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The Collapse of Civilisation Is Already a Reality for the Children of Ambovombe, Madagascar

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

A scientific publication in the Journal of Ecological Economics argues that “over-exploitation of either Labor or Nature will result in a societal collapse” if nothing is done to prevent it.

Based on a mathematical model, the study explains (via The Guardian) that the convergence of ” the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” will increase the likelihood of the fall of society as it was observed for previous human civilizations.

That collapse is already a reality in the south of Madagascar, a region that has suffered recurrent bout of famine over the past decade. 300,000 people are at risk of famine in the region because of a severe and prolonged drought since November 2014. 90% of the Malagasy population live with less than 2 USD/day, a stark reminder of the growing inequity on the African continent. John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo is an accountant manager from the region. He visited the city of Ambovombe and could not hold back his tears from what he saw. He hesitated but felt compelled to share the urgency of the situation by posting photos of children fighting for their lives because of lack of food. Kotovaoarivelo writes :

Je ne peux pas me taire et faire comme si de rien n’était devant la gravité de la situation vécue au quotidien par nos compatriotes dans le sud. Ces photos parlent d’elles même. Je ne vais pas vous prendre la tête pour ces photos, mais quand même en vous bousculant juste un peu pour réfléchir avec moi sur les pourquoi et les comment de toutes ces choses qui font chaque jour le calvaire de ces pauvres gens. Je vais vous révéler là des photos pour ne pas dire des informations qui passent presque inaperçues [..]  Nos dirigeants sont occupés ou aveuglés par d’autres choses qu’ils ne pourront jamais déchiffrer le message sur les regards de ces pauvres enfants

I cannot keep quiet any longer and pretend as if nothing is happening in the face of  the grave situation that our countrymen in the south face on daily basis. These photos speak for themselves. I will not bludgeon your head with these photos, but I hope they will jost your awareness a little and help you reflect with me about the plight of these people. I am merely sharing my pictures so that their suffering will not go unnoticed [..] Our political leaders are so busy or so blinded by other things that they cannot feel the message in the eyes of these children, seeking help. 

#Pyrawebs: Online Activism Against Metadata Retention Bill in Paraguay

The retention of metadata coming from the digital environment has special relevance in Latin America, where throughout history several dictatorships have spied and collected private data to implement a policy of terror. Paraguay is not an exception. Nowadays, Paraguay is a democracy, but the use of data recalls the dangers of when dictator Alfredo Stroessner was in power. The draft bill, dubbed “Pyrawebs” (“pyragüés” means “informant” in Guarani), is generating resistance and discussions among Internet users.

Paraguay: They want Internet providers to keep users’ information for a year

The activist website Pyrawebs.tedic.org explains:

El gobierno paraguayo está a punto de ordenar a los ISP a rastrear y almacenar los datos de tráficos de los IP durante 12 meses. Estos planes se hacen con el pretexto de combatir el terrorismo, pedofilia y narcotráfico, pero que en realidad pertenecen en un Estado policial. Las políticas de retención de datos obligatorias tratan a cada uno de los ciudadanos como sospechosos con una constante e intrusiva vigilancia masiva.

Además compromete el anonimato en línea, que es crucial para los investigadores, periodistas, movimientos sociales, ONGs de derechos humanos, todos y todas aquellas que se dedican a la expresión política.

The Paraguayan goverment is at this point ordering ISPs to track and record IP information for 12 months.These plans are made with the excuse of combating terrorism, pedophilia and drug trafficking, but they really belong to a state policy. Obligatory retention policies treat every citizen as a suspect withconstant and intrusive monitoring. 

Moreover, it compromises online anonymity, which is crucial for researchers, journalists and social movements, human rights NGOs and every person who makes political expressions.

Opponents of the project object to the magnitude of the information that will be stored:

This is what they will know about you if the law is approved #pyrawebs… How much they want to know?

INFOGRAPHIC: What information does metadata tell about you?

-What you search for on the Internet and the sites you visit
-Where you work and study and all the places that you've visited
-What time you wake up
-Your political and sexual preferences
-Who you know and with whom you communicate
-Where you live

Opponents also want to follow the example of Germany, Austria or Argentina, where metadata retention has been declared unconstitutional:

MT @derechosdigital: Many countries avoid regulations on metadata retention. Why do they want to use it in Paraguay? 

The topic was on the March 5 agenda at the Paraguayan Congress, but the vote was postponed:

#Pyrawebs is postponed for 8 days. We have a week to fight and prevent idiots like Tuma having our information.

Pyrawebs invites people to sign a petition to stop the law's passage. Keep tabs on any updates by following the hashtag #Pyrawebs.

