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Hungarian PM Receives Chocolates from Union Workers’ Children, Then Votes for Parents to Lose Jobs

Hungary's government monopolized the sale of tobacco goods in 2013, drawing criticism from all sides both for the monopoly and the restriction of the Freedom of Information Act that came with the secretive distribution of sales licenses for the goods. In a second round, Hungarian Parliament voted on Monday, December 15, 2014, to create a state-run national tobacco distributor. Trade unions protested against the law, arguing it would result in the loss of some 1600 jobs

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Photo from LIGA Trade Unions FB page, widely circulated on social networks.

Ahead of the vote, a trade union group sent bars of chocolate to Hungarian members of Parliament with pictures of children and a message asking the MPs to vote against the parents of these children losing their jobs. Vastagbőr blog reported that Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also received a bar of chocolate, ate the chocolate, and then proceeded to vote in favor of creating the national tobacco distributor, which would leave hundreds of people unemployed. Photos of Prime Minister Orban consuming the chocolate bar before the deciding vote are included in the blog post and other local media.

New Distribution of Colonies and Native Nations in Mexico City

On his personal blog Hbt, Olivera Herbert writes about a new district distribution (starting on October 2014) and the popular referendum about participatory budgeting 2015 (November 2014), that allowed us to assess and ellaborate a new Catalog of Colonies and Native Nations 2013 in Mexico City.

Herbert has prepared a chart of the 1,753 communities and 40 native nations and invites us to download it here, a *.kml file you can use on a free and open code SIG, such as QGIS. The author explains what a colony means geographically and the so called native nations:

De acuerdo a la Ley de Participación Ciudadana del D.F. la colonia es la división territorial del Distrito Federal y los pueblos originarios son asentamientos que mantienen la figura de autoridad tradicional de acuerdo a sus normas, procedimientos y prácticas tradicionales.

According to the Bill of Citizen Participation of Mexico City, colony is the territorial division of the Federal District and native nations are settlements that keep the figure of tradtional authority under its rules, procedures and traditional practices.

Herbert Olivera's account on Twitter is @oliveraherbert for further details.

This post was part of the twenty-eighth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

National Conference on Internet Governance in Ecuador

The International Center of Research in Communication for Latin America (CIESPAL, by its name in Spanish), the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), Association of Free Software of Ecuador (ASLE), Infodesarrollo Network, the organization Free Libre Open Knowledge Society (FLOK) and the Latinoamerican Agency of Information (ALAI) are hosting the National Conference on Internet Governance with the purpose of discussing the situation of Internet governance in Ecuador, regionally as well as globally. A number of national and international experts are part of the meeting:

National Conference on Internet Governance – Ecuador > November 27, 2014.

According to the schedule, during the event there will be discussions about Internet access, infrastructure and content with the participation of experts such as Pilar Sáenz (Fundación Karisma) and Carlos Correa (Creative Commons Ecuador and Technical Private University of Loja), among others. The moderator will be Pablo Escandón (CIESPAL). The second session, moderated by Valeria Betancourt (APC), will be about surveillance, privacy and security on the Internet, with experts such as Renata Ávila (Web We Want) and Pilar Sáenz. Marcelo Branco (Free Software Association, Brazil) opening the event. Julián Assange will close it with a reflection about the implications of governance on the Internet for Latin America.

The event is free and will take place on November 27, 2014 at Av. Diego de Almagro N32-133 Andrade Marín, Quito. You can sign up here.

Colombian Economic Deceleration, Is the Government Aware of This Situation?

On a review of what is going on with Colombian economy, Daniel Bustos writes on his blog Trayectoria Económica an analysis of what he calls ‘skinny cows’ or lean times.

Although the economy is still standing thanks to public and private investment and the construction industry, the oil barrel price is lower and tax evasion hasn't stopped. Enough problems, as to wonder: ¿Is the government aware of this situation? Bustos answers:

Parece ser que no, o por lo menos quieren disimular la cuestión a cualquier precio, [...] ¿Que pasa en la economía colombiana si el precio del petróleo sigue cayendo? El país depende demasiado del petróleo, eso se puede observar claramente en las proyecciones de ingresos para los próximos años donde se situaba el precio del petróleo cercano a los 100 dólares para lo cual, con base en esto se realizaron las proyecciones de presupuesto para el mediano plazo pero con las recientes fluctuaciones del precio del crudo dichas proyecciones deben ser re-diseñadas, y los ingresos faltantes deben ser buscados de alguna parte; aunque por otro lado si el precio del dólar sigue subiendo como lo esta haciendo en este momento, sería interesante saber si este aumento de alguna forma ha amortiguado este déficit o incluso los lograra cubrir, desafortunadamente esto solo lo dirán los mercados.

Apparently, it isn't so, or at least they want to hide the issue, whatever the cost [...]. What will happen with Colombian economy if oil prices keep going down? The country relies too much on oil, as we can clearly observe on the income projections for coming years, where the oil price was close to 100 dollars, and over that base, budget mid-term projections were made, but with recent fluctuations in the crude oil, those projections should be redesigned and the income shortage should come from somewhere else. Although on the other hand, if the dollar keeps increasing as it's doing, it'd be interesting to know if this increase has somehow softened the deficit or will even cover it. Unfortunately, only market will tell.

You can follow Daniel Bustos on his account on Twitter or G+

This post was part of the twenty-ninth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 17, 2014.

Infographic: 5 Facts About Sri Lanka’s Tamil Community in the North

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a civil society think tank in Sri Lanka, has recently conducted a top line survey on “Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka 2014“. The results show that difference of opinion on the reconciliation still exists between the Tamil and the Sinhalese people after the Sri Lankan civil war.

The findings from the survey with regard to the Tamil community is very significant. Their key issues are poverty and unemployment and they feel deprived having very little say about the affairs of the country. Here is an infographic depicting their plights:

Infographic courtesy of Centre For Policy Alternatives

Infographic courtesy of Centre For Policy Alternatives

Serbian Government Agency Publishes Personal Data of Over 5 Million Citizens

Screenshot of part of the documents containing personal information of citizens that were available on the official site of the Privatization Agency of the Republic of Serbia. Image by SHARE Foundation, used with permission.

Screenshot of part of the documents containing personal information of citizens that were available on the official site of the Privatization Agency of the Republic of Serbia. Image by SHARE Foundation, used with permission.

A link from the official website of the Privatization Agency of the Republic of Serbia began circulating on social networks in early December 2014. The link led to 19 gigabytes of text files on the agency's site that revealed the personal information of over 5 million Serbian citizens who had registered for free stock of state-owned companies in 2008. The files included the full names of citizens who had registered, as well as their Unique Master Citizen Numbers (JMBG), a number given to each citizen from which a birth date, place of birth and other information can easily be deduced.

The link was caught on Twitter during the week of December 8, 2014, by the legal team of SHARE Defense, the think tank unit of local non-government organization SHARE Foundation that conducts research and offers legal aid in the realm of human and civic rights. The foundation's team analysed the documents and reported the issue to the office of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Serbia. The links were removed from the agency's website in the afternoon hours of Friday, December 12, but it is impossible to know who downloaded the information in the meantime.

Citizens have started reacting on social networks, many calling this an “unforgivable” offense by a government agency. Twitter user Vladan Joler tweeted a common sentiment:

The biggest security breach in the realm of information systems protection and citizens’ privacy to date in RS [Republic of Serbia] @ShareConference http://t.co/WO96P4IBTU

— Vladan Joler (@TheCreaturesLab) December 15, 2014

It remains unclear why the documents were published on the site, if by mistake or otherwise. The office of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection took on the case immediately and it is expected that it will follow through with an investigation.

In the meantime, SHARE Foundation's legal think tank team has warned any and all who have downloaded the data that any use of part or all of the information in these files would represent a a criminal offense and has recommended that anyone who has retained a copy of any or all of the documents delete them permanently.

Updates on the 18th SAARC Summit On Social Media

The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving.

Here are some examples:

11-Year-Old Girl Starts Petition Calling for Mexican President's Resignation

Captura de pantalla de la campaña Personas que quieren la renuncia de Peña Nieto en la plataforma Change.org

Screenshot of the people who want the resignation of Peña Nieto campaign on the Change.org platform.

Political activism is not exclusively reserved for young people and adults. This was demonstrated by Sofia, an 11-year-old Mexican girl who decided to collect signatures calling for the resignation of the president of her country, Enrique Peña Nieto. These are her reasons.

Peña Nieto no le ha respondido como se debe a los familiares de los estudiantes desaparecidos, se fue a China y tiene una casa de 80 millones de pesos.

Peña Nieto has not responded as he should have to the families of the missing students, he went to China and he has a house costing 80 million pesos (approximately 5.88 million dollars).

This initiative caused many positive reactions. For example, some decided to sign in order to demonstrate to Sofia and other Mexican children (as well as adults) that having a better country is possible, and to remind those who govern that people placed them there and that the people can remove them. Sofia's mother said:

Yo no tengo idea de cómo se destituye a un presidente. Pero ojalá pueda de verdad llevar esas hojas a alguna parte que ayude a Sofía a sentir que su esfuerzo vale la pena, que lo intentamos a toda costa. Fui incapaz de decirle que no lo hiciera, que era casi imposible. No puedo cortarle las alas. Esta generación viene con fuerza, con fe y determinación, y con un concepto de lo que es decente y justo que ya quisieran muchos para un fin de semana.

I don't know how to dismiss a president. But, hopefully one can take those papers somewhere so that Sofia can feel that her efforts were worth it, that we tried at all costs. I was unable to tell her not to do it because it was almost impossible. I couldn't cut her wings. This generation is full of strength with faith and determination, and with a concept of what is decent, something that many want for a weekend.

The petition was placed on the Change.org platform and already has 10,500 signatures at the time of this post.

Hossein Derakhshan Released from Prison

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, on Thursday pardoned the jailed blogger Hossein Derakhshan after his six years.Derakhshan thanked God, Khamenei and his family on his Google Plus page.

Too Many Under Trial Detainees in India's Jails

Overflowing water from a septic tank has poured into a Rail Police (G.R.P.) Lockup at Burdwan Rail Station.  People kept in the lockup are finding it very difficult to stay there. Image by Sanjoy Carmaker. Copyright Demotix (18/10/2013)

Overflowing water from a septic tank has poured into a Rail Police (G.R.P.) Lockup at Burdwan Rail Station. People kept in the lockup are finding it very difficult to stay there. Image by Sanjoy Carmaker. Copyright Demotix (18/10/2013)

Indian alternative news portal Beyond Headlines sheds light on the darker side of India's judiciary. In India, of all people detained in lockups and state prisons there are more people under trial than convicts.

Because of the slow process of the judiciary process, thousands of people suspected or accused of a crime end up waiting for trial for years in cramped prison cells which lack electricity, food and other necessities. About 250,000 men and women in India are currently in jail without having been proven guilty. Their fate or innocence is bound by the course of their trials.

And who and where are all these detainees? These tweets explain:

Freeing the detainees awaiting trial is also not a good option, as Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Shishir Bail write in the Hindu: “Without substantive reforms to the investigation and trial process, early release of undertrials may further aggravate the pathologically low rates of conviction and incarceration in the Indian criminal justice system.”

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