Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

February 27 2014

Brazilian Activist's Video Satire Censored After Globo TV Claims Copyright

1836751_584084025007975_1313431877_o

“No censorship”: William Bonner and Patrícia “Correta” in “the video that Globo doesn't wan't you to see”.

[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

A video posted on Facebook skewering TV giant Globo Television Network's nightly news program for inaccuracies has been removed from the social network after Globo claimed copyright infringement, according to the video's author, Brazilian activist and filmmaker Rafucko

The video montage, published online on February 18, 2014, took on an editorial from Globo's main TV newscast “Jornal Nacional” (National News) to expose their manipulation of information about protests that have rocked the country since June 2013. In the video, the activist posed as journalist Patricia Poeta (in his humorous version, Patricia “Correta”, meaning “correct”) and corrected the comments of her fellow journalist William Bonner. Both are news anchors for “Jornal Nacional”.

Among the corrections are the role of Globo's journalism in the coverage of the death of cameraman Santiago Andrade during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro [en]; the false accusations made by newspaper O Globo against State Representative Marcelo Freixo alleging that he was involved with protesters who were accused of killing the cameraman; the network ‘s insistence on calling protesters ”thugs” or “vandals”; and its attempts to equate the defensive violence of the protesters with the violence of the military police, which is responsible for 75 percent of attacks against journalists, according to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism.

In just eight hours, the satire had attracted more than 40,000 views, and many viewers republished it on other platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. However, many of these versions were also censored at the request of the Globo Network, the activist said:

Quem baixou, pode repostar! Em breve reposto, com o slogan: “o vídeo que a Globo não quer que você veja”. Vai ser sucesso. Já é.

Whoever downloaded it can repost it! Soon, I'll repost it with the slogan: “the video that Globo doesn't want you to see.” It will be a success. It is already.

On the same day, Rafucko protested on his blog against what he considered to be censorship:

Não é à toa que um dos gritos mais ouvidos nas manifestações diz “a verdade é dura, a Rede Globo apoiou a ditadura (e ainda apóia)!”

Na última semana vimos a emissora dedicar extensas reportagens e editorias para versar sobre a liberdade de expressão. Desde o início das manifestações, a Rede Globo utiliza sistematicamente imagens de coletivos de mídia independente sem dar créditos ou pedir prévia autorização.

Entretanto, meu vídeo satirizando o Jornal Nacional foi retirado do ar menos de 12h após sua publicação. O papo dos “direitos autorais” eu dispenso.

No wonder that one of the most heard chants in the demonstrations says “the truth is hard, Globo supported the dictatorship (and still supports it)!”

Last week, we saw the broadcaster devote extensive reports and editorials to the subject of freedom of expression. Since the protests began, Globo systematically uses pictures of independent media collectives without giving credit or asking permission.

However, my video satirizing “Jornal Nacional” was taken down less than 12 hours after its publication. All this chit chat about copyright, I dismiss it.

Activist Pedro Ekman criticized Globo Network and commented on the copyright issue: 

A Globo é a maior censora da internet brasileira. A retira conteúdos alegando ter direito autoral sobre eles. A Lei de Direito Autoral determina que é LIVRE o uso de pequenos trechos de obras protegidas por direito autoral para fins de crítica e sátira. Mas respeitar leis nunca foi muito a prática da Globo, vide 1964.

Globo is the largest Brazilian Internet censor. It removes content claiming to have copyright on them. The Copyright Act states that it is FREE to use a small snippets protected by copyright for the purposes of criticism and satire works. But respecting laws was never Globo's practice, see 1964 [the year the dictatorship began in Brazil, with the support of Globo].

Journalist Bruno Natal added on his blog:

Nos EUA, por exemplo, essa alegação mambembe de violação de direitos autorais não colaria, porque lá existe uma lei chamada Fair Use (Uso Justo), que permite a reprodução de qualquer material protegido desde que dentro de um contexto pertinente, o que claramente é o caso aqui. Afinal, como o Rafucko pode criticar o editorial sem mostrá-lo?

Isso pra não entrar no âmbito da liberdade artística, antes que alguém venha dizer que ele não precisava mostrar o vídeo, mas bastaria citá-lo (quem escolhe a forma é o artista).

Só tem um nome pra isso e vc sabe qual é.

In the US, for example, this shoddy claim of copyright infringement wouldn't stick because there exists a law called Fair Use, which allows for the reproduction of any copyrighted material within a relevant context, which is clearly the case here. After all, how can Rafucko criticize the editorial without showing it?

That, to not go into artistic freedom, before someone comes to say that he need not show the video, but suffice to quote him (who chooses the way is the artist).

There is only a name for this and you know what it is.

The next day on February 19, Rafucko thanked his followers for republishing the video. In the same post, he stated that before being censored the video had reached 500,000 views online, becoming the most watched of his filmography, and added:

Quando se fala pela liberdade, toda tentativa de repressão e censura amplifica nossa voz.

1902951_584041095012268_2097107060_n

Original video censored.

When speaking for freedom, every attempt of repression and censorship amplifies our voice.

Tatiane Rosset commented on Youpix blog:

Como a internet não é boba nem nada, existem outros meios para assistir o viral, onde Rafucko interpreta Patrícia Correta (piadinha) corrigindo o colega de bancada durante o editorial. Um deles são as várias repostagens feitas no próprio YouTube (uma já tinha mais de 400 mil views quando foi retirada, e outra está em 190 mil).

A outra, é claro, é através do Vimeo. Porque, por algum motivo, todos as pessoas com o ~~rabo preso~~ no país esquecem que o YouTube é o principal, mas não o único meio de veicular vídeos online

A censura, pedida pela Rede Globo por “infringir direitos autorais”, levanta o questionamento: Até onde a liberdade de expressão rola online? O universo digital é realmente livre?

As the Internet is not stupid or anything, there are other ways to watch the viral video in which Rafucko plays Patricia Correct (little joke) correcting her fello anchor during the editorial. One of them are several reposts on YouTube itself (one already had more than 400,000 views when it was withdrawn, and another is at 190,000).

The other, of course, is through Vimeo. Because for some reason, all the people who are ~~compromised~~ in the country forget that YouTube is the leading platform, but not the only means of publishing online videos.

The censorship requested by Globo for “copyright infringement” raises a question: How far does freedom of expression go online? Is the digital universe really free?

The video can still be watched at YouTube and Vimeo.

Chechen Dictator and Russian Nationalist NOT Taking Over Ukraine

A Yin and Yang of Russian trollitics, Leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and nationalist blogger Egor Prosvirnin. Unlikely bedfellows. Images remixed by author.

Yin and Yang of Russian trollitics, highly unlikely bedfellows Leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and nationalist blogger Egor Prosvirnin. Images remixed by author.

Time and time again Russian Internet users and Russophone mass media prove that they will fall for any hoax, no matter how bizarre or unbelievable. It's not as if it is the first time someone took the fake Twitter account of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for the real thing. @KadirovRussia [ru] was started before the real Kadyrov joined Twitter and quickly gained a following. These days, however, almost everyone is aware that although Kadyrov does tweet at his own account, @rkadyrov [ru], he mainly uses it to link to his favorite social networking platform, Instagram [Global Voices report].

Nevertheless, multiple bloggers, forum users, and online media outlets were taken for a ride with a recent tweet by @KadirovRussia:

Prosvirnin and I are riding the “friendship train” to support Russians in Crimea.

Crimea is a primarily Russophone region of Ukraine currently protesting the change of power in Kiev. Crimeans are afraid that nationalist Ukrainians will infringe on their culture, and many Russians share their fear, stoked as it is my mainstream Russian media. A beach paradise not far from where the Sochi Winter Games took place, it is also home to a Russian naval base, and is currently a pressure cooker of ethnic tension between Russians, Ukrainians, and Crimean Tartars. Not a day passes that there aren't rumors of Russia deploying troops or Kiev sending its own militia to the region. The most recent development [ru] is that armed men have occupied a regional administration building and hung Russian flags from it.