You Will Never Find Stories About Famine, Idi Amin or Joseph Kony on This Site

Talented Ugandan writers take to the Internet to tell positive stories about the country:

We will be honest with you. Stories about poverty porn, hunger, Ebola, tribalism and all negative stories about Uganda, you will never find them here. This is a site to celebrate the positive stories about The Pearl of Africa through poetry, stories, profiles, opinions, music, dance and drama.

This is Uganda (ThisIs256), is a platform of talented writers from Uganda who are determined to tell stories about Uganda and for Ugandans aimed at demystifying stereotypes from people who do not know the real story of Uganda all over the world. The platform is loosely composed of diverse array of Ugandan writers who desire and seek to represent and reclaim an authentic, reflective, honest, and objectively balanced study about Uganda you will never find anywhere else in the mainstream western media.

Mexican Protesters Show Creative Activism

@faeriedevilish, blogging for Infoactivismo, reflects on the need to be creative in communicating our protests. Along those lines, the author explains the importance of creativity while referring to protesting events in Ayotzinapa, where photocopies of the victims’ faces were used to attract and generate awareness about the terrible incidents.

Fotografía extraída del blog Infoactivismo, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Infoactivismo. Used by permission.

Illustrators not only made use of online resources to get the public's attention, but the streets also took the leading role for young people's creativity. 

En una ciudad en la que la proliferación de marchas lleva en el mejor de los casos a una saturación, y en el peor de ellos, a prejuicios de clase, hacer que las marchas de Acción Global Ayotzinapa dieran incentivos para seguir participando fue un reto gigantesco.

Y es que marchar es del Contingente Carreola. Marchar es usar tu talento para incidir – como los jóvenes de la ENAP que pintaron las caras de lxs desaparecidxs en Reforma, lxs estudiantes de la Nacional de Música que marchaban interpretando música. Marchar es de quienes cuentan del 1 al 43, y de quienes cambian los dichos machistas por versiones feministas.

Marchar no es aburrido ni tedioso: es una forma de participación social que, de hecho, puede ser bastante divertida.

In a city where a proliferation of marches can either fill the streets or lead to class prejudices, it was a huge challenge to have the Ayotzinapa Global Action encourage further participation. 

The march is lead by the Stroller Contingent. Marching uses your talent to have an affect on people, such as the kids from the National School of Plastic Arts who painted their faces reflecting the people who disappeared during the Reform period, and students from the National Conservatory of Music marched while playing music. The march has people from ages 1 to 43 and those willing to change their chauvinist remarks for more feminist ones. 

Marching isn't boring or tedious. It's a way to participate in something social and fun. 

You can follow Infoactivism on Twitter

This selected article participated in the 42nd edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV on February 9, 2015.

Facebook Campaign Garners Iranian Journalist Masih Alinejad Women's Rights Award

 

The cover photo from Masih Alinejad's Facebook page "My Stealthy Freedom"

The cover photo from Masih Alinejad's Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom”

London based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad won the 2015 Women's Rights Award at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy for her Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” this past week. The page invites Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without a Hijab, in defiance of Iran's Islamic laws that enforce compulsory hijab. With over 750, 000 followers, this page has been considered something of social media movement for Iranian women.

Below is a video from her acceptance speech at the Summit: 

#HackEC15 — An Open Data Challenge in Ecuador

As part of the Second International Conference on Democracy and Digital Government 2015 (ICEDEG 2015), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is hosting Hack Ecuador Challenge 2015 (HEC'15). The event welcomes Ecuadorians with open-data apps that promise to deliver needed services in local communities, improving the nation's online ecosystem, especially in the public sector.

Why join Ecuadorian IEEE? 3) IEEE Hack Ecuador 2015. Best App Awards.

Iria Puyosa, a representative of one of the contest's organizers, told Global Voices about her expectations:

De acuerdo con los indicadores del Open Data Barometer, la política de datos abiertos de Ecuador se orienta hacia la innovación y el bienestar social. En Ecuador se dispone de datos abiertos sobre variables demográficas, educación, salud, producción agrícola, importaciones/exportaciones, transporte y telecomunicaciones. Este es el tipo de datos que pondremos a disposición de los participantes en el hackathon. Esperamos una gran participación de los estudiantes afiliados a la Sección Ecuador de IEEE. Y lanzamos el reto a los empresarios y emprendedores tecnológicos ecuatorianos para que también se sumen a procesos de innovación, usando datos abiertos.

According to indicators of Open Data Barometer, Ecuadorian open-data policy is oriented towards innovation and social welfare. In Ecuador, open data is available about demographic variables, education, health, agricultural production, import/export, transport, and telecommunications. This is the kind of data that we will make available to the participants in the hackathon. We expect that a large number of students affiliated with Ecuadorian IEEE, will attend the event. We also challenged Ecuadorian technology entrepreneurs to join the innovation process using open data.

Who is participating?
The contest will be divided into two categories: students and professionals.

