Latest stories from Quick Reads + Governance
This is a very conservative government as far as gay rights and abortion or anything having to do with women or women’s rights. [...] This government doesn’t really see us as an enemy, but rather we’re like a little rock in the shoe, a constant irritation.
Benjamin Dangl and April Howard interviewed Julieta Ojeda of Mujeres Creando (Women Creating), “an anarchist/feminist organization in Bolivia that has been a radical voice for women’s rights before and throughout Evo Morales’ time in office.” Read the full interview on Upside Down World.
What most media and people following the recent developments in Ukraine know as “pro-EU” or “anti-Russian” protests after the Ukrainian government backed out of a historical agreement with the European Union that was to bring Ukrainians one step closer to Western Europe, are in fact protests that seem to have been in the making for the past several years.
In terms of corruption, Ukraine ranks 144th out of 177 countries, tying with Nigeria, Iran and the Central African Republic on that list. Dissatisfaction and outrage runs deep among Ukrainian citizens, many of whom were, according to a recent study, ready to leave the country to improve their living standards. Sophia Opatska, CEO of the Lviv Business School, explains in detail on the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) Knowledge@Wharton website why the people of Ukraine are taking action and demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and his government:
In the last couple of years, Ukraine has been in a recession. Although the current government outlined plans to make improvements and reforms, only a small number of people close to the president’s family has experienced any benefits.[...]
Meanwhile, small- and medium-sized businesses have constantly felt intense pressure from tax departments, while reports have surfaced about corruption in state administrations and the courts. The country suffers from low levels of investment, a small number of new business projects and an out-of-date economic structure.[...]
At the same time, the system of social justice in Ukraine is in tatters. On the night of November 30, Ukrainian authorities used brutal violence against a group of students and young people who had been peacefully demonstrating against the government’s U-turn decision. This shows how Ukrainians’ personal security is not assured and citizens can easily be humiliated by the authorities. During the last 22 years of Ukrainian independence, there have been many political games, agreements and trade-offs between parties and politicians, but these social boundaries were not crossed.
On November 30, Ukrainians woke up in a new country. Social media and smartphones allowed us to see the cruelty and violence perpetrated by the authorities, and civil society reacted immediately, with nearly half a million people staging a peaceful demonstration in Kiev the next day. This enormous support came as a surprise to the authorities and opposition leaders.
Valéry Moise, a Haitian physician and activist, reflects upon the dire situation of street children [fr] in Port-au-Prince :
Moi, quand je regarde un enfant des rues briser une vitre, je vois une promesse électorale non tenue, quand je regarde un enfant sans idéal, je vois un gouvernement sans vision, quand je regarde un enfant manquer de respect à une loi établie, je vois de policiers et officiels circuler en sens inverse, quand je regarde un enfant essuyer une voiture aux heures de classe, je vois une société touchant le fond de l’abîme. Rendez-moi fou ou sage, je verrai toujours à travers les enfants l’image des adultes.
When I witness a child breaking a window, what it tells me is that another promise by a politician went unfulfilled. When I see a child without a dream, it tells me that the government is lacking a vision for the country. When a child does not respect the law, what I see are police forces going the other way. When I see a child cleaning cars when he should be at school, I see a society that has reached the bottom of the ocean. Color me crazy or wise, but I will always see the characters of the adults through the behavior of their children.
As anti-government Euromaidan protests enter their forth week in Ukraine, representatives of Ukrainian civil society are calling on leaders of the European Union, the US and their law enforcement agencies and financial institutions to investigate alleged incidences of corruption and money laundering by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son, Oleksandr Yanukovych.
The data collected by activists has been presented in infographics published recently on http://www.yanukovich.info/.
Their open appeal on the website reads [en, uk]:
We believe that authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych has been fueled by proceeds of corruption laundered via the international financial system through the network of shell-companies and professional intermediaries. We reckon as unacceptable the usage of the international financial system to support the Yanukovych regime, which violently disperses peaceful demonstrations, organizes bloody beating of armless people, and kangaroo courts, that throw them later in jail.
Reforms to the educational system were suspended [fr] in Gabon after teachers and students marched together in protests. In the proposed reform, the final exam to obtain the high school diploma will be done in one round instead of two and the entry into high school will be subjected to a final exam instead of a passing grade at the end of the final year of middle high school. Charlie M. explains what was at stake :
By acting spontaneously without waiting for a go ahead word from anyone, young students demonstrated that they were capable on their own, to realize that to deal with the situation, it was necessary for them to intervene and mobilize. Nobody would do it in their place; especially not their elders who are not capable of that. The youth, unlike their seniors, understand better that democrats, regardless of their views, cannot accept that their rights be violated, and therefore cannot yield when it comes to these fundamental issues such as the right to a quality education
Bhutan has been blessed with a sustained, rich cultural heritage and the Bhutanese people take pride in upholding a number of essential values including harmony, compassion and patriotism. Blogger Dorji Wangchuk has been working with the recovering addicts and alcoholics and looks for a long-term solution of the problem among the Bhutanese youth. He asserts that educating own children is not enough, there is a need to work extra hard towards fostering the children of fellow citizens to inspire them to become good human beings.
