Stories from Quick Reads
The International Center of Research in Communication for Latin America (CIESPAL, by its name in Spanish), the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), Association of Free Software of Ecuador (ASLE), Infodesarrollo Network, the organization Free Libre Open Knowledge Society (FLOK) and the Latinoamerican Agency of Information (ALAI) are hosting the National Encounter of Internet Governance with the purpose of discussing the situation of Internet governance in Ecuador, regionally as well as globally. A number of national and international experts are part of the encounter:
— CIESPAL (@ciespal) noviembre 19, 2014
National Encounter of Internet Governance – Ecuador > November 27, 2014.
According to the schedule, during the event there will be discussions about Internet access, regarding infrastructure and contents with the participation of experts such as Pilar Sáenz (Fundación Karisma) and Carlos Correa (Creative Commons Ecuador and Technical Private University of Loja), among others. The moderator will be Pablo Escandón (CIESPAL). On the other hand, the second session, moderated by Valeria Betancourt (APC), will be about surveilance, privacy and security in Internet, with experts such as Renata Ávila (Web We Want) and Pilar Sáenz. Marcelo Branco (Free Software Association, Brazil) will open the event and Julián Assange will close it with a reflection about the implications about governance on Internet for Latin America.
The event is free and will take place on November 27, 2014 at Av. Diego de Almagro N32-133 Andrade Marín, Quito. You can sign up here.
Queralt Castillo Cerezuela describes herself as a ‘wanderer', natural born nomadic and, of course, journalist. That's possibly the origin of her blog's name, Errabundus. On one of her posts, this globetrotter tries to report about her time working at a youth hostel in the Southern Alps and lists six things that would make life easier to those people who work at hostels:
- Cuando haya un cartelito en el que pone: “por favor, lava tus platos”, no es una opción: debes lavarlos sí o sí.
- El fregadero de tu casa no hace desaparecer la comida, ¿verdad? El de los hostels tampoco
- Solo tú eres responsable de tus objetos.
- ¿Tanto te cuesta abrir las ventanas antes de salir de la habitación?
- Los pelos que dejas en las duchas no desaparecen por arte de magia
- Sabes que debes retirar las sábanas cuando te vayas, ¿verdad?
- When you find a sign saying: “please, wash your dishes”, it's not an option, you must wash them no matter what.
- The sink at home doesn't make food disappear, right? Neither does at hostels.
- You are the only responsible of your belongings.
- Is it that difficult to open the windows before leaving the room?
- The hair you leave in the shower won't disappear as if by magic.
- You do know you have to remove the sheets when you leave, right?
It may seem no big deal, but there are thousands of backpakers around the world and reading about these experiences might help them behave differently next time they decide to stay at a place like the one where Castillo Cerezuela worked at, for the sake of her traveler spirit.
Political activism is not exclusively reserved for young people and adults. This was demonstrated by Sofia, an 11-year-old Mexican girl who decided to collect signatures calling for the resignation of the president of her country, Enrique Peña Nieto. These are her reasons.
Peña Nieto has not responded as he should have to the families of the missing students, he went to China and he has a house costing 80 million pesos (approximately 5.88 million dollars).
This initiative caused many positive reactions. For example, some decided to sign in order to demonstrate to Sofia and other Mexican children (as well as adults) that having a better country is possible, and to remind those who govern that people placed them there and that the people can remove them. Sofia's mother said:
Yo no tengo idea de cómo se destituye a un presidente. Pero ojalá pueda de verdad llevar esas hojas a alguna parte que ayude a Sofía a sentir que su esfuerzo vale la pena, que lo intentamos a toda costa. Fui incapaz de decirle que no lo hiciera, que era casi imposible. No puedo cortarle las alas. Esta generación viene con fuerza, con fe y determinación, y con un concepto de lo que es decente y justo que ya quisieran muchos para un fin de semana.
I don't know how to dismiss a president. But, hopefully one can take those papers somewhere so that Sofia can feel that her efforts were worth it, that we tried at all costs. I was unable to tell her not to do it because it was almost impossible. I couldn't cut her wings. This generation is full of strength with faith and determination, and with a concept of what is decent, something that many want for a weekend.
The petition was placed on the Change.org platform and already has 10,500 signatures at the time of this post.
