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December 31 2013

Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia

The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development has published a policy briefer that tackled the extent of human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Many Southeast Asian countries are at the bottom of a lot of the world's supply chains, including for food, garments, and technology. Yet few countries in the region have adequate laws for addressing corporate responsibility for human trafficking, including in their supply chains.

The primer also provides country-specific recommendations on how to best address the human trafficking issue in the region

December 30 2013

Mandela's lesson for Hong Kong

Sa Law from left21 wrote a piece on Nelson Mandela and his lesson for Hong Kong, a city where migrant workers are living in apartheid.

Due to their long working hours for six days a week, they lack the chance to socialize and mingle with the rest of Hong Kong society as others; they also generally lack ability to speak, read and write Chinese. Thus, they end up spatially and linguistically separated from the majority of Hong Kong people; and despite forming a large community of 320,000 workers, they are never considered part of the greater Hong Kong community, and their demands for equality or better rights are often greeted with deep outrage, as if they do not know their place.

December 25 2013

December 22 2013

38 Million Chinese Abandon Pension Insurance

About 38 million Chinese stopped contributing to their pension insurance in 2013, accounting for more than 10 percent of the employees who have joined the pension program. The number has revealed serous problems in China’s pension system.

According to the news from China’s state media, around 30 million gave up pension insurance each year since 2011. The reasons behind this big drop in numbers are due to the social security system.

According to China's social security system, one cannot transfer pension insurance between provinces or cities. Thus, many migrant workers have to discard their pension insurance when they move back home.

Some say they stop pension contributions as they have made contributions for 15 years, the minimum period to be eligible to claim a pension.

China’s pension system has been a complaint over the years as many Chinese find it unfair and inefficient. For example, those who work in the public sector are exempt from the pension system. Their pensions are paid for by all taxpayers rather than their own previous payments. Their payment level is much higher than that of the social pension system.

About 38 million Chinese stopped contributing to their pension insurance in 2013. Picture from Sina Weibo

About 38 million Chinese stopped contributing to their pension insurance in 2013. Picture from Sina Weibo

China’s ageing population has also contributed the problem. According to a research report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, by the end of 2011 more than 2 trillion RMB in the personal pension account was transferred to pay retirees. This year, many opposed the government's decision to postpone the retirement age from 60 to 65 in order to fill the financial gap.

The 38 million figure has again triggered public anxiety about the pension system. Netizen “Chen Yuandao” lamented:

说老实话我在一开始工作的时候就动过这念头。话说回来,还是对政府的不信任。现在老年人多,年轻人少,物价房价一直涨,贪污腐败就不说了。将来退休还指不定能活多少年,政府到是希望你短命。

To be honest, when I started working, I had the idea (of giving up the pension). After all, I do not trust the government. There are more older people than young ones, the prices have gone up, no to mention the corruption. Who knows how many years I will have after retirement, the government just wishes you to have a short life.

Another netizen “Liu Daniang” calls for[zh] the reform of the pension system:

3800万人退交社保,不是这3800万人的错。而是政府的错。是“延迟退休”一味地掏百姓掏腰包的错,是那么多财政资金没有造福于最广大的人民群众,而造福于少数体制内人错。3800万人退保正好倒逼“社会养老”问题的改革。

38 million people have given up their pension, it’s not their fault, it’s the government’s fault. The government tries to ask ordinary people to pay the gap by postponing the retirement age. The government’s financial capital doesn’t benefit the majority of people, but the minority insiders within the system. The fact that 38 million have given up the pension will facilitate the reform of the social pension system.

Sina news created an info graphic comparing paying a pension with saving money in a bank account. However, Professor Lang Xianping from HK University believes relying on bank saving is not the best way. He introduced the American pension system in his blog:

其实我一直在呼吁,我们的政府要正视老百姓的养老保险问题。我们不要只学到美国的皮毛,而要学习美国的灵魂。美国老百姓把他们一生的储蓄不是存在银行里,而是透过社保税、401K计划,还有个人退休账户三种途径“存进”股票市场里面,投入了多少钱呢?一共 17.9万亿美元,足足是美国2011年GDP的1.19倍。这个钱就是美国老百姓的存款,而且这个存款和股市形成了一个良性互动。养老金存得越多,股市越涨;股市越涨,养老金就越多。让美国人能够老有所终、老有所养。

In fact, I have been calling for our government to face the pension problems. We shouldn't just learn the superficial about Americans, but learn from the American soul. American people don't put their life savings in the bank, but into social security taxes, 401K plans, and individual retirement accounts. They “deposit” on the stock market there in three ways. How much money? A total of $17.9 trillion (US dollars), 1.19 times the U.S. GDP in 2011. The money is the American people's deposits, with savings and stock market investments interacting positively. The more pension deposits, the more stocks rises; as the stock market rises, the more pensions rise. This way Americans have a sense of security about their retirement fund.

December 21 2013

Popularizing the Hmong Qeej Musical Instrument through YouTube

Catherine Falk studied how Chinese and Laotian Hmong diaspora groups maximized the YouTube to preserve and popularize their culture, in particular the playing of qeej, an iconic Hmong reed mouth organ.

December 15 2013

Russia's Government Might Block Websites for Calls to Unsanctioned Rallies

Social networks that could be affected by the new legislation against websites hosting information about unsanctioned rallies. Image mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Social networks that could be affected by the new legislation against websites hosting information about unsanctioned rallies. Image mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

The Russian parliament will soon vote on a law that would empower the Prosecutor General’s office to close any website that hosts content encouraging people to attend unsanctioned rallies. The draft law, № 380323-6, targets nationalist demonstrations, but could potentially apply to unsanctioned rallies of any kind. The bill’s text singles out as prohibited:

[И]нформации, содержащей призывы к массовым беспорядкам, осуществлению экстремистской деятельности, разжиганию межнациональной и (или) межконфессиональной розни, участию в террористической деятельности, участию в публичных массовых мероприятиях, проводимых с нарушением установленного порядка […].

[Online] information containing calls to riots, extremist activities, the incitement of ethnic and (or) sectarian hatred, terrorist activity, or participation in public events held in breach of appropriate procedures […].

Deputies from three different political parties (United Russia, LDPR, and the Communist Party) introduced the legislation in early November, probably in response to an ethnic riot that occurred outside Moscow in mid-October. While the law focuses on demonstrations that threaten to become pogroms, its applicability to all unsanctioned public events [ru] could give the government the power to ban a website for hosting information about rallies of any kind.