On the morning of December 5 in Bangui, heavy weapon fires were heard in several districts of Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic. Eye witnesses and journalists are reporting on twitter via the hash tag #Bangui. Here is an update by Vianney Tricou on site at 9:51 am local time :
— Vianney Tricou (@viantricoff) December 5, 2013
Violent clashes in Boy-Rabe, the Fouh district (around Amitié Hospital) and Gobongo district. Antibalakas (ed's note: literally, anti-machettes men, armed men close to former president Bozize) are present in the 4th borough.
@peggybrug posted the following photo of Sekela soldiers patroling the city :
— Peggy Bruguière (@peggybrug) December 5, 2013
Ex-Seleka soldiers in the city. Very worrisome situation in #centrafrique according to UNICEF on site
One of the villagers Issa Roua reports on the recently attacks [fr] via Christophe Boltanski :
Les assaillants étaient près de quarante. Ils venaient des villages environnants. On a reconnu deux d’entre eux. Ils ont encerclé le campement et commencé avec les enfants
There were about forty attackers. They came from close by villages. We recognized some of them. They circled the camp and started with the kids..
During the recent political violence in Bangladesh there were many instances of petrol bomb attacks on public transport full of passengers which killed and injured many. A video emerged in Facebook [bn] last May posted by a radical person on how to make a petrol bomb and throw it to political opposition and policemen. The video also included violent messages (in Bengali) which was widely shared. A snapshot of the narrative:
পেট্রোল বোমা বানানোর সহজ টিপস । জামাত, শিবির, হেফাজত সহ সকল ইসলামী আন্দোলনের কর্মীদের বলছি:
অবশ্যই, অবশ্যয়ে, অবশ্যই অস্ত্র হাতে নেয়া মুসলমানের জন্য অবধারিত হয়ে পরেছে.
An easy tip to make a petrol bomb. Calling Jamaat, Shibir, Hefazat and other Islami movement activists:
It has become a must for the Muslims to pick up weapon and hit back..
Journalist Tasneem Khalil tried to report this video to Facebook. But Facebook refused to remove it and replied with this message:
— Tasneem Khalil (@tasneem) December 3, 2013
Top Francophone economists & diplomats (namely H El-Karoui from Morocco, T Thiam from Côte d'Ivoire, L Zinsou from Benin, J-M Severino and H Vedrine from France) submitted a joint report [fr] that outlines the strategy that France should implement to remain competitive on the African Market in the near future. Joel Té-Léssia highlights 15 key points [fr] from the report, one of which is to do away with the “Zone Franc” policy and to allow the regional currency to fluctuate with respect to the Euros. Té-Léssia also underlines the fact that the report is clearly devised to counter growing influence of China and other emerging nations in the Africa continent. Africa economic growth is projected at 5.2 % in 2014.
Maria Malagardi reports from the Central African Republic News Blog that President Michel Djotodia is increasingly isolated [fr] from his allies as the crisis deepens in his country and a French military intervention is in the works :
Certains de ses proches de passage à Paris ne savent même pas à qui il faut s’adresser à l’Elysée ou au Quai d’Orsay pour évoquer la situation en Centrafrique. Les autorités françaises, visiblement, préférent dialoguer directement avec le Premier Ministre, Nicolas Tiangaye [..] Certes, Michel Djotodia, un temps diplomate au Soudan, n’a pas réussi à ramener la sécurité dans son pays neuf mois après son arrivée. Un échec réel mais qui ne doit pas faire oublier que dans ce pays connaît aujourd’hui des affrontements intercommunautaires d’une ampleur inédite
Many of his close allies do not know anymore whether they should liaise with the French presidency or the Foreign office Ministry to exchange on the situation in the Central African Republic. French authorities seem to exchange directly with the prime minister Nicolas Tiangaye. [..] For sure, Michel Djotodia, who once was a diplomat in the Sudan, did not manage to bring peace and security back in his country nine months into his mandate. It is clearly a major failure but one should not forget that the country has faced an unusual massive number of inter-communities conflicts.
Five Arab countries have been named among the top 10 most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International's newly released annual Corruption Perceptions Index.