In this climate the announcement that the gruff Chechen leader has joined causes with nationalist blogger Egor Prosvirnin (of Sputnik & Pogrom fame), who has been vocally advocating for Crimean independence [ru] for the past several days, fell on fertile ground. Never mind that Prosvirnin harshly mocks and lambastes Kadyrov, the news was reported by several Ukrainian outlets, including Ukrainian Komsomolskaya Pravda [cache], Obozrevatel [ru], and Korrespondent [cache], with commentary noting the increasingly violent climate in Crimea. Kadyrov's alleged involvement must have been particularly troubling — it was the Chechen “Vostok” Battalion that was in the lead during Russia's 2008 armed conflict with Georgia over the breakaway province of Abkhazia.

Prosvirnin himself was amused with the confusion, writing [ru]:

Разбудили звонком с НТВ, спросив, правда ли мы с Кадыровым едем в Крым. Спросонья ступил и сказал, что они там совсем что ли ебу дались, и уже повесив трубку понял, что НАДО БЫЛО ВСЕ ПОДТВЕРДИТЬ.

Was woken up with a call from NTV, asking if its true that Kadyrov and I are going to Crimea. I was still dozy and stupidly said that they were out of their f*cking mind, but as I hung up I realized that I SHOULD HAVE CONFIRMED EVERYTHING.

He said that the news might have scared the Crimean Tartars who are currently against any talk of secession. Later he also joked [ru] that Kadyrov has agreed to take charge of the western Ukrainian province of Lviv.

Chechen “Vostok” Batallion troops at a Crimean beach, or what it might look like if they were. Images remixed by author.

Meanwhile, the real Kadyrov has actually sounded off about Ukraine [ru] on his Instagram account:

Получаем информацию, что у проживающих в этой стране соотечественников появились серьезные проблемы с сохранностью бизнеса и личной безопасностью. Мы никогда не претендовали на чужое, но и своё защитим. Следует четко осознавать, что не дадим в обиду чеченцев и других россиян, где бы они не находились.

We have received information that our countrymen living in that country are having serious problems with safety of their businesses and personal safety. We have never wanted what isn't ours, but we will protect our own. It needs to be clearly understood, that we won't let Chechens and other Russians come to harm, wherever they may be.

A troubling statement — perhaps more troubling than any fake news of rapprochement with Russian nationalists.

Caribbean: How the Media Shapes Perception

Both Venezuela and Haiti have been facing anti-government protests. However, the international media’s escalation of the Venezuelan crisis and their complete silence when it comes to Haiti, raises some important questions about the United States’ inconsistency in upholding the values of human rights and democracy.

Kevin Edmonds calls out the mainstream media.

Reposted byepimetheus epimetheus

February 26 2014

Brazil's Racism Problem Front and Center After Black Teen Brutally Beaten

O jovem preso ao poste apenas com um pedaço de jornal para cobrir sua nudez após ser humilhado. Foto de uso livre.

The young boy tied to the lamp post with only a piece of newspaper to cover himself. Photo free to use.

[All links lead to Portuguese-language websites unless otherwise noted.]

A 15-year-old black teenager was found sitting on the ground at Botafogo beach in a central area of ​​Rio de Janeiro completely naked and with a bicycle lock around his neck chaining him to a lamppost on February 1, 2014.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated case, as attacks by groups of “vigilantes” have become somewhat common in Rio de Janeiro.

Activist Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, who discovered the minor, wrote on her Facebook profile that she was preparing to sleep when a friend who was driving by on Rui Barbosa Avenue called her to say he “saw a young boy bruised, naked and tied to a pole by a bicycle lock. He was beaten by a gang of bikers that often steals on my street.”

She called the firefighters to release him and he was then taken to the hospital. She, in turn, began receiving threats.

In a statement to police, the young man said he had been chased by a group of about 30 men on motorcycles armed with at least one pistol while walking with three friends (two escaped) to take a swim in the sea. He was then beaten, stripped naked and chained to the pole. The 15-year-old has been on the streets of Rio for at least two years since he was caught stealing an electric drill from a family neighbor and being forced to leave his home.

Police believe those responsible for the attack are the “Flamengo vigilantes”, who attack and torture whomever they consider to look suspicious; they are also accused of assaulting gays. About 15 suspected members of the group were arrested by the police.

Cartum de Carlos Latuff, uso livre.

“Any odlCartoon by Carlos Latuff. Free to use

Journalist Rosiane Rodrigues, writing for Afropress, criticized Bezerra de Mello's for taking a photo of the victim and posting it on Facebook rather than just calling the fire department and an ambulance. In her opinion:

A cena chocou. É possível que o motivo da consternação tenha sido o local da ação e não a ação em si. Sim. Um menino, amarrado ao poste, em uma rua da Zona Sul do Rio de Janeiro, não é um fato comum. Meninos, amarrados em postes, baleados, espancados, violentados não cabem na paisagem da Zona Sul da cidade. Essas devem ser imagens periféricas, cotidianas das favelas, dos subúrbios. Imagens de barbárie que já não chocam nem causam espanto aos olhos dos que estão – e devem continuar – à margem. 

O “menino amarrado ao poste”‘ deu sorte. Ele poderia estar morto. Se assim fosse, seria mais um a entrar para a estatística da barbárie cometida diuturnamente nos becos e vielas em todo País. Imagens de corpos violados, machucados, inertes… reflexos distantes de uma realidade encoberta aos olhos sensíveis de uma parcela da população que teima em não querer enxergar: a indústria do genocídio da juventude preta e pobre.

The scene was shocking. It is possible that the reason for the consternation was the location of the incident and not the incident itself. Yes, a boy tied to a lamp post in a street in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro is not a common occurrence. Boys chained to lamp posts, shot, beaten, raped do not fit in with the landscape of the city south. These should be peripheral, everyday images of slums, suburbs. Images of barbarism that no longer shock or cause astonishment in the eyes of those who are – and should continue – at the margin.

The “boy tied to the post” got lucky. He might have been dead. If so, he would be the latest to join the statistics of barbarism committed incessantly in the alleys and lanes throughout the country. Images of bodies violated, hurt, inert… distant reflections of a reality hidden from the eyes of a sensitive population that insists on not wanting to see: the industry of the genocide of black and poor youth.

Activist Caio Almeida warned on Facebook of the danger of the formation of a “fascist militia” in Rio de Janeiro, like the so-called “vigilantes”, and added that “what is going on in the Flamengo neighborhood is very serious”:

Esses caras agridem homossexuais, ambulantes que não concordam com o preço cobrado pela cerveja, usuários de maconha ou negros sozinhos. Em suma, tocam o terror para garantir que o bairro deles sejam para os ricos, brancos e com os mesmos hábitos sociais(e até sexuais!) que eles.

These guys attack homosexuals, hawkers who do not agree with the price charged for beer, marijuana users and blacks alone. In short, they play on terror to ensure that their neighborhood belongs to the rich and the white with the same social habits (and even sex habits!) as them.

According to the assaulted boy, all of his assailants were white “playboys” except one who was brown.

Montagem de Paul Henry Jr.

“Southern USA, 20th century / Brazil, 21st century. Racism always camouflages itself as ‘justice’ to act.” Mock-up by Paul Henry Jr.

Activist Paulo Henry Jr wrote on Facebook that even if the man was really responsible for thefts in the region, the attitude of beating and humiliating him “does not cease to be brutal”, and that it should be up to the police to investigate the veracity of the charges and take him to trial. He added:

Mas a Ku Klux Klan versão brasileira que de tão cômoda nem sequer precisa usar capuz e lençóis, age livremente sem ser perturbada fazendo nas ruas a sua maneira aquilo que considera justiça.

