Stories from Quick Reads and Digital Activism
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.
For those who figure that the issue of net neutrality doesn't affect them, Trinidad-based blogger Activized connects the dots. The concept that “all data is created equal” is not as common as you might think:
Local telecommunications company Digicel announced that they were banning certain VoIP application services from their network…in an attempt to secure their bottomline – ensuring that users of the cellular phone service make calls using credit, not data. There’s only one problem with that – if I’m paying for my data, I should have the power to get the data that I want and use it how I want.
Indian users are reacting to the impending demise of Google's Orkut social networking platform. Orkut is the oldest citizen media site Indians used and around 20% of Orkut’s users today are from India.
Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights compiles some of the users’ comments on the end of Orkut:
Priya Mittal was able to find her first childhood classmate via Orkut, which “felt like a miracle then.”
Avid biker Vishal Kataria: “It took me a while to leave Orkut and switch to Facebook because I got attached to it. Somehow, that feeling has never occurred for Facebook.”
The website of Myanmar's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was hacked on Friday morning, July 4, 2014. The hackers replaced two government seals with turtles alluding to the country's slow internet connection. The hacking also coincided with the Facebook blocking which many people believe was done by the government to prevent the spread of hate speech after violent riots erupted in the city of Mandalay.
The government was able to fix the website in the afternoon.
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.
Property ownership is a critical ingredient of the society we are trying to build. No one can deny that. The wealthiest people and companies in this society have made a great part of their wealth through property dealings – buying, leasing, sub-dividing, selling, renovating and so on….property is critical to amassing and holding wealth.
With the state being “the single largest owner of all classes of property” in Trinidad and Tobago, blogger Afra Raymond is interested in how public property is allocated, noting that because of its value, all dealings involving state lands must be transparent.
More and more people are sharing their content on Medium, and Ximena Arrieta, consultant in Strategic Communications, is using her content as an additional medium and coverage for the connection between communication, citizen participation and technology, as does the “Movement for the Earth” in Santa Catarina Yecahuízotl, that with its “Festival for the Sierra”, held on July 12, aimed to promote and build connections of coexistence and social cohesion within its community:
El objetivo del Festival es construir un espacio de colaboración, expresión y sobre todo, reflexión de las problemáticas que afectan a la Sierra de Santa Catarina, espacio natural y reserva ecológica del Distrito Federal, constantemente amenazada por proyectos mineros, inmobiliarios, contaminación y sobreexplotación.
Está dirigido a la población infantil y joven de la comunidad, sin embargo, también es un mensaje concientizado para el público adulto.
The aim of the Festival is to build a space for collaboration, expression and, above all, reflection on the issues that affect Santa Catarina highlands, a natural space and ecologic reserve of Mexico City, constantly threatened by mining, real estate projects, pollution and overexploitation.
This is meant for the children and youth of the comuunity, but it's also an awareness message for the adult audience.
Corruption is a well-documented issue in Cameroon. For decades, political scandals have infamously stained the public administration due to multiple embezzlement charges, which in turn led to the creation of a special task force to fight corruption named ”Operation Epervier“.
The outcome of the task force has been mixed so far. Therefore, Cameroonian citizens have taken it upon themselves to report and combat corruption more effectively. A group of IT programmers created an app called NoBakchich that crowdsources all the information related to administrative procedures so that citizens have a clear picture of how to get paperwork done and how much it should cost. The app also allows citizens to report any bribes that they have had to face:
Ainsi, chacune d'elles est gratifiée d’une notation, baptisée «compteur de tchoko»,informant les autres usagers des bonnes ou mauvaises pratiques.
Each administrative procedure will be given a notation, called “Tchoko (bribe in local language) counter” informing other users of public services involved in bad practices.
Le Griot reports that $600 million US dollars are lost annually because of corruption, one-third of which is from illegal logging of the national forests.
Messages of support continue to pour in for Alexander Sodiqov, the Global Voices community member wrongfully detained by local authorities in Khorog, Tajikistan on June 16, while carrying out academic research. Global Voices is grateful to Dr. Marc Herzog and the Ankara Segmenler Forumu who contacted us via email today with the following message of support:
Attached are solidarity pictures for the release of Alexander Sodiqov from the Ankara Segmenler Forumu (a local neighborhood assembly in Ankara which meets every week). I talked about Alexander Sodiqov's detention and we took a group foto with ‘#FreeAlexSodiqov’ poster and I also encouraged people to sign the online petition and gave out print-offs from AI's information. I hope it helps perhaps to indicate the global nature of solidarity with Alexander's case and [pressure] for his immediate release.
Best from Ankara,