Carlos G. de Juan, blogging on Hacia rutas de cambio positivo (Towards routes of positive change), offers a reflection through a short mute film about the story of many homeless people in big cities, who had a normal life until life struck them so hard they just lost heart:
Esta puede ser la historia de muchas personas que hoy malviven en las calles de las grandes ciudades. Personas que como todxs, fueron niñxs, fueron jóvenes estudiantes, fueron padres o madres, fueron nuestrxs compañerxs de trabajo, fueron nuestrxs amigxs pero algo sucedió en sus vidas que les hizo arrodillarse, abandonarse.
This can be the story of many people that today just live badly in the streets of big cities. People like everybody, who were children, young students, parents, they were our coworkers, our friends, but something happened on their lives that made them kneel down, just let go.
With the question if it was you?, Carlos G. de Juan invites us to sympathize with those who live in the streets, that is, to put ourselves in their place and wonder about the stories of life that made them get to that situation, as well as question ourselves about possible solutions to get them back to the social fabric.
The video was written and produced by Portugues filmmaker Nuno Rocha.
You can follow Carlos G. de Juan on Twitter.
If you're looking for a breathtaking view and aren't afraid of heights, the “Sky Cycle” in Okayama Prefecture's Brazilian Washuzan Highland park is definitely worth a ride.
Photos of the Sky Cycle have been appearing on Twitter recently, thanks likely to the striking image found below of a tandem bicycle overlooking the park from an elevated railway.
— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) November 17, 2014
Washuzan is located at the northern end of the Great Seto Bridge, a massive structure that spans Japan's Inland Sea to connect the island of Honshu to the north with the island of Shikoku to the south. The bridge is a true marvel of engineering, stretching more than 13 kilometers (8 miles) over the ocean.
The bridge is also a beautiful site, which of course is why an amusement park was built at its base.
The soaring, slightly scary Sky Cycle ride, with its magnificent view, is perfect fodder for Japanese prime time television:
Caption: The fearsome Sky Cycle of Washuzan
While Brazil's connection to the area (and hence the name) remains unclear, it is worth nothing that many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry were recruited to work in nearby industrial areas.
Japan's countryside is dotted with large amusement parks, many bearing ethnic themes, that date back to the affluent years of the Bubble era. International travel was still a novelty for many Japanese people then, and ethnically named theme parks provided a glimpse of foreign cultures without the expense of traveling abroad.
The remote area of Niigata, for example, was once home to the Kashiwazaki Turkish Culture Village. Meanwhile, visitors to Nagasaki in Japan's far west could visit a theme park filled with life-size replicas of Dutch heritage buildings.
It's also customary in Japan to include an amusement part at prominent national landmarks like the Great Seto Bridge. Even Mount Fuji has its own park, Fuji-Q Highland. There, thrill-seekers can gaze upon Mount Fuji's slopes as they endure punishing g-forces aboard the park's famed roller coasters.
— たみ (@tamiho_29) November 16, 2014
We made it to Fuji-Q!
Okayama Prefecture's Brazilian Washuzan Highland seems to take the cake, however. Japanese Internet users are dubbing it the world's weirdest theme park.
Mujeres construyendo (Women building) reports about the Campaign Beijing+20 de UN, a small contribution in the fight against gender-based violence. Violence against women isn't just about physical violence, but sexual and psychological violence as well.
According to data provided by UH Women, 120 million girls have been victims of sexual abuse, 700 million women were married while they were still young girls, and 4.5 million of the victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls. In the 21st century, violence against women is still a daily reality:
Esto no es vida, es el infierno. Mientras tú y yo estamos aquí leyendo este post, una niña o una mujer está siendo víctima de violencia en alguna de sus muchas formas, algunas sutiles, otras brutales, pero la realidad sigue siendo esa: la violencia prevalece.
This isn't life, this is hell. While you and me are here reading this post, a girl or a women is becoming victim of violence in one of its many forms, some are subtle, some others are brutal, but the reality remains: violence prevails.
What can we do to fight back?
First, be informed. Second, look for support and report the violence. Third, put pressure on our governments so they comply with laws that protect women. We should also educate younger generations within a culture of peace, put pressure on the media and politicians to raise awareness about this issue, and (why not?) produce our own content, using the digital tools we have at hand.
You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Twitter.
Wenceslao Bottaro, blogging on Blucansendel, presents us with a business venture in sustainable rural tourism: Itapeby Country House, located in the Argentinian province of Entre Ríos, close to Gualeguaychú.
Itapeby is home to Poppy and Rodolfo, who grow crops and raise cows, pigs, poultry and sheep, offering visitors the fruits of their labor. If visitors want to, they can participate in the daily activities of rural life, such as milling corn, milking or shearing. They can also take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage, go horseback riding, do some trekking or go birdwatching.
