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France Launchs National Campaign to Curb Racist and Anti-Semitic Acts

"The Republic United Against Racism" Infographic on the national campaign - Public Domain

“The Republic United Against Racism and Anti-Semitism”. Infographic on the national campaign. Public domain

On April 17, the French government unveiled a national campaign to combat racism and anti-Semitism in France. The objective of the campaign is to fight all prejudices, raise awareness and get citizens engaged in the conversation.

One hundred euros will be allocated over three years to educate and promote cultural diversity. The hashtag #planantiracisme (the plan against racism) was the number one trending topic on Twitter on the day of the announcement.

According to the Report on Racism and Antisemitism by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme CNCDH (National Comission on Human Rights), there was a 30% increase in racist acts in 2014 (from 1,274 in 2013 to 1,662 in 2014). Anti-Semitic acts went from 423 in 2013 to 851 in 2014, including the attack on the kosher store after the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

Municipal Referendum to Preserve Skopje Shopping Centre Scheduled

The local council of the Municipality of Centar, part of the Skopje downtown area, approved a proposal to hold a referendum to preserve the authentic look of the iconic Skopje Shopping Center. As Meta.mk reports, the referendum will take place on April 26. For the referendum to be successful, it needs a turnout of 50 percent plus one of the registered voters in the Municipality of Centar to vote in favor of preserving the original edifice.

The decision is the result of a two-year-long campaign to save the landmark from a faux-baroque reconstruction plan. The Skopje City Shopping Center is known by the local acronym GTC.

“GTC requires nurturing, renovation, reconstruction, while not losing the concept and function. Project for changing the look of GTC means distorting the essence of the object. The investor who will reconstruct the facility has to know the essence and what does GTC means to the citizens. We have nothing against the reconstruction of the GTC, its authenticity as a heritage must be kept,” said Danica Pavlovska from the Association of Architects.

She added that the referendum is the most democratic way to solve the problems of citizens and is something that allows the citizens to be aware of their power.

The activist campaign continues, with an aim to ensure high voter turnout at the referendum, using the hashtags ‘I love GTC’ (#ГоСакамГТЦ) and ‘GTC’ (#ГТЦ).

Centar decided! On April 26, we go to referendum to save GTC.
The voice of the citizens will be heard. Municipality of Centar voted to allow a referendum on GTC.

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. 

Why Students in Chad are Protesting and It's not Just About the Helmet Law

Bus on fire during student protests in Chad via Makaila blog

Bus on fire during student protests in Chad via Makaila blog

Police are violently repressing student protests in Chad since March 10. The official reason for the protest is the new safety regulation that require bikers to wear a helmet. Motorbikes are often used as taxis in the capital city, Ndjamena. However, the reason for protests are more profound than the new law. One student explains why they are protesting:

Croyez-vous que c’est une question de port de casque ? Personne ne s’oppose à l’utilisation de casque. Il y a une sorte d’impréparation de la mesure par les autorités et d’exploitation de la vente par les commerçants. Jusque quand allons-nous accepter d’être sauvagement exploités ? Le ciment, le sucre, le pétrole…savez-vous que le marché de casque a permis à certains responsables de s’enrichir ? 

Do you really think that the protests are about just helmet law ? No one is opposed to the use of helmet. The authorities are not prepared to properly implement the measures and the law is quite beneficial to all retailers. When will we say enough to this brutal exploitation ? It is the same thing for cement, sugar, oil … do you know that the helmet has allowed some officials to get rich quite rapidly ?

  During the repression of the protests by the police, one student, Hassan B. Daoud was killed. Here is a video of police brutality against some students posted by ABDELKERIM YACOUB KOUNDOUGOUMI on facebook: 

 

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. 

What Is Really Wrong With Policing in Maldives?

Blogger Kureege Fuluheh is a Maldivian ex-police officer, who writes about issues in policing and the police service in Maldives. The blogger analyses how the Maldives Police Service (MPS) is perceived by people over the last seven years and discusses what is the way forward:

Worrying is police’ behaviour towards members of public whilst on duty and the alleged association with crime groups to create fear. [..] In reality, policing has failed to deliver to public satisfaction due to lack of effective strategy and intra-organizational arrangements to cut crime and proactively police.

From crime recording, public engagement, enforcement to investigation, it is evident that policing is ineffective in these areas. [..]

Right now the policing landscape in Maldives fails to perform and deliver through arrangements akin to democratic principles. It is of utmost importance that a police reform bill paves way to create a policing architecture that holds police accountable to its public and public say is counted in how they are policed.

The Media's Role in Mexico's ‘Warped’ Democracy

Fotografía extraída del blog de Fernando Vazques Rigada, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Fernando Vazquez Rigada's blog, used with permission

Blogger Fernando Vázquez Rigada reflects on the role of the media in Mexico, a country where he says democracy is “warped” because it only works on a formal level, and society isn't adequately represented by the political institutions.

He adds that Mexican media bear a huge responsibility in this issue. There are a variety of media in Mexico, however, quantity does not always goes hand in hand with quality, especially considering that the political power is closely linked to the media system:

El estado mexicano gasta una cantidad descomunal de recursos anualmente en pago a medios de comunicación. Sabemos que el poder ejecutivo federal invierte alrededor de 6 mil millones de pesos al año. Esa cifra, sin embargo, excluye a los otros poderes, a los 31 estados, al DF y a los 2,457 municipios y a las 16 delegaciones del DF. Tampoco incluye al gasto de los partidos políticos. La cifra debe multiplicarse al menos por diez.

Así, los medios en México deben recibir de dinero público algo así como 70 mil millones de pesos anuales. 191 millones de pesos cada día. Casi 8 millones de pesos cada hora.

Eso explica la enorme laguna informativa que ahoga a México.

The Mexican state spends an enormous amount of money in payments to media outlets. We know that the federal executive branch invests about six billion Mexican pesos a year. That figure, however, excludes other powers, the 31 Mexican states, Mexico DF, 2,457 municipalities and 16 delegations in Mexico City. Nor does it include the expenditure of political parties. So, that figure should be multiplied at least, tenfold.

Thus, the media in Mexico should receive annually from public money around 70 billion Mexican pesos. 191 million pesos every day. Nearly 8 million pesos per hour.

That explains the huge information gap in Mexico.

Vázquez Rigada concludes that its links with political power and its economic dependence prevent the media from reporting freely and fulfilling its role of monitoring those in power, pointing out flaws and opening political debate.

You can follow Fernando Vázquez Rigada on Twitter.

This post was part of the 44th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on February 23, 2015.

#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.

#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.

Smart Cities Hackathon in Venezuela

Global Datafest is organizing the Smart Cities Hackathon, held simultaneously in 27 different cities around the world. The Venezuelan edition of the Smart Cities Hackathon calls on programmers, big data experts, urbanists, public officers and communications specialists who have an interest in developing technological solutions for issues related with the security, mobility, services, e-government, environment and sustainability of Venezuelan cities.

We are a week away of meeting us at the Smart Cities Hackathon!

How can you participate?

Puedes participar de dos maneras:

1. VOTA POR UN RETO
El Instituto Metropolitano de Urbanismo Taller Caracas, el Instituto de Estudios Urbanos de la USB y la Facultad de Urbanismo de la UCV propusieron los desafíos en los que se debería trabajar.

Estamos consultando a los ciudadanos para que voten por alguno de estos retos y así validen los que consideran necesarios. Entra ya a El Nacional y su programa Caracas, Cómo Vamos Y participa en la encuesta!

2. VEN A TRABAJAR EN UN PROYECTO
Durante una intensa jornada, únete a urbanistas, programadores, expertos en data, coach de emprendimiento, periodistas y diseñadores, para crear una solución digital.

There are two ways to participate:

1. VOTE FOR A CHALLENGE
El Metropolitan Urbanism Institute Taller Caracas, the USB Urban Studies Institute and the UCV Urban Planing School proposed the challenges we should be working on.

We are surveying citizens to vote for any of these challenges to figure out which ones they consider necessary. Go visit El Nacional y su programa Caracas, Cómo Vamos and take the survey!

2. COME WORK ON A PROJECT
During an intense work day, join urban planners, programmers, data, experts, entrepreneur coaches, journalists and designers to create a digital solution.

When?
From 5:00 pm, March 6, 2015
To 7:00 pm, March 8, 2015

Where?
Academia Wayra, Torre Xerox, Av Ávila with Av Libertador, Caracas.

The Smart Cities Hackaton organization is sponsored by developers community 4Geeks and the firms Vikua Grupo Intech and EstoEs.co. Besides that, it was supported by Caracas en un Click, Regional and Urban Studies Institute (Simón Bolivar University), El Nacional, RunRunes, Center of Studies for Bicycle Mobility (CEMBI) and Forum Media.

Under the hashtag #SmartCityHack, you can find out everything about the Smart Cities Hackathon on Twitter.

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