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November 07 2013

Four short links: 7 November 2013

  1. Learn to Search — cheeky but spot-on help for people running conferences.
  2. Offline Firstno, the mobile connectivity/bandwidth issue isn’t just going to solve itself on a global level anywhere in the near future. THIS!
  3. 10 Things You Should Know About AWS — lots of specialist tips for hardcore AWS users.
  4. The League of Moveable Type — AWESOME FONTS. Me gusta.

June 14 2012

One Short Link: 14 June 2012

Etsy did something significant. I'm not talking about funding scholarships to Hacker School, though kudos to Etsy, 37Signals, and Yammer for putting money into it. And serious respect to Marc Hedlund for putting it together—he didn't just submit a bug report on the world, he submitted a patch. Marc's Ignite talk at Foo about this was incredibly moving: he accomplished something at scale, something beyond a single hiring decision.

What I find truly significant is the stark quantification of the untapped (previously uninvited) interest: 661 women applied where 7 had applied before. The number of scholarships and the size of the programming class were dwarfed by the number of women who wanted in, and jubilation at the success of the Etsy campaign has to be accompanied by serious thought about how to tackle the next order of magnitude in scale. And because it's a problem worthy of your cleverness, I've made this the only short link today. Use the time you would have spent reading about Map/Reduce and devops to solve this scaling problem instead—you'll truly be working on something that matters.

Sponsored post

November 07 2011

TV highlights 08/11/2011: Leonardo Live | Sorority Girls | The Office: An American Workplace | My Transsexual Summer | Imagine: Simon & Garfunkel – The Harmony Game | True Blood

Leonardo Live | Sorority Girls | The Office: An American Workplace | My Transsexual Summer | Imagine: Simon & Garfunkel – The Harmony Game | True Blood

Leonardo Live
7pm, Sky Arts 1

On the eve of one of the biggest-ever exhibitions of his work at the National Gallery, Tim Marlow and Mariella Frostrup offer a guide to the Da Vinci works on display. Although he's as much renowned for his speculative science nowadays, this exhibition will focus on his paintings and drawings, and his drive to convey some notion of perfection in human form. A good way to catch the show, especially as the real thing will probably feel like shuffling through a train station at rush hour. David Stubbs

Sorority Girls
9pm, E4

Somewhere between Tool Academy, Geordie Finishing School For Girls, Ladette To Lady and Gossip Girl sits this new reality show, in which Leeds University students have to prove their feminine charms in order to join a squeaky clean, American-style sorority. There are plenty of amusing clash-of-cultures observations, as the US sisters look on in horror at the pierced and pissed UK girls. But the competition element is brutal, and there's one glaring question left unanswered: why on earth do they want to be part of such a dry, conservative institution in the first place? Rebecca Nicholson

The Office: An American Workplace
10pm, Comedy Central

Dunder-Mifflin is now a subsidiary of Sabre Corp. The Scranton office is being kept running as it is, bafflingly, the most profitable. Greeting them into the new order, Sabre send down a hilariously vague Christian Slater-hosted corporate video and an even more hard-to-fathom executive, Gabe (Zach Woods, playing more or less his character Chad from In The Loop). All this is too hard for Michael to process so he travels to the home of his recently deposed boss, David Wallace, hoping his old nemesis can help. For viewers though, all this change is invigorating. Phelim O'Neill

My Transsexual Summer
10pm, Channel 4

Much like Seven Dwarves, this documentary has been sold on the "shock" element of its subject matter, when in fact it's sensitive and funny rather than exploitative. Seven transgender people, at various stages of their transitions, meet at weekends at a "retreat" house to hang out, support each other and talk about things they've never really been able to share before. What they get from the experience is quite incredible, though be warned, this doesn't shy away from explicit surgery. RN

Imagine: Simon & Garfunkel – The Harmony Game
10.35pm, BBC1

The title here is at least partly ironic: in 1969, as they worked on Bridge Over Troubled Water, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were about to end their creative partnership. You'd struggle to learn exactly why from Jennifer Lebeau's documentary, though, perhaps because of the duo's close involvement in the film. Frustrating, but what you do get is a look at how they crafted their final studio album. Confirmation, if needed, that it's fiendishly complicated to make simple pop music that endures. Jonathan Wright