The legislation also contains stricter enforcement protocols than any existing Internet regulations. The process for banning access to websites that violate the law would be extrajudicial and immediate. According to the law’s draft text, Web providers would have to block access to offending websites immediately upon receiving notification from the Prosecutor General. There would be no grace period, during which websites might have time to remove the questionable content. (The RuNet blacklist that targets online child pornography and information about suicide and illegal drugs does allow websites a brief window to delete materials flagged as illegal, before regulators add them to the blacklist.)

Only after Web providers have blocked access to a website (at the domain level, no less) does the process of identifying and informing the website’s owners begin.

Several different vectors of Russian politics seem to have converged to produce this legislative initiative. After the riot outside Moscow in October, the government has shown signs that it increasingly considers nationalists to be a growing national security concern. At a conference [ru] with Vladimir Putin shortly after the riot, several members of the Presidential Council on Ethnic Relations criticized nationalists for aggravating ethnic tensions in Russia. Some members even likened nationalists to terrorists. More recently, in Putin’s State of the Federation speech [ru] on December 12, 2013, the President included nationalists in the so-called “Amoral Internationale,” an unholy union of ethnic mobsters, corrupt cops, and nationalist separatists.

The crackdown on online mobilization for offline political activity is also part of what is perceived to be an ongoing campaign to cripple the communication technologies that contributed so crucially to Russia’s “Winter of Discontent” between 2011 and 2012, when the country experienced its biggest anti-government protests in more than a decade. With its eyes to Kiev, where hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have for weeks occupied the city’s square, the Kremlin might warmly welcome a ban on virtual calls to unsanctioned rallies, nationalist or otherwise.

Russia's Year of Pogroms

Locals take to the streets in Arzamas, 10 December 2013, YouTube screenshot.

Locals take to the snowy streets of Arzamas, 10 December 2013, YouTube screenshot.

2013 has been a particularly virulent year for race violence in Russia. RuNet Echo has recently covered two such cases: a riot in the Moscow suburb of Biryulyovo and mass unrest in the city of Pugachev. In both of these cases the riots were a response to the murder of an ethnic Russian by an outsider. The most recent incident, which took place this past weekend in the small city of Arzamas, located 255 miles east of Moscow, was no different. A 26-year-old Russian man died from a knife wound on December 7, 2013, in a street fight outside a local café. Hours later, another young man involved in the brawl passed away in the hospital. An Armenian employee at the café was blamed for the stabbings.

Local authorities tried to smooth things over with the residents of the city, who took to the streets demanding arrests and justice, but weren't particularly effective — according to a local blogger [ru] the city mayor actually blamed the locals for escalating the situation at a December 8 townhall meeting. At the same time, the unrest was used as an excuse to detain a local dissident, member of the “Other Russia” party, Dmitri Isusov [ru]. Isusov [ru] had earlier demanded the resignation of the local authorities for failing to deal with the double homicide. 

Local blogger drugoi_nnover saw the riots as a manifestation of popular distrust, writing [ru]:

Выступающие арзамасцы подвергли жесткой критике правоохранительную и судебную систему города, выразили крайнее недовольство коррупцией, пронизавшей местную власть, сращиванием власти и криминала этнического происхождения, отсутствием реальных шагов по обеспечению общественной безопасности.

Speakers from the Arzamas locals have heavily criticized the law enforcement and judiciary system of the city, expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the corruption that penetrates the local government, the merger of government and ethnic criminals, and the lack of any real steps to ensure public safety.

An activist of the radical political organization, the Left Front, Andrei Rudoi, published an essay [ru] on Ekho Moskvy in which he disagreed with such a reading of the situation — instead he blamed the authorities for creating a false enemy in order to unite Russian society.

On the other hand, LiveJournal blogger kosarex thought [ru] that incidents like Arzamas show that the authorities are afraid to prosecute people from the Caucasus, but that the situation was changing — more and more of those who take to the streets look like they are off-duty policemen. Eva Vasiljeva also asked [ru] in her blog why the authorities are so willing to ignore the incidents that lead up to such events:

Неужели людям надо постоянно устраивать погромы, как в Бирюлево, чтобы следствие выполняло свои обязанности?

Do people need to constantly organize pogroms, like in Biryulyovo, in order for investigators to fulfill their responsibilities?

Political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko said [ru] that the problem actually ran deeper than most people suspect:

Существует действительно много проблем с этническими группировками, с этническим бизнесом, которые пренебрегают местными правилами. На самом деле межнациональных конфликтов даже больше, чем те, что попадают в СМИ. Я часто общаюсь с представителями силовых структур. Они говорят о массовости подобных столкновений.

There really are a lot of problems with ethnic groups, with ethnic businesses, which ignore local rules. In fact, there are more inter-ethnic conflicts than those reported in the media. I often talk with representatives in the law enforcement agencies. They talk about the mass character of such clashes. 

Back in Arzamas, protests were again planned for Saturday evening, a week after the stabbing took place. Unfortunately it seems that the authorities’ need for a common enemy combined with their corruption, laziness, and fear of migrants means these kinds of conflicts will only continue.

December 13 2013

Spanish Television Show Does Not Represent Reality of Expats in Santiago

Madrid native David Sigüenza [es] watched a recent episode [es] of Spanish program “Madrileños por el Mundo,” focusing on Chilean capital Santiago, “hoping to see a representation of the reality of this city, where many young Spanish people have found themselves living due to the crisis faced by our country.”

“Madrileños por el Mundo” shows the lives of Madrileños (people from Madrid) living in other countries. However, David says that the stories about life in Santiago portrayed by the program were unrepresentative of the reality of “the exiled Madrileños in Santiago.”

For example, the program included the story of a Spanish woman married to a lawyer; “Her life consisted of going to the golf club, then to the shops, afterwards to the gym and to look after her children – a typical day for anyone, right?” writes David.

The reality here is much more difficult than [this story], the reality is about people who earn a little more than 1000 Euros a month [a low salary earned by countless Spaniards] but who are better off here in Santiago than filling up unemployment lists in Spain. It's about people who fight to live with dignity and get ahead with the hope of one day returning to their country. It's about people who save month after month to be able to afford a plane ticket that will take them to see their loved ones who are more than 10,000 km and a month's wage away.

The complete entry can be found in his blog [es].

Haiti, Dominican Republic: Discriminatory Ruling

Haiti Chery reports that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) preliminary findings basically state that the “Dominican Constitutional Court Ruling TC168.13 is discriminatory and violates the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent.”

December 10 2013

Cuba Temporarily Reestablishes Consular Services in the United States

The Cuban Interest Section, the country's diplomatic mission in Washington, has temporarily reestablished its consular services until 17 February 2014. The decision comes after M&T Bank Corporation indicated they would postpone closing the Cuban diplomatic mission's accounts in the United States. 

The official announcement by the Cuban Interest Section is an indication that the country “will continue efforts to identify a new bank to take over the operation of its accounts and, to the extent that this is achieved, will be capable of permanently normalizing consular services.” 

According to the website Café Fuerte, “it is estimated that some 80,000 people travel to Cuba from the United States during the December holiday period.”

Last July 12, M&T Bank Corporation informed the Cuban Interest Section in Washington that it would no longer offer banking services to foreign diplomatic misions. As a result, the Cuban Interest Section and the Cuban Permanent Mission to the United Nations found themselves, in short order, having to terminate the relationship and initiate the search for a new financial institution with which to conduct their banking activities. 

This situation had prompted the Cuban Interest Section to suspend its consular services until further notice. 

December 08 2013

In Japan, Disaster and a Radio Show Put Refugees On the Agenda

Nanmin Now

Radio host Katsuya Soda talks to the audience at Radio Cafe, a community radio station in Kyoto. Used with permission. 

“You see, it’s different here. It’s much safer and more peaceful in Japan,” said my friend. I was introducing her to the idea of Global Voices: hearing stories from other side of the world, because “the world is talking”.

She continued: “There’s almost no need for people here to voice any kind of opinion or point of view, especially when your life is secured by following the norm.”

In a way she’s right. People living in Japan don’t always have to be concerned to what’s going on elsewhere. News headlines reflect this: in the public evening news broadcast, international news makes up only 7% of the total coverage. A researcher who monitored the broadcast [ja] over a period of three months found that a total of only two minutes, or 0.7 % of overall, were dedicated to reporting anything related to the African continent.

What’s going on outside the island usually doesn't matter to Japanese, unless it’s North Korea conducting nuclear tests, or something significant related to the superpower, the United States. And ignorance is bliss, as they say.

One Japanese citizen who disagrees is Katsuya Soda, who believes that the public’s indifference to world affairs is ruining things in Japan. In February 2004, Katsuya started Nanmin Now! [ja], a radio program about refugee issues that airs on a community radio station in Kyoto. The show begins with an introduction by Katsuya in Kyoto-flavored dialect: “It’s time for Nanmin Now! A program that reports refugee information like a weather report.”

Before the Internet and social media became a space for popular expression, low-power FM, or community, radio was the only medium available to those who wanted to get an issue like the plight of refugees on the airwaves in a traditional city like Kyoto.

“At that time, information from the Internet had even less credibility than it does now,” says Katsuya. “I thought it was important to provide information via a medium that was familiar to everyone. Community radio is small in terms of reach, but it’s a trusted medium, as the airwaves are mandated by law to transmit information.”

With Nammin Now!, Katsuya’s ambition was to report news about refugees in such a way as to make refugee issues an item of concern in the minds of fellow Japanese. He was inspired to start the show after reading a book by Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “It taught the importance of the role of media and sustainable relationships, and the idea of a weather forecast came to my mind,” Katsuya says. “I decided to start a radio program that continuously reports on refugee issues just like the weather.”

Since launching the show, Katsuya has interviewed more than 500 people on the topic of refugees. The six-minute broadcast airs on a Saturday.

The word refugee—“nanmin” in Japanese)— doesn't appear very frequently in the Japanese news headlines. Japan accepts fewer than 50 refugees per year (in 2010 it accepted 39), even though it makes the world’s second largest financial contribution to the UNHCR. This is a surprisingly small number for a secure and peaceful island country. Some of these asylum-seekers even experience difficulties in Japan, such as deportation and detention. For the Japanese, the refugee problem is something going on the other, poorer side of the world. “It’s like a distant sorrow,” Katsuya says, “not just in terms of physical distance but also mentally. People believe they could never be a refugee.”

The mission of Nanmin Now! Is to ensure that “all the children of the world can sleep at home safely,” referring chiefly to places like certain countries in Africa, Afghanistan, and Myanmar, major sources of refugees. In the aftermath of Japan’s March 2011 earthquake, however, and accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that followed, Katsuya became concerned about children in Japan.

The disaster destroyed 126,583 residences [ja], and, in Fukushima alone, 160,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. 100,000 people now live in temporary housing inside Fukushima, with another 60,000 are scattered throughout Japan.

After the earthquake, Katsuya joined a team setting up a temporary radio station in a disaster-stricken area to provide emergency information. After the government shifting the radiation exposure limit [ja] for children from 1 to 20 millisieverts, some people in Japan came to consider they were being put at risk by their own leaders, and Katsuya became actively involved with people who evacuated from Fukushima.

“When I communicated with evacuees from area with high radiation levels,” Katsuya says, “I started to see a kind of similarity between Fukushima evacuees and refugees: both have to do with structural violence. People had to evacuate from their homes in Fukushima because there was a nuclear accident. The act of locating a nuclear power plant is like a domestic colonization, which marginalized communities have to accept.”

For the Japanese people, the 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima accident have brought the refugee issue very close to home, both validating and amplifying the work Katsuya has been doing for nearly 10 years.

Nanmin now! airs on FM79.7MHz, a community radio station in Kyoto, as well as online on-demand. Katsuya Soda's first book [written in Japanese] A Proposal from Community Radio in an Era When Everyone Has a Risk of Becoming a Refugee―Connecting the Voices from Fukushima is available [ja] on Amazon.co.jp.

Keiko Tanaka is a Japanese civic media enthusiast interested in digital engagement, radio and youth culture. 

December 07 2013

Russian Nationalists Find Themselves a “Saint”

An Andy Warhol version of the young gunman. Anonymous image distributed online

An Andy Warhol version of a young Moscow Metro gunman. Anonymous image distributed online.

A November 23, 2013 shooting that took place in a Moscow Metro train has spawned a new meme for Russia's radical nationalist and anti-migrant movement. The incident was caught on the train's CCTV camera. On the video a man is seen approaching two seated passengers and after after a brief exchange, one of these men stands up, takes out an air or gas powered rubber-bullet pistol and shoots the first man in the face at point-blank range. His companion, a younger man, also pulls out a gun and keeps it trained on the injured man, as the two exit the carriage. The video [ru] was acquired by the tabloid LifeNews, and has since spread widely on the RuNet.