Visitors can also enjoy country home-made specialties, such as fritters, scones, breads, candy, all made by Poppy. Everything Itapeby produces is consumed: animals, dairy, vegetables, hams, sausages, salamis, etc. Itapeby combines rural lifestyle with comfort for the guests:
La Posada es el área destinada a los visitantes. Es una construcción cubierta por un espeso techo de paja y chapas debajo del cual hay cinco habitaciones, enormes, confortables y de lujosa rusticidad. La Posada está rodeada por un deck/galería donde cuelgan hamacas paraguayas dispuestas de manera estratégica para disfrutar de las salidas y las puestas del sol. Todo el conjunto está envuelto por el aroma de las flores que rodean la casa.
The Inn is the area for visitors. It's a building covered by a thick straw roof. Inside, there are five bedrooms, huge, comfortable and with luxury rusticity. The Inn is surrounded by a deck where Paraguayan hammocks hang, strategically arranged to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. The whole area is blanketed in the aroma of flowers that surround the house.
You can follow Wenceslao Bottaro on Twitter.
The Two Project has just launched, a collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs to connect their cultures through the language of poetry. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages of Israel. Six years in the making, the project is an offshoot of a recently published book, Two: A Bilingual Anthology (link is in Hebrew).
This site is a part of the Two Project: a bilingual cultural project focusing on the literature and poetry of youth. Its aim is to create a convergence of dialogue between the two vibrant cultures of Israel, in Arabic and Hebrew. [The project presents] a new generation of writers and readers, who because of language barriers, culture, politics, and physical boundaries are not familiar with what goes on in the modern literary scene of their neighbors.
Anat Niv, editor-in-chief of Keter Publishing, who is responsible for the anthology, remarks:
The very fact that you are holding a book and reading it in Hebrew, with a text in Arabic script on the facing page, or vice versa, is a very powerful experience. Even if you don’t read Arabic, when reading this book you can no longer remain oblivious to the fact that this is a place where people live and create in two languages.
Young Burmese activists displayed banners during a forum attended by United States President Barack Obama in Myanmar. The activists reminded Obama that the so-called democratic reforms implemented by the military-backed government are either fake or illusory.
— Sonny Lê (@sonnylebythebay) November 15, 2014
Soheil Arabi was sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Mohammad on the Facebook.The Revolutionary Guards arrested Soheil Arabi on November 2013. Iranian Twitter user Velgard tweeted about this, explaining that Arabi is only a 30 year old Iranian who is not a political activist, but merely “one of us.” Several bloggers and Facebook users were arrested in last twelve months.
— ولگرد (@_velGard) November 26, 2014
Some renowned journalists in Mozambique have accounts on various social networks, but they do not believe in their potential to influence decision-making, government action or social participation among others. However, the government itself has recognised their utility by creating accounts on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Here are three recent examples where social networks have knocked on the door of accountability and governance in Mozambique.
1. In November 2013, a letter by Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco circulated on Facebook criticising the method of government used by Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique. As a result, the author of the letter was summoned to testify before the Attorney General on May 26, 2014.
2. When the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA) offered a Mercedes Benz S350 to the President of the Republic, José Jaime Macuane, a university lecturer at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, immediately wrote a post on Facebook explaining that the act violated the Public Probity Law. The issue made the headlines of various newspapers and was discussed all over the country for over a week, even once the Mercedes had been returned three days later.
3. To promote citizenship, transparency and active participation by citizens, Olho do Cidadão (Citizen's Eye), which is led by Fernanda Lobato and Tomás Queface, developed digital platform Txeka to allow citizens to participate directly in observing elections on October 15 via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and email. This culminated in the creation of a situation room, comprising various civil society institutions and academicians, as well as a partnership with STV – an independent television channel – which hosted the broadest real-time coverage of the event, using the information sent by citizens via the Txeka channels.
In spite of the fact that in Mozambique, just 4.3% of the population has access to the Internet, the citizen reporter's perspective is valid and useful. Debates on social networks can influence government actions to a certain extent.
Yes, now it's possible! Thanks to Lumera, after two years of hard work as a result of a project by Open Hardware, from Hackbo, Bogota's hackerspace. It's all about a small device that gets integrated into your reflex photographic camera, transforming it into a “smart camera”. Using Lumera, you can handle your camera from your cell phone, save your photos in the cloud, share them on social networks or edit, among other possibilities.