True Blood
11.10pm, Channel 4

After finding the mushy remains of his lover on the living room floor, King Russell of Mississippi is on the warpath. Eric, responsible for said mushy remains, has fled back to the comparatively sedate Bon Temps, but it isn't long before the shadowy forces of The Ministry come a-knockin. Bill and Sookie's relationship woes seem comparatively dull, despite a risque shower scene. Business really picks up in the episode's denouement, where Edgington gives a terrifying demonstration of his powers. Gwilym Mumford © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

October 10 2011

Cuba: Outpouring of Support for Las Damas' Leader

Over the weekend, the leader of Cuba's Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White), Laura Pollan, fell ill. News of her hospitalization has come on the heels of successive weekends of the opposition group - along with other human rights activists - being targeted, allegedly on account of their anti-government protests. Bloggers, both on island and throughout the diaspora, reached out online to offer their support and wishes for Pollan's recovery.

Uncommon Sense spoke of Pollan's influence and courage in the fight for the rights of political prisoners in Cuba:

Pollan is one of the more fearless figures in the Cuban opposition, bravely leading the Damas on peaceful marches in Havana and other cities on behalf of their imprisoned loved ones and other political prisoners in Cuba. She has carried forth the group's campaign even after her husband, Hector Maseda, was released earlier this year after 8 years in prison.

Last month, Pollan and other Damas were attacked by a Castroite mob sent to block them from marching in Havana to commemorate a religious feast day. News coverage included a photograph of Pollan and another marcher being pushed against a wall by a mob.

Please keep this courageous woman and her family in your prayers.

Along the Malecon posted two updates yesterday: the first, a link of an interview with Pollan (before she fell ill) talking about the experiences Las Damas have endured in their fight. The post ends by saying:

Fellow members of Las Damas de Blanco marched on Sunday along Quinta Avenida in Havana and prayed for the dissident leader…they said Pollán was in intensive care with respiratory problems caused by an as-yet-unknown virus.

The blog's second update contains an interview with Pollan's husband, which Yoani Sanchez posted via twitpic. The blogger, Tracey Eaton, summed it up this way:

He said his overall impression after visiting Pollán was ‘very positive.' Maseda is a former political prisoner whose imprisonment inspired Pollán to help start Las Damas de Blanco, dedicated to freeing all political prisoners.

In the face of limited information about Pollan's condition, words seemed inadequate; some bloggers simply posted photo tributes to the Las Damas leader.

Generation Y, though, thought it important to talk about the messages sent about activists like Laura Pollan through the state media and the seemingly increasing number of Cubans who choose not to believe them:

Cubans increasingly doubt what they are told, begin to read between the lines, and interpret, in reverse, information in the national media. The disbelief has gotten to the point where insult is deciphered as praise and vice versa. Those demonized by partisan publications are thus transformed into admired beings — albeit in a whisper — and even those fired from the government apparatus acquire a certain aura of appeal.

Knowing this peculiar phenomenon of reinterpretation, the number of people who have called me to ask about the health of Laura Pollan does not surprise me. The great number of friends and onlookers who have gathered outside the Calixto Garcia Hospital emergency room where she was admitted for acute respiratory distress is comforting. Considering all the insults, curses, and lies that have been launched against this woman on the official television, the reactions of so many Cubans in solidarity with her is a revelation. The dozens of text messages transmitting medical reports about the leader of the Ladies in White, the prayers at shrines throughout Cuba, and the encouragement from so many other peaceful activists, are the major silencers of this shrill character who — in our living rooms — launches into a tirade we no longer believe in.

Global Voices will post updates on Ms. Pollan's condition as they become available.

Cuba: Fonseca & Husband Released

Uncommon Sense reports that “almost two weeks after they were arrested, Cuban activists Sara Martha Fonseca and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon were released from jail on Friday.”

Bahamas: Women's Right to Safety

“Crime in the Bahamas denies women and their children the right to safety, which is a human right,” says Womanish Words, adding: “The new Nobel laureates I hope will remind Bahamian women of this human right to safety , and inspire us to courage enough to speak out when this right is denied to us.”

China: “Do you have memories from before you were kidnapped?”

A girl plays the violin at a train station in Beijing

A girl plays the violin for change at a train station in Beijing. Screenshot from documentary trailer shot in November 2010

If you’ve ever visited a Chinese city, you will see children begging or performing with musical instruments near train stations or on crowded streets for spare change. What you’ve witnessed is the tip of a serious and tough problem in China – the kidnapping and selling of children.