But the Brazilian version of the Ku Klux Klan, which feels so comfortable that it doesn't even need to wear hoods and sheets, acts freely undisturbed on the streets, going their own way with what they consider to be justice.

Similar cases have occurred recently. A few years ago in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio, bikers stripped a black man naked and left him on the pavement under the scorching sun after they accused him of trying to steal a motorcycle, described John Batista Damasceno. Firefighters helped the bikers take off the man's clothes, and a municipal guard witnessed the scene without intervening:

The role of the media in spreading the horror

Outrage over this most recent case would have been smaller had it not been for the intervention of TV anchor for “Jornal do SBT” Rachel Sheherazade, known for her conservative comments. On primetime, she said:

“Num país que sofre de violência endêmica, a atitude dos vingadores é até compreensível”, disse a apresentadora. “O Estado é omisso, a polícia desmoralizada, a Justiça é falha… O que resta ao cidadão de bem, que ainda por cima foi desarmado? Se defender, é claro”. E finalizou: “O contra-ataque aos bandidos é o que chamo de legítima defesa coletiva de uma sociedade sem Estado contra um estado de violência sem limite”.

“In a country that suffers from endemic violence, the attitude of the avengers is even understandable,” said the anchor. “The state is absent, the police demoralized, justice flawed… What is left for the good citizen, who moreover was unarmed? Defend themselves, of course.”. She concluded: “The counterattack to the thugs is what I call collective self-defense of a stateless society from a state of violence without limits.”

The reaction was immediate, both in support and against. Businessman Vinicius Duarte commented on Facebook:

Quando um telejornal de grande audiência permite que se faça apologia a um crime (sim, ~cidadão de bem desarmado~, acorrentar bandidos ou inocentes nus em postes é CRIME), é sinal que a barbárie está vencendo o jogo.

When a news program with a large audience allows an apology for a crime to be made (yes, you ~disarmed good citizen~, to chain bandits or innocents to lamp posts is a CRIME), it is a sign that barbarism is winning the game.

The profile of social collective Pedra no Sapato, making a pun on the name of the presenter, stated that Sheherazade outdid herself with her statements:

[ Cheira a Nazi ]
Defendeu a ação da milicia carioca que prendeu o adolescente ladrão e negro num poste com uma tranca de bicicleta no pescoço, o espancou e o deixou nu. Acha normal, natural algo assim. Afinal, já que vivemos em estado de barbárie, não custa nada nós mesmos começarmos as nossas, né? Ninguém esta defendendo os atos de banditismo do moleque, agora chamar de ‘compreensível’ e ‘legítima defesa’ uma barbaridade dessas é sinal de que essa mulher não tem um pingo de humanidade!

(Smells of Nazi) [a play with the sound of words Sheherazade]

She defended the action of Rio militia who chained the thief and black teenager to the lamp post with a bike lock around his neck, beat him and left him naked. She finds it normal, something like that is natural. After all, since we live in a state of barbarism, it costs nothing to start our [own barbarism], right? No one is defending the banditry of the boy; but saying that a barbaric act like this is “understandable” and “self-defense” is a sign that this woman doesn't have a shred of humanity!

Montagem do ativista Julio Ferreira

Mock-up made by activist Julio Ferreira: “‘Good citizen’ was the name of KKK's newspaper”.

Student Mosiés Teixeira demanded that Sheherazade “be liable for the blunder issued in primetime” and that those who supported it should “reflect a bit before issuing opinions full of catchphrases that are just polished stupidity.”

According to the Union of Journalists of Rio de Janeiro, the punishment will come. The union and its Committee on Ethics not only expressed their disgust, but also demanded that the National Federation of Journalists take action “in this and other cases of human rights violations and of the Code of Ethics of the Brazilian journalists, which occur routinely in broadcasting programs in our country.” The Union of Journalists of the Federal District also declared their disgust with Sheherazade's statements and added that they will ask a prosecutor to act.

The Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) announced that it also will demand punishment for the presenter.

For activist and journalist Rodrigo Mariano, Sheherazade “reached a level that she now supports murderers openly on national television. And the girl shares the same profession as me, you see. She took the oath she swore and reversed it. She wiped her ass with her diploma, certainly.”

After all repercussions, SBT issued a note stating that the journalist does not represent the opinions of the channel. Sheherazade using airtime on “SBT Journal” tried to explain herself, saying that she was “on the good side, the side of the angels”, which is:

uma crítica da violência. Eu defendo as pessoas de bem deste País, que foram abandonadas à própria sorte, porque não tem polícia, não tem segurança pública. O que eu fiz não foi defender a atitude dos justiceiros. O que eu defendi foi o direito da população de se defender quando o Estado é omisso

a critique of violence. I defend the good people of this country, who were abandoned to their fate because they have no police, no public security. What I did was not defend the attitude of vigilantes. What I defended was people's right to defend itself when the state is absent

Imagem de Divulgação do SBT.

Rachel Cheherazade. Image for publication from SBT.

In other words, Sheherazade maintains a view that, for activist Robson Fernandes, “is tradition among the Brazilian conservative right” and consists of “making a Manichean division of society between ‘good citizens’ and ‘bums'.”

He added:

Nessa crença que divide a sociedade entre “bons” e “maus”, os primeiros seriam pessoas “cidadãs” que “pagam impostos”, “respeitam as leis”, “lutam para vencer na vida” e se dizem “incapazes” de cometer qualquer crime ou dano contra outras pessoas e também contra animais não humanos. E os segundos seriam inimigos da ordem, ameaçadores da vida alheia, preferidores de “caminhos fáceis”, como a criminalidade ou o recebimento de benefícios financeiros pelo Estado, sendo muitos deles autênticos demônios do mal que deveriam ser presos, torturados pela polícia e/ou mortos.

In this belief that divides society into “good” and “bad”, the former would be the “citizen” who “pay taxes”, “law-abiding”, the ones who “struggle to succeed in life” and are said to be “not able” to commit a crime or harm other humans and non-human animals. And the latter are enemies of order, threatening the lives of others, those who prefer the “easy path”, such as crime or to receive financial benefits from the state, many of them being authentic evil demons who should be arrested, tortured by the police and/or dead.

Military police officer from the state of Bahia and contributor to Global Voices Danillo Ferreira made it clear:

Nenhuma violência deve ser celebrada. Tentativas violentas de vingança e “resposta” a outros atos violentos apenas alimentam os ciclos de violência. 

No violence should be celebrated. Attempts of revenge and violent “response” to other violent acts only feed the cycle of violence.

A petition that so far has more than 50,000 signatures was created to demand punishment for the journalist. A Facebook event was created to humorously ask for the replacement of the news programme anchored by Sheherazade by the popular Mexican series ”Chaves”, whose main character “has much to teach us about tolerance and equality.”

The Russian Familiarity Yanukovich's Fabulous Palace

Yanukovich's presidential palace, where dreams came true. (And then crashed back to Earth.) Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Yanukovich's presidential palace, where dreams came true. (And then crashed back to Earth.) Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

When Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev last week, he left home in a hurry. The crowds of ordinary civilians and journalists who later flooded the abandoned presidential palace, on the other hand, took their time, marveling at an opulence even Yanukovich's sharpest critics found shocking. When the first visitors arrived, they encountered a skeleton crew of guards, who actually led journalists on a tour of the property, inviting them to take photographs [ru] in order to “reveal how Ukraine's President lives.”

Popular Russian photo-blogger Ilya Varlamov gained access to the grounds, photographing various sights on the 140-hectare property. There was a private zoo filled with animals both domesticated and exotic. The garage hosted a collection of expensive classic cars. Docked at the shore of a private lake, a galleon served as a restaurant. And, of course, there was a private golf course. Ukrainians piled into the mansion to see their taxpayer money at work. An open invitation [ru] went out over Twitter inviting people to come and see the palace with their own eyes. 