Egyptian Amro Ali reacts:
Congrats Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia & Sudan – 5 Arab states top most corrupt list http://t.co/7rsD6xErlA Egypt needed a break from rankings
— Amro Ali (@_amroali) December 3, 2013
And Sudanese Usamah Mohamed comments:
Iraq is occupied. Syria & Somalia are in civil war. Libya just revolted against the 41-year-old tyranny that mismanaged it. Sudan? #prt
— Usamah Mohamed أسامة (@simsimt) December 3, 2013
Marginalized Egyptians with special needs have been protesting for their rights both before and since the #Jan25 revolution. However, their grievances are yet to be resolved. At the time when the Committee of 50 is voting on the most recent draft of the Egyptian Constitution, Zayee Zayak campaign, which translates to “I am just like you” from Egyptian colloquial Arabic, has kicked off in Egypt aiming at raising awareness about the constitutional rights of people with special needs in the country.
A 2006 census claimed that almost a million Egyptians suffered some sort of disability, yet dedicated NGOs and international organizations estimate these to be at least 8.5 million. Zayee Zayak campaigners evaluate that as many as 17 million Egyptians have special needs:
You can follow discussions through a dedicated group, ‘Disability Awareness in Egyptian Society’ (En).
Economic blogger Chandan Sapkota lists major economic issues the newly elected Constituent Assembly members will be facing as they commence their work.
In Southern parts of Sri Lanka the cultivation of Durian, regarded by many in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, is becoming popular as it has export demands. The Sri Lanka Ministry of Agriculture has taken steps to commercially cultivate Durian, reports Ajith Parakum Jayasinghe. A 30-acre Durian village in Minuwangoda Divisional Secretariat in Gampaha district will be established.
The destruction of at least 11 mosques in the last two months in Angola is provoking reactions of outrage online.
According to Voz da América [pt], Angolan authorities state that the reason for the destruction is illegal construction. Other reports add that the process of legalization of Islam and other religions in the country has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and therefore, according to the news agency of the state AngolaPress, ”their temples will be closed until the new pronunciation in the case”. The Minister of Culture, Rosa Cruz e Silva, said that a law related to liberty of religious assembly should be revised “as a way of fighting ‘vigorously’ the coming up of new religious congregation whose religious assembly are contrary to our habits and customs to Angolan culture.”
The Muslim Community of Angola (CISA) considers that the government is undertaking religious persecution and preventing the realization of religious cults. So is referred in the caption of a video posted on Youtube last September by Coque Manuel which shows a mosque in the city of Moxico being destroyed:
A destruição (…) deve ser imediatamente interrompida e exigimos ao Presidente Angola que peça desculpas aos muçulmanos em todo o mundo. Se não, então gostaríamos de convidar a comunidade Islâmica para realizar manifestações pacíficas em frente dos edifícios das embaixadas angolanas em todo o mundo.
The destruction (…) must be immediately stopped and we demand an apology from the President of Angola to muslims around the world. If not, then we would like to invite the Islam community to protest peacefully in front of the buildings of Angolan embassies around the world.
Створив інтерактивну карту #Євромайдан з усіма містами які брали участь. Будь ласка поширте та давайте знати що упустив
[I] set up an interactive #Євромайдан map with all cities that participated. Please share and let me know what I have missed.
At the time of writing this post the map has grown substantially, with users adding protest sites across Ukraine, in the EU and the US.
As Global Voices reported, the protests dubbed “Euromaidan” [#євромайдан] erupted on November 21, 2013, after the Ukrainian government announced it was suspending the preparations for signing a EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, a historic deal that would secure the post-Soviet country's European integration.
The World Science Forum (WSF) gathers hundreds of scientists from all around the world this week in Brazil, to discuss their role in the 21st century and to emphasize the importance of scientific advice in political and economical decisions.
Brazil has hosted several events to discuss poverty eradication and sustainable development from the perspective of different social groups, occasionally antagonistic, such as Rio +20, the People's Summit and the World Social Forum. Due to the fact that nature does not recognize national borders, scientists see both issues from a global perspective. Therefore, they are using their knowledge so that science is able to integrate the construction of equitable societies, which ensure the quality of life of the populations without depleting the natural resources needed for future generations.
The sixth edition of the WSF takes place from November 24 to November 27 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the first time the forum is not organized in Hungary. This year the Brazilian Academy of Science partnered with the biggest international scientific organizations. The event will be broadcast via Internet in English, the official language of the event, and will be covered in social networks via hashtag #WSFBRAZIL.
Known as “the capital of participatory democracy”, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre will become subject for a lab in the World Forum for Democracy. Focus will be given to the case of PortoAlegre.cc, a project created at the University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos) which is based on the concept of wikicity – a digital platform that enables the debate on and development of the city:
PortoAlegre.cc é um espaço de radicalização da democracia, onde você tem voz e vez para discutir a cidade, mostrando o que ela tem de bom e o que precisa ser melhorado. Melhor ainda, você pode dar sua opinião de como a cidade pode melhorar, e chamar as pessoas para ajudarem a transformar essa ideia em realidade.
PortoAlegre.cc is a space for radicalization of democracy where you have the voice and turn to debate the city, showing the best of it as well as what needs to be improved. Even better: you can give your opinion on how the city can be improved and call people to help to transform that idea into reality.
Organized by the Council of Europe with the support of the French government, the World Forum for Democracy takes place from November 23 to 29 is Strasbourg, France. PortoAlegre.cc will be discussed in the last day of the conference, November 29, in a panel dedicated to the importance and the future of wikicities:
Giving citizens the initiative and control over policies reverses the traditional model of policy-making – what are the results of wikicity experiments so far, as well as challenges encountered?
Anne-Sophie Simpere reports that the Uranium exploitation contract between Niger and Areva, a french energy company, are set to be re-negotiated as it comes to an end as of December 2013. She writes [fr]:
Il est incompréhensible que le Niger, 4ème producteur d’uranium au monde, et fournisseur stratégique d’Areva et de la France, ne tire pas davantage de revenus de cette exploitation et reste l’un des pays les plus pauvres de la planète. Les négociations en cours représentent une occasion historique pour le Niger d’obtenir de meilleures conditions pour l’exploitation de ses ressources, y compris de plus grandes retombées financières. [..] En France, une ampoule sur trois est éclairée grâce à l’uranium nigérien. Au Niger, près de 90% de la population n’a pas accès à l’électricité. Cette situation ne peut plus durer. La France doit prouver que le temps des contrats secrets, des négociations opaques et des pressions sont finies.
It is beyond comprehension that Niger, the fourth largest uranium producer in the world, and strategic supplier of the Areva group and France, do not draw more income from such exploitation and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The current negotiations represent a historic opportunity for the Niger to obtain better conditions for the exploitation of its resources, including greater financial benefits. [..] In France, one in three light bulbs is powered by uranium from Niger. In Niger, about 90% of the population has no access to electricity. This situation cannot continue. France must prove that the time of secret contracts, opaque negotiations and diplomatic pressures are over.
Even though the Japanese government is working toward advancing its open data policy, the country has a ways to go, ranking 30th out of 70 countries, according to an index compiled by Open Knowledge Foundation. Masahiko Shoji of Open Knowledge Foundation Japan writes:
Japan's open data on government spending, company register, transport timetables and legislation received low ratings. All data set fields were not able to receive an evaluation of “YES”. Such challenges are the same as that of the ratings among the G8 compiled by Open Knowledge Foundation in June this year, and it shows that the progress of Open Data efforts in Japan is small.
A new multimedia project called Exposing the Invisible tells the stories of activists, hackers and journalists who work “at the new frontiers of investigation.” Through short films and text, the digital project by Tactical Technology Collective explores the missions of these experts and the tools they use to carry out their exposés.
The first film is about Paul Radu, a Romanian investigative journalist specialized in reporting on crime and corruption in the Balkans. (Subtitles in five different languages are also available.)
TeaLeafNation translated some Chinese netizens’ reactions to the document released after the Third Plenum, a high-level meeting to discuss China’s future development. Many Chinese find the document, called Plenum Communiqué confusing and vague. For example, one comment says:
I can’t understand why after a meeting lasting three days, the only thing they can produce is … a document that has to be decoded. It’s like a high school exam.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Turns to YouTube to talk about Iranian nuclear program. Javad Zarif who is very active on social media and has about 600,000 fans on his Facebook page, talks about nuclear program,Iran's rights,”respect” and “dignity”.Iran and world powers will start another round of negotiation about Iranian nuclear program tomorrow in Geneva.
“The government may continue its attempt to render us invisible, but our struggle cannot be defeated. As long as there is injustice, as long as the profound inequalities between the urban and the rural remain, the indigenous movement will continue.”
Manuela Picq spoke with Carlos Pérez Guartambel, the current leader of Ecuarunari [es] (Confederation of the Kichwa of Ecuador), at an event co-sponsored by NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) and CLACS (Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University). NACLA has published a transcript of the conversation.
A 1,500 km-long railway project between Niamey, the capital city of Niger and Cotonou, the capital city of Benin has been green lighted by the authorities of the two countries and construction will begin on March 2014 [fr]. Francois Ndiaye in Niamey unpacks the set up of the financial agreement [fr] that includes multiple stakeholders and will be overseen by the investment group Bolloré [fr]. Benoît ILLASSA in Cotonou wonders why private investing groups from either Niger or Cotonou were not selected to pilot such projects. The projected budget is set at 100 billions CFA (about 2 billions USD). The railway should extend in the future to three other capital cities of the west african region : Abidjan, Ouagadougou and Lomé.
David Bandurski from China media project looked into the media policy of the new leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, in particular after the Third Plenum meeting. Against the background of the setting up of a new national security committee, the question to be addressed is:
How might the Party re-tool and redefine its approach to the internet and social media in light of its shifting approach to national security?