In early 2009, the public security authorities in China have implemented an anti-kidnapping campaign. At the end of 2010, official figures (not necessarily reliable) showed that 9,165 cases of trafficked women and 5,900 cases of trafficked children were uncovered; 9,388 children and 17,746 women were rescued, and 3,573 criminal kidnapping gangs were destroyed.

The true number of kidnapped children is likely to be much higher than the number rescued. According to some estimates, as many as 70,000 children in China are abducted by gangs each year.

What is fuelling this child kidnapping? Thanks to the one-child policy, and Chinese traditions placing huge pressure on families to have sons, stolen children are often sold into new families. On the other hand, kidnapped girls are often sold into areas where there is a surplus of unmarried men. Still many others are sold into street performance, begging or prostitution.

Telling their story

The child kidnapping issue is the theme of an upcoming documentary called “Living with Dead Hearts: The Search for China's Kidnapped Children” by Charles Custer.

Custer is an American strongly interested in China. Currently based in Beijing, he runs the successful blog ChinaGeeks, which offers translation and analysis of the China blogosphere. For his documentary, Custer wants to go beyond statistics and analysis. By focusing on the personal and emotional side of the stories, he wants to attach real faces to these social problems.

At the end of last year, Custer launched a fundraising appeal on Kickstarter to make the documentary. Following generous responses of more than 100 people, the project has successfully raised more than $8,500, and Custer has since then spent much of his free time tracking, interviewing and filming parents and kidnapped children.

This month, the film crew has put together an update together with an early trailer of the film:

Their goal is for viewers abroad to be able to relate to Chinese people as individuals after watching the documentary. They would be able to see, for example, how the parents of kidnapped children feel with questions like, “When did you discover your daughter was missing? Could you tell us more about your daughter’s character and hobbies? What methods have you tried to look for her apart from reporting to the police and the school? How do you plan to keep looking?” Or how kidnapped children feel as adults: “Do you have memories from before you were kidnapped? Do your current “parents” remember from whom you were purchased? And how do they feel about it now?”

If you care about this issue, you can see how Custer is progressing on the documentary at the dedicated website, or learn more about kidnapped children in a special section of If you wish to show your support, visit the Chinese charities Baby Come Home and Xinxing Aid, which support kidnapped and street children in various ways.

China’s famous English teacher beats his American wife

Olivia from ChinaHush translated a scandal exposed through Weibo concerning China's famous “crazy English” teacher Li Yang beating up his American wife at home.

October 07 2011

Yemen: Celebrating the Bravery of Revolutionary Women

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

In their eight months of peaceful revolution, Yemenis have been an inspiration to many, not only to Arabs but to the world at large. Despite being the poorest Arab country, Yemeni men and women exhibited their richness in bravery, resilience and steadfast but mostly they impressed the world with their peacefulness.

Taiz has been known as the city of resilience, the heart of Yemen's revolution, and hence has been subject to continuous shelling for the past months by the Republican Guards, led by Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh's son, Ahmed.

The following video shows the brave women of Taiz, whose city was shelled by Saleh's forces in the evening, marching the very next day despite the rain to condemn the violence and demand the trial of Saleh and his family. (video posted by: mohammednaruto1)

Revolutionary women have been peacefully marching daily side by side with men in the streets of Yemen.

The next video shows the women of Dhamar as they marched chanting to the military to stop defending Saleh's brutal regime and condemning the regime's mass punishment of cutting basic services such as electricity and water. (Video posted by: almenifi)

In the capital Sanaa, outraged women marched out condemning the “fatwa” (religious edict) which Saleh urged his loyal clerics to issue prohibiting protests as this video posted by the mediacentersanaa shows.

The video which follows shows the heavy presence of women in the March on Octocber 4th in Sanaa saluting Yemen's National anthem. (Videos posted by: alqershi2011)

On the same day the Organizing Committee of the Yemeni Youth Popular Revolution issued an urgent appeal to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and followed it by a video statement read by a brave revolutionary woman stating the demands of the youth.

Yemen and its revolution are often marginalized yet the peacefulness of Yemenis in making their demands continues to be an inspiration to many. Today one of our female revolutionary leaders, Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. It is certainly a victory and honor for Arabs, for Yemen, for women, for activists, for freedom fighters but mostly it is a victory for Yemeni revolutionaries and Yemen's peaceful revolution.

Further Reading:

Global Voices Online, Oct 7, 2011: Yemen: Celebrating Tawakkol Karman

Global Voices Online, Oct 7, 2011: Yemen: Congrats to Tawakkol Karman

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

Ada Lovelace Day: Inspirational Women in Action

Ada Lovelace Day aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was an English female writer and mathematician, widely held to have been the first computer programmer.