The shooting victim was Hashim Latipov, a Dagestani, while the two men that shot him, seemingly for no reason, looked to be ethnic Russians. And although Latipov says that the altercation was unprovoked from his side, the fact of his ethnicity was enough for Russian nationalists to assume that the two Russian men were acting in self-defense. Not only that, but their actions are valorized by nationalist online communities — there the two men are portrayed as vigilantes meting out harsh justice to outsiders.

The vigilante crime-fighter angle (never mind that it has no basis) is being actively promoted by images like the one below, where the two shooters have been photoshopped into a poster of the movie “Boondock Saints.”

Anonymous image with the heads of the metro shooters pasted onto the Boondock Saints movie poster. Caption on bottom reads

Anonymous image with the heads of the metro shooters pasted onto the Boondock Saints movie poster. Caption on bottom reads “Whacha looking at?”

A similar angle of portraying the shooters as “cool” is captured by another meme — this one with the heads of characters from Quentin Tarantino's cult movie Pulp Fiction photoshopped into a screenshot of the CCTV video:

Pulp Fiction's Vincent and Jules on the Moscow metro. Anonymous image distributed online.

Pulp Fiction's Vincent and Jules on the Moscow metro. Anonymous image distributed online.

But another screenshot from the same video is apparently iconic enough not to need any photoshopping — it has been turned into stencils and pop-art type cutouts (see top of post):

Stencil of the two shooters. The man on the left is particularly photogenic. The text reads

Stencil of the two shooters. The man on the left is particularly photogenic. The text reads “It's time to be harsh.” Anonymous image distributed online.

Someone even painted one of the shooters in the style of an Orthodox icon, complete with golden nimbus, perhaps playing off of the Boondock Saints comparison:

One of the shooters given a religious treatment in a painting by an unknown author.

One of the shooters given a religious treatment in a painting by an unknown author.

The image led one VKontakte blogger to react [ru]:

Такой воодушевленной “народной канонизации” не было уже очень давно… да чего там давно — вообще ничего подобного на своем веку не припомню, если честно.

There hasn't been such an inspired “popular canonization” for quite some time… not even quite some time — I haven't every seen anything like this in all my life.

Whatever the case may be, memes like this nicely illustrate the Russia's ever-growing ethnic tensions.

November 25 2013

‘Las Patronas’ Receive Human Rights Award for Work Feeding Migrants

Las Patronas mural

Las Patronas mural. Photo taken by Dawn Paley in the house of Las Patronas, Amántlan, Veracruz. Image under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Norma Vázquez Romero, a working-class woman who has lived a very simple life in the coastal state of Veracruz in Mexico, was given the 2013 Mexican Human Rights Award for dedicating the last 15 years of her life to feeding migrants from Central America and Southern Mexico who pass by her town on the train known as “La Bestia” (“The Beast”) with the goal of reaching the United States.

The area where Norma works with her family and other women to feed migrants is called La Patrona – which means “the female boss”. This group of women and Norma's family adopted that name for their group, and now they are locally known as “Las Patronas” (meaning “the female bosses”).

This short film released in 2009 shows the work of Las Patronas:

On Alterinfos Blog [es], Karolina Caicedo Flórez wrote about how the world came to know what Las Patronas do to help migrants in their arduous journey:

Durante más de diez años su labor estuvo casi que en el total anonimato, hasta que en 2005, gracias a un documental que narraba su labor diaria en defensa de los y las migrantes, el proyecto de Las Patronas comenzó a llenar las páginas de internet, los períodicos, revistas, festivales de cine documental y hasta los museos. Comenzaron a recibir por lo menos una visita a la semana, de periodistas, defensores de derechos humanos y curiosxs que deseaban conocer y apoyar personalmente su labor.

Over the last ten years, their work was almost done in total anonymity until 2005, thanks to a documentary chronicling their daily work in defense of the migrants, the project of Las Patronas started being featured on websites, newspapers, magazines, documentary film festivals and even museums. They began to receive at least one visit a week from journalists, human rights defenders and curious people that wanted to know and support their work.

Every day, Norma and her family prepare rice and distribute it in plastic bags for the migrants. Usually, these people have not eaten for long periods of time and they have not had water for entire days. Norma and her family also prepare black beans, bread and fill bottles with water in order to toss the supplies to the migrants on the train, which does not stop for one second.

A single ration. Photo taken by Dawn Paley in the house of Las Patronas, Amántlan, Veracruz. Image under Creative Commons license  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A single ration. Photo taken by Dawn Paley in the house of Las Patronas, Amántlan, Veracruz. Image under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Karolina Caicedo explained in a blog post more about the stigma [es] that Las Patronas have faced when people know that they are helping migrants:

La estigmatización hacia Las Patronas también se ha hecho sentir: “locas, no saben ni a quien ayudan” son algunas de las palabras que utilizan desde los más católicos comprometidos con la iglesia (que va desde el padre hasta los feligreses de La Patrona) hasta los maridos de las mujeres que alguna vez quisieron apoyar este proyecto.

The stigmatization of Las Patronas has also been described as “crazy women who don't know who they're helping” – these are some of the words used from the most committed Catholics (from the priest to the parishioners of La Patrona town) to the husbands of the women who have wanted to support this project.

All over the web many celebrated their humanitarian work.

Frida Lopez described what these women do every day of the year:

Las Patronas are women who give food daily to migrants seeking the American Dream who are passing by on “The Beast” train.

Hibrain Vega expressed his desire to bring down international borders:

Down with the borders! With fraternal love #LasPatronas

 Deena, from the same state as Las Patronas, Veracruz, stated how their case brings her hope in people:

Las Patronas…this type of news give me hope! There are good people in this world… 

Ekhtaí Baruck Serran expressed his support by stating that Las Patronas are international role models:

The world needs more people like Norma Romero Vásquez, head of the group Las Patronas. National Human Rights Award 2013

Finally, Karolina shared what it feels like to be with Las Patronas and give out food to the passing migrants:

El momento preciso en el que el tren de La Bestia pasa por La Patrona, marca una serie de sentimientos a cualquiera que tenga un lonche en su mano para entregar a los migrantes: nervios (si es la primera vez que lo hace), estrés (al escuchar el fuerte ruido del tren y al percibir su alta velocidad), emoción (al ver las manos de los migrantes estirarse para agarrar uno de los lonches), alegría (al escuchar las palabras de agradecimiento) y en algunas ocasiones rabia, al darse cuenta que no todos los migrantes pudieron tomar la comida.

That moment when the La Bestia train passes by La Patrona town, brings with it many feelings for anyone with food to give out: jitters (if it is the first time that he or she does it), stress (to hear the loud noise of the train and to feel the high speed of its movement), emotion (to see the hands of all of the migrants stretching out to grab one of the lunches), joy (when you hear them saying thank you) and sometimes anger, to know that not all migrants were able to take the food.