What are the prizes?
Winner of first prize gets $800 in cash and a winner's certificate. The second-place winner gets a certificate, too. Winners will be announced on April 8.

You can join the Facebook group del HEC'15 or follow @OpenHackIEEE on Twitter and find out the latest news from HEC'15 using the hashtag #HackEC15.

March 4 Informational Webinar -> Sign up free and learn more about the #HackEC15

To download all the information and requirements regarding the HEC'15, click here.

Video: Campaign to Stop the Sale of Steve Biko's Autopsy Report

Artist and social entrepreneur Nomsa Mazwai (Nomisupasta) and some friends got together to collect signatures for a petition to stop the sale of Steve Biko‘s autopsy report. Watch the YouTube video of the campaign:

Spain and Latin America Celebrate Open Data Day

One again, bloggers, hackers, designers, experts, as well as citizens interested in open data and transparency will meet to celebrate International Open Data Day 2015 all over the world to promote the opening of government data. The event is expected to have online meetings but also in-person activities all over the globe, requiring exceptional coordination and organization. 

Open Data Day 2015, imagen extraída de la página Escuela de Datos, utilizada con autorización

Open Data Day 2015, image from Escuela de Datos. Used by permission

Faeriedevilish, blogging for School of Data, informs us on the Open Data Day festivities to take place on Saturday, February 21st in Spain and various cities in Latin America. Here you'll find information about the organization and event coordination in Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellín, Madrid, Mexico City, Xalapa, Monterrey, San Salvador, Panama City, etc., where many different activities will be held:

Alerta – Nos unimos a Abierto al Público: queremos que #datosabiertos se vuelva trending topic mundial en Twitter el 21 de febrero. Para lograrlo, las organizaciones participantes tuitearemos con este hashtag (y pediremos a lxs participantes que también lo hagan) el sábado 21 a partir de las 10:00 hora México, 11:00 hora Lima, 13:00 hora Buenos Aires, 17:00 hora Madrid. Importante: no usar el hashtag antes de esta hora.

Alert – We're meeting at Abierto al Público: we want #datosabiertos (#opendata) to trend on Twitter on February 21st. To do so, we'll be tweeting participating organizations with this hashtag (and we ask participants to do the same) on Saturday, February 21st starting at 10:00 in Mexico City, 11:00 in Buenos Aires, 17:00 in Madrid. Important: do not use the hashtag before this time. 

Click here for more information on the International Open Data Day festivities. 

You can follow @faeriedevilish and Escuela de Datos on Twitter.

This selected article participated in the 43rd edition of #LunesdeBlogsGV on February 16, 2015. 

Macedonian NGO Develops First Ever Android and iOS App to Battle Hate Speech

Macedonian Metamorphosis Foundation has developed a first among mobile applications – an app against hate speech, aiming to bring information from this area to the fingertips of mobile phone users and help them battle this odious occurrence on the Internet.

The app, available for free download both Android and iOS users, was developed in order to more effectively combat hate speech online, enabling access to the latest news in this area, access to educational and expert resources, such as a library with e-books on the matter, interactive tutorials about the various opportunities for reporting hate speech, as well as participation in events related to the fight against hate speech through an integrated calendar.

The application, dubbed simply “Don't Hate”, is the first mobile app of this kind in the world and is currently only available in Macedonian and Albanian, while its creators do plan on developing it further for other languages and markets in the near future. 

 

Roll Call to Never Forget the Missing Ayotzinapa Students

Since the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa last September, a group of citizens driven by Mexican journalist and producer Epigmenio Ibarra has decided to prevent the case from being forgotten by conducting a roll call of the names of each student every day at 10 p.m. Mexico Central Time. 

Mexicans and foreigners alike have joined this initiative both within and outside of the country. 

We say their names every night. We will continue doing so until we conquer truth and get justice.

Each name is normally accompanied by an illustration from the Illustrators for Ayotzinapa movement to keep the memory of the students humanized. Some also add the phrase “Because if we forget, they win” to remind people about the importance of maintaining their memory alive. 

No to closing the case. We're going to push harder, we will cast a shadow over EPN. 10pm Roll call.

The roll call continues to gain traction. 

 The daily roll call by @epigmenioibarra continues to get up to 500RTs per student. 

Each night, RTs of the roll call from 1 to 43 reaches thousands in their TLs. It's another small protest accompanying the efforts. Let's continue together. 

And every day there is a call to join this roll call where the following hashtags, relevant to the movement, are included: #YaMeCansé (#TiredofThis), #AcciónGlobalporAyotzinapa (#GlobalActionforAyotzinapa), #NosFaltan43 (#We'reMissing43), among others.

Group: Those against apathy and neglect and because #We'reMissing43, let's join the roll call #WeAreAllAyotzinapa with @epigmenioibarra

Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. Ready for the roll call with @epigmenioibarra 

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