Sociologist, poet, and blogger Guillermo Rebollo-Gil wrote an open letter on his blog to U.S. President Barack Obama in which he calls for the release of Oscar López Rivera, one of the longest-held political prisoners ever. The letter has quickly gone viral over the past two days.
Oscar López Rivera has been in prison for 32 years already, convicted of “seditious conspiracy”, even though it was never proven that he was involved in any violent activity, nor was he convicted of crimes that resulted in death or injury to anyone. After expressing great disillusionment with President Obama's administration, Rebollo-Gil writes:
Over the last three plus decades, five different Presidents have been sworn into office. I wonder if it would be possible for you to consider standing out amongst them. I wonder if you would be interested in imbuing your presidency with historical significance in the form of a direct action to assuage this injustice perpetrated by the American government. I wonder if you would be interested in affirming the fundamental American principle of freedom and grant a pardon to Mr. López Rivera. I really hope so. At all times.
Guillermo Rebollo-Gil's letter has been widely shared on social media and was republished on the online journal 80 grados [es].
The Dominican Republic has a legitimate interest in regulating immigration and having clear rules for acquisition of citizenship. It should not be pressured by outside actors and other countries to implement measures contrary to its own Constitution and that would be unacceptable to most other nations facing similar immigration pressures.
The second letter is signed jointly by authors Mark Kurlansky, Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, and Julia Álvarez, who dispel the assurances of the ambassador that no one will be negatively affected by the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling:
The ruling will make it challenging for them to study; to work in the formal sector of the economy; to get insurance; to pay into their pension fund; to get married legally; to open bank accounts; and even to leave the country that now rejects them if they cannot obtain or renew their passport. It is an instantly created underclass set up for abuse.
Andrew Chubb from South Sea Conversation highlighted a “leaked” documentary video produced for China's People Liberation Army on U.S foreign politics and its role in the disintegration of former USSR and its threat to the one party regime of China.
Anesa Kajtazovic, currently a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, was born in Bihać, Bosnia, then a part of the former Yugoslavia. Anesa and her parents and sisters fled the war-torn Balkan country in 1992 and settled in the US state of Iowa. After a few years in politics, Kajtazovic is now running for a seat in the US Congress [ba], and after kicking of her campaign in the summer of 2013, has started receiving endorsements from labor unions and celebrities alike.
It seems her past experiences as an immigrant child of parents who worked to build a future for their family in a new country is making quite the difference in her relationships with voters. Bleedingheartland.com says:
The United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 431 and 1149 decided to support Kajtazovic because “she understands better than anyone the concerns of Iowa's working families,” and “She shares the experience of arriving to Iowa as an immigrant with many of our members.”
Kajtazovic was the youngest woman ever to be elected to Iowa's state legislature and, if elected to Congress, she will be the first Bosnian-born member of Congress. She calls herself proof of the “American Dream”, but Kajtazovic, who runs an active Facebook fan page sharing both professional and some personal moments, seldom forgets that she has friends, family and support both in the US and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the past year or two, her professional successes have become a regular fixture on Bosnian news sites, and her homeland seems to be following her career in the US with great interest and celebration.
The Youth Leadership Council of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center created an inspiring video to help young Asian voices heard in the immigration reform debate. Blogger Angry Asian Man briefly comments on this video featuring local youth's thought-provoking spoken word performances.
A new data visualization tool from the Center for Civic Media in the United States helps illustrate how popular videos spread online and between countries. Looking at the most popular videos in 61 countries, What We Watch shows which countries have the biggest overlaps in interest. Civic Media Center Director, Ethan Zuckerman describes the project and initial findings.
Social Media Week, a worldwide event which ”brings people, brands and organizations together to explore how we connect and communicate as a society”, starts today, September 23, 2013.
In the second edition of this year's global conference, with the cities of Berlin, Bogotá, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, São Paulo and Toronto as hosts, more than 1,000 events are expected to take place ”exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media”.
The global theme that marks the fifth year of Social Media Week is “Open & Connected: Principles for a collaborative world”.
A number of overseas Chinese activists in New York staged an action in Time Square, called “in cage with Wang Bingzhang”. Wang is the founder of two political parties in China. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003. Image via Wen Yunchao.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement after Army Private First Class Bradley Manning's sentence was handed down on August 21, saying that the harsh treatment Manning endured since he was accused of violating the Espionage Act sent a disturbing message to anyone thinking about becoming a whistleblower. Manning was sentenced to 35 years of prison for leaking information that revealed that the U.S. military violated the Geneva Convention and that there was a much higher civilian death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan than previously disclosed to the press. Says Joel Simon, executive director of the CPJ:
Military prosecutors who pursued Manning aggressively sought a harsh sentence because of the message it sends to would-be leakers. As an organization dedicated to the defense of journalists and press freedom, we take a different view. This Manning prosecution combined with the Obama administration's overzealous pursuit of leakers sends an unequivocal chilling message to journalists and their sources, particularly on issues of national security that are of vital importance to the public.
