Stories from Quick Reads and U.S.A.
The reclaiming of history as an ally of marginalized groups is key to their very survival. This is especially true in a colonial context such as Puerto Rico, where history has been and continues to be used as a means to justify inequalities and deny visibility.
In the spirit of doing justice to the men and women who have contributed greatly to Puerto Rico, and yet have been sidelined by years of official history, the digital magazine La Respuesta, which focuses primarily on the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, recently published a short post titled 10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know, which briefly highlights the legacy of people such as pro-independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos, literary critic and lawyer Nilita Vientós Gastón, and intellectual leader Arturo Schomburg.
The application RhinoBirdTV, developed by the Chilean Felipe Heusser, who founded the NGO Ciudadano Inteligente, allows users to share video experiences in real time. The makers of RhinoBirdTV hope their product will help facilitate a more democratic world by breaking down boundaries and connecting people through simple-to-distribute live videos.
RhinoBirdTV chose to launch its Android version on April 20, the day of the 119th annual Boston Marathon, allowing users to broadcast and receive live videos from the event, following the hashtag #bostonmarathon.
On Twitter, people welcomed RhinoBirdTV with enthusiasm and high expectations:
— Matias del Rio (@matiasdelrio) April 20, 2015
Far from the Marathon is a marvel made in Chile the USA.
— Rhinobird.TV (@RhinoBirdTv) April 20, 2015
Los Chilenos en Boston son unos capos. Aguantando el frío y la lluvia para apoyar @RhinoBirdTv Emocionante.
— felipe heusser (@fheusser) April 20, 2015
Chileans in Boston are bosses. Enduring the cold and rain to support.
Scholars, writers, journalists and researchers write an open letter to 60 Minutes producer about the misrepresentation of Africa by the Tv program:
Dear Jeff Fager, Executive Producer of CBS 60 Minutes,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by 60 Minutes.
In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.
Two of these segments were remarkably similar in their basic subject matter, featuring white people who have made it their mission to rescue African wildlife. In one case these were lions, and in another, apes. People of black African descent make no substantial appearance in either of these reports, and no sense whatsoever is given of the countries visited, South Africa and Gabon.
The third notable recent segment was a visit by your correspondent Lara Logan to Liberia to cover the Ebola epidemic in that country. In that broadcast, Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest. Liberians were shown within easy speaking range of Logan, including some Liberians whom she spoke about, and yet not a single Liberian was quoted in any capacity.
An original post published on January 29, 2014, on the US Department of Agriculture blog was republished in several websites about Native Americans. It refers to analysis and protection of historical findings at holy grounds of the Lacota tribe and the efforts of Department of Agriculture to cooperate with local leaders and learn from them, in order these very important findings to be listed and preserved effectively.
Our curiosity was palpable in our expressions, we visitors to this South Dakota field, as we pondered the patterns produced by the tops of rocks pressed into grass and soil, patterns tantalizingly organized and purposeful: shapes of things that have been. What stories were held in this small corner of the Black Hills National Forest?
Forest Service staff were guided and educated by Arvol Looking Horse and Tim Mentz, among others:
Many years ago, when he was only 12, Looking Horse had been given the enormous responsibility of being the 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe. He is a spiritual leader for the Lakota Dakota Na-kota Oyate, the great Sioux Nation. Mentz is a cultural resource expert with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He was their first Tribal historic preservation officer and continues to be an amazing source of information about cultural sites for his Tribe.
Esta Vida Boricua [This Boricua Life] is a digital storytelling project which explores the past and present of Puerto Rico through the collection of experiences of people from all walks of life and all ages. At its most basic level, it is “a place to share stories,” as explained in their “About” section. Elaborating on that thought, they write:
Thus, the stories herein are a journey. They offer splashes of color and texture, shades of shadow and light as well as fragments of shape and depth to the existing Puerto Rican mosaic. They unravel the stereotypes and biased images of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture presented in the media and beyond. They speak of a generation of young people struggling under the uncertainty of colonialism —and a backlash from the slow cultural genocide that has taken place since US occupation after the Spanish-American War and the advent of modernism.
The content, which can take the form of writing (in either Spanish or English), video or audio recordings, is entirely produced by volunteers, most of whom are students from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, on the western coast of the main island. Poets, musicians and writers are also welcome to contribute original content.
Osekre, the leader of New York based Afro-punk band Osekre and The Lucky Bastards, reveals the trials and tribulations of being an African musician in New York:
I wish I received a heads up by friends in the real world about the reality of being a musician in New York City. It is no joke! I had decided to pursue music full time, some time in 2010. I had just graduated from Columbia University, and I saw this as my time to break away from certain kinds of responsibilities, expectations and deadlines set by college, my family, my friends, and the burden of “being a migrant in Rome.” I just wanted to pause, to live, and breathe easier. The only thing on my agenda was to get my band, Osekre and The Lucky Bastards going once again.