After receiving so many tweets and comments in support of their work, Las Patronas thanked netizens for their words:

We thank everyone for your words and for your congratulations. We do everything to support the resistance of the migrants and their right to life. Hugs

November 24 2013

Brain Drain Or Brain Save

Indrajit Samarajiva refutes the notion that Sri Lankan talents invariably end up migrating in a foreign nation resulting in brain drain. In fact talent is there among:

Not only professionals but also many innovative village youth who would be National assets elsewhere, unseen and unrecognized in Sri Lanka. The issue is that their talent is not visible in the corrupt system till they leave Sri Lanka.

Czech Crime Boss Claims South African Police “Tortured” Him

Radovan Krejcir, an alleged Czech crime boss living in South Africa, was arrested on Friday, November 22, 2013, in Johannesburg on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder, although there are rumors on social media that other charges, such as money laundering and conspiracy, will be added to the list.

Krejcir, who has been a hot topic on social networks since his arrest on Friday, was already charged by Czech authorities, where he was sentenced to 11 years in prison in absentia for money laundering. He fled to South Africa before trial and is still wanted in the Czech Republic for several crimes, including tax fraud. South African authorities have been planning to have him extradited to the Czech Republic.

Krejcir is now claiming that he was tortured and treated cruelly by South African police since he has been in their custody. Many on social media are calling the case a disgrace and Krejcir “an embarrassment” to the country, asking that he be deported immediately. Twitter user Nqaba Ndlovu living in Nelspruit, South Africa, says:

Roma in Norway Evicted from Camp by Police

During the week of November 18, 2013, Oslo police and state property owner Statsbygg dismantled a Roma camp, acting on court orders. The Roma settlement was located on public recreational grounds at Sognsvann, Norway. An Oslo appeals court ordered this eviction, agreeing with Statsbygg that the settlers had surpassed the legal two nights in a row that people are allowed to camp there. Some of the Roma campers now plan to leave Norway entirely, while others plan to appeal the eviction. Norwegian site NewsinEnglish.no says:

A support group for the Roma folk told news bureau NTB that they plan to appeal the eviction to Norway’s Supreme Court, but the court order is now enforceable and the campers left voluntarily. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that only one man protested, but he also ended up leaving the area.

One UK Suburb's Un-Neighborly Reaction to Slovakian Roma Immigrants

After a wave of discriminatory statements against Roma communities in France made by French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls, Slovakian and Romanian Roma in England are now getting the same message from authorities and neighbors.

According to an article in the Guardian, Sheffield locals in an area with a high level of Roma settlements created patrols in an attempt to calm the tensions between the Roma community and other local citizens, an effort that seems to be making things worse. As the article explains:

“In an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield the former home secretary [now Sheffield MP David Blunkett] also accused the government of “burying their head in the sand” over the scale of Roma settlement in the UK and said the Roma community had to make more of an effort to fit in with British culture: “We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there's going to be an explosion otherwise. We all know that.”[...]

Nobody knows for sure how many Roma people have come to Sheffield since Slovakia joined the EU in 2004. The council's best guess is that 1,500 eastern European Roma children now live in the city as a whole, with around 500 in the small Page Hall area. Miroslav Sandor, a Roma community worker in Page Hall, gives a much higher estimate. He thinks there may be 600-900 large families in the city, mostly concentrated in Page Hall.

November 20 2013

Unemployment, Poverty and Brain Drain: Italy's Crisis Only Getting Worse

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS3eNDm_8lD6FWKdcCUxAPYzkoRCyxLqIvd7OPzCH1IWEneu3r2

Italians’ ever-emptier shopping basket
Picture: Shutterstock

While repeated tragedies [en] in the so-called “Mare mortum” (literally “Dead sea”) off the coast of Lampedusa occupy the headlines of traditional media and social networks, Italians are still in the midst of an economic crisis that offers no sign of ending: the poverty rate continues to increase and so does the number of highly educated people leaving the country.

In the second half of October, a dossier entitled “New Poverty in Italy. Italians that Help“, presented by Coldiretti at the International Agriculture and Food Forum in Cernobbio, captured a worrying situation of hunger in Italy.

On the blog articolotre, Gea Ceccarelli revealed:

Secondo quanto rivelato dall'associazione, gli italiani indigenti che hanno ricevuto attraverso canali no-profit pacchi alimentari o pasti gratuiti sono stati quasi 4,1 mlioni. Circa 303.485 di questi nuovi poveri hanno potuto beneficiare dei servizi mensa, mentre 3.764.765 sono stati coloro che, vergognandosi, hanno preferito richiedere pacchi a casa.

As revealed by the association, there are more than 4.1 million poverty-stricken Italians that have received food through non-profit food parcels or free meals. Approximately 303,485 of these new poor people have benefited from canteen services, while 3,764,765, too ashamed, chose to take home food packs.

For its part, the website ilsostenibile.it provided details of the most affected social class:

Insieme a 579mila anziani con oltre 65 anni di età (+14% rispetto al 2012), in Italia ci sono ben 428.587 bambini con meno di 5 anni di età che nel 2013 hanno avuto bisogno di aiuto per poter semplicemente bere il latte o mangiare, con un aumento record del 13 per cento rispetto allo scorso anno; ma ad aumentare con un tasso superiore alla media è stato anche il numero di anziani, ben 578.583 over 65 anni di età (+14% rispetto al 2012), che sono dovuti ricorrere ad aiuti alimentari.

Together with 579,000 over 65 year olds (+14 percent compared to 2012), in Italy there were 428,587 children under the age of 5 who in 2013 needed help just to be able to drink milk or eat; however, what increased at an above average rate was the number of elderly people, 578,583 over 65 year olds (+14 percent compared to 2012), who have had to resort to food aid.

Hit hard by the crisis, Italian families save on everything, or have to forgo the purchase of essential goods. The website riverflash.it reported:

Sei italiani su dieci, hanno tagliato le spese per l’alimentazione, che ha raggiunto il livello più basso degli ultimi venti anni. Nel 2013 il crollo è proseguito con le famiglie italiane che hanno tagliato gli acquisti per l’alimentazione, dall’olio di oliva extravergine (-9%) al pesce (-13%), dalla pasta (-9%) al latte (-8%), dall’ortofrutta (-3%) alla carne, sulla base delle elaborazioni su dati Ismea-Gfk Eurisko relativi ai primi otto mesi dell’anno che fanno registrare complessivamente un taglio del 4% nella spesa alimentare delle famiglie italiane. 