Yanukovich's floating 19th hole. The galleon restaurant.

Curiously, the Russian blogosphere’s response was largely muted. Russians, admittedly, are already familiar with examples of their own politicians’ wealth and bad taste, as photos of their residences regularly leak onto the Internet. Vladimir Yakunin, president of the state-run company Russian Railways, starred in such a scandal last year, when anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny published materials [ru] on Yakunin's 70-hectare property outside of Moscow.

With this history in mind, one of Varlamov’s readers joked that Yakunin must envy Yanukovich's bigger mansion:

Ни в коем случае не показывайте эти кадры Якунину.

Don't see these photos to Yakunin.

Another Russian blogger, Oleg Kozyrev, reminded reader about a remark by Vladimir Putin in 2008, when he referred to himself as a galley slave.

Теперь понятно, что Путин имел в виду, когда говорил, что он раб на галерах. Вот галера Януковича

Now it is clear what Putin had in mind when he said that he is a galley slave. Here is Yakunin’s galley.

Lenta.ru journalist Andrey Kozenko tweeted:

Generally speaking, after seeing photographs of the residence, [I have to say]: all embezzlers have horrible taste.

Long lines to gaze upon Yanukovich's riches.

Journalist Alexander Plushev observed on Twitter:

I wonder how many of our people [Muscovites] would go to Novo-Ogarevo [Putin’s residence outside of Moscow]. (Let’s just say, if the appropriate circumstances arose.)

Vladimir Varfolomeev jokingly replied:

Hold on now—are they already taking reservations for tours? Damn. Once again, I've missed everything while on vacation.

Andrey Davidov offered the following novel solution:

You could create an electronic queue management system.

February 25 2014

Tajik Court Fines Journalist for Calling Docile Intellectuals ‘Shit’

A court in Tajikistan has found a local journalist guilty of “insulting” three state-appointed intellectuals and ordered that she pay them 30,000 somoni (over 6,000 US dollars) in “moral damage”. The court has also ruled that Asia-Plus, one of the country's few independent newspapers, must apologize for publishing the “insulting” content.

Olga Tutubalina. Image from her Facebook page, used with permission.

Olga Tutubalina. Image from her Facebook page, used with permission.

Olga Tutubalina, an editor and columnist of Asia-Plus, wrote a column [ru] in May 2013, criticizing the members of the intelligentsia for their “cozy relationship” with the government of President Emomali Rahmon. In that column, Tutubalina quoted the first Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin who had once referred to intellectuals in the service of the state as “shit”. 

A number of state-appointed members of the intelligentsia and creative unions then chose to feel insulted. Shortly after Tutubalina wrote her column, three individuals, the Academy of Science, and unions of writers, artists, composers, and architects filed a joint lawsuit against the journalist. On February 25, after almost a year-long trial, a court in Dushanbe ruled in their favor.

The initial reaction to the verdict among Twitter users was one of shock, disbelief, and anger.

News: The court has ruled in “Intelligentsia vs. Asia-Plus”

The United States Embassy in Dushanbe has issued a brief statement criticizing the verdict. US Envoy tweeted:

Shame on Tajikistan! Shame on its entire judicial system! Shame on all that shit which watched Tutubalina's trial in silence.

It is clear that Olga [Tutubalina] is being drowned. But there is one advantage: we now know for sure who shit is [in the country]. The court has confirmed it.

Overall, there is little doubt among social media users in Tajikistan that the journalists's trial was part of a broader campaign to silence critical journalists and independent media. Few netizens believe that the court's verdict was fair or impartial. After all, judges in Tajikistan are frequently compared to prostitutes catering to those in power.

February 24 2014

Big, Bad Bullies of the Russian Media

The bullies of the Russian media. Dmitri Kiselyov, left, and Vladimir Solovyov, right. Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

The bullies of the Russian media. Dmitri Kiselyov, left, and Vladimir Solovyov, right. Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

The media environment in Russia is not good right now. Readers of RuNet Echo are already familiar with the high-profile attacks on TV Rain, Russia’s only independent television channel, as well as legal threats against Echo of Moscow, the country’s most popular radio station, and Alexey Navalny, Russia’s most famous political blogger. All of these cases involved some utterance published online that politicians and conservative media figures deemed offensively unpatriotic. TV Rain ran a poll asking viewers to assess abandoning Leningrad to the Nazis in World War II; Echo of Moscow published an article by Victor Shenderovich, comparing aspects of the Sochi Olympics with the 1936 Berlin Games; and Navalny made a cryptic joke about an assassinated judge in Ukraine, quipping that the same might await Russian judges.

While Russians can debate how offensive they find TV Rain, Shenderovich, or Navalny, beyond dispute is the prominence of the TV station and these two men in Russian politics. In that regard, for all the senselessness of modern Russia’s witch-hunt against supposed “traitors,” a certain logic guided the process of targeting persons and institutions.

Last week, the logic seemed to break down, when popular Russian TV and radio journalist Vladimir Solovyov dedicated an entire radio show [ru] to dissecting and denouncing the Maidan-supportive tweets of a handful of students from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. (See Sultan Suleimanov’s detailed report on this scandal, in Russian.) Yulia Arkhipova suffered the brunt of Solovyov’s attacks, villified (in absentia) for being a homosexual-loving Ukrainian citizen.

Solovyov appears to have learned of Arkhipova thanks to Vitalii Milonov, the St. Petersburg city councilman infamous for launching Russia’s original legal crackdown on “gay propaganda” in 2011. Milonov engaged Arkhipova a day before Solovyov’s radio show, mocking her concerns about wounded protesters in Kiev [ru] and holding up her ‘misplaced’ worry as an example of Russian higher education’s failings. When Arkhipova later taunted Solovyov, writing [ru] on Twitter that “specially for him” she had dawned traditional Ukrainian clothes and cradled her Russian passport in her pocket, Solovyov responded by saying [ru] that her “soul remains rotten,” despite the wardrobe change.

Why did Solovyov hound a group of unknown university students over a few Ukraine-related tweets? Arkhipova herself theorized that Dmitri Kiselyov—a recently promoted, pro-Kremlin journalist who regularly shocks liberal society with assaults on the Russian opposition—has raised the bar for loyalty in the Russian mediasphere. Solovyov has long been a Putin-supportive polemicist, but his regular antics pale in comparison to Kiselyov’s, who made Milonov look like Harvey Milk, when (in 2012 on national TV) Kiselyov angrily championed burning the hearts of gay car accident victims. Popular journalism and public debate in the era of Kiselyov have become wildly sensitive to the two main tropes of Russian liberalism: criticism of the Kremlin and praise for the West.

While Solovyov may have been upping the ante by taking the good fight to twenty-somethings on Twitter, the larger objective was of course the Higher School of Economics, which Milonov has condemned [ru] as a “nest of liberalism.” In other words, the logic guiding Russian reactionaries may not have disappeared after all.

In the meantime, “Vyshka” (as the university is known colloquially) has done its best to remain above the fray in this controversy. On February 21, 2014, the school’s Facebook page published a note [ru] calling Solovyov’s behavior a “provocation.” The post also included a photograph of Mark Twain, with the quotation: “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

Image posted to Vyshka's Facebook page.

February 23 2014

Traditional Media Conspires Against Facebook

Tech blogger Amitha Amarasinghe alleges that Facebook is being portrayed negatively in mainstream media in Sri Lanka accompanied with saucy headlines like “Student commits Suicide over a Facebook photo”, “Facebook love ends in Death” etc:

All of a sudden, there is a huge increase in number of mass media content highlighting the bad side of Facebook and Social Media. If you look at these stories, the local media is highlighting the “Facebook” part of the story as the ‘news’, but undermine the social, cultural, and political factors leading to those sad incidents.