The alternative music venue La Respuesta, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, presents “Los Muros Hablan NYC” (The Walls Talk NYC), the New York edition of the urban art festival that has put the zone of Santurce on the map of graffiti artists worldwide. The artistic project aims to strengthen bonds between Santurce and El Barrio, an important Puerto Rican enclave in New York City during decades.
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito District 8 Manhattan/Bronx commented:
We are excited to have such a tremendously talented group of artists bring more of our empty walls to life. The murals will serve as a testament to El Barrio’s long-standing artistic tradition and strong relationship with Puerto Rico. From the moment I learned about Los Muros Hablan in Puerto Rico. I knew that we had to bring this unique and dynamic event to El Barrio. This event is the first step in a true long – term partnership from which our community will benefit for years to come [...]
Participating artists include Axel Void (Spain), Betsy Casañas (Philadelphia), Celso González (Puerto Rico), Don Rim X (Puerto Rico) , Elian & Pastel (Argentina) , Jufe (La Pandilla) (Puerto Rico), L NY (Ecuador), Manny Vega (New York City), and Viajero (New York City ).
Here are some photos of the murals in process (all used with permission):
Former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson asked in Sina Weibo, China's most popular social media platform, “Who is the best fighter in China?”. A follower said Cheng-guan, China's urban law enforcement officers, who are notorious for managing the street by beating up street vendors. More from Offbeat China.
Malagasy Ariary currency and Euros via Teraka Randriantsoa blog – Public Domain
Lambo T. reports [fr] on the website of La Gazette de La Grande Ile that Samifin [mg], the agency in charge of cleaning up the financial sector and combat transnational illegal operations in Madagascar has been suspended from the Egmont Group of financial intelligence units. Egmont is an international network that helps tracks money laundering or terrorism financing. Lambo T. explains that the current administration's failure to move forward on a Bill against terrorism and transnational organized crime that led to Samifin's suspension.
NYC #Justice4Trayvon rally reaches Times Square, July 15, 2013. Photo posted by Macey J. Foronda on Twitter
Thousands joined peaceful protests held in many U.S. cities after the acquittal in Florida on July 15, 2013 of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Protesters condemned the “Stand Your Ground” laws, legislation in effect in more than 20 states that allow the use of force as self-defense when a person feels reasonably threatened, as racist. Global Voices social media editor Asteris Masouras curated updates and photos of the protests on Storify. On the day following the protests, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder slammed ”Stand Your Ground” laws as dangerous to public safety, in line with research asserting that they result in an increase of homicides.
As more details are coming out about the Asiana Airlines plane crash which claimed two lives and injured 181 passengers, Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller ‘Outliers' has been widely quoted in articles and online venues. The book points Korea's hierarchical culture as the main contributing factor of the 1997 Korean Airlines Plane Crash at Guam airport. The Marmots Hole blog commented on such analysis.
As usual, the one thing the media aren’t covering is what the immigrants themselves think about immigration reform.
In Upside Down World, David L. Wilson writes about a meeting held in New York where activists -some from Mexico and Central America- discussed “the forces that drive people out of their own countries and the suffering they experience both during their flight to the United States and once they arrive here.”
One of South Korea's two major airlines, Asiana Airliner's plane crashed in the U.S. while landing at San Francisco International Airport, killing two and injuring 181 passengers. Korea Bang translated various comments Korean nets users have made about this tragic incident.
North Korea has recently tried to open discussion with South Korea and the United States on the denuclearization issue. 38 North project site posted a detailed analysis on current inter-Korean dynamics and future prospects.
HongWrong has collected a large number of media reports on the rally to support Edward Snowden in Hong Kong on 15 of June, 2013. Hundreds rallied in the rain demanding the U.S government to stop its spying activities and Hong Kong government to protect Snowden.
State-controlled media outlet, the People's Daily, has recently published a series of editorials on Dishonest Americans. Like many other propaganda pieces, social media users attack its hypocrisy with questions like “Why do our officials keep sending their wives and sons to this immoral and dishonest country?” More from Beijing Cream.
Several months earlier, Google debuted its new crowd-sourced map of one of the most reclusive countries in the world, North Korea. Martyn Williams shared a video on his Youtube channel where Google Maps’ vice president talks about mapping North Korea.
The White House petition for the Zhu Ling case has received 137,676 signatures by May 8, 2013. Some web users have made light of the fact that Chinese have turned to an American petition site seeking justice. The following image shared on Sina Weibo is Obama in the Oval Office, which has been re-imagined as China’s Letters and Visits Office. CHINA MEDIA PROJECT has more details.