, 2018, Mozambique and the world received the news that Afonso Dhlakama, one of Mozambique’s most influential politicians, has died.

The former guerrilla fighter and leader of Mozambique's National Resistance (known by its Portuguese acronym Renamo), the largest opposition party, died from ill health complications at one of the most crucial points of the country’s history – peace negotiations.

For over 40 years, Dhlakama led Renamo, a militant organization founded in 1977 and supported by anti-communist, white-minority rule governments of neighboring Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, which fought in a civil war that devastated Mozambique for 16 years.

In 1992, most of the group disarmed and became a political party, but so far it has never managed to win a parliamentary majority in the Assembly of the Republic or beat the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) for the post of president.

In 2012, escalating tensions with the government led Renamo to take up arms again and move to the forests of the Gorongosa mountain range (in Sofala province) where Dhakama had taken refuge since 2015.

Among Renamo’s main demands is the decentralization of power which calls for, among other things, the election of provincial governors, who are currently appointed by the president. This project has already seen progress with the approval of constitutional revision in view of Renamo’s proposal.

A cease-fire was announced in December 2017, but the death of Renamo’s leader leaves the country’s future uncertain, given that he was the only person who negotiated directly with President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi.

The lack of an obvious successor is now hanging over the party, a consequence of the late leader’s authoritarian leadership style. General Ossufo Momade, a parliamentary deputy and current head of Renamo’s Department for Defence, recently took the leadership.

Both Renamo and Frelimo seem committed to continuing the peace process. President Nyusi made it clear that everything would continue as planned in terms of the peace negotiations. Momade said that the best way of honoring Dhlakama would be to conclude negotiations and decentralize the government.

On the day of Dhlakama’s death, President Nyusi’s message relayed that he had done everything he could to prolong Afonso Dhlakama’s life, including asking neighboring countries South Africa and Zimbabwe for help with a possible trip for Dhlakama to receive medical treatment.

In his funeral eulogy on May 9 in the city of Beira, Nyusi stated:

Que fique claro que irei dar continuidade a todo processo da paz juntamente com a nova liderança do partido de Dhlakama respeitando sempre o quadro legal e constitucional. Estaremos honrando a sua memória se soubermos concluir de forma responsavel e célere o diálogo político que agora se centra sobre no processo de descentralização desmobilização e reintegração social dos militares da Renamo.

It must be made clear that I will continue the peace process along with the new leadership of Dhlakama’s party, always respecting the legal and constitutional framework. We will be honouring his memory if we are able to conclude responsibly and quickly the political dialogue that is now centred on the process of decentralization, and the demobilization and social reintegration of Renamo’s combatants.

The presence of the President of the Republic at Dhlakama’s funeral and holding an official ceremony received praise from various quarters, such as that of Manuel de Araújo, member of Mozambique’s third largest political force (MDM):

O seu discurso foi impecavel, respeitoso e dignificante nao so para ele como pessoa, mas também para a função que desempenha. Saiu a ganhar Moçambique a nossa pátria comum. Perante uma audiencia hostil, Nyusi soube arrancar, se a memória nçao me trai tres momentos de aplausos, todos referentes ao Grande Homem e patriota que era Afosno Dhlakama!

His speech was impeccable, respectful, and dignified not only for him individually, but also for the role that he performs. Mozambique, our common homeland, came out winning. In front of a hostile audience, Nyusi was able to get, if my memory does not betray me, three rounds of applause, all referring to the Great Man and patriot that was Afonso Dhlakama!

Hero or villain?

Opinions diverge on the heroism of Dhlakama, in a debate amplified by the fact that nearly all of the current national heroes come from Frelimo, the ruling party.

This fact was highlighted by the journalist and political commentator Fátima Mimbire:

O líder da Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama foi herói para uns e um vilão e se calhar o diabo para outros. As razões para ser considerado como um ou outro são justas.

Uns o odeiam porque ele desencadeou uma guerra que matou milhares de moçambicanos. Alguns viram suas casas serem detruídas, outros seus familiares serem mortos. Eu inclusive, tive familiares mortos, primas violadas. São situações que acontecem numa guerra, onde há suspensão de direitos. Uns ainda guardam essas máguas e é justo. Outros colocaram uma pedra sobre elas e entregaram a Deus o julgamento de tudo.

Outros amam, admiram e o têm como herói, não pelas armas que ele empunhou, mas pela capacidade que ele teve de afrontar o sistema opressor da Frelimo. Sim, opressor. Ele conseguiu colocar a Frelimo de joelhos muitas vezes e se calhar não vivemos pior neste país por causa dessa capacidade que ele teve de desafiar o establisment.

The leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, was a hero for some and a villain, maybe even the devil, for others. The reasons for considering him as one or the other are fair.

Some hated him because he sparked a war that killed thousands of Mozambicans. Some saw their houses destroyed, others their relatives killed. I myself had family that died, cousins raped. These are things which happen in war, where rights are suspended. Some still feel this grief and it is fair. Other drew a line under it and left everything to god’s judgement.

Others love, admire, and see him as a hero, not for the weapons that he wielded, but for the capacity that he had to confront the oppressive system of Frelimo. Yes, oppressive. He managed many times to put Frelimo on its knees and maybe we are not living any worse in this country as a result of this ability that he had to defy the establishment

Juma Aiuba, an influential Facebook commentator, said that Dhlakama would remain in the annals of Mozambique’s history:

Dizer que a morte de Afonso Dhlakama é um retrocesso à democracia é uma grande ingratidão. Dhlakama já semeou, regou e a planta cresceu. Se amanhã a planta morrer, a culpa não será dele. É agora que a verdadeira liderança de Dhlakama virá à tona, porque, afinal de contas, os verdadeiros líderes se fazem desnecessários. Ou seja, a obra de um grande líder se manifesta quando ele se ausenta. Isto é, a obra de um grande líder não morre com o líder. Morre o “obreiro”, mas a obra fica e continua. Morre o mensageiro, mas a mensagem fica e se alastra.

To say that the death of Afonso Dhlakama is a regression for democracy is very ungrateful. Dhlakama already sowed [the seed], watered [it] and the plant grew. If tomorrow the plant dies, the fault will not be his. It is now that the true leadership Dhlakama will show itself, because, after all, true leaders make themselves unnecessary. That is, the work of a great leader manifests itself when he becomes absent. Or, the work of a great leader does not die with the leader. The ‘worker’ dies, but the work remains and continues. The messenger dies, but the message remains and spreads.

Bitone Viage, student and opinion-maker on social media, supported the idea that Dhlakama deserves the status of a national hero:

Dlhakama foi vítima de uma história narrada pelos pseudos-historiadores.

Dlhakama foi uma lenda, os maiores criminosos foram os que escreveram a nossa história, estes foram os culpados pelo branqueamento dos fatos como forma de salvaguardar os interesses de quem os ordenou a narrarem os fatos a luz dos seus interesses. Os pseudos- historiadores deturparam a nossa história e com a morte de Dlhakama ficou mais difícil saber quem realmente merece o estatuto de herói.

A heroicidade de Dlhakama foi negada por conta da forma que a nossa história foi narrada e consequentemente a definição da heroicidade foi para acomodar os interesses daqueles que foram exaltados vencedores por uma história mal narrada.

Dhlakama was the victim of a history told by pseudo-historians.

Dhlakama was a legend, the biggest criminals were those who wrote our history, they were the culprits for whitewashing the facts as a way of saving the interests of those who ordered them to tell the facts according to their interests. The pseudo-historians misrepresented our history and with the death of Dhlakama it has become more difficult to know who really deserves the status of hero.

The heroism of Dhlakama was denied by the way that our history was told and consequently the definition of heroism was made to accommodate the interests of those that were glorified as winners by a history badly told.

by Liam Anderson at June 08, 2018 03:32 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
An Indian tech company is hiring 10,000 workers in the U.S. Here's why.
The $150 billion Indian tech industry was created in part by U.S. companies outsourcing information technology work and software development. Now a combination of automation, oversupply and U.S. immigration policies have led to layoffs and concerns about the future for India’s IT giants. One of those is Bangalore-based Infosys, which is credited with essentially creating the city’s middle class. Rollo Romig wrote about Infosys and the Indian IT economy for the The California Sunday Magazine. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with him about the headwinds facing IT in India now.

by Marketplace at June 08, 2018 10:30 AM

Global Voices
A fishing village and mangrove habitat in the Philippines faces threats of reclamation

Taliptip community in the Philippines. Photo from Kalikasan PNE, used with permission

This article by Leon Dulce is from Kodao, an independent news site in the Philippines, and is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Obando Fishport, located north of the capital city of Manila in the Philippines, bustles with activity at 6:00 a.m. A colorful and tightly packed flotilla has gathered, fishing boats slipping and sliding carefully past each other to take turns docking.