At the time, I was inspired by an increased interest in African music in New York in general. Columbia alumni, Vampire Weekend, were heroes on campus, and had sparked debates in the world and indie music communities with their song “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” as they fused what they felt were soukous licks with indie sounds. The spirit of Fela Kuti’s work was being reinvigorated in the underground music spaces, where DJs and hip hop artists were finally spinning and sampling Afrobeat. K’naan was making waves with incredibly poignant stories through rap, wit and lyricism; introducing the world to the struggles of Somalis on his album Dusty foot Philosopher. Nneka had released her song “Kangpe”, which was all over EA Sports’ FIFA soccer games, and was about to debut on Letterman in New York. I had enough sources and stories to keep me motivated about the opportunities and possibilities for young African cats doing their music thing in NYC. What no one explained was exactly how much work that was going to involve and what it meant to start from the scratch, or scratch the start.
On March 29, Taiwanese celebrity Janet Lee, along with some other people, was brought to see AH-64E Apache helicopters, the latest model of Apache attack helicopters.
These Apache helicopters were delivered to Taiwan in 2013, as part of a $6.4 billion arms deal with the U.S. signed in 2008.
After Lee posted several photos of her posing with the helicopters on Facebook, the Republic of China Army was criticized for letting unauthorized people enter the off-limits zone, where sensitive technology information is stored.
The scandal has led to the sacking of 18 military officials as of April 11. Ten of them belong to the 601 Air Cavalry Brigade.
Netizens made fun of the incident by comparing Janet Lee with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. All of them have taken on armies single-handedly, but while the guys did that in the movies, Janet Lee crushed a real life brigade with her Facebook check-in.
Prominent investigative journalist Meri Jordanovska wrote a testimony about her experience on receiving evidence that she was one of allegedly twenty thousand individuals who have been subjected to state surveillance in Macedonia. In an op-ed on Balkan Insight, Jordanovska explains:
Each report on one of my wiretapped conversations was true: the date, the story I was working on and the sources I was getting briefed by. Everything was correct. I am not sure I will get another “diploma”. This folder was more than enough for me to clearly see what is happening in my country.I can clearly see that someone knew in advance what story I was working on. Enough for me to conclude that my sources of information were endangered. Enough for the centers of power to be able to react preventively before the story was published. Enough to become aware, even though I had always suspected this, that some people know the problems of those closest to me – people who had shared personal matters with me over the phone.
Jordanovska received a file containing surveillance of her communications during a press conference by the opposition party SDSM, at which representatives of the party also revealed that journalists had been wiretapped en masse in Macedonia. Besides publishing several conversation as proof, twenty journalists were given folders with CDs containing their own files, leaked by sources from within the Ministry of Interior. Her text is also available in Macedonian and has been republished by several independent portals in her home country, including Mojot grad.
SDSM leader Zoran Zaev claims that National Security Services illegally targeted over twenty thousand people with the surveillance, which involved illegally recording and storing phone conversations of these individuals over at least four years. His party has not yet published a list of all the alleged victims, nor a list of the wiretapped phone numbers. According to SDSM representatives, these included both citizens of Macedonia and foreigners using local telecom services, including several diplomats.
Follow our in-depth coverage: Macedonians Demand ‘a New Beginning’
President Barack Obama's announcement regarding migratory reform, introduced via executive action, generates, on one hand, relief within the Latino community. On the other hand, however, there are voices expressing discontent. Sonia Tejada explains that, although the measure grants undocumented migrants three-year working permits, that will benefiit five million people, it doesn't guarantees legalizing status nor citizneship. According to Tejada, the measure has created two types of undocumented migrants: those with conditions to be benefited and those who are still at the mercy of the immigration agency. To be benefited by the regulation:
[…] los inmigrantes deben haber residido en el país por cinco años, tener niños, sean ciudadanos estadounidenses o residentes legales, y, por supuesto, no haber delinquido.
[…] migrants should have been living in the country for five years, having children, be American citizens or legal residents and, of course, not having a criminal record.
Sonia also expresses her criticisms to Obama's speech, that she considers penalizes migration:
Obama habló incesantemente de que los EE. UU. es una nación de leyes, y de que los inmigrantes por haber cometido “el crimen” de entrar al país sin documentos ni autorización, deben expurgar su culpa.
Obama talked incessantly that U.S. is a nation of laws, and that migrants, having committed the “crime” of entering the country without documents nor authorization, must make amends.
The measure would be just an incomplete solution, as to be benefited by it, migrants will continue being undocumented, even though with a limited working permit now. Meanwhile, for six million undocumented migrants, uncertainty about their migratory status hasn't changed at all.
You can follow Sonia Tejada on Twitter
On September 5, the U.S. Department of Justice issued to the organization and Web hosting provider May First an inquiry about one of its members, Greece-based Center for Independent Media Athens, also known as Indymedia Athens. Founded in 2005, May First is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide cooperative Internet services, such as Web hosting to individuals and organizations. The data required by federal agents is specific information from the Indymedia Athens account, stored on May First servers.
In a statement, May First noted that the request could be interpreted as an attempt by the American government to help the Greek government. They also noted they won't provide the required information unless the Center for Independent Media Athens requests it — they assert that complying with this request is a violation of the right to privacy.
For now, lawyers with Electronic Frontier Foundation, who are representing May First, are in touch with the U.S. Attorney General. Upon publication of this piece, US officials had offered no explanation of their motives in requesting said data.