Not All Bad, Talking Korean Plastic Surgery from Biz Perspective

There have been mounting criticisms on both local and international media's coverage of rampant plastic surgeries in South Korea; many reports are highly sensational, describing how reckless and ignorant plastic surgery patients are (focused on females ones rather than male) and have successfully generated numerous crass jokes and harsh comments not only about patients, but also about the country as a whole. Wangkon936′s post in Marmot's Hole blog leads readers to drop the narrow ‘good’ and ‘bad’ value position and approach the issue from a purely business perspective. Some of the highlights are: 

When it comes to South Korea, much of the press is negative and borders on reporting mostly on the strange and/or weird such as the so-called “tower of jaw bones”[...] However, is it all bad? If we are to take perhaps subjective values out of the equation and just look at economic impact, then is this all “bad,” per se? From an economic and business perspective, Korea’s highly demanding aesthetics culture is creating an expertise, technology and infrastructure base [...]

Macedonian Court Fines Journalist and Magazine for Quoting Source

The top headline quotes the statement of former ambassador Igor Ilievski: “I left because of the pressure from Mijalkov”. The second headline reads: “Embassy in Czech Republic under bombing threats, Ministry for foreign affairs doesn’t lift a finger”. Photo by <a href=

The top headline quotes the statement of former ambassador Igor Ilievski: “I left because of the pressure from Mijalkov”. The second headline reads: “Embassy in Czech Republic under bomb threats, Ministry for Foreign Affairs doesn’t lift a finger”. Photo by NovaTV, used with permission.

After a controversial lawsuit in which one of Macedonia's last independent magazines, Fokus, was charged with defaming Director of the Security and Counter-Intelligence Directorate (UBK) Sasho Mijalkov, a court in Skopje ruled that the magazine must pay Mijalkov over 9,000 euros (about 12,500 US dollars) for damaging his reputation.

Mijalkov sued the daily publication, which has been shut down in the meantime and only the weekly edition of this Macedonian media house remains, for two published articles that were based on the statements of former Macedonian ambassador to the Czech Republic Igor Ilievski. Ilievski held this diplomatic position until December 2012, when he informed the media [mk] that his mandate ended before the official date, blaming Mijalkov for this.

In view of all the evidence available to the public regarding this case, it seems that the newspaper has been fined for transmitting their source's statements. The only potentially disputable statement claims, “Off the record, from before the holidays UBK Director Sasho Mijalkov is in Prague where he owns a business empire”, which alleges that Mijalkov was staying in Prague during that period, of which there was no evidence.

Vlado Apostolov, the journalist who wrote the articles involved in the lawsuit, and Editor-in-Chief of Fokus weekly Jadranka Kostova will have to pay 6,000 euros (about 8,200 dollars) in damages and some 3,300 euros (about 4,500 dollars) for the costs of Mijalkov’s lawyer during the trial.

Ilievski will also have to pay 10,000 euros (about 13,500 dollars) in damages to Mijalkov for having made a statement to the newspaper that the main reason why he resigned from his post as Macedonian ambassador to the Czech Republic was “the coordinated activity of the Chief of the Macedonian secret police, Sasho Mijalkov, with his ‘friends’ who are very well organized in the Czech Republic”.

He also stated that Mijalkov was pressing the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Popovski and Macedonian President Gorge Ivanov to take their hands off the case. In his statement for Fokus daily, Ilievski said:

Сашо Мијалков го спречи тоа и почна масовен последен напад. За среќа, неуспешен. Мијалков беше нем набљудувач на четирите закани по мојот живот и трите закани за бомба на амбасадата

Sasho Mijalkov prevented it and started his last massive attack. Fortunately, unsuccessfully. Mijalkov was a silent observer of the four threats on my life and the three threats to bomb the embassy.

Vlado Apostolov said in an interview for A1on that the ruling is scandalous and that they have been sentenced for simply presenting the statements of former ambassador Ilievski.

As previously reported by Global Voices, the media landscape in Macedonia has become a somewhat dangerous place and Apostolov reminds the public of this in the mentioned interview:

Од едена страна паричната казна е голема и за Фокус е критична, ама од друга страна Македонија е земја во која што новинари одат во затвор, други загинуваат во сообраќајни несреќи под чудни околности, и со парична казна ни е треба дури да бидеме среќни

On one side the fine is very large and critical for the magazine Fokus, but on the other side, Macedonia is a country where journalists go to jail, others die in car accidents under strange circumstances, so with this fine we should be happy.

After hearing of the court's decision, Fokus Editor-in-Chief Kostova told Balkan Insight, “With this court criteria, we might as well close Fokus. Or perhaps that is exactly their goal.” She also noted that the last remaining weekly, Fokus magazine, that is critical of the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was already on the brink of financial ruin, mainly because of a series of lawsuits against it.

The court ruling also brought strong reactions from media and citizens on social networks.

Meri Jordanovska, a journalist for Fokus, posted on her Facebook profile:

И после ќе зборуваме за автоцензура? Па нормално дека ќе зборуваме!
Гарантирам дека после пресудата, ќе нема новинар што 3 пати ќе се запраша дали да пренесе изјава од некој! А во случајов тоа не е било кој, туку бивш амбасадор. Интервјуто и пренесувањето изјави ќе станат потежок жанр од истражувачкото новинарство!
Ај што луѓево одамна се плашат да проговорат, туку сега и оние што ќе сакаат да проговорат ќе нема кој да ги пренесе.

And are we going to talk about self-censorship? Of course we are!

I guarantee that after the verdict, there will be no journalist that will wonder whether to present a statement! And in this case it is not anyone, but a former ambassador. Interviews and presentation of statements will become more complicated over investigative journalism!

For a long time people are afraid to speak out, but now even those who wish to speak will have no one to present their statements.

In 2013, both the daily and weekly Fokus were closed temporarily because of the sudden death of their owner and publisher Nikola Mladenov, who died in a car accident that many suspect involved foul play. The daily newspaper was closed for financial reasons and several pending defamation lawsuits, while the weekly Fokus re-launched in July 2013 under the leadership of Kostova.

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM) reacted strongly against the verdict, saying that it is “draconian” to punish the journalist and the editor of the newspaper for libel. In their statement, the Association said:

Ова е прва осудителна пресуда против новинари според Законот за граѓанска одговорност за навреда и клевета која може да се процени како сериозна непријателска порака кон новинарите на Македонија. Со пресудата новинарите се заплашуваат и обесхрабруваат да информираат и истражуваат за одговорноста на јавните функционери што е една од главните принципи на новинарството низ целиот свет

This is a first verdict against journalists according to the Law on Civil Liability for insult and defamation, which can be estimated as a serious hostile message to Macedonian journalists. With this verdict, journalists will be intimidated and discouraged to investigate and inform the public about the responsibility that the public officials have, which is one of the main principles of the journalism worldwide.

The Independent Journalists’ Trade Union (SSNM) also reacted, saying that this verdict is a clear indication of the attitude that the judicial system and the government have towards freedom of the press:

Казните за новинарите на Фокус е показател за исклучително непријателскиот и репресивен амбиент во кој функционираат новинарите во Македонија

The fines for the journalists from Fokus are an indicator of the extremely repressive and hostile setting where Macedonian journalists work.

International media organization Reporters without Borders strongly condemned the judicial harassment of Fokus in a statement of their own:

Репортери без граници силно го осудуваат судското малтретирање на Фокус, една од последните независни публикации во Македонија. Уште еднаш судот во Скопје го осуди Фокус на несразмерно висока парична казна со што, се чини, дека има за цел да се затвори последниот независен неделник во Македонија

Reporters without Borders strongly condemns the judicial harassment of Fokus, one of the last independent publications in Macedonia. Again, the court in Skopje condemned Fokus with a highly disproportionate fine, and it seems like the aim is to close the last independent weekly magazine in Macedonia

February 22 2014

Thoughts On India's Biggest Blogging Conference

#WIN14, India's biggest blogging conference and awards, hosted by BlogAdda, took place on February 9, 2014. Blogger Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan, who won the best creative writing blog in India, shares his thoughts and pictures.