The bustle slowly fades to an idyllic backwater when traveling via pump boat to the coastal village of Taliptip in Bulakan town, Bulacan province. Its surrounding seas are home to some 5,000 fishers and salt-makers who get their bounty of fish, mussels, crabs, shrimp, and krill from these gentle waters and mangrove corridors.

On this collection of small island communities, a 2,500-hectare reclamation project by the San Miguel Corporation is being aggressively pursued, threatening to convert everything in its wake into a so-called ‘aerotropolis complex’ of airports, expressways, and urban expanse.

The project was a well-kept secret from Taliptip’s residents until concerned environmental advocates and church workers raised the issue among the communities, and until President Rodrigo Duterte was seen in the news already inking the project’s deal.

Residents, especially the families who have lived in the village over the past 80 years, are concerned that their life and livelihood are under threat by this project.

A fisherman tending to his nets in Taliptip. Photo and caption by Leon Dulce/Kalikasan PNE, used with permission

“So long as the sea is here, there is hope…What will we fish when all this is turned into cement?” said Arthur*, a fisherman from Sitio Kinse, an island community of Taliptip ensconced in a dense shroud of mangroves.

Arthur says the average fish catch for a day nets around 500 Philippine Peso-PHP ($10.00 US Dollars-USD). Deductions from their gross income will be used to defray gasoline and other expenses and pay their boat consigner’s share. During the dry seasons, some fishers tend to the salt fields and get 154 to 254 PHP [$3-5.00 USD) as payment per sack depending on the quality of the salt.

A good day’s catch is a rarity nowadays, however. Gloria*, a resident of Sitio Dapdap in Taliptip, explained that fishing families usually stock up their live catch in makeshift pens and sell these on a weekly basis. A daily trip to and from the central market in Obando is simply too expensive compared to the dwindling daily catch.

The proposed reclamation threatens to destroy this village of fishers and salt-makers. Photo by Kalikasan PNE, used with permission

The hardships push the people of Taliptip to live sustainably by necessity. Living off the grid, residents have pooled their resources to set up solar panels and batteries for simple electricity needs. The residents take care of the mangroves since the shellfish they harvest live among its roots and serve as a natural barrier to big waves.

A section of the Bulakan Mangrove Eco-Park. Photo and caption by Leon Dulce/Kalikasan PNE, used with permission

Aside from a 25-hectare eco-park established by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), various other stretches of mangroves are spread across Taliptip’s waters. A huge population of birds such as terns, egrets, kingfishers, and swallows makes a home out of these trees.

These coastal greenbelts hold immense value as a balanced ecosystem. However, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the lead agency that approved the reclamation project, however, opposes this view.

San Miguel has pronounced that it can payroll entirely for the 735.6-billion PHP (14 billion USD] ‘aerotropolis,’ a hefty price tag and a huge financial boost for NEDA, enough to justify the displacement of thousands of people when the ecologically critical vegetation gets converted.

In early 2018, the Duterte government also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dutch government to cooperate in the crafting of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan (MBSDMP). The cart came before the horse, however, with projects such as the aerotropolis rapidly progressing without the guidance of a comprehensive sustainable development and management framework.

Almost 30,000 hectares of such projects presently cover the entire length of the bay.

A portion of a stretch of mangroves allegedly cut by San Miguel personnel. Photo and caption by Leon Dulce/Kalikasan PNE, used with permission

San Miguel personnel were reportedly behind a massive mangrove-cutting spree in Taliptip in May 2017. Communities had no idea if those responsible held a special tree cutting permit from the DENR, as required by law.

For Arthur, defending the only livelihood he knows from the real threat of reclamation is non-negotiable. He explains, “we will not leave our homes. We will fight so long as there are people supporting us and giving us the strength to fight.”

Environmental groups and churches are digging in deep with communities in the struggle to save Taliptip and various other communities across Manila Bay. Will Duterte stand with the people and stick to his rhetoric against reclamation, or will he bow once again to the dictates of big business interests?

Leon Dulce is the national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. Follow the local people’s struggle to save Taliptip on Facebook, or through the hashtag #SaveTaliptip on Twitter.

*Real names withheld for security purposes. 

by Kodao Productions at June 08, 2018 04:29 AM

June 07, 2018

Marketplace Tech Report
Melinda Gates: "Nobody actually collects good data about women's lives."
Melinda Gates is most well known as the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But the longtime philanthropist is also the founder of a for-profit organization called Pivotal Ventures. Through her for-profit enterprise, Gates is trying to increase the number of women and minorities in tech by funding venture capitalists who invest in more diverse entrepreneurs. Such funders are known as limited partners (LPs), but the name is misleading because LPs hold the purse strings and can set a VC’s agenda if they want to. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Melinda Gates about how being at the top of the VC food chain can have an impact on the whole system. (06/07/2018)

by Marketplace at June 07, 2018 10:30 AM

Doc Searls
What’s wrong with bots is they’re not ours

In Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened?, Justin Lee (@justinleejw) nicely unpacks how chatbots were overhyped to begin with and continue to fail their Turing tests, especially since humans in nearly all cases would  rather talk to humans than to mechanical substitutes.

There’s also a bigger and more fundamental reason why bots still aren’t a big thing: we don’t have them. If we did, they’d be our robot assistants, going out to shop for us, to get things fixed, or to do whatever.

Why didn’t we get bots of our own?

I can pinpoint the exact time and place where bots of our own failed to happen, and all conversation and development went sideways, away from the vector that takes us to bots of our own (hashtag: #booo), and instead toward big companies doing more than ever to deal with us robotically, mostly to sell us shit.

The time was April 2016, and the place was Facebook’s F8 conference. It was on stage there that Mark Zuckerberg introduced “messenger bots”. He began,

Now that Messenger has scaled, we’re starting to develop ecosystems around it. And the first thing we’re doing is exploring how you can all communicate with businesses.

Note his use of the second person you. He’s speaking to audience members as individual human beings. He continued,

You probably interact with dozens of businesses every day. And some of them are probably really meaningful to you. But I’ve never met anyone who likes calling a business. And no one wants to have to install a new app for every service or business they want to interact with. So we think there’s gotta be a better way to do this.

We think you should be able to message a business the same way you message a friend. You should get a quick response, and it shouldn’t take your full attention, like a phone call would. And you shouldn’t have to install a new app.

This promised pure VRM: a way for a customer to relate to a vendor. For example, to issue a service request, or to intentcast for bids on a new washing machine or a car.

So at this point Mark seemed to be talking about a new communication channel that could relieve the typical pains of being a customer while also opening the floodgates of demand notifying supply when it’s ready to buy. Now here’s where it goes sideways:

So today we’re launching Messenger Platform. So you can build bots for Messenger.

By “you” Zuck now means developers. He continues,

And it’s a simple platform, powered by artificial intelligence, so you can build natural language services to communicate directly with people. So let’s take a look.

See the shift there? Up until that last sentence, he seemed to be promising something for people, for customers, for you and me: a better way to deal with business. But alas, it’s just shit:

CNN, for example, is going to be able to send you a daily digest of stories, right into messenger. And the more you use it, the more personalized it will get. And if you want to learn more about a specific topic, say a Supreme Court nomination or the zika virus, you just send a message and it will send you that information.

And right there the opportunity was lost. And all the promise, up there at the to of the hype cycle. Note how Aaron Batalion uses the word “reach” in  ‘Bot’ is the wrong name…and why people who think it’s silly are wrong, written not long after Zuck’s F8 speech: “In a micro app world, you build one experience on the Facebook platform and reach 1B people.”

What we needed, and still need, is for reach to go the other way: a standard bot design that would let lots of developers give us better ways to reach businesses. Today lots of developers compete to give us better ways to use the standards-based tools we call browsers and email clients. The same should be true of bots.

In Market intelligence that flows both ways, I describe one such approach, based on open source code, that doesn’t require locating your soul inside a giant personal data extraction business.

