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Covert Surveillance ‘Project Speargun’ Fires Up New Zealand Election

ANNA MAJAVU of Pacific Media Watch reports for The Daily Blog on an extraordinary event in Auckland on 15 September 2014:

NEW ZEALAND Prime Minister John Key has been accused of allowing the secret installation of equipment that would enable spooks to tap into New Zealand’s undersea fibre optic cable as part of a covert mass surveillance system of citizens.

This was the word from globally acclaimed whistleblower Edward Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (both speaking via video link), Kim Dotcom and US Pulitzer prize-winner Glenn Greenwald last night at a packed meeting of more than 2000 people in Auckland.

Deported Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Speak of Mistreatment by Australian Authorities

Thirty seven Sinhalese and four Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka sailed in a boat towards Australia and were intercepted west of the Cocos Island late last month by Australian authorities. They were returned to Sri Lanka, their point of origin, and they appeared in a court in the country's southwest yesterday.

Journalist Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai reports that the Sri Lankan deportees claimed that they were mistreated. He also tweeted (@DushiYanthini) photos and news from the ground:

Citizen journalism site Groundviews also commented:

East Timorese Protect Land Rights Against Australian Cement Plant Deal

The announcement of a new cement plant project by an Australian company in Baucau, northeast of East Timor, has led local community groups to set up a non-governmental organization “to protect and preserve the communities’ rights to their culture, development and traditional land rights.”

According to the community organization, Kapeliwa, the government of East Timor gave the largest construction company in Western Australia, BGC, permission to construct [tet] a cement plant with the annual capacity of 1.5 million tons in Baucau, as well as a license to extract limestone for 100 years. The construction project was awarded to the South Korean company POSCO E&C, from East Timor’s TL Cement (“a special purpose corporation wholly owned by BGC”), in December 2013.

Kapeliwa was publicly launched on April 19, 2014, by a group of intellectuals from Kaisido, Parlamento, Lialailesu and Osowa - four villages located in the northeast coast of Timor-Leste, Baucau district. The four villages, situated near the airport of the country's second city, are part of the administrative area of Suco Tirilolo, where the minority ethno-lingusitic community Uaima'a live.

In the first public meeting with the community members and leaders of the four villages, the group's founders presented the ”potential positive and negative impact of the proposed cement factory in and on Uaima'a land known as Kaisido.” The group claims that there is lack of information about this project and that there hasn't been a proper viability study for the development.

Australia's #MarchInMarch Street Party Protests

Prolific tweeter @geeksrulz reports on the No Fibs citizen journalist website about Melbourne's part in the nationwide marches against the Australian government: Melbourne #MarchInMarch Street Party Protest

A grassroots movement that started on Twitter managed to get tens of thousands of people onto the streets away from their keyboards. That is an achievement in and of itself!

Australian Journalist Peter Greste Caught in Egypt's Media Crackdown

Writing in Working Life, Andrew Casey highlights the risks to media freedom in Egypt as international journalists and other media workers face terrorism charges. Among them is Australian Peter Greste, an Al Jazeera journalist.

Accessibility and Lack of Appreciation for Young HIV Carriers Fighting AIDS

Image on Flickr by user

Image on Flickr by user max_thinks_sees (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Under the premise that AIDS is the second cause of teenager deaths in the world and the nvisibility for vulnerables populatons in this field, Puerto Rican journalist Natalia A. Bonilla Berríos writes about the participation of L’Orangelis Thomas Negrón, HIV carrier from birth, on the XX 2014 AIDS International Conference held last July in Melbourne, Australia.

Thomas wonders how accessible is life expectancy for teenagers and young people living with AIDS in the world? And she develops an answer:

Hice mención de las poblaciones claves y cómo, el no reconocerlas es una agresión a su propia existencia, y más aún cuando se es adolescente. La expectativa de vida, que se dice que es la misma que las personas que no viven con VIH, y cuán real es esto, cuando hay países que criminalizan el VIH y la homosexualidad; cuando quienes hemos vivido toda la vida con VIH no sabremos qué pasará con nuestros cuerpos en cinco o diez años porque no hay estudios suficientes; cuando las mujeres y transgéneros somos víctimas de violencia de género; o cuando migrantes y trabajadores/as sexuales no tienen acceso a la salud. Sobre todo, el hecho de que países desarrollados están a punto de firmar acuerdos que afectará el costo de los medicamentos genéricos de los cuales los países en desarrollo dependen.

I mentioned key populations and how no acknowledging them is an aggression against their existence itself, even more for teenagers. About life expectancy, said to be the same as individuales who live free of HIV, and how real that is, when some countries penalize HIV and homosexuality, when those of us who have lived our whole lives with HIV don't know what will happen with our bodies in five or ten years as there are no enough researches, when women and transgenders are victims of gender violence or when migrants and sex workers don't have access to healthcare. Above all, that fact that developed countries are about to suscribe agreements that will affect the costs of generic drugs, on which developing countries rely.

Visit Natalia Bonilla's blog. On Twitter, look for @nataliabonilla.

This post was part of the fourteenth #LunesDeBlogsGV,(Monday of blogs on GV) on August 4, 2014.

Protecting Journalists’ Sources: Don't Take Your Smart Phone

Mark Pearson of Journlaw.com interviews Cameron Stewart, National security reporter and associate editor at The Australian newspaper. They discuss the challenges facing investigative journalists in the era of technological surveillance. Among other gems of advice: leave your smartphones back at your office when you are meeting confidential sources. More at: Journalists revert to age-old methods to protect sources, says @camstewarttheoz

AC/DC Call It a Night After 41 Years

Daryl Mason pays tribute at The Ostrahyun blog to iconic rock band AC/DC following reports that they will retire after 41 years.

More than a month ago, founding member, rhythm guitarist, co-producer and co-songwriter Malcolm Young had a stroke, which left a blood clot on his brain.

Confirmation may come at a media conference on Wednesday 16 April 2014. Fans can follow developments at the #acdcretire hashtag on twitter.

Seeking Asylum in Australia Is ‘Getting Real Ugly’

Gary Sauer-Thompson pulls no punches in his assessment of the latest crisis at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre. It is part of the so-called Pacific Solution. In a post for his blog Public Opinion, it's getting real ugly, he calls it a

concentration camp… designed to be cruel and that asylum seekers are going to suffer. The Conservative base [in Australia] demands that the asylum seekers live a bare life–a life exposed to death.

Young Romanian Builds First Car Entirely Made of LEGO Blocks

20-year-old Raul Oaida from Romania has built what many dreamed of as children – the world’s first life-size LEGO car. The car, including the engine which actually runs, was built using 500,000 LEGO pieces. The vehicle can only achieve a speed of some 20 to 30 kilometers per hour, but – it runs on air!

The young Romanian, a self-taught tech genius, paired up online with Australian entrepreneur Steve Sammartino, who procured the funds for this project on Twitter and got twice as many investors as needed in just days. The car was built in Romania and then transported to Australia, where the two unlikely partners met for a test drive.

The engine of the car is also entirely made of LEGO. It has “four orbital engines and a total of 256 pistons.” According to the project website, the top speed isn’t very impressive, around 20 to 30 km. “We were scared of a Lego explosion so we drove it slowly,” the founders wrote. Steve and Oaida say that the project was possible only because of the internet. The two even met online, when Steve accepted Oaida’s Skype request. “I’m teaching him about business and he’s teaching me a bit about physics,” Steve told the press.

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