Lumera cuenta con conectividad Wi-Fi y Bluetooth LE, un display LED, doble puerto USB, batería integrada y varios botones para compartir y transferir archivos de manera rápida y sencilla. El accesorio se ancla a la cámara mediante la entrada de tornillo universal y por el puerto USB se conecta al de la cámara. Y se vinculará con su celular mediante una app que estará disponible para Android y iOS. Con esta app, podrán configurar la antena para conectarla directo a las cuentas de Dropbox y Google Drive, haciendo el respaldo digital mucho más sencillo.
Lumera has Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth LE, a LED display, double USB port, integrated battery and several buttons for quickly and easily file sharing and transfering. The accessory is fixed to the camera through the universal bolt input and through the USB port gets connected to the camera. And it will be linked to your cell phone through an app that will be available for Android and iOS. With this app, you will be able to set up he antenna to connect it directly to your Dropbox and Google Drive accounts, thus making digital backup way much simpler.
LumeraLabs is a Colombian-origin hardware, software and application firm that participates in a campaign by Kickstarter to raise funds to launch Lumera. So far, the project has raised $41,903 out of the $90,000 they have set as a goal. There is still time until December 12 for those photographs or amateurs that want Lumera to reach its goal.
Paddington Bear, the lovable fictional character in children's literature popular in the United Kindgonm, arrived in Peru, the land of his forefathers. According to the character's story, Paddington was found at Paddington Railway Station in London by the Brown family. Because, apparently, “no one understands his Peruvian name”, he becomes known as Paddington after the railway station in which he was found.
In a press release from the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, a campaign by Promperú, which is part of the ministry, was made public:
[...] para promover a nuestro país como uno de los destinos más fascinantes de América del Sur y del mundo, incluye esta visita durante la cual el Oso Paddington pondrá en vitrina nuestras culturas vivas, historia milenaria, biodiversidad, gastronomía y celebraciones.
[...] to promote our country as one of the most fascinating places in South America and the world, during this visit Paddington Bear will highlight our lively cultures, millenary history, biodiversity, cuisine and celebrations.
So, Paddington Bear was seen all around Lima:
— Marca PERÚ (@marcaPERU) noviembre 17, 2014
Paddington Bear in our capital city Main Square. Go ahead and meet him!
Paddington Bear attends First International Fair President of the Republic Scholarship
— RUF (@rafaelurfle) noviembre 13, 2014
I came across Paddington Bear and I can only conclude he must be boiling under that costume.
— Agencia Andina (@Agencia_Andina) noviembre 13, 2014
Today, Paddington Bear visited our newsroom.
Villa de Merlo, in the province of San Luis, was home of one of many indigenous communities that settled in the territory of what we now know as the Republic of Argentina. Wenceslao Bottaro tells us about the Theme Park Yucat Land of Comechingones, which teach us about this culture:
[el parque] es un emprendimiento familiar basado en una investigación histórica. La idea del parque es poder dar a conocer a los visitantes la historia humana de las sierras de los comechingones, rescatando la cultura, las costumbres y los saberes del pueblo comechingón, antiguos habitantes de la región del valle donde en la actualidad se asienta Villa de Merlo.
[the park] is a family undertaking base on historical research. The idea of the park is to make visitors know human history in the highlands of the Comechingones, rescuing their culture, customs and knowledge of the Comechingon people, who used to live in the region of the valley where Villa de Merlo is located today.
The park is named after Yucat, one of the caciques (chiefs), and has 18 stations that can be visited with the assistance of audio guides in Spanish and English. Thus, tourists are able to find out different historical and cultural aspects of the Comechingones’ life. Aside from learning about their culture and customs, visitors can enjoy nature and typical flora, such as carob trees, chañars, iguana Hackberry, espinillos, piquillines and molles, all part of the natural scenery there. The region also provides other leisure opportunities, such as zip-lines.
You can follow Wenceslao Bottaro on Twitter.
The tragedy of the students from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero, Mexico, has started a wave of solidarity among Mexicans and people throughout the world, so much so that students from at least 43 counties are demanding justice for their missing peers.
But to explain the sentiments of families and locals engaged with security and good living, let's listen to what a Mexican has to say. Fernando Vázquez Rigada, in a sensitive article, is harsh in his criticisms of passive society and of his government as well:
El estado llegó tarde y llegó mal. La desaparición de más de 50 seres humanos hubiera accionado los resortes de seguridad nacional de cualquier estado decente. Pero éste no lo es. Y llegó mal: porque, titubeante, no ha atinado a tomar el control de una crisis que hace que las instituciones se desmoronen y que la irritación social sea contenida. La esposa de Abarca está arraigada, porque no se pudo acreditarle ningún delito que ameritara orden de aprehensión del juez. La mujer que los escondió salió bajo caución: porque no se le considera cómplice, encubridora, de un crimen que ha conmovido al mundo entero.