Here’s a diagram that shows how one person (me in this case) can relate to a company whose moccasins he owns:

vrmcrmconduit

The moccasins have their own pico: a cloud on the Net for a thing in the physical world: one that becomes a standard-issue conduit between customer and company.

A pico of this type might come in to being when the customer assigns a QR code to the moccasins and scans it. The customer and company can then share records about the product, or notify the other party when there’s a problem, a bargain on a new pair, or whatever. It’s tabula rasa: wide open.

The current code for this is called Wrangler. It’s open source and in Github. For the curious, Phil Windley explains how picos work in Reactive Programming With Picos.

It’s not bots yet, but it’s a helluva lot better place to start re-thinking and re-developing what bots should have been in the first place. Let’s start developing there, and not inside giant silos.

[Note: the image at the top is from this 2014 video by Capgemini explaining #VRM. Maybe now that Facebook is doing face-plants in the face of the GDPR, and privacy is finally a thing, the time is ripe, not only for #booos, but for the rest of the #VRM portfolio of unfinished and un-begun work on the personal side.]

by Doc Searls at June 07, 2018 09:11 AM

Global Voices
‘It's not life's plan. It's machismo': Outrage in Peru over 22-year-old woman's murder

Eyvi Ágreda. Image widely shared on social media.

In a short period of time, 22-year-old Eyvi Liset Ágreda Marchena made the front pages of Peruvian media. The first time was on April 24, when it was reported that a man sprayed her with fuel and set her on fire while she was returning home from work by bus, and again on June 1, when she passed away from the serious burns that affected 60% of her body.

This latest case of femicide has shocked Peru and underscores a serious issue that continues to affect the country.

The aggressor, Carlos Javier Hualpa Vacas, was Ágreda's former coworker and had allegedly been harassing her for weeks. After initially denying his involvement, Hualpa eventually confessed to the attack which eventually lead to Ágreda's death.

In his statements, Hualpa revealed he sprayed gasoline on her and set her on fire “because he felt used” by Ágreda. Hualpa claimed that Ágreda had to be taught a lesson because she owed him some money:

Como no me pagaba, entonces sentí que me había utilizado. […] no dormía, me ponía a llorar. Ella era muy feliz, haciendo su vida normal y yo fregado, discutía con mi mamá. […] alguien tenía que ponerle un alto […].

Realmente, yo no tenía las intenciones de dañar a nadie. Yo solamente quería dañarle su cara, porque ella siempre decía que su cara era bonita.

Because she didn't pay me, I felt she'd used me. […] I wasn't sleeping, I cried a lot. She was very happy, she was living her normal life and I was screwed up, I argued with my mom. […] someone had to put a stop to her […].

I really didn't intend to harm anyone. I only wanted to affect her face, because she always said her face was pretty.

Hualpa claimed he only wanted to spray the fuel on her face, but the bus started to move and so it spread all over her body. Other passengers were also affected by the attack.

On April 27, Hualpa was issued a nine-month precautionary prison warrant on charges of attempted aggravated femicide, serious injuries against seven bus passengers, and endangering public safety. During the hearing, Hualpa showed remorse:

If I'm issued 20, 30 years, I'll accept it […] I deserve it.

Meanwhile, his victim underwent several surgical procedures to remove necrotic tissue and to graft swine skin on her body. Ágreda was sedated to spare her the pain from her wounds, and was also kept under artificial respiration. On May 17, she reportedly recovered consciousness and spoke with her relatives, asking them if she could go home.  All in all, Ágreda underwent 12 operations in a little over a month.

“For Eyvi, for all of us”

On June 1, news of Ágreda's passing shocked the country. The group “Ni una menos” (Not one less) immediately convened a march for that same afternoon:

One of us is missing.
For Eyvi, for all of us 

————
🚨We convene ourselves for Eivy, for all of us. We'll take the streets to protest against a sexist system that dehumanizes us women, THAT KILLS US. Because if one is missing, we all take the streets. VIGIL TODAY AT THE JUDICIARY – 7 PM.

On Twitter, the hasthags #EyviAgreda, #PorEyviPorTodas (For Eyvi, for all of us) and the already widely shared #NiUnaMenos (Not one women less) were trending topics and a sounding board of general outrage:

It's not life's plan. It's machismo.
————
It's not ‘life's plan’, it's machismo. Graffiti made today in Lima as a response to President Martin Vizcarra, who blamed 23-year-old [sic] Eyvi Ágreda's death, due to serious burns caused by a guy who harassed her for two years, on fate and not sexism.

This graffiti refers to comments made about Ágreda's passing by President Martin Vizcarra who stated that “sometimes these are life's plans“. Vizcarra, who was harshly criticized for his statement, later went on to explain that he wasn't talking about the aggression but rather he was making a comment that life's plan didn't allow doctors to save her life.

I'm 22 years old. On April 24, Carlos Hualpa —who didn't take NO as an answer— sprayed gasoline over me and set the bus on fire. With over 50% of my body burnt, I fought back. I'm telling this because Eyvi Ágreda can't do it anymore. Machismo kills.

Even Hualpa's attorney had very harsh words for his client:

Mario Arribas said he'd go on defending Carlos Hualpa, but “only to protect [his client's] right to live”. What do you think?
———–
Eyvi Agreda's murderer Carlos Hualpa's attorney: “May he rot in jail!” What do you think?

Currently, femicide and gender-based violence are serious problems in Peruvian society. The Development and Family Health Survey (ENDES 2017) concluded that six out of 10 Peruvian women admit to having been victims of violence by their partners or spouses. Although the last five years have seen the percentage of female victims of violence decline from 71.5% to 65.4%, the figures are still alarming. Only in the first four months of 2018, over 40 cases of femicide were reported in Perú, representing a 26% rise in comparison to same period in 2017.

by Gabriela García Calderón at June 07, 2018 09:04 AM

June 06, 2018

Global Voices
Amid setbacks by the Temer administration, thousands of indigenous peoples march into Brazil's capital

From April 23 to 27, more than three thousand indigenous leaders from all regions of Brazil gathered in the country's capital. Photo: 350.org, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This story was reported by Nathália Clark of 350.org, an organization building a global grassroot climate movement, and it is published here as part of a partnership with Global Voices. 350.org participated in the National Indigenous Mobilization in Brazil as a supporter.

The camp smelled like smoke and urucum, a plant used for body painting. A defiant energy pulsed through the crowd. We could hear chants, ritual mantras, and ceremonial crying.

The place resounded with the voices of the more than 3,000 indigenous people from more than 100 different groups from all over Brazil, who gathered for the five-day 2018 National Indigenous Mobilization, held from April 23 to 27 in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital city.

Also known as the ‘Free Land Camp’ (‘Acampamento Terra Livre’, in Portuguese), the sit-in is a yearly event organized by the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB, in the Portuguese acronym). This year's was its 15th edition.

According to the last Brazilian demographic census, there are 305 indigenous populations in Brazil, speaking 274 different languages. Together, they number almost 897,000 — approximately 0.47% of the country's 200-million-strong population.

Most of them are scattered over thousands of villages, from north to south of the national territory, located in the 715 Indigenous Lands already regularized and formally recognized by the federal government. There are more than 800 cases of indigenous lands awaiting regularization.

The ‘Genocide Opinion’ and other blows

The movement has been facing a series of political setbacks, which gave renewed thrust to this year's mobilization.

The Brazilian National Congress, whose majority is currently dominated by supporters of the agribusiness sector, are trying to approve a bill package that would undermine the rights of indigenous peoples guaranteed by Brazil's 1988 Constitution and other international laws, such as Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.

In the current complex political situation in Brazil, under the controversial administration of president Michel Temer, representatives of the agribusiness sector have gained even greater foothold and managed to also occupy other levels of government.

Only days before the Free Land Camp took place, President Temer yielded to pressure from a ruralist caucus and fired the president of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), replacing him with someone more agro-friendly.

The government’s reluctance to grant formal recognition of indigenous lands’ boundaries and the criminalization of the movement’s leaders were major points of concern and grievance for those who gathered in Brasilia.

Kretã Kaingang, an indigenous leader from the state of Paraná and coordinator of the indigenous program of 350.org in Brazil, recalled the kind of threats he has faced. “I was imprisoned for a time, accused of crimes that were not proven and I have been prevented by a judge from approaching the land where I was born. For four years I couldn’t step on the place where my umbilical cord is buried,” he said.

In September 2017, Brazil's attorney general issued a legal opinion asserting that only indigenous peoples who were occupying their territory on the day the 1988 Constitution was promulgated should benefit from the recognition of their right to land.

Known as the “time limit” thesis, and sometimes called the “genocide opinion“, it has been endorsed by President Michel Temer. Should it ever become law, it would severely cripple the recognition of new indigenous lands.

‘We have only one objective here: to resume the process of demarcation of our lands’

The night fell as the indigenous leaders stood in vigil in front of the federal government building. At one point, the crowd raised candles and stopped their activities to listen to a lament sung by one of the indigenous women. It was a mourning ceremony.

On the following day, the Esplanade of Ministries, the main route where all federal government buildings are located, was occupied again by protesters, who marched towards the seat of the National Congress.

With paintings and adornments, dancing and singing war cries, indigenous Kaingang, Guarani, Guarani-Kaiowá, Guarani-Mbya, Xucuru, Pataxó, Munduruku, Awá-Guajá, Guajajara, Marubo, Xerente, Xavante, Kayapó, Tenetehara, Tembé, Tucano, Krahô, Kanela and many others demanded the process of demarcation of their lands be resumed and asked for respect for their rights, as enshrined in the 1988 Constitution.

Indigenous leaders carried banners with messages targeted at the authorities: “Demarcation Now!”, “No fracking in our lands!” and “Guarani resists”. Other signs called out the destruction of territories, rivers and natural resources by giant infrastructure and energy projects.

“We have only one objective here: to resume the process of demarcation of our lands. Many of our relatives could not join us, so we came to represent our communities,” said Kretã Kaingang.

During the demonstration, the street was stained red, symbolizing the blood shed by indigenous people during acts of repression and violence which are considered by many a continuation of the historical genocide perpetrated against them during colonial times.

“‘The trail of ‘blood’ we leave represents the violence and attacks imposed by the state to the original peoples of this country. Several invasions, threats, and assassinations have been occurring in Brazil, in addition to a cruel process of criminalization of our leaders. But despite this problematic conjuncture, we will always resist and fight, as we learned from our ancestral warriors,” said Chief Marcos Xukuru of Pernambuco.

Joênia Wapichana, the first indigenous woman and indigenous lawyer to stand up in the Federal Supreme Court, recalled what is really at play: “The fact that the Executive Branch has an instrument to restrict the right to demarcation puts the lives of all indigenous peoples at risk, whose subsistence depends directly on the land and everything it gives.”

“The demarcation of our lands equals their preservation. We have heard reports from our relatives from all regions about invasions pursued by loggers, prospectors, grabbers and state enterprises. What we want is to ensure the lives of future generations. We fight here not only for us indigenous peoples but for the Brazilian society as a whole,” said Tupã Guarani Mbya, from the Indigenous Land Tenondé Porã, in São Paulo.

For the chief Juarez Munduruku, indigenous peoples are like trees. “There's life in the trees just as there is in us. If you kill them, they die and never come back. If a logger kills a ‘cacique’, a story ends.”

He recalled that in the middle of the Tapajós River, in the Amazon, where his territory is located, there are plans to build 43 big hydroelectric plants, which will dam one of the largest rivers in the country, a sacred place for his people. Two of these projects have already been implemented, and there are plans to also build 30 ports to transfer monoculture soybeans, in addition to mining and illegal logging.

by 350.org at June 06, 2018 03:13 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
How LeBron's breakup with Miami started an Instagram craze
Steph Curry’s buzzer-beating three-pointer from Game 2 of the NBA Finals has been relived millions of times on Instagram. But not on the Golden State Warriors official account. Or ESPN’s. Or TNT’s for that matter. Instead, the clip blew up on the account called House of Highlights, which has some 9.3 million followers. House of Highlights is doing something that social media managers at major sports networks may be kicking themselves for not doing first. It’s posting highlights from sports, both professional and amateur, all day, every day. Omar Raja started House of Highlights as a way to keep up with his favorite basketball star, LeBron James. He talked about it with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood. (06/06/2018)

by Marketplace at June 06, 2018 10:30 AM

June 05, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Freedom abroad, fear at home: Azerbaijani human rights lawyer detained for 30 days

Emin Aslan with his fiancée, Nura. Photo by Emin Aslan.

For Emin Aslan, going back to his native Azerbaijan after completing his studies in the US meant seeing his friends, and marrying his fiancée.

As a human rights lawyer, he worried that he might be detained once in Azerbaijan. Prior to leaving the country, he had worked with local non-government organizations and had prepared multiple complaints brought before the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Azerbaijani citizens.

But after answering a few questions from authorities, he crossed the border and passed through customs. There was less to fear. Or so he thought.

Then everything changed. For me, it began with a message on my phone's screen: “Emin Aslan detained”. It took me a minute to process this news about my friend. I had just spoken with Emin's fiancée two days before and we had made plans to see one another in the coming months. How could it be? The news started circulating online just a few minutes later.

Lawyer Emin Aslan was taken in an unknown direction by plainclothed men today in Baku. There is no information on his whereabouts.

For more than twelve hours, Emin Aslan's whereabouts were unknown. Family members called one police station after another, only to be told that police did not know where Emin was being held. But as his friends and allies began to put the pieces together, the answer became clear.

Acclaimed investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who was once a client of Emin's, wrote on Facebook:

Another human rights defender is arrested today.

Emin Aslan is a lawyer. He represented me in several Freedom of İnformation litigations and libel cases when he was one of the lawyers of Media Rights Institute. Three days ago he completed his studies in Syracuse university and came to Azerbaijan.

He is engaged and was planning to marry. Today, he was kidnapped in front of his fiancee, forced to the car and taken in unknown direction. The car, that he was forced to belongs to Mehman Teymurov – officer of Bandotdel – Anti Organized Crime Unit of Interior Ministry – the unit that is notorious for tortures.

Emin Aslan is a human rights defender and he was also mentioned in the famous NGO case which caused arrest of Intigam Aliyev, Anar Mammadli, Rasul Jafarov and myself in 2013-2014. Possible arrest was the reason why he left the country. He thought it might be safe now. No it isn't.

Ismayilova further posted about the car that was seen taking Emin away:

YENİLƏNİB
Emin Aslanı aparan avtomobil (90 XG 017) Teymurov Mehman Vaqif oğluna məxsusdur. Eyni adlı adam Baş Narkotiklərlə Mübarizə İdarəsinin əməkdaşı olub. Sonra bu ad soyadlı şəxs Nardaran işində iştirak edib. Mütəşəkkil Cİnayətkarlığa Qarşı Mübarizə İdarəsinin (Bandotdel) əməliyyatçısı qismində. Emin Aslan bandotdeldədir demək.
https://courts.gov.az/userfi…/files/1%28106%29300%281%29.pdf

The car license plate (number 90 XG 017) that reportedly took Emin Aslan belongs to Mehman Teymurov. The man by the same name worked as an employee of the Department to Combat Drugs. Later, the same name, appeared in Nardaran case as an employee of the Department for Combating Organized Crime [aka Bandotdel]. This means Emin Aslan is kept at “Bandotdel”.

The next day, on June 5, the Department for Combating Organized Crime confirmed it was holding Emin.

Human rights defender Anar Mammadli posted on Facebook:

Vekil Elçin Sadıqova MCQMİ-den (Bandotdel) Emin Aslanın orada olduğunu tesdiq edibler. Ancaq ona Eminle görüş icazesi verilmeyib.

The Department for Combating Organized Crime confirmed with lawyer Elchin Sadigov that Emin Aslan is being held there. However, the lawyer was not allowed to see him.

On June 5, a local court sentenced Emin to 30 days in administrative detention on charges of disobeying the police. The real reasons for his detention are still unknown, leaving his friends and family puzzled.

Although he will remain in police custody for the next 30 days, the sentence of administrative detention (in contrast to pre-trial detention) has left his family with some hope that he will be released thereafter.

Writing on her Facebook, his fiance, Nura, wrote:

Biz indi Eminlә evlilik/viza işlәri ilә mәşğul olmalı idik, amma indi tәcridxana üçün çantasın hazırlayıram. Bu biabırçılıqdı, bu iyrәnclikdi. Bizim hәyatımızdan 30 gün oğurlayıblar vә buna sevinirik.

30 gün nәdir ki, bir göz qırpımında gәlib keçәcәk. Amma yaşadığım stres, mәyusluq hәmişә mәnimlә qalacaq. Amma hәrşeyә baxmayaraq, möhkәmik, başqa yolu yoxdur, onsuz.

Right now, Emin and I were supposed to deal with marriage/visa paperwork but instead I am preparing a bag for him to take with me to the detention center. This is shameful and disgusting. They have stolen 30 days from our lives and yet we are celebrating. What is 30 days anyway, it will pass by in an instance but this stress will always stay with me. Despite everything we are strong, there is no other way.

Emin is a recent graduate of Syracuse University College of Law, in the US, where he completed a LLM degree. After completing his studies, he returned back to his native Azerbaijan on May 30. Four days later, he was abducted.

Prior to leaving for his studies, Emin worked in Tbilisi, Georgia with Human Rights House Tbilisi office. On Facebook, Emin's former colleagues expressed concern about his disappearance and alleged abduction.

Emin Aslan at his graduation from Syracuse University. Photo by Emin Aslan via Meydan TV.

Similarly, the Eastern European Center for Multiparty Democracy issued the following statement:

We have learned today that Mr. Emin Aslan, our former colleague, has been kidnapped in Baku by the unidentified individuals. We are very concerned with his fate in the face of widespread kidnappings and mistreatment of journalists, human rights activists and pro-democracy leaders in Azerbaijan.

While Emin was held incommunicado, his Facebook account — which had been deactivated for months — suddenly became active. His phone also appeared to be in use, even though since his return to Azerbaijan, Emin had not used his phone.

Emin's arrest is one of multiple recent government attempts to persecute the remaining voices of Azerbaijan's civil society. Scores of opposition party members have been rounded up and held on bogus charges. And while many more questions remain unanswered in Emin's case, this illustration by exiled Azerbaijani cartoonist sums it all well.

 

by Arzu Geybullayeva at June 05, 2018 09:52 PM

Global Voices
Boycott against Argentinian musician in France sparks debate on cultural appropriation

Chocolate Remix at the end of Pride 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo by Nubeamarela, shared under a Creative Commons license (Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Cultural appropriation is quickly becoming a hot topic, especially in the music world. On the one hand, there are those who belong to a culture, who are often cut off from power and commercialisation. On the other hand, there are those who enjoy certain privileges and are permitted to reproduce and benefit from cultural products conceived and created by members of the first group.

Questions arise which add to the complexity of the discussion: Who has the right to use these cultural products legitimately? Is it still appropriation if it is among people belonging to different groups, each oppressed in their own ways?

The most recent debate about cultural appropriation in Latin America is centred around the work of Argentinian Romina Bernardo,  better known as ‘Chocolate Remix’, who has been singing, collaborating, and producing  reggaeton music (a style of music originating in Latin America and the Caribbean). She identifies as a lesbofeminist, as shared in an interview in July 2017.

During her most recent tour of Europe, “La Mutinerie”, the venue in Paris where she was due to perform, cancelled the concert scheduled for the 26th of April after a group of Black French activists complained that she was guilty of cultural appropriation.

Bernardo responded to the complaints by questioning whether these queer trans French activists could legitimately talk about cultural appropriation given their French nationality. The discussion continued with reactions from both sides, including new comments from Bernardo reflecting on the discussion.

However, even though Bernardo would go on to recognise part of the issues that were raised, the debate and the reactions to it created ongoing conversations about oppression and privilege online.

A debate took place instead of a concert, on the same stage where Bernardo had performed. The singer also exchanged with famous Cuban rap artist Odaymar Pasa Kruda, a member of Krudxs Cubensi, who participated in the conversation over the phone.

Pasa Kruda responded to Bernardo's first reaction to the queer trans French activists via Facebook:

Nos silenciaron al decir que estábamos hablando por personas latinas negras y que nosotros, la gente negra cuir y la gente trans eran más privilegiados que ellxs porque somos franceses”. Lo cual es una prueba evidente de que no tienen idea de qué es la apropiación cultural, el colorismo, el racismo y la negrofobia y cómo funciona. ¿Cómo puede una mujer negra o una persona trans ser privilegiada entre cualquier persona en este planeta sobre una base racial?

They silenced us by saying we were talking for black Latin people and that we, as queer black women and trans people were more privileged than them because we are French. This is obvious proof that they have no idea what cultural appropriation, racism, colourism and negrophobia are and how they work. How can a black woman or a trans person be more racially privileged than anyone else in the world?

Bernardo made the following statement on her public Facebook page:

Celebro que las voces de personas negras se [hagan] oír y apoyo definitivamente la lucha antiracista, lo que lamento en profundidad es que aún no se oiga la voz de personas latinas migrantes, también racializadas, que acaba quedando silenciada entre medio del desconocimiento de realidades y subordinada a una lectura que parece plantear un orden jerárquico de opresiones sin tener en cuenta la transversalidad de las mismas. El resultado: dos grupos oprimidos enfrentados desvalorizando sus luchas mutuamente en un espacio blanco francés.

I celebrate that the voices of black people are being heard and I fully support the fight against racism. However, I deeply regret the way in which the voice of Latin migrants, racialised too, are still not being heard, ending up being silenced behind ignorance of reality and suppressed under a lecture on the hierarchy of oppressions, which doesn't take into account their transversality. The result: two oppressed groups facing off and devaluing their shared struggle in a white French space.

This response gave way to discussions and reflections which were shared on social media, to which the singer made another comment, elements of which are still the target of criticism, but which recognise some omissions made in her previous comments both on social media and on the stage.

However, by then the debate had sparked intense discussion on social media — marked, according to Pasa Kruda, by violence:

Durante el debate físico exigido por Romina y sus aduladoras, así como también en los comentarios escritos en los foros en línea se ha desenmascarado el facismo rampante que se arrastra en la comunidad blanca y blanco mestiza latina aún siendo cuir, aún siendo lesbianas, aún siendo emigrantes, aún siendo feministas. Seguimos esperando la declaración de Romina mientras sus fanes nos ofenden con los más dolorosos insultos y ataques racistas.

During the debate started by Romina and those who praise her, and also seen in the comments written on online forums, a widespread facism has been uncovered which creeps about in the white, mixed race and Latin communities, even among queers, lesbians, immigrants, feminists. We are still waiting for Romina's statement, meanwhile her fans are being offensive, hurling painful insults and racist attacks.

“There is an immense history of talented musicians behind you…silenced”

In an article called ‘Chocolate Remix: Reggaeton, Cultural Appropriation and Aesthetic Extractivism‘, journalist and rapper Fabian Villegas addresses how other musical genres have gone from being representative to being cultivated by white people.

Los procesos de apropiación cultural son tan viejos como los primeros espirales de producción, circulación y mediatización cultural. Para decirlo a cabalidad no hay posibilidad de que pensemos industria cultural al margen de procesos históricos de apropiación cultural y extractivismo estético. Del rock, al jazz, del jazz al tango, y del tango al flamenco, todos estos, solo por mencionar algunos ejemplos, se han erigido sobre estructuras y prácticas de apropiación, robo, despojo, “desahucio”, invisibilidad de los grupos racializados y de su propia producción y experiencia cultural.

The processes of cultural appropriation are as old as production, circulation and media coverage. The truth is, it would be impossible to see cultural industry as being at the margin of the historic processes of cultural appropriation and aesthetic extractivism. From rock to jazz, from jazz to tango, and from tango to flamenco: all these, just to give a few examples, have been built upon the structures and practices of appropriation, thievery, dispossession, evictions, invisibility of racialised groups and their own cultural production and experience.

Villegas also explains the most complex aspects:

Lo conflictivo también está en que por tu privilegio racial, termines no solo por apropiarte de esa práctica cultural, sino que tu privilegio racial te otorgue la capacidad de resignificar, estetizar, sofisticar y ampliar la incidencia de esa práctica cultural. Y no conforme con eso, estés consciente que es por tu condición de blanco que esas prácticas culturales empiezan a ser asimiladas y aceptadas en el mainstream y en la industria cultural. Atrás de ti había una fila inmensa de músicas y músicos talentosos, pero la industria y el significante colonial los silenció, invisibilizó o relegó al anonimato, porque tu blanquitud hace cómoda, fresca, y cool esa práctica cultural…

The trouble is, because of your racial privilege, you end up not only appropriating that cultural practice, but your racial privilege also gives you the capacity to redefine, aestheticise, sophisticate and share that cultural practice.

Writer Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, prominent Puerto Rican poet, participated in the debate through her poem ¡Soñé!: Versos contra la apropiación cultural de lo Afro (I dreamed! Verses against the cultural appropriation of the African), published in Afroféminas:

Soñé que en honor al feminismo
y al antirracismo
y al colorismo
quiso honrar el dolor ajeno
y evitar el vejamen discriminatorio
sobre nuestras cuerpas negras
no hacerlo es ser partícipe aún del patriarcado
de la heteronorma
del machismo
del bullying
de continuar pisoteando a otras y otros

I dreamed that in honour of feminism
and of antiracism
and of colourism
I wanted to honour others’ pain
and avoid discriminatory satire
of our black bodies
to not do so is to remain part of the patriarchy
of heteronormativity
of machismo
of bullying
of continuing to stamp on others

In El barrio antiguo (The Old Neighbourhood), Denise Alamillo and Emilie Mourgues from France closely analyse Bernardo's arguments.

En el debate en facebook a Romina se le hicieron varios señalamientos sobre su trabajo, el título de su proyecto artístico “Chocolate remix”, el uso de la frase “Me gustan las Negras” en una canción/video en el que sale una mujer afrolatina exotizada y sexualizada. A esto la artista respondió que no se estaba refiriendo a ‘Las Negras afrodescendientes’ sino que en su país ‘así se les dice a las personas mestizas que son pobres, de clase social baja. Con este argumento me parece se abrió la caja de Pandora y quedó al descubierto el extremo racismo estructural que se encuentra enraizado en la cultura Argentina, en donde se ha normalizado y pareciera ser evidente que Negrx en Argentina es un insulto peyorativo que hay que queerizar y reapropiarselo (hasta siendo blanqux) con orgullo sin siquiera hacer conciencia de lo que se está diciendo, cómo y a quiénes.

Lots of comments have been made to Romina on Facebook about her work, about the title of her ‘Chocolate Remix’ project, about her use of the phrase ‘I love Black women’ in a song/video which features an exoticised and sexualised Afro-Latin woman. Romina responded that she wasn't referring to ‘Black women of African origin’, but that in her country ‘that's how we refer to mixed-race poor people, from low social classes’. Her comment seems to have opened Pandora's box, uncovering the extreme structural racism which is engrained in Argentinean culture, where using ‘black’ as a pejorative insult has become normalised. It needs to be queerised and reappropriated (by white people too) with pride, without paying attention to who's saying what and how and to whom.

Although Bernardo has changed the lyrics of her song Como me gustan a mí (“The way I like them”), lyrics which were fiercely criticised by Afro-feminist activists, she has confirmed that she will continue to use her alias.

The author of this post featured the letter written by the Ile-Iwe/La Escuela group in her personal blog: ‘¡No más Chocolate Remix! ¡El Feminismo Negro importa!’ (“No more Chocolate Remix! Black Feminism Matters!”) which was written in response to Bernardo's letter, although it doesn't focus solely on her. It's signed by activists of African origin from various countries and of various gender identities, sexual orientations, and allies:

Romina Bernardo parece no comprender el insistente cuestionamiento de su nombre “Chocolate”, cuando justifica y confirma, diez días después del debate inicial, su intención en continuar utilizándolo. Queremos volver a insistir en que ese alias estigmatiza, cosifica, fetichiza, re-traumatiza y oprime a las personas negras en general, no importa en qué lugar del planeta.

Romina Bernardo doesn't seem to understand the persistent questioning of her name ‘Chocolate’, as she tries to justify it and confirms, 10 days after the initial debate, her intention to continue using it. We want to insist again that using this alias stigmatises, objectifies, fetishes, retraumatises and oppresses all black people, wherever they may be from.

by Eleanor Weekes at June 05, 2018 03:23 PM

A social entrepreneur with ‘a pebble of an idea’ is taking on the Goliath of Jamaica's plastic pollution

Scheed Cole's son sitting on a 360 Recycle bench. Cole founded the social enterprise in an effort to think differently, help people in need and tackle environmental issues. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

The theme for the 2018 World Environment Day (June 5) is #BeatPlasticPollution and discussions have stepped up in Jamaica over waste management — especially how best to tackle its tide of plastic.

Senator Matthew Samuda, who filed a parliamentary motion in 2017 for a ban on plastic bags and styrofoam, promised action in February 2018, but no anti-plastic measures have come to pass. Samuda tweeted recently from a Kingston Harbour beach:

Regardless of the outcome of government deliberations, the private sector including groups like Recycling Partners of Jamaica been moving ahead with cleanups and recycling efforts.

Founder and CEO of 360 Recycle, Scheed Cole, working on a model. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

In particular, one young social entrepreneur has come up with a creative way of repurposing and reusing plastics. Scheed Cole and the company he founded, 360 Recycle, employs approximately 20 young people from the surrounding community, and together they build innovative playgrounds, sculptures, water features, plant pots, construction materials and more, all from plastic bottles and styrofoam. The company is also building a diorama for the Natural History Museum of Jamaica's new exhibition hall.

Global Voices recently visited 360 Recycle‘s workshop in inner-city Kingston and spoke to Cole. He was busy sculpting a small model while his wife Keisha (also the company's administrator) kept an eye on the work in the yard outside, as well as on their children, who were on a school break. As the sound of hammering and tapping floated through the window, Cole talked about his vision.

Global Voices (GV): What motivates you?

Scheed Cole (SC): I am very drawn to people in need, and how I can play a part to help them. That's where the empathy comes from. That is one of the main reasons I made 360 Recycle into a social enterprise. I am a lover of science, and I am a lover of materials, as a sculptor. A lot of the material I used was recycled. I turned to plastics while looking for lighter materials. It became then intentional to tackle the environmental issues. I started to use more recyclables and that is how 360 Recycle came to life. It became the core of the business.

A worker from the Rousseau Road/Lyndhurst community making a bowl. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

GV: Do you see yourself as a creative or as a manufacturer?

SC: We are both [Cole and his wife] trained teachers. I spent some years teaching visual arts in inner city schools. I wanted to be a scientist, but there's a lot of science in art. I do mostly applied arts — the use of industrial sciences merged with fine arts.

A playground that was under construction in Rose Town, Kingston, a few years ago, using 360 Recycle products. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

GV: Creatively, then, what inspired you?

SC: From the moment I became self-aware — age four — I was aware of myself drawing. I took waste and found objects such as copper wires, plastic bottles, corks…making robots and laser guns and cars, even attaching electronic parts to them, while I was still in primary school. I wasn't focused on school. I had attention deficit disorder and I was dyslexic. My stepmother was a secretary, and loved word games — like that wicked game, Scrabble! But it was, ‘Scheed will have to learn a trade; he isn't good at academics.’ I went on to St. Andrew Technical High School. It was upstream from that point. I think schools teach the kids academics too early — they don't become creative, but geared to pass exams. I realised that something that was a hobby became something that could support me financially. My art teacher, Marlon Jones, was very instrumental. He entered me in competitions. I won prizes in a United Nations anti-pollution global competition in 1992. I went to the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel for the awards ceremony. I got to dress up in a blazer. I was celebrated at the school. I walked with my head held high.

I left high school with seven subjects, studying on a hungry belly. I did some construction work to pay my school fees. I worked for six months as an unpaid intern at a graphics agency, then I went to teachers’ college.

A sign at the 360 Recycle workshop that reads, “Transforming the environment, transforming lives”. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

GV: What to you is the importance of recycling and environmental conservation?

SC: It's about being aware and ‘awake’ — becoming sensitive to environmental impacts. The thing is, we are detached from nature; we are no longer a part of the ecosystem. It's a national problem. We need to bring people back to a love and respect for nature. Respecting the trees, respecting the rivers, respecting the seas. We have detached from it because we have placed more emphasis on academics. We have short-changed ourselves.

It is the sensitivity of humanity that we have lost. We have put the arts on the periphery. But these are the things that make us feel. What happens if we lose the trees, the birds, the insects? They are nationals of Jamaica as well — the butterflies, the crocodiles, are Jamaican nationals. One thing with nature is it kicks back all the time. Human beings are the ones who cannot recover quickly.

360 Recycle is saying, ‘Put the environment first. Put aside greed.’ We [Jamaicans] are trying to compete, not realising what our true resources are. Those resources are ‘wood and water’ — the foundation — but still, we are chasing after the dream of First World countries. We have become so blind and so desensitised.

Flower pots made by 360 Recycle from plastic bottles. Photo by Emma lewis, used with permission.

GV: What is your view on Jamaica's waste management problem?

SC: There is no waste. Waste is created by lazy people. People think the only way to deal with styrofoam and plastic is to ban it. There is no mental discipline to find a use for a raw material that was really created by the earth, not man [fossil fuel]. So how can we reduce its use, keep it ‘in the loop’, create a zero-waste environment? We can find a purpose in everything. But modern society is fast. The quickest thing to do, rather than put it back in the cycle, is to use it once and take it straight to the dump.

The landfill may never have to exist. Nature reuses everything; it is a constant cycle. Transporting your waste to another country is not natural either. For 360 Recycle, we ask why can't we reuse our waste here? We are proof of this. We can reutilise all the waste in Jamaica. We just need to build our capacity.

Banning plastic is not going to help deal with the ‘nastiness’ of our people; their attitude. They are going to throw away something else. It's so short-sighted. We need to resolve the overall relationship of our people to our environment — and not just one element. People will still be throwing garbage out of their cars onto the street. People will still be dumping things into the rivers. If we really mean business, we have to come up with a solution to the whole problem, not just one aspect.

Why don't we spend our money on more units to collect recyclables and establish a sorting system, and incentivise people to do so?

A close-up of the inside of an elephant sculpture, made by 360 Recycle out of styrofoam. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

GV: What do you see as 360 Recycle's role?

SC: The thing is, 360 Recycle is not a government initiative, although it is seen as a solution to a national problem if it were scaled up to a national level — but the government is not taking it up. We have collaborated with others in the past. If we could only look at it as not ‘my thing’, but as something that works — and put all our efforts behind it. If it is a good idea, let's rally behind it together. Unity is strength.

More decorative plant pots made by 360 Recycle. Photo by Emma Lewis, used with permission.

GV: How do you see 360 Recycle — and Jamaica — in 10 years’ time?

SC: I see us making Jamaica a zero-waste country — at least between 80% and 100% zero waste — with every raw material, whether organic or man-made, repurposed and brought back into the cycle. We see 360 Recycle developing products that will be utilised globally. Like Sweden, we would run out of waste here in Jamaica. Sweden was a government initiative, but we can make this a private sector effort and move past the naysayers.

We are David. We have a pebble of an idea, and it is making a big impact. The Goliath is the improper waste disposal; the lack of waste management systems that are not working; the lack of awareness among our people; the lack of initiative. We are taking on that giant head-on, and we are not backing down.

This is bigger than me. It's for my generation; generations to come. As long as the earth exists.

by Emma Lewis at June 05, 2018 02:17 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Apple's WWDC: Lots of new features, little talk of privacy
Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t been shy in recent weeks about taking shots at Facebook over user privacy. So it was reasonable to think that privacy and social responsibility might be selling points at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Jose this week. But the issue was barely mentioned by Cook or anyone else for that matter. Ina Fried, the chief technology correspondent at Axios, spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about whether Apple missed an opportunity. (06/05/2018)

by Marketplace at June 05, 2018 10:30 AM

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

“Who are you?” Photo by Flickr user Mayr. CC BY 2.0

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

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

To that end, one useful metric is how readers respond to our stories and translations. So let's take a look at who our readers were and what caught their attention during the week of May 28-June 3, 2018.

Where in the world are Global Voices’ readers?

Last week, our stories and translations attracted readers from 206 countries! The top 20 countries represented across all of Global Voices’ sites were:

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

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

105. Kyrgyzstan
154. Andorra
26. Tanzania
117. Togo
189. Chad

Global Voices in English

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

1. Macedonians manage to joke about a serious naming dispute with Greece
2. How ‘African’ is Northern Africa?
3. Swiss brewery sparks protests in Nepal for naming new beer with timur flavor after late king
4. Malaysia’s new government urged to implement media reforms
5. Who are China’s political prisoners? A human rights assessment, 29 years after Tiananmen

Global Voices Lingua

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

Arabic

Bangla

Catalan

Chinese (simplified)

Chinese (traditional)

Czech

Dutch

Farsi

French

German

Greek

Hindi

Indonesian

Italian

Japanese

Kurdish

Macedonian

Malagasy

Nepali

Polish

Portuguese

Punjabi

Romanian

Russian

Serbian

Spanish

Swahili

Urdu

by L. Finch at June 05, 2018 09:02 AM

Rising Voices
“Gender is a topic that involves all of us, not only women”

The Reframed Stories Project asks people to respond to dominant themes and issues that appear in news coverage about their communities. These stories are reflections by people who are frequently represented by others in the media. Word clouds are created using the Media Cloud platform, a data analysis tool which examines a collection of media outlets over a specific period of time, allowing participants to analyze and discuss preliminary insights into how they might be represented in the media. The project refrains from making conclusive pronouncements about the data, and instead is a starting point that creates space for discussion about how they can help shape their own media representation through digital media.

Johanna Lombeida is a member of the broadcast team of the weekly radio magazine program “La Movida Independiente” on Wambra Radio in Quito, Ecuador. She also writes for Transistor Extremo. The following is a transcript of the video about Johanna's analysis of the word cloud for the term, “género” (gender) within the Ecuadorian context.

Dominant words from 3,326 articles published between January 2017 and April 2018 mentioning “género” (gender) within 2 Media Cloud collections of Ecuador’s Spanish-language media outlets. (view larger image)

What about the word cloud drew your attention most?

Yo escogí la nube de “género”. Me sorprendió bastante el hecho de que partamos de género desde el punto de un discurso solo de mujer. Otras cosas que me impactaron también fueron que salió (la palabra) comunicación. Tuve la oportunidad de verificar entre (las palabras) “género” e “ideología”. No mencionamos a actores políticos. Algo que también me llamó mucho la atención fue que como en cuatro o cinco veces se toma el término de “erradicación”. (Me sorprendió) que todo va dirigido sólo a la mujer, como que si el tema de género sólo fuese destinado para la mujer. También hay algo importante que es que casi en la última línea encontramos (la palabra) “unidas”, también solo dirigido a la mujer. Creo que el tema de género nos compromete a todos, entonces eso me llamó bastante la atención.

I chose the word cloud of the word “gender”. I was surprised to see that we are understanding gender from a discourse that is exclusively based on women. Other things that caught my attention were that the word “communication” was present. I had the opportunity to contrast the words “gender” and “ideology”, and there is no mention to political actors. I was also impressed to see that the word “eradication” was mentioned four or five times. I was surprised to see that everything is directed only to women, as if the topic of gender would only interest women. Another important thing is that closer to the end (of the word cloud) we find the word “united”, also only directed to women. I think that the issue of gender interests all of us, so I was surprised to see that the discourse was only centered around women.

How should ‘gender’ be represented in the media?

Yo quisiera encontrarme un actor que no necesariamente que pertenezca a las organizaciones, sino un actor nuevo, que sea un discurso desde el otro lado, un discurso desde lo varonil, desde el hombre.

I would like to find actors that are not necessarily part of an organization, new actors. I would like to see a discourse from the other side, from the masculine [perspective], from men.

What words should a word cloud for ‘gender’ have?

Creo que el género es un tema que nos engloba a todos, no solo a las mujeres, y seguimos con el mismo discurso de que el género involucra solamente a la mujer. Siguiendo con lo de (la representación) de la ideología, creo que los medios solo lo ponen como algo que alguien dijo, incluso ahí hay una parte en la que se menciona en ideología al (ex-presidente) Correa y (al actual presidente) Moreno, como que si la ideología partiera desde ellos, entonces nos olvidamos de la historia y del origen.

I think that gender is a topic that involves all of us, not only women, and we continue to have the same discourse that gender is only about women. Following with the (representation of) ideology. I think that media only talks about that as something that someone said, there is even a mention to ideology in relation to (the ex-president) Correa and (the current president) Moreno, as if ideology would emerge from them. We forget about history and about the source.

This is part of a Rising Frames series developed in close collaboration with the organization El Churo based in Quito, Ecuador. They organized a workshop held on April 21, 2018 that brought together representatives from various collectives and groups to examine how they or issues they care about are represented in a collection of Ecuadorian media and to create stories in response.

Belén Febres-Cordero assisted with the transcription and translation of the post, which was edited for clarity and length.

by Johanna Lombeida at June 05, 2018 01:01 AM

“The word ‘contamination’ is not there”

The Reframed Stories Project asks people to respond to dominant themes and issues that appear in news coverage about their communities. These stories are reflections by people who are frequently represented by others in the media. Word clouds are created using the Media Cloud platform, a data analysis tool which examines a collection of media outlets over a specific period of time, allowing participants to analyze and discuss preliminary insights into how they might be represented in the media. The project refrains from making conclusive pronouncements about the data, and instead is a starting point that creates space for discussion about how they can help shape their own media representation through digital media.

Jorge Cano is a member of collective El Churo in Quito, Ecuador. The following is a transcript of the video about Jorge's analysis of the word cloud for the term, “minería” (mining) within the Ecuadorian context due to opposition to several large-scale mining projects due to environmental concerns.

Dominant words from 1,718 articles published between January 2017 and April 2018 mentioning “minería” (mining) within 2 Media Cloud collections of Ecuador’s Spanish-language media outlets. (view larger image)

What about the word cloud drew your attention most?

En estos ejercicios, escogí la palabra “minería” para ubicarla en esta búsqueda digital, en esta nube de palabras. Nos sorprendió bastante el que se relacionen varias palabras, sobre todo con el tema de desarrollo, empresas, con el tema económico. Creemos que hay como una versión bastante desde la economía hacia lo minero.

In this exercise, I chose the word “mining” to focus on in this digital search of this word cloud. We were very surprised to see that mining is related to several words, in particular to the topic of development, companies, to the economy. We believe that there is a strong version that sees economy related to mining.

According to the word cloud, how has ‘mining’ been represented in the media?

En la nube están varias palabras frente al tema de minería: desarrollo, consulta, está el tema de economía, empresas, plusvalía, oro, metales. Está también el tema de política, es un tema que se relaciona bastante con todas las palabras con eso, con política también, con inversión, muy poco palabras relacionadas a contaminación, ambiente, eso no hay. Hay quizá una palabra general: ambiente, pero no existe “ríos”, no existe “agua”, no hay algunas palabras de las que las organizaciones sociales usan para relacionar una agenda en contra de la explotación, de la minería.

In this word cloud, there are several words related to mining: development, consultation, economy, companies, capital gain, gold, metals. There is also the topic of politics, it is a topic that relates with all those words, such as investment. There are very few words related to contamination, environment. Those words are absent. There might be one general word: environment, but there is no [word] “rivers”, there is no [word] “water”, some of the words that social organizations use to relate an agenda against exploitation and mining are not there.

What words should a word cloud for ‘mining’ have?

Quisiera que se visibilicen más palabras relacionadas a qué ocasiona la minería. No hay contaminación, no hay los elementos que se utilizan para la explotación minera: cianuro, metales. Lo que sí sale es la palabra “pueblos” e “indígenas”. En Ecuador, vivimos una consulta popular sobre el tema de la explotación de minería en áreas que son mucho más sensibles cercanas zonas urbanas y también zonas como parques protegidos, áreas protegidas. Sin embargo, no salen estas palabras. Por ejemplo, no sale el tema de lo urbano, no sale el tema de áreas protegidas, si bien sale como áreas, no sale como algo más específico.

I would like the word cloud to include more words related to the consequences of mining. The word “contamination” is not there, the materials that are used in mining exploitation also aren't listed: cyanide, metals. What is present are the words “communities” and “indigenous”. In Ecuador, we had a referendum about mining in areas that are very sensitive. close to urban places, and also in areas such as protected parks. However, these words are not appearing (in the word cloud). For example, the topic related to urban areas and protected areas are not there, there is a mention to areas, but not as a specific topic.

This is part of a Rising Frames series developed in close collaboration with the organization El Churo based in Quito, Ecuador. They organized a workshop held on April 21, 2018 that brought together representatives from various collectives and groups to examine how they or issues they care about are represented in a collection of Ecuadorian media and to create stories in response.

Mónica Bonilla and Belén Febres-Cordero assisted with the transcription and translation of the post, which was edited for clarity and length.

by Jorge Cano at June 05, 2018 12:40 AM

“Start with the basics, with what is the concept of feminism”

The Reframed Stories Project asks people to respond to dominant themes and issues that appear in news coverage about their communities. These stories are reflections by people who are frequently represented by others in the media. Word clouds are created using the Media Cloud platform, a data analysis tool which examines a collection of media outlets over a specific period of time, allowing participants to analyze and discuss preliminary insights into how they might be represented in the media. The project refrains from making conclusive pronouncements about the data, and instead is a starting point that creates space for discussion about how they can help shape their own media representation through digital media.

Stefy Muñoz is a member of the broadcast team of the weekly radio magazine program “La Movida Independiente” on Wambra Radio in Quito, Ecuador. The following is a transcript of the video about Stefy's analysis of the word cloud for the term, “feminismo” (feminisim) within the Ecuadorian context.

Dominant words from 112 articles published between January 2017 and April 2018 mentioning “feminismo” (feminisim) within 2 Media Cloud collections of Ecuador’s Spanish-language media outlets. (view larger image)

What about the word cloud drew your attention most?

Nosotros teníamos un imaginario bastante negativo con respecto al ‘feminismo’ y por ende creíamos que se reflejaría en la nube, pero cuando buscamos en la nube, de hecho hay bastantes términos que son positivos con respecto al feminismo. Sale, por ejemplo, ‘igualdad’, ‘derechos’, ‘política’, ‘lucha’, ‘movimiento’,etc. De hecho, los términos negativos son poquitos.

We thought that the word cloud about “feminism” would portray a negative view about it, but when we conducted the search on this word, we noticed that, in fact, it includes several positive aspects associated to feminism, such as “equality”, “rights”, “politics”, “struggle”, “movement”, etc. As a matter of fact, the negative terms are few.

According to the word cloud, how has feminism been represented in the media?

La lucha social, las organizaciones, colectivos ,grupos de mujeres que están constantemente haciendo esta lucha, están bastante invisibilizados por los medios de comunicación. De hecho, en una aplicación salieron las noticias más rankeadas, las más visitadas, era como unas diez o quince y busqué noticia por noticia, pero ninguna hablaba acerca de grupos, de organizaciones ni de mujeres emblemáticas; no logré ver nada acerca del feminismo.

The social struggle, the organizations, collectives, the women’s groups who are constantly conducting this fight are made invisible by media. In fact, I looked in an app that showed the most ranked and visited news, there were around ten or fifteen, and I looked one by one but none of them talked about groups, organizations, or emblematic women; I couldn’t find anything about feminism.

How should feminisim be represented in the media?

Partiendo de lo más básico que sería el concepto de lo que es el feminismo, partiendo desde ahí sería el aporte para tener desde un mismo concepto, no solamente como el término más buscado del año, en el diccionario, en la definición que dice la RAE (Real Academia Española), sino en sí lo que de verdad es el feminismo, lo que busca, cuáles son sus preceptos, entonces sí sería bastante interesante. A propósito de esto, en la plataforma se pueden buscar como dos o tres términos a la vez, y ahí yo creo que encontré un poco más de información o de términos que se acercaban a lo que realmente quería encontrar o debería encontrar.

It would be important for it to start with the basics, with what is the concept of feminism, so that we could have one same concept, not only as the most common search of the year in the dictionary, the definition offered by the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy), but what feminism really is, what it stands for, what are its goals, that would be interesting. In this sense, Media Cloud allows to search multiple words at once, and then I think I found a little bit more of information or of terms that were closer to what I really wanted to find or thought I should find.

This is part of a Rising Frames series developed in close collaboration with the organization El Churo based in Quito, Ecuador. They organized a workshop held on April 21, 2018 that brought together representatives from various collectives and groups to examine how they or issues they care about are represented in a collection of Ecuadorian media and to create stories in response.

Mónica Bonilla and Belén Febres-Cordero assisted with the transcription and translation of the post, which was edited for clarity and length.

by Stefy Muñoz at June 05, 2018 12:22 AM

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