Six out of ten Italians have cut their food expenditure, which has now reached the lowest level of the last 20 years. In 2013 the collapse continued with Italian families cutting food purchases, from extra virgin olive oil (-9 percent) to fish (-13 percent), pasta (-9 percent), milk (-8 percent), fruit and vegetables (-3 percent) and meat, based on the Ismea-Gfk Eurisko data from the first eight months of the year which show an overall cut of 4 percent in the food expenditure of Italian households. 

Despite the fact some politicians continue to say that the end of the crisis is near, for the moment all there is to see is the deterioration of the situation. The website termometropolitico.it quoted alarming figures that illustrate the severity of the work situation: 

Gli occupati sono 22.349.000 circa, con una contrazione di 80.000 rispetto il mese precedente e di 490.000 in confronto l’anno passato, facendo così passare il tasso di occupazione al 55,4%. Gli obiettivi europei per il 2020 ci imporrebbero, invece, un tasso di occupazione pari al 67%. I disoccupati, sottolinea l’Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca sono arrivati a quota 3.194.00 circa. Di conseguenza il tasso di inattività (cioè coloro che rientrano nella fascia di attività 15-64) si posiziona al 36,4%, in aumento sia rispetto il mese che l’anno precedente.

There are approximately 22,349,000 employed people, a decrease of 80,000 compared to the previous month and of 490,000 compared to last year, thus causing the employment rate to fall to 55.4 percent. The European targets for 2020 would, however, require an employment rate of 67 percent. The unemployed, stresses the National Research Institute, have reached approximately 3,194,00. Consequently, the rate of inactivity (i.e. those who fall into the 15-64 age range) is 36.4 percent, increased compared to both last month and last year.

The website Consumerismo, an online newspaper similar to Codacons, or the Coordination of Associations for the Defense of the Environment and the Rights of Users and Consumers, wrote:

Il tasso di disoccupazione si attesta al 12,5%, in aumento di 0,1 punti percentuali rispetto al mese precedente e di 1,6 punti nei dodici mesi.

slogan di Codacons, tratto da Codacons.it

slogan di Codacons, tratto da Codacons.it

I disoccupati tra 15 e 24 anni sono 654 mila. L’incidenza dei disoccupati di 15-24 anni sulla popolazione in questa fascia di età è pari al 10,9%, in calo di 0,2 punti percentuali rispetto ad agosto ma in crescita di 0,6 punti su base annua. Il tasso di disoccupazione dei 15-24enni, ovvero la quota dei disoccupati sul totale di quelli occupati o in cerca,

è pari al 40,4%, in aumento di 0,2 punti percentuali rispetto al mese precedente e di 4,4 punti nel confronto tendenziale.

Il numero di individui inattivi tra 15 e 64 anni aumenta dello 0,5% rispetto al mese precedente (+71 mila unità) ma rimane sostanzialmente invariato rispetto a dodici mesi prima. Il tasso di inattività si attesta al 36,4%, in aumento di 0,2 punti percentuali in termini congiunturali e di 0,1 punti su base annua.

The unemployment rate stands at 12.5 percent, up 0.1 percent on the previous month and 1.6 percent on the previous 12 months.

Codacons' slogan, from Codacons.it

Codacons’ slogan “Don't swallow the toad!”, from Codacons.it

There are 654,000 unemployed people between the ages of 15 and 24. The percentage of unemployed 15-24 year olds in this age group is 10.9 percent, down 0.2 percent from August but up 0.6 percent from last year. The number of 15-24-year-old unemployed people, that is the percentage share of total of those employed or seeking employment,

is 40.4 percent, up 0.2 percent on last month and 4.4 percent in the trend comparison.

The number of inactive individuals between 15 and 64 years old increased by 0.5 percent compared to the previous month (+71,000 units) but remains essentially unchanged compared to 12 months earlier. The inactivity rate stands at 36.4 percent, up 0.2 percent in economic terms and 0.1 percent over the year. 

The gender differences are also remarkable, with women being disadvantaged. The website romasette.it noted:

Se si considera la differenza di genere, il tasso di occupazione maschile, pari al 64,4%, diminuisce di 0,1 punti percentuali rispetto al mese precedente e di 1,7 punti su base annua. Quello femminile, pari al 46,5%, diminuisce di 0,3 punti in termini congiunturali e di 0,7 punti percentuali rispetto a dodici mesi prima. Il tasso di disoccupazione maschile, invece, rimane invariato al 12% rispetto al mese precedente e aumenta di 1,8 punti nei dodici mesi; quello femminile, al 13,2%, aumenta di 0,3 punti rispetto al mese precedente e di 1,3 punti su base annua.

Let's consider the gender difference.  The male employment rate, 64.4 percent, is down 0.1 percent on last month and 1.7 percent on last year. The female employment rate, 46.5 percent, is down 0.3 percent over the short term and down 0.7 percent compared to last year. However, the male unemployment rate remains unchanged at 12 percent compared to last month, an increase of 1.8 percent over last year. The female unemployment rate, at 13.2 percent, is up 0.3 percent compared to last month and 1.3 percent since last year.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_H-epOMi850o/TOuJurn3U9I/AAAAAAAAAM4/zxZEguCy3cw/s320/altan-crisi-e-stabilita.jpg

“This crisis will last years. Finally a bit of stability.” Satirical cartoon by the artist Altan [en]

By analyzing the Istat data released at the beginning of October, it can be seen that in the first six months of 2013, the purchasing power of households decreased by 1.7 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Based on this, the website concluded

Tradotto in cifre – calcola il Codacons – è come se una famiglia di 3 persone, in appena sei mesi, avesse avuto una perdita equivalente a 594 euro (489 una famiglia di 2 componenti, 654 una di 4), una stangata tanto invisibile quanto disastrosa.

Se si aggiunge il dato reso noto pochi giorni fa dall’Istat, relativo al 2012, con una perdita del potere d’acquisto del 4,7%, la stangata diventa impietosa e assume contorni drammatici. In un anno e mezzo è come se una famiglia di 3 persone avesse avuto una tassa invisibile pari a 2.236 euro!!!!

Expressed as figures – calculated the Codacons – it's as if a family of 3 people in just six months has lost the equivalent of 594 euros [about 800 US dollars] (489 for a family of two, 654 for one of 4), an invisible but disastrous blow.

If you add to this the data for 2012 released just a few days ago by Istat, with a loss of purchasing power of 4.7 percent, the blow becomes merciless and takes on dramatic profile. In a year and a half it's as if a family of 3 has been subjected to an invisible tax that amounts to 2,236 euros [about 3,020 US dollars]!!!!

With the increase of poverty, the number of solidarity initiatives also has increased. In fact, the website fanpage.it reported that:

…Si contano nel 2013 ben 15.067 strutture periferiche (mense e centri di distribuzione) promosse da 242 enti caritativi che fanno riferimento a 7 organizzazioni (Croce Rossa Italiana, Caritas Italiana, Fondazione Banco Alimentare, Banco delle Opere di Carità, Associazione “Sempre insieme per la Pace”, Comunità di Sant’Egidio, Associazione Banco Alimentare Roma) ufficialmente riconosciute dall'Agenzia per le Erogazioni in Agricoltura (Agea) che si occupa della distribuzione degli aiuti. Per quanto riguarda la tipologia di aiuto alimentare offerto – conclude la Coldiretti – i formaggi rappresentano circa il 28 per cento in valore, seguiti da pasta e pastina per bimbi e anziani, che assorbono il 18 per cento del costo, dal latte con il 14 per cento, dai biscotti (12 per cento), dal riso (8 per cento), dall’olio di girasole (6 per cento), dalla polpa di pomodoro (4 per cento) e, a seguire, legumi, confetture e farina.

….In 2013 there are 15,067 peripheral structures (canteens and distribution centres) maintained by 242 charitable organisations which refer to seven organisations (Italian Red Cross, Caritas Italia, Food Bank Foundation, Charitable Works Bank, “Together for peace” Association, the Sant'Egidio Community, Rome Food Bank Association) officially recognised by the Agency for Agricultural Payments (Agea) that deals with the distribution of aid. With regards to the type of food aid offered – concludes Coldiretti – the cheeses account for about 28 percent of the total value, followed by pasta and pastina for children and adults, who account for 18 percent of the costs, milk at 14 percent, biscuits (12 percent), rice (8 percent), sunflower oil (6 percent), tomato pulp (4 percent) and, finally, vegetables, jams and flour.

Commenting on the latest Istat figures on the employment situation, the website ermometropolitico.it said:

Meno di due giovani su dieci lavorano, anche se bisogna contemplare all’interno di questo dato la presenza dei minorenni e quindi degli studenti. Di fatto il dato più preoccupante è la disoccupazione giovanile, ovvero la quota dei disoccupati sul totale di quelli occupati o in cerca, che a settembre è arrivata al 40,4%, in aumento dello 0,2% rispetto ad agosto e di 4,4% nel confronto annuo.

Less than two out of ten young people work, although we have to consider also minors and students. In fact, the most worrying figure is youth unemployment, more specifically the number of young unemployed people compared to the total of those employed or seeking employment, which in September came to 40.4 percent, an increase of 0.2 percent compared to August and 4.4 percent over the last year.

On Twitter, the problem was also deeply felt:

Six million without #work, half of them do not even seek it any more. And above all it is the #young who are disheartened. #crisis #unemployment

Young people have to hope for the future, but the strength to carry on, the 40/60 age group is paying for the crisis. #suicides #crisis

The immediate consequence of this dramatic situation, in addition to youth unemployment (which has arrived at the levels of 1977, over 40 percent) is the increase in emigration to other countries.

Cartoon strip: brains leaving Italy – Source Il nazionale

More than 400,000 Italian graduates and doctoral students have fled from Italy, and 59 percent of young people left behind would like to leave the country due to lack of employment prospects in Italy. 

Another complication in the future will be the Italian population: in 2030, or 16 years time, there will be more over 65-year-olds than active citizens. Not even the influx of foreign immigrants can compensate for the brain drain: the many recent arrivals are due to the situations in Africa and in the Arab countries, but the phenomenon was previously already decreasing; economically more dynamic countries are the new objective, not the Italy of unemployment and economic crisis.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

November 19 2013

When Third Culture Kids Grow Up

DSCF9613

At the 2012 Global Voices Summit in Nairobi Kenya.

Many of us who were raised in countries that were not our parents’ “homeland” or have parents from two different countries, have been labeled as third culture kids. Our parents’ work and lives allowed us to travel to different countries and often live on several different continents throughout our childhood, learn to speak countless languages and move seamlessly between cultures, often picking up habits from each of them that we make our own. Many people consider us lucky and, for the most part, we are.

But what happens to third culture children when they grow into adults? When the time comes for us to settle down (for a while at least), raise children, build lives and put down roots, third culture children sometimes have a tough time making the transition to becoming one culture adults. Although many of us have often wished we had been born and raised in one place, with only one bedroom and one yard that remind us of childhood and what other people call “home”, we simply don't know how to belong to just one place and one language.

This is where the World Wide Web comes in, and this is why you will find many former third culture kids, now third culture adults, playing and thriving on the Internet. They're involved in online communications, the tech industry, international media, activist organizations, and all sorts of other areas that are driven by, or which prosper thanks to the Internet. Cyberspace, where every place, every language and every culture is available to us, is where we feel at home.

Global Voices is a perfect example. I joined Global Voices when our wonderful former Editor for Central and Eastern Europe, Veronica Khokhlova, stumbled upon my English-language personal blog about “life in expat-repat limbo” in Belgrade, Serbia.

Let me clarify (if that's at all possible in this case): I was born to Serbian expat parents in Spain, raised mostly in Portugal, except for three years spent in Kuwait while growing up, where I picked up the English that you see in this post. I've also spent a lot of time on and off in the US where members of my immediate family live. My native languages are Serbian (Croatian, Bosnian), Portuguese and English; but I also speak Spanish, Italian and can read and understand Macedonian, French, Romanian, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukranian, and several others. Even though I had little free time to spare, I was happy to join Global Voices as an author in English, member of the Serbian Lingua team, and of the Portuguese Lingua team.

Just two and a half years after starting as a volunteer, I was invited by Global Voices to join our most prolific authors, editors, contributors and collaborators for the biannual GV Citizen Media Summit 2012, held in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya, I confess, was one of the few countries I longed to see but hadn't yet. But what I found there was not at all what I expected. Over five long, exciting, filled-to-the-brim days, I was in third culture adult heaven.

On the first day of the Summit, a member of the Global Voices Italian team, Abdoulaye Bah, a Guinean native and Italian citizen, came up behind me and said, “Dobar dan” (“Good day”), in perfect Serbian. Many Africans have studied in the former Yugoslavia, and I have run into plenty of them throughout the world, but it was a warm surprise to find a GVer among them, Abdoulaye's life has been more interesting than most. Abdoulaye has already told the fascinating story of fleeing his birth country and ending up in Italy, working for the United Nations. What he didn't have room to mention is that he first fled to Belgrade, Serbia, and went to high school here. We spent a while reminiscing on his teenage days and Tito's Yugoslavia – a new memory we created together that can't be picked up just anywhere.

On another day, we went out to watch a World Cup match at a local burger joint in Nairobi. By that time, many of the GVers I had been hanging out with had heard me speak several languages, some of them not quite sure where I was from anymore. At half-time, I went outside for a quick cigarette and chat about international politics, an easy topic to run into at any GV event. When I returned to our table, packed with third culture adults from at least five countries, Rafael Tsavkko, our Portuguese-born Brazilian and in-house conspiracy theorist, asked where someone was, in his native Portuguese of course. Instinctively, I responded in Portuguese that I had just seen that person outside having a cigarette. Rafael then went into one of his priceless rants that began with “What the hell? You speak Portuguese too??” and launched into a theory about how I might be a secret agent type, how no secrets could be kept from me and that I was probably the only one who knew what everyone was saying about each other. All in jest, of course, so I responded that I had been groomed as a child to be a counterintelligence operative but was left without a job after the Cold War thing fell through. Another new memory created that one can't find just anywhere.

And last, but not least: at the party on the last evening, Elena Ignatova from Macedonia, Tetyana Bohdanova from Ukraine and I were standing in a corner, talking. Sounds normal enough, except that each of us was speaking her own native language and, because we were familiar with the topic of the conversation, we understood each other perfectly. At one point, we noticed GV co-founder Ethan Zuckerman standing next to us, leaning in to hear. We asked him to join us but he said he was just wondering which language we were speaking, as he couldn't quite catch it. When we explained that each of us was speaking her own language, he stood back in surprise for just a second, then grinned widely and said something along the lines of, “This is exactly what Global Voices is about.”

The evening ended in a traditional GV a capella rendition of Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody”, sung in several accents and terribly out of tune. Because this, this spot on the Word Wide Web that is a scrapbook of different cultures and opposing views, is where third culture kids come when they grow up.

Danica Radisic is a corporate communications consultant, writer, blogger and poet. When she's am not happily dedicating her time to Global Voices as its Central & Eastern Europe Editor, she play a part-time adult as a mom of two and CEO of Krazy Fish Consulting. On Twitter she's NikiBGD.

 

November 18 2013

Anglophone Bloggers Parse Russian Nationalism

 

Nationalist march, Moscow, Russia, 4 November 2012, photo by RiMarkin, CC 2.0.

Nationalist march, Moscow, Russia, 4 November 2012, photo by RiMarkin, CC 2.0.

Ethnic nationalism now seems to be enjoying a renaissance in Russia. There has been a wave of nationalist events and heightened ethnic tensions in recent months. The nationalist theme is especially pronounced in RuNet commentary, and Anglophone Russia bloggers have noticed this trend, too.

In a post on the Power Vertical blog, Brian Whitmore recently wrote about the government facing an influx of nationalists-turned-oppositionists into Russian politics, implying that the Kremlin bears some responsibility for the recent spike in xenophobic activism:

After years of successfully manipulating nationalists for their own purposes and cultivating xenophobia among the population, the Kremlin is now standing face-to-face with the monster it helped create. […] It is this latent nationalism of the silent majority that is driving much of the political dynamic right now. These aren't black-clad skinheads. Many are respectable urban professionals, students, and entrepreneurs.

Whitmore goes on to describe Alexey Navalny’s refusal to attend this year's Russian March as a “balancing act” designed to cater to the “silent majority”:

Numerous Russia-watchers have noted that he is trying to find that sweet spot that allows him to hold on to both his liberal and nationalist supporters. […] Navalny has long argued that Russian nationalism needs to be brought into the mainstream and liberalized to keep it from being monopolized by retrograde elements. But what exactly is liberal nationalism in a multiethnic state? Ideally, it wouldn't be nationalistic at all, but rather an inclusive form of civic patriotism.

Blogger LaRussophobe took issue with a report published on Russia Beyond the Headlines about Russia’s new ranking as the world's ninth most popular tourist destination. LaRu objected to the fact that the report failed of mention Russia's rising levels of xenophobia. Attacking RBTH as a Kremlin mouthpiece, LaRu blamed Vladimir Putin for Russians’ growing fears of foreigners:

Recent footage of Russian skinheads torturing a young black student in the city of Belgorod, including forcing him to kiss a watermelon, gives vivid insight into the way Russians view those who are different from themselves. […] RBTH admits that Russia has erected a horrific web of visa-related hurdles which actively prevent many tourists from even considering a trip to Russia, hurdles which are holdovers from the old Soviet era when xenophobia was official state policy and every foreign guest was considered a dangerous spy. It’s hardly a surprise, however, that RBTH doesn’t pause even for a second to ask whether having a proud KGB spy as president might be playing a negative role in promotion of tourism, much less to ask whether that spy, Vladimir Putin, even wants foreigners present in Russia.

The author of the blog MoscowMatters addressed the linguistic subtleties of Russian nationality, explaining that the words meaning “Russian”  are themselves points of contention in the language:

One of the first distinctions I was taught to make here [Russia] was that between pусские ‘Russkiye’, and россияне ‘Rassiyane’ […] Without going into the history underlying these terms, it is an undisputed fact that these two words are being used on a daily basis to differentiate in a most matter-of-factly way between those who are truly Russian, by blood, and those who aren’t. The underlying thought being: it does not matter how long you have been here, but what matters is where you came from to begin with.

MoscowMatters’ post, written in response to the ethnic riots in Biryulyovo in late October 2013, implies that economic unrest in Russia plays a major role in the country's recent ethnic violence:

What ‘Russians’ need at this moment in time is a vision of the future that includes ‘Russian nationals’ as fulfilling a large, and necessary, role in Russian economics and society rather than the unwanted burden they are now being made out to be. This is a broader societal debate that is not being acknowledged by either the opposition or ruling politicians and yet such a vision could do more than fingerprinting hundreds of thousands of migrants could ever hope to achieve.

Commenting on the blog Dictmókus, user mokus11 linked Russia's nationalist tendencies to a larger, global wave of xenophobia:

I think it’s important to think about these events in Russia not as something “the Russians do” but something that is linked to our global society, that shows once again the worrying global tendency towards right-wing propaganda, and xenophobia that just got over the tops in Russia but can be observed to different degrees almost everywhere. And the first step to let it gain power is to naturalize it, to ignore it, to shut our eyes, our ears, our newspapers.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00
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