The state arrived late and in bad shape. The disappearance of more than 50 human beings would have unleashed the national security mechanisms in any decent society. But this one is not. And it arrived in bad shape: because being hesitant, it has been unable to take control of a crisis that makes institutions crumble and that social irritation gets restrained. No crime could be proved to Abarca's wife, so there is no judicial order for her arrest. The woman who hid them was bailed out: as she is not considered accomplice, accessory to a crime that has shocked the whole world.
Vasquez Rigada concludes: “The sea is rough. The vessel creaks. The crew can't control the vessel. The passengers have fear and hate. And the helm is loose.”
You can follow Fernando on Twitter: @fvazquezrig
Fernando Vázquez Rigada blogged on October 27 about the dreadful events occured in the community of Iguala, Mexico. By his understanding, this has unveiled just how rotten the government is, starting from the involvement of the former mayor and continuing with the corruption within institutions.
El 26 había una crisis local, el 27 una nacional, el 28 una internacional. Hoy, un callejón sin salida.
On the 26th it was a local crisis, on the 27th it was national, the 28th it became international. Today, a dead end.
Vázquez called the situation a ”game changer”, saying, “Those shocks that don't change the rules of a game: they change the game.” He pointed out several things the government should consider in those moments:
Primero: deberá redefinir sus objetivos.
Segundo: deberá escuchar. La calle hierve. Hay un reclamo general.
Tercero: sus cálculos políticos deberán modificarse.
First: The government should redefine its goals.
Second: It will have to listen. The streets are boiling. There is general uproar.
Third: Their political calculations will have to be modified.
The author ends by noting:
El país cambió el 26 de septiembre. El gobierno aún no se ha dado cuenta. Veremos si no es muy tarde.
The country changed on September 26. The government still hasn't realized. Let's see if it's not too late.
Today, more than three weeks later, we know it's late too for the government, but we hope it might not be for the 43 students who are still missing. Just as the protesters chant: “They were taken alive, we want them alive!“
You can add your signature to a petition to demand the Mexican government investigate who was behind the tragedy and why.
Follow Fernando Vázquez Rigada on Twitter: @fvazquezrig
Homeschooling and unschooling are two educational trends that don't conform with traditional education. Each method is back up by its own scholars and supporters, including systematic school education. These are the issues addressed in Paula Lago's article, who explains the differences between learning in the classroom and what she calls natural learning.
For Lago, “school has always taught in a way that's completely contrary to the natural learning processes.” And she adds a practical case to explain it:
La escuela de hoy explica los mecanismos por los cuales una bicicleta puede salir rodando, la manera gráfica y matemática de cómo darle impulso o colocar los pies sobre los pedales, insta a que el niño aprenda de memoria dichos procesos y mecanismos, pero todo esto con un fin inútil, al no permitir montar la bicicleta. Incluso si lo permite, el aprendizaje no puede darse, puesto que dentro del sistema formal se penaliza el error de caerse de la bicicleta.
The school of today explains the mechanisms that make it possible for a bike to roll, the graphic and mathematical way of giving it a push or placing the feet on the pedals, it encourages the child to learn those processes and mechanisms by heart, but all of that becomes useless if they are not allowed to actually ride a bike. Even if it's allowed, learning isn't possible, given that in the formal system there is a penalty for falling off the bike.
In a natural learning environment, children will be allowed to learn from their mistakes without frustration at all. So, we will have a society of independent beings.
If you are interested in homeschooling, you can follow Paula Lago on her Twitter account.
#swazijustice is a campaign calling for the release of Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, who were jailed in Swaziland for two years for writing an article critical of the judiciary in the country. The two were arrested on 17 March, 2014 and sentenced to two years in prison on July 25, 2014.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a civil society think tank in Sri Lanka, has recently conducted a top line survey on “Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka 2014“. The results show that difference of opinion on the reconciliation still exists between the Tamil and the Sinhalese people after the Sri Lankan civil war.
The findings from the survey with regard to the Tamil community is very significant. Their key issues are poverty and unemployment and they feel deprived having very little say about the affairs of the country. Here is an infographic depicting their plights: