In order to alleviate the lack of student housing available across Europe, a few universities in Denmark, Germany, France (Le Havre) [fr] and Spain have tried to turn containers into student dorms. Containers appear to be the structure of choice because they are less costly and readily adaptable to include the necessary amenities. However, a few associations have already raised a few issues [fr] regarding thermal isolation and safety in the containers.
Latest stories from Quick Reads + Spain
Blogger Denise Duncan makes a confession [es] on her blog:
¿Por qué voy a viajar 1400 kilómetros para votar por Luis Guillermo Solís? ¿Por qué ir y volver de Barcelona a Madrid en 24 horas? ¡Pero es un voto, nada más!, podría pensarse. ¿Qué diferencia hay? Una: estoy enamorada.
Why am I going to travel 1400 kilometers to vote for Luis Guillermo Solís? Why am I going from Barcelona to Madrid and back in 24 hours? But it's just a vote, nothing else!, you could think. What's the difference? One: I'm in love.
Denise is a Barcelona-based Costa Rican citizen and she'll have to travel from there to Madrid to cast her vote for Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera [es], a candidate running for president in the upcoming elections on February 2, 2014.
She remembers an earlier experience, when she spent 24 hours in a train to meet the man who is now her husband. She ends her confession saying:
Entonces brindaré por lo que viene, por un cambio que hará que mi corazón diga: yo recorrí 1400 kilómetros por dos hombres decentes en mi vida. Uno es mi marido. El otro el Presidente de la República.
Then I'll make a toast for what's yet to come, for a change that will make my heart say: I traveled 1400 kilometers because of two men in my life. One is my husband. The other one is the President of the Republic.
“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.
The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative - a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:
Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.
A short video presents the campaign:
Madrid native David Sigüenza [es] watched a recent episode [es] of Spanish program “Madrileños por el Mundo,” focusing on Chilean capital Santiago, “hoping to see a representation of the reality of this city, where many young Spanish people have found themselves living due to the crisis faced by our country.”
“Madrileños por el Mundo” shows the lives of Madrileños (people from Madrid) living in other countries. However, David says that the stories about life in Santiago portrayed by the program were unrepresentative of the reality of “the exiled Madrileños in Santiago.”
For example, the program included the story of a Spanish woman married to a lawyer; “Her life consisted of going to the golf club, then to the shops, afterwards to the gym and to look after her children – a typical day for anyone, right?” writes David.
The reality here is much more difficult than [this story], the reality is about people who earn a little more than 1000 Euros a month [a low salary earned by countless Spaniards] but who are better off here in Santiago than filling up unemployment lists in Spain. It's about people who fight to live with dignity and get ahead with the hope of one day returning to their country. It's about people who save month after month to be able to afford a plane ticket that will take them to see their loved ones who are more than 10,000 km and a month's wage away.
The complete entry can be found in his blog [es].
Spain's Regional Minister of Education for the Balearic Islands, Joana Maria Camps (@joanamariacamps), has proven herself not very familiar with one of the most important studies on education: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In a parliamentary session on November 21, she talked [ca] for some minutes about some important study called “trepitja”, the Catalan translation for the Spanish word “pisa”, a conjugation of the verb meaning “to step”. The mistake, probably the result of her advisers using an automatic translator to translate her Spanish text into Catalan, shows she did not know very well what she was talking about.
A YouTube video offers the audio of Camps’ speech, which ended with the conclusion that a reform in the education system is needed. On Twitter, netizens used the hashtag #InformeTrepitja (Trepitja Report) to post outraged comments and jokes on the tragicomic scene.
Camps is the same minister that dealt with the massive teachers’ strike and protests that took place in the region in September and October 2013.
Since the government announced the decision to shut the broadcaster down on November 5, the journalists have been running both the radio and TV stations. For the moment, the workers are resisting letting the police enter the TV station and though the broadcast has been interrupted, they continue to broadcast online. Also, Catalan public television TV3 is broadcasting the Valencian TV signal.
Valencia is one of the Spanish regions with the most corruption scandals, and the gesture of the governing party sending the police in the middle of the night to occupy the media stations has awoken unpleasant memories of Franco‘s fascist dictatorship throughout the mid-20th century.
The debut video of The Catalan Project (@Catalan_Project) features Fernando de Castro, “a Catalan from Galicia and Spanish”, presenting the project and explaining why some Catalans want independence from Spain using the 16 languages he is able to speak. Subtitles are available in English, French, German, Spanish and Catalan.
The Catalan Project, an independent and non-profit association, provides an open online platform where “all citizens that work and/or live in Catalonia and that have ideas on how to create a better country” can discuss how a hypothetical independent Catalonia should be. Because “independence is not a goal, it is a starting point”. The project is collecting funds on the crowdfunding site Verkami.
During the Open Science conference at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium on October 24, 2013, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales highlighted Viquipèdia, the Catalan Wikipedia, as a success story. A video on YouTube features the moment when Wales talks about Viquipèdia (transcript by Viquipèdia editor Arnau Duran):
“…in some of our small language Wikipedias, we have very active communities, and there’s maybe only a few people there, but they are very passionate about their mother tongue, and they really want to do the work, and so they work really hard. If we have a look some of the larger minor languages of Europe, like Catalan is a good example. Catalan Wikipedia is far larger than you would have guessed from the number of people who are speaking Catalan. And it is because the Catalan people are quite passionate about their language, which has been historically under threat.”
Earlier this year, Viquipèdia reached the milestone of 400,000 articles, and the Amical Wikimedia, the association that promotes Viquipedia, got a chapter of its own, thus becoming the first Wikimedia chapter of a territory which does not correspond to a state.
Global Voices Català has won [ca] an award at the Catalonia Blog Awards [ca] held annually in Catalonia by the association Societat de Tecnologia i Coneixement (STIC) [ca] (Technology and Knowledge Society) in the category of communications and new media. The awards ceremony was celebrated on September 28th, 2013, where journalist, blogger and Global Voices author Joan Antoni Guerrero Vall collected the prize on behalf of the Catalan team. Congratulations, everyone!
— Joan Antoni Guerrero (@joanantoni70) September 28, 2013
Here you are the award Global Voices Catalan just won at the #pbc13. It is an honour to collect on on behalf of a great team :)
The association STIC aims to promote interactivity and innovation within the context of Catalan culture and language by using the new communication and information technologies, with a special sensibility towards education, actions of solidarity that help reduce inequality and the defense of Catalan culture.
Catalan National Day, September 11, is just around the corner. The civic Association Col·lectiu Emma (@CollectiuEmma) has published a statement in English and 9 other languages on its blog. The text explains the current political situation in Catalonia (Spain's far north-east corner) and calls worldwide media to keep an eye on the public pro-independence event that will take place on September 11.
In an attempt to show the increasing popular support to the option of independence and push the regional government to hold a referendum, the civic association Catalan National Assembly (CNA) is organizing a huge human chain along the 400 km long Catalan coastline, called The Catalan Way (#CatalanWay, #viacatalana). 105 human chains around the world have already been or are scheduled to be celebrated in advance.
Amical Wikimedia, the association that promotes Viquipedia, the Catalan Wikipedia, has got a chapter of its own within the international structure of the Wikimedia Foundation. This recognition comes after a five-year-long discussion to be recognized as representative of a unique language and culture, as previous criteria required chapters to represent states. Now they will have the right to share experiences with other countries and access the funds raised through readers’ donations. This announcement arrives at a time when Catalonia is involved in a debate about becoming independent from Spain.
A civic statement on Col·lectiu Emma (@CollectiuEmma)'s blog criticizes the way the Spanish government is dealing with the political situation in the region of Catalonia, where 55 % of the population favors independence [ca] from Spain, according to an official poll. The statement explains the “strategy of fear” and other “hostile” arguments, and claims for “a friendly separation, preferably under international supervision and with external support for both parties.” The post is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch.
The Spanish Constitutional Court just suspended Catalonia's Declaration of Sovereignty, which the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority on 23 January, 2013. Amid rising tensions between Spain and Catalonia, the decision has generated strong reactions on offline and online media.
Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] offers the Declaration of Sovereignty in 50 languages.
From the Patagonia to Havana, hundreds of computer users across Latin America are choosing freedom over control by installing free software on their computers. On April 27th, groups of free software enthusiasts will be installing free software in dozens of cities across Latin America as part of FLISOL [es], the Latin American free software installation festival.
The International Journalists’ Network, IJNET, recently announced the release of the Spanish translation [es] of The Data Journalism Handbook, “a free, open-source book that aims to help journalists use data to improve journalism.”
Both the original English version and the Spanish translation are freely available online under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, which means that they can be freely downloaded, shared and built upon.
Every week, a different Catalan citizen or any person who lives or has lived in Catalonia (regardless of her/his nationality or citizenship) will tweet from the account @CatalanVoices to talk about what she or he likes, feels and thinks about Catalonia. What they share will also be published on the project's blog. This is a project launched by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) and inspired in existing initiatives like @ScotVoices.The project's goal is to “raise awareness about Catalonia” and boost discussion about “the current democratic political process concerning Catalonia’s political status in Europe and Spain”.
‘L'endemà. Respostes per a decidir‘, a documentary project about Catalonia's potential independence from Spain, produced by Isona Passola [ca], earned a record-breaking €150,000 on the crowdfunding platform Verkami on February 15, 2013. Passola, who produced the award-winning film Pa Negre [ca], hoped to reach that amount in 40 days, but reached that goal in just eleven. Previously, the crowdfunding record in Catalonia was €,50,000, according to the Catalan-language journal Diari Ara [ca].
The Catalan Association for Scientific Communication, the Spanish Association of Scientific Communication and the Society for the Progression of Critical Thinking have started an Internet campaign via online petition platform Change.org asking for scientific accuracy in La Vanguardia, one of the widest circulated Catalan newspapers and part of the Grupo Godó. So far they have collected 826 signatures. The petition, which is in the form of a letter addressed to the editor of La Vanguardia Josep Rovirosa, demands “not only respect for science but above all quality journalism, whether scientific, specialised or of a general nature” [all links lead to Catalan speaking pages].
On January 23, 2013, amid rising tensions with the Spanish government, the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority vote a Declaration of Sovereignty [ca] — seen widely as a prelude to a referendum on independence, expected to be held by 2014. Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] has been able to offer the document in thirty-six languages. More »
Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Pirate Party, reinterprets the wars of religion that devastated Western Europe in the XVI and XVII centuries in terms of the current struggle to control information through overbearing legislation related to copyright and freedom of expression:
The religious wars were never about religion as such. They were about who held the power of interpretation, about who controlled the knowledge and culture available to the masses. It was a war of gatekeepers of information.
More » A prominent Macedonian sports journalist
From Bolivia, blogger Eduardo Bowles refers to the nationalization of Spanish company Iberdrola [es]:
[...] amidst a severe credibility crisis and when the bumpings with Chile weren't enough for “beating around the bush”, MAS regime has ordered the nationalization of four branches of Spanish multinational Iberdrola, thus putting an end to its presence en Bolivia. [...]
More than once, [Bolivian] President Morales has joked about the idea of solving problems between countries on a football field.
An article on online newspaper Núvol with the title “Send up #Wert” [ca] collects discussions, cartoons, jokes and word games inspired by statements and the education law reform proposed by Spanish Minister José Ignacio Wert.
The recently released Free Software Assessment Report 2012 shows the opinion, assessment and preferences of more than 5,000 people from Spain and Latin America. The study published in its fourth edition is promoted by PortalProgramas and supported by a number of experts and collaborators [es]. The report aims to contribute to a better understanding, use and dissemination of free software in Latin America. The summary of the study can be accessed online [es] and more information can be found on the report's conclusions for 2012 [es].
I don’t know whether we will need gasoline, electric or hydrogen cars tomorrow. I don’t have to know, because I designed my car so that I can change the motor in about the same time that it takes to change a tire.
Joe Justice, founder and Team Lead of Wikispeed, explains on Ouishare how the Wikispeed team worked to build a 100 mile per gallon car in three months coordinating via free tools such as Skype, Dropbox or Google Docs. Wikispeed recently presented workshops in Rome, Barcelona and Paris.
The 28th of September is the celebration of the Campaign for the Legalization of Abortion, which has taken place for years in Latin America and the Caribbean and this year will be celebrated all around the world for the first time. The group known as“Feminismos 15M”[es] has chosen this date to convene a demonstration, tomorrow, the 28th at 7pm at the Puerta de Toldeo in Madrid. The protest mainly denounces the new Spanish abortion law, proposed by the minister of justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, as a regression of women's rights. If the law is passed, abortion will no longer be legal and would also be prohibited in abnormal cases and cases of deformed fetuses. This reform is strongly discussed by the feminist movement. The foundation Derecho a Vivir [es] (The Right to Live) supports this law change.
The Spanish indignant movement has convened a rally tomorrow, September 6, 2012 in front of the European Union headquarters in Madrid due to the meeting between President Mariano Rajoy and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel under the slogan “Merkel go home.” The intentions of the first social protest of September will be commented on social networks with the denominations: #MerkelLlevateaRajoy y #6S.
‘We Are The Pigs‘ - in reference to the derogatory PIGS acronym - is a crowdfunded photojournalism ‘road trip’ venture, to collect people's stories from European countries affected by the debt crisis. The project, started by two young Central European women journalists frustrated with the stereotypical hyperbole and abuse levelled in the media against Greece and other crisis-ridden countries, will hit the road in early August, starting in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Due to the outcry produced by parliamentarian Andrea Fabra's declarations, she had to publicly retract [es] (PDF) and present a written apology after having declared ”¡qué se jodan!” (“Fuck them!”) when President Mariano Rajoy announced the harshest social cuts in the history of Spanish democracy. The letter is an apology to the House of Representatives and to the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Labour Party), but not to the people.
Le café pédagogique links [pdf, fr] to the results of a survey launched in 15 cities from 7 U.E. countries, among immigrants in possession of their legal documents and with or without citizenship of their host countries. The questions were aimed at integration, which appears to be highly wished for.