Top Chinese Journalist Criticized for Giving Birth in the US

One of China's top journalists and TV anchors, Chai Jing, has caused a stir online after she gave birth in the US, with some netizens calling her a “traitor” or a “liberal hypocrisy”.

After pictures of Chai holding a newborn baby at an airport were published online, reports surfaced that she had given birth to a daughter in the US in October 2013. Obviously, the benefit is that the child becomes US citizen.

A highly respected reporter in China, Chai is known for her sharpness, persistence and her direct, cut-to-the point interview technique. She made her name for covering the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.  

Chai Jing holding a newborn baby at an airport (Picture from Sina Weibo)

Chai Jing holding a newborn baby at an airport. Photo from Sina Weibo

Chai giving birth in the US has disappointed a lot of her fans, with many calling her hypocritical.   

Netizen “Tan” wrote:

我们应该明白一点,公知们抨击或批评这个生他养他的国家,不是爱这个国家而是为了有天有扑向美欧等国家怀抱的资本。什么人批评这个国家的不足才是真心的?只有永远是中国人的我们。

We should understand that these public figures attack or criticize their home country, not because they love this country but one day have the capability to embrace the United States, Europe and other countries. Which kind of people who criticize this country are more sincere? Only those who will always be Chinese.

However, a large number of people also expressed their support. Some were sad about the emigration trend among China’s middle class, calling for reflection among Chinese top leaders:

不懂怎么念燊微博达人:非常现实,高层应该反思为何这样,柴静看到未来,她有能力为自己孩子选择一个更为公平公正,制度健全的国家,别人没道理评论。想想自己有能力会不会加入美国籍就懂了。

Very realistic, higher-ups should reflect on why things like this happen. When thinking about the future, she has the ability to select a country with a more fair, equal and sound system for his child. It’s not for anyone else to comment on. If you have the ability, would you become a US citizen? Think about it and you will understand.

文人医生:自己不能改变现状,手中没有选票,为什么孩子还不能改变?柴静在哪里生孩子是自己的自由和私事。

We ourselves cannot change the status quo in this country, we do not have the votes, why can’t we make a change for our children? It’s Chai Jing’s own freedom and personal matter to decide where her child should be born.  

Commentator Liu Xuesong wrote [zh]:

个人爱不爱这个国家,最重要的不是看他把孩子生在哪里,而是看他在这个国家的公民角色中,担了多少当,做了多少有益的事。这个国家值不值得爱,倒是与这个国家的集体意识中,是否展示了大爱的包容、和谐、友善等宽厚本色,是否将注意力放在了富强、公正、文明等向上向善的追求上有关。

Whether one is patriotic or not, the most important thing is not to find out where the child was born, but to see his role as a citizen in this country, and how many good deeds he has done. Whether if it is worth it to love this country has something to do with the collective consciousness of this country, whether it shows love, harmony, friendliness and generosity and whether it focuses on the prosperity, justice and civilization.

Another netizen wrote [zh]:

有网民说,他只是希望孩子有比较正常的生活方式,无关爱国。也许,这才是为政者应该反思的问题。

Some netizens said that she only wants the child to have a more normal lifestyle, which has nothing to do with patriotism. Perhaps, this is the problem the government should reflect on.

February 21 2014

Venezuela Protests: ‘Dear International Media: Step it Up!’

Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

In the blog Caracas Chronicles Francisco Toro reacts to the lack of media coverage about the escalating violence and the events on February 19.

Francisco shows screen captures of news sites like the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, and Fox News on the morning of February 20 –all missing articles on the violent events from the day before.

He concludes:

The level of disengagement on display is deeply shocking.

Venezuela’s domestic media blackout is joined by a parallel international blackout, one born not of censorship but of disinterest and inertia. It’s hard to express the sense of helplessness you get looking through these pages and finding nothing. Venezuela burns; nobody cares.

Let me put this clearly. Y’all need to step it up. The time to discard what you thought you knew about the way things work in Venezuela is now.

You can check out our special coverage page about the protests in Venezuela here.

Jamaicans Waiting to See if #WorldBoss is Found Innocent or Guilty

Jamaicans – and dancehall music fans – have been anticipating the long-awaited verdict in the Vybz Kartel murder trial. Two days ago, blogger Annie Paul posted this Facebook status update:

Massive roadblocks, crowds milling round downtown Kingston in anticipation of ‪#‎KartelMurderTrial‬ verdict (which may not even be delivered today)

Journalist Emily Crooks, who blogs here, wrote a first-hand account that supported Paul's update:

Its (sic) February 19, 2014.

There is animation and anxiety in the 200 metre space around the Supreme Court on King Street in downtown Kingston. In courtroom number 2, Vybz Kartel sits in the dock with his co-accused as prosecutor Jeremy Taylor prepares to rubbish the closing argument of defence attorney, Tom Tavares Finson who acts for Kartel. The case has been going on since November 20, 2013 – we are nearing the end. The stakes are high. Security is tight as I have never seen it before.

Downtown is on edge. The precise reason is not known to many.

There are whispers that the police had intelligence overnight.

Her post went on to give an account of the day's court proceedings:

Court is about to resume its morning session. The eleven member panel of jurors takes seat in the box. The judge arrives. Jury is again asked to leave. Christian Tavares Finson [the lead attorney's son] wishes to address the court in the absence of the jury. Something weighs heavily on him. In the normal course of a trial, I do not report matters that transpire in the absence of the jury but these matters are later repeated in their presence hence my reporting of Christian’s burden that weighed him down.

He stands and says to the judge – I am very distressed to see the approach the police have taken this morning – extra police personnel who have descend on the building.

Judge – are you privy to intel the police has – is the judge’s almost impatient reply.

Christian – I am not My Lord but this scenario that bothers me – media representatives have identification, lawyers have identification, workers have to provide identification cards but jurors have to disclose that they are jurors to get unto the Supreme Court complex and that is very irregular and dangerous. Additionally, the family of the accused have been prevented from entering the building. There is no indication as to the reason this is so. I do no know that there is any order from this court.

Soon after that, Crooks reported, the members of the jury were called back inside and Kartel's lead attorney, Tom Tavares Finson, again rasied the matter – this time in the presence of the jury:

At the end of the session, the judge calls the superintendent and says ‘I have been made to understand that members of public some related to the family of accused have been denied entry. I don’t know the reason if any. What I will say is that every Jamaican citizen has a right to the court unless security forces have some reason that could interfere with the rule of court. I wish for you to bear that in mind. I can’t give any instructions as I don’t know what your intelligence is. But I ask you to consider the rights of the citizens regarding access to court. I wish for you to bear that in mind’.

Mr Tavares Finson is later to announce to the court that during lunch he had discussions two police personnel – Superintendent Pinnock and Ellis who reported there was ‘a breakdown in communication and I accept what they have said’.

Judge – do you believe if you had gone to them before the matter would have been dealt with

Tom – No My Lord because it was because of what transpired in court why they came to me.

On Twitter, @Pseud_O_Nym said:

As it turned out, the verdict was not delivered on February 19; the nation is still in limbo, but tweeting while they wait. Late yesterday, @Lacey_World noted:

Emily Crooks later updated the legal timeline:

There were tweets that shared links to Vybz Kartel's full statement to the court

…and tweets that focused on the strategy of the prosecution:

Emily Crooks, who has been religiously using social media to inform netizens about trial developments, tweeted the following updates about a half hour ago:

About ten minutes later, she posted the first closing speech of the trial on her blog, explaining:

These are my verbatim notes, as I able to capture, of the closing speech of Kartel’s attorney, Tom Tavares Finson. Kartel having called witnesses to give evidence on his behalf is the first to make a closing address to the jury. The address of the legal team for Kartel is followed by the address of the prosecutor, Jeremy Taylor.

Closing arguments will continue on Monday and if the judge is right, by mid-week Jamaicans will know whether or not their self-appointed #WorldBoss has been declared innocent or guilty.

February 20 2014

Citizen Journalists, Apply for Free Live Video Streaming

Spilno.TV

The live video streaming platform Ustream is offering citizen journalists the opportunity to apply for free pro accounts and publicity for any innovative use of video for breaking news, activism, and social good.

Ustream has recently supported three live channels broadcasting from Ukraine's #EuroMaidan protests, including the popular channel Spilno.tv.

“We created Ustream for Change to recognize the efforts of these inspiring citizen broadcasters, and we hope to encourage others to think beyond four walls and harness the power of live video,” says Brad Hunstable, Ustream’s CEO and founder.

“Ustream is an enthusiastic supporter of Internet freedom, stable societies, and emerging democracies. Our technology offers a means of achieving transparency on both sides of the camera, and we fully intend to support those who are leading movements for positive change,” he says.

Spain's Love-Hate Relationship With The New York Times

A news stand in Madrid. Photo by Flickr user Juanedc. CC BY 2.0

A news stand in Madrid. Photo by Flickr user Juanedc. CC BY 2.0

When The New York Times reports on Spain, Spanish media report on The New York Times. The American newspaper's coverage of the country throughout the crushing economic crisis of the last several years has routinely made headlines, and a February 18, 2013 story about the relative lateness of Spain's national schedule was no exception.

The article, titled “Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It’s Time to Reset Clock“, profiles a small movement that wants to bring the country's traditional schedule – with its late bedtime, long lunches and even longer workdays – in line with the rest of Europe in the hopes of boosting productivity. 

The Gray Lady's story, which ran on the front page of the print edition below the fold, made its way into the Spanish news cycle throughout the day, appearing on more than a dozen news sites. Criticism was heaped on reporter Jim Yardley for evoking the stereotypical siesta, or midday nap, a thing of the past for most working people in Spain and a sore spot for Spaniards fed up with skewed foreign coverage. 

Some outlets used headlines claiming that The New York Times “criticizes the Spanish lifestyle” or was outright “against the siesta and Spanish schedule.” A poor translation of the story's own headline that traded “Spain [...] Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock” for the more accusatory “Spain, [...] Ask Yourselves if It's Time to Change Schedules” (“España, el país de las cenas a las 10 P.M, preguntaos si no es hora de cambiar los horarios“) further fanned the flames.

While some Spaniards got behind the idea of dialing back their country's clock, others took to social media to defend Spanish culture.

And we're all bullfighters and play the guitar

It seems that to work at The New York Times it's essential to hate Spain and its customs

Totally in favor of changing our schedule habits, but I prefer dinner at 10 than having a handgun at home

Kick ‘em when they're down

It's not the first time during the economic crisis that The New York Times or other American and British media have acted as a rallying point for Spaniards who see the reporting as sensationalized or arrogant. British newspaper The Telegraph ruffled feathers with a similar report in September 2013 (“Time's up for siestas, delayed meetings and late nights, Spaniards told in effort to make them work better“) on a Spanish parliamentary commission's call to reform the working schedule. A photo of a shirtless pot-bellied man sleeping upright in a chair outdoors originally accompanied the story, but was swapped after the paper received complaints for a less crude shot of a man in a button-up shirt and newsboy cap napping in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Much more outcry followed another front-page, below-the-fold story published in The New York Times in 2012 that featured a black-and-white photo of a man rummaging through a dumpster. The article detailed the problem of hunger against the backdrop of Spain's high unemployment – about a quarter of all Spaniards are out of work, while the number is closer to 50 percent for young people – and cited Catholic charity Caritas’ report that it had provided meals for nearly one million Spaniards in 2010, more than twice the number in 2007 before the crisis. A slide show of photos capturing scenes of protest and poverty was published online alongside it.  

The story and accompanying photos sparked heated discussions online. An Internet campaign #paraNYTimes countered the narrative by collecting more positive snapshots of daily life. One user on Reddit-like website menéame wrote:

Sensacionalista, podría poner fotos similares sobre los EEUU, en blaco y negro y todo, y hacerlos parecer un país tercermundista.

Sensationalized, you could find similar photos about the US, in black and white and everything, and make it seem like a third-world country

In a different discussion thread, user “josejon” argued

El reportaje da una imagen parcial de España: realidad cierta, pero no completa. Es comprensible que media docena de fotos no pueden abarcar todo un país, y que el fotógrafo tiene derecho a escoger y mostrar una parte del todo, según su interés o el tema que desea reflejar, pero después nos encontramos con la opiníon generada por ello en quienes, desde el desconocimiento y la distancia, juzgan el todo por la parte, lo unifican y España entera somos los de las fotos. No es así, y lo sabemos.

The report gives a partial image of Spain: true fact, but not complete. It's understandable that half a dozen photos can't cover the whole country and that the photographer has the right to choose and display only a selection according to his interests or the theme that he wishes to convey, but afterward we are left with the opinion that it generates in people who, in ignorance and from a distance, judge the whole by the part and put it together that all of us in Spain are those in the photos. It's not like that, and we know it.

Holding up a mirror

Others saw the story as confirmation that the situation in Spain had indeed gone from bad to worse. Responding to an analysis published by online news site eldiario.es, “What happens when the most influential newspaper on the planet gives you the third degree,” commenter “kio” wrote:

Muy de marca españa eso de invertir más energía en preocuparse más por la imagen que se da al exterior, “el que dirán”, que de arreglar las cosas de casa. No importa que haya gente que pase o se muera hambre, lo importante es que no se enteren los de fuera. Patético.

Very much in line with the Spanish brand, all this investment of energy in worrying more about the image being broadcast to the world, “what they will say”, than about fixing things at home. It doesn't matter that there may be people starving or dying of hunger. The important thing is that those abroad don't hear about it. Pathetic.

When it was revealed last summer by an ex-Popular Party treasurer that current Spanish President Mariano Rajoy had received payments from a secret slush fund for years, the international media coverage was taken by some as an important echo of the corruption in the country's politics. 

Shameful…even the New York Times says that Rajoy should beat it. How pitiful Spain is, damn…

Even the Financial Times is talking bad about Rajoy, let's see if he has a little bit of dignity left, I doubt it, and steps down once and for all

And a New York Times piece from May 2013 detailing the culture of corruption in local and national politics – about 1,000 officials were under investigation at the time, according to the article – stirred up similar reactions.

“I hope the damage that this New York Times article causes to this rotten system makes it so that there are more and more people who are ready to change this terrible reality of corruption, abuse and power,” a menéame commenter wrote.

The power of foreign coverage 

But why is so much attention given to foreign media's editorial choices? With tourism a major driver of the Spanish economy, accounting for 10.9 percent of the country's economic output in 2012 according to Spain's National Institute of Statistics, many worry about the marca España, or Spanish brand, being portrayed to the rest of the world.

Positive coverage can certainly have an impact. After The New York Times included Burgos in its list of “46 Places to Go in 2013,” the northern Spanish city saw a staggering 145 percent jump in American tourists, what one local paper dubbed “the New York Times effect.” And the level of confidence that potential overseas investors have in the stability of a country can make or break their decision to put money there. 

But with foreign coverage sticking to its largely negative focus and the country's political and economic struggles still ongoing, #MarcaEspaña has become go-to sarcastic commentary on social media for Spaniards unhappy with the current state of affairs.

Still, others recommend ignoring the coverage. For better or worse, foreign media will continue to report on Spain how they want.

The New York Times writes an article about Spain and we get upset. When we stop getting worked up about what others think we will be better off

L. Finch is a journalist, translator, lead Global Voices sub-editor and Spanish-language lover. Originally from the US Midwest, she now calls Madrid home.

Jamaica: Breakespeare & Bob Marley

Inspired by Cindy Breakspeare's recent lecture on Bob Marley, Annie Paul republishes a 2007 interview she did with her, in which Breakspeare discusses her youth, her Jamaican-ness and of course, meeting Bob.

Searching for Blame in Deadly South Korean Building Collapse

Ten college students were killed and 105 injured in a building collapse in South Korea on February 17, 2014. In a country where the dreadful memories of the Sampoong disaster, which claimed over 500 lives, and other deadly collapses are still fresh among adults, online venues have been flooded with concerns over the repeated safety lapses and discussions on who or what to blame for incidents such as these.

The accident occurred as heavy snow caved in the roof of a building where 500 freshmen from the Pusan University of Foreign Studies were staying for two days of orientation events before embarking on their very first semester there.

Some initial media reports pointed to fingers at the student council for organizing the event [ko] without the university's supervision and specifically, for choosing that location, or at the Mother Nature. Unusually heavy snow [ko] far exceeding the region's average precipitation hit the city of Gyeongju for several consecutive days, and the sheer weight of the snow is reported to have put so much pressure on the facility's steel panels that they snapped.

However, as investigation progressed, many seemed to reach the conclusion that this may have been a preventable manmade disaster after all. The collapsed building Manua Ocean Resort was built rather hastily in only two and a half months [ko], and since construction finished in 2009, it had never had a single regular safety check-up [ko].

It is not like the building was shelled; it collapsed only because of the heaping piles of snow. The first ones to blame are the ones who built that building and who are in charge of the building's maintenance. Why do some people keep talking about how the college had a shortage of funds so the student council had to choose a cheaper location for the orientation?

How do such things keep happening, despite all the money spent [to enhance] the construction sector, and even after we had a department store and a bridge collapse? 

Collapse of the Sampoong Department StoreHwaseong Sealand disasterIncheon Bar fire [ko], Taean Seaside bootcamp disaster… All those manmade disasters, have we learnt nothing from them? This Gyeongju Mauna resort disaster – as a person who has children, I feel so miserable and also furious.

There is a similar pattern between the Gyeongju resort facility collapse and the recent mass credit card data breach: our society's “risk-taking” culture. They are all focused on starting new things, but don't pay as much attention to possible risks ahead nor give extra care to maintenance.

This is a photo from the Gyeongju Mauna Report collapse scene, shared by a net user of online community site ‘I Love Soccer'.

February 19 2014

Assessing Myanmar's Democratic Transition

Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, concluded his mission by assessing the country's democratic transition:

For the time being, the military retains a prevailing role in the life and institutions of Myanmar. State institutions in general remain unaccountable and the judiciary is not yet functioning as an independent branch of Government. Moreover, the rule of law cannot yet be said to exist in Myanmar.

He also talked aboout the challenges facing the media sector:

I met journalists who described a prevailing climate of uncertainty and fear of arrest, particularly if reporting dealt with issues too close to the interests of the military or other powerful elites.

Rumours and ‘Fake’ Photos Prompt Calls for Responsible Social Media in Venezuela

[Links are to Spanish-language pages, unless otherwise noted]

The current information crisis in Venezuela, following a surge of protests [en] that mainstream media cannot cover under threat of fines [en] by the government, has compelled netizens to spread news through social media. However, not all users have been sufficiently transparent in their reporting of daily events, which has generated strong criticism about how useful digital media in the country really is. 

Imagen para la campaña #ElMedioEresTu a cargo de @untalhector (Instagram).

“Social media calls out what the mainstream mutes” Image for the #ElMedioEresTu [The Medium Is You] campaign from @untalhector (Instagram).

The group Kaos en la Red, which defines itself as a cultural association fighting capitalism, denounced the republishing of previously used images taken out of context in its post ”Venezuela: Mentiras de medios de comunicación para generar caos de violencia” (Venezuela: Spreading lies in social media to spur violence). The group charges pro-opposition and other digital media users with manipulation “to generate an atmosphere of violence and destabilization that undermines the Government”. The post features a series of contrasts between the images used to criticize alleged abuse of power by the security forces against demonstrators and the original story and source of the publication:

Izquierda: Denuncia de

Left: Denouncing the “repression” in Venezuela from the user @YACUBATWITEA. Right: Image originally published by Al Jazeera about protests in Chile in 2012.

Meanwhile, many Government supporters retweeted a photo of the gathering convened by President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on February 15. In the background, the logo of a famous soft drink company can clearly be seen atop a building, an advertisement that was removed some four years ago. Ironically, the user who published the image on Twitter, the mayor of the Caracas municipality of Libertador Jorge Rodríguez (@JRodriguezPSUV) is also the man who gave the order to remove the logo in the first place:

While the Fascists try to destabilize the country, we are fighting for peace and life. 

Lucía Calderón, writing in Clases de Periodismo, also referred to a fake photo by a supposedly experienced journalist reporting an incident of abuse and violence by government supporters. It turned out to be the picture of a young Basque man tortured in Spain in 2006. Lucía recommeds:

Recuerda revisar estos consejos para certificar información antes de compartirla siguiendo este enlace.

Remember to follow the tips in this link to check the information before you share it.

There are other pages on Facebook such as Venezuela Sin Mentiras (Venezuela Without Lies), created in April 2013 after the presidential election to demonstrate this kind of media manipulation and urge users not to resort to practices that endanger everyone:

Reflexión: “NO CAER EN FALSOS RUMORES! calidad y veracidad en la información para que no estemos desinformados”

Think about it: “DON'T FALL INTO THE TRAP! quality and truth in information so we are not misinformed.”

In light of the situation, the satirical site El Chigüire Bipolar posted the story of an “Imbecil who shares a fake photo and confirms that there are a lot of ignorant people out there.” The fictitious character, Domingo Ugarte, shares a fake shot of student protests and the expected reaction in a series of retweets. 

“La foto me llegó ayer como a las ocho de la noche. Era una imagen terrible, un policía con un traje negro que nunca había visto en Venezuela, maltratando a un estudiante en una calle que claramente no era acá. Pero no me resistí, tuve que darle retweet y compartirla al mundo. Todos tienen que ver el horror de lo que estamos viviendo y en el camino recibir demasiados RTs. Porque eso es lo arrecho, no importa si es una foto de un cangrejo gigante matando estudiantes, la gente se va a horrorizar y la va a compartir.”

The photo arrived at like eight o'clock last night. It was a terrible picture: a police officer with a black uniform that I had never seen in Venezuela mistreating a student in a street that clearly wasn't here. But I couldn't resist, I had to retweet and share it with the world. Everyone needs to see the horror that we are living through and get a few too many RTs along the way. Because that's the turn on; it doesn't matter if it's a shot of a giant crab killing students, people are going to be outraged and share it.”

There are currently a few independent awareness initiatives aimed at promoting responsible use of digital media, as described by Aglaia Berlutti, blogger and Global Voices contributor, in an article for Noticias Venezuela. Aglaia enumerates a series of tips and recommendations to help social media users become efficient purveyors of  information:

No exageres, ni tampoco distorsiones el hecho que deseas transmitir. Redacta noticias sencillas sin incluir tu opinión o hipótesis no verificadas. [...] La intención de tu post o de tu artículo es que pueda ser compartido todas las veces que se requiera y que todos tus lectores puedan comprenderte sin problemas.

Don't exaggerate or distort the facts you want to publicize. Draft straightforward posts without including your own or other unverifiable hypothesis. [...] The goal of your post or article should be that it can be shared as often as needed and that all readers can easily understand it.

And Karelia Espinoza (@Kareta), political scientist and digital activist, shares a graphic about how to put together Internet reports:

Barquisimeto Móvil graphic to help prevent media censorship [Steps include following recognized lists and checking sources as well as configuring your phone to tweet via SMS and sticking to popular hashtags.]

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl