Stories from Quick Reads and Digital Activism
— Vaintche Rahouli (@vincraholi) August 28, 2014
Twitter and Facebook users from Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo, have posted several photos of locusts invading the city. Locust invasions are not unusual in Madagascar, especially after tropical storms, but they are very uncommon in larger cities. Locusts can have a devastating effect on crops, especially in a country that has struggled with bouts of famine in past years.
A program of the Center for Victims of Torture, New Tactics is an NGO working to support human rights defenders around the world. Their work includes sharing resources, training, and building an online community. As they say on their website:
Creating change is challenging. If we’re clear about where we are starting from, where we want to get to, and the path from one to the other, we’re more likely to get there.
- Identify the problem
- Create a vision
- Map the terrain
- Explore tactics
- Take action
Each section includes videos, worksheets, and exercises to help the user move through the process.
They are also looking for people to share both tools and feedback — within each of the five steps there is space for contributions. The toolkit is ongoing, and New Tactics hopes to continue adding new elements.
CrisisNET finds, formats and exposes crisis data in a simple, intuitive structure that’s accessible anywhere. Now developers, journalists and analysts can skip the days of tedious data processing and get to work in minutes with only a few lines of code.
The Association for Progressive Communications is asking LGBT activists, women's rights activists, queer bloggers and anyone with an active voice on issues of gender and sexuality on the Internet to participate in their 2014 EROTICS survey. APC explains that the survey seeks to help advocates “understand how sexual rights activists (from a variety of focuses and countries) use the internet to advance their work, what sort of risks, harassment, content regulation, or censorship they deal with, and how they respond to them.” The organization plans to use this information to help increase access to digital security for sexual rights activists and advocate for gender and sexuality issues among Internet rights activists. At a deeper level, they hope to:
…expose the connection between the regulation of sexual speech and content on the Internet and provide evidence that will help sexual rights activists explain the impact of such regulation on their lives and their work.
The EROTICS survey is available in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Take the EROTICS survey here and visit the project website to learn more about the study.
CrowdVoice, a user-powered service that tracks voices of protest from around the world, lists a timeline of Israeli air attacks on Gaza in 2014. Here's an excerpt from their “explore the backstory” section:
A series of abductions and murders has inflamed age-old tensions and sparked armed unrest in Gaza. It began on May 15, 2014, when two Palestinian youths were shot dead during clashes with Israeli security forces during a demonstration in the West Bank. Outrage grew when video footage of the killings emerged, showing that the unarmed teens were shot with live ammunition, despite Israeli assertions that only non-lethal munitions were used against protesters. Later, on June 12, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped as they hitchhiked home from the West Bank. An Israeli military operation was launched to find the missing teens, and on June 30, their bodies were recovered. The government of Israel has blamed Hamas for the murders, and vowed swift retaliation. Hamas praised the kidnapping, but did not claim responsibility. In an apparent act of retribution, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, aged 16, was abducted near his home on his way to morning prayers and burned alive. Israeli authorities have arrested six people in connection with the teen's death. Tensions from the murders have boiled over into indiscriminate Palestinian rocket attacks into Israeli territory, and relentless aerial bombardment of Gaza.
Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]
A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.
Google Chrome finally becomes “legal” in Cuba and blogger Yoani Sanchez says that she gleans great satisfaction from “knowing that the opinions of citizens interested in the free flow of information and technology influenced the elimination of this prohibition.”
A U.S.-based, grassroots movement for appropriate international review of the politically motivated conviction and corresponding imprisonment of former Secretary-General (Chief of Staff) at the Presidency, Mr. Marafa Hamidou Yaya of the Republic of Cameroon.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya was sentenced to 25 years in jail in 2012 on corruption charges linked to a deal to buy a presidential plane.
Thomas Friedman recently traveled to Madagascar and posits that Americans need to pay more attention to the economic and ecological disaster that threatens the island. Some of his readers did not quite agree, like Deosinon in Philadelphia, who argues that Madagascar is too far removed from his needs :
I apologize, but it is very difficult to care about Madagascar. What really concerns me is the valuable space given to this issue by the Times. We are here and need a paper that helps us [..] Today's paper talks of The Met and Madagascar. Please use your space and your writers considerable pool of intellect to speak to us here, and help us with our lives, and tell us things that will improve life here. Maybe I'll read more, I know I'll be happier.
To which Robert counters :
I see your point; after all, this is only a 226-thousand square mile island with over 22 million people living on it, the 47th-largest country in the world, with any number of absolutely-unique species living on it and on its way to becoming Haiti. [..] Beyond the moral considerations, the fact is that we're part of the world and can't wall ourselves off, whether we like it or not. As they say, you can manage the issues or the issues will most assuredly manage you.
In somewhat related news, a few citizens in Madagascar also are in favor of less attention from the West, especially the IMF.
On July 17, 2014, four men from Kosovo completed a 78-day walk from eastern Kosovo to Brussels, Belgium. The goal of their trek was to incite EU officials to grant Kosovo visa-free travel throughout the EU, a privilege that has been available to all other Western Balkan countries for some time.
The four men began their trip entirely independently and with their own financing, but say that they received both financial and moral support from others throughout the countries of the region as they made their way to the headquarters of the European Union. Radio Free Europe reported after the men reached Brussels, where they met with EU officials:
Calling themselves The “Free Travellers” group (“Shtegtarët e lire”), the men walked under the slogan “5 million steps for one step” in the hope that Brussels will grant citizens of Kosovo the possibility to travel to the European Union without visas.