Our tribute for Ada Lovelace Day goes to women who are constantly working to make our world a more transparent and fair place; brave social leaders denouncing corruption while providing tools and directing campaigns who are increasing our awareness and uniting us to act for change.

'One Laptop Per Child' project. Image by Flickr user venkylinux (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

'One Laptop Per Child' project. Image by Flickr user venkylinux (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

As we have done in the past, this year we are including smart women in the intersection between technology and social change who are a central presence in projects promoting a more accountable and transparent society.

Our tributes

Fernanda Viegas (@viegasf) is on the list of the top 100 more influential Brazilians. She is a computational designer whose work focuses on the social, collaborative, and artistic aspects of information visualization.

Viegas is a co-leader, with Martin Wattenberg, of Google's ‘Big Picture' data visualization group in Cambridge, MA. She is also one of the great minds behind public visualization platform Many Eyes, an experiment in open, public data visualization and analysis. In this video you can see her talk in TedX Sao Paulo:

Hok Kakada from Cambodia is creating a software program that will help Cambodian hospitals store data more accurately, allowing for better treatment. All her work is based on Open Source software. She challenged the difficulties girls face in her country and obtained a master degree in Japan.

Linda Kamau (@lkamau) is one of the coders behind the well known Ushahidi initiative. She is a software developer based in Kenya with a degree in Business Information Technology. Kamau develops both web and mobile applications and is contributing to change across continents, from election monitoring to corruption mapping.

Brenda Burell is the technical mind behind the Freedom Fone Project, a voice database where users can access news and public-interest information via land, mobile or Internet phones. Previously she directed the Kubatana initiative in Zimbabwe.

Camila Bustamante (@cabude), from Peru, is working on the design front, on design strategies for participatory processes mainly related to urban mobility, public space and new media. In 2010 Camila iniciated Todos somos dateros (”We are all data providers”), a participatory mechanism for sustainable urban mobility in Lima.

Working from the UK-based Open Knowledge Foundation, Kat Braybrooke @kat_braybrooke is a front-end web developer and Lucy Chambers (@lucyfedia) is in the process of learning how to code. They are involved in the organization of the world's biggest open government event, the Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw.

Kristin Antin (@kjantin) from the United States is participating in the design and organization of New Tactics in Human Rights, a technical on-line platform providing resources to human rights advocates that offer innovative tactical solutions for confronting specific local challenges, using technology.

Stephanie Hankey is the co-founder of Tactical Technology Collective, a small non-governmental organization dedicated to advance the skills, tools and techniques of rights advocates, empowering them to use information and communications as a critical asset in helping marginalised communities understand and effect progressive social, environmental and political change.

Daniela Silva (@danielabsilva) from Brazil is the founder of Sfera Brazil and Transparencia Hacker a community of over 800 designers, developers, coders and even government officers developing huge projects together to promote transparency and accountability.

These are some examples of brilliant women who are not afraid of the mouse, the screen, or the complexities of coding. They are inspiring others by doing amazing projects, all of them contributing to social change.

If you have an example in mind today, we invite you to write about them, to describe the amazing women working in technology you know; women who are an example and inspiration for girls in the generations to come as Ada Lovelace, more than hundred years ago, was for many others. Share your stories and inspire others!

Brazil: Open Letter Defends Women's Dignity

Maria da Penha Neles, a Brazilian feminist blog, published an open letter [pt] by the activist Reginna Sampaio (@brazilpalestine) to the “sertanejo” [country music] duo Bruno & Marrone that, in a show in San Francisco, USA, called Brazilian women as sluts. The video of the show was widely shared online.


Iran: Against forced Hijab

Setareiran proposes each Thursday at 17h, Iranian women move their veils for five seconds to protest against forced veil (hijab).

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

October 06 2011

Cuba: Fonseca Told to Get Lawyer

Uncommon Sense finds it interesting that jailed dissidents Sara Fonseca and her husband Julio Leon have been advised to obtain legal counsel, calling it “a suggestion that indicates the regime plans to formally prosecute the couple because of their anti-communist activism.”

Indonesia: Q! Film Festival

Q! Film Festival is a festival showcasing LGBT, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights films in Indonesia.

October 04 2011

Colombia: El Puente_lab Making a Difference in Moravia, Medellin

In the thriving city of Medellín, Colombia, there is the project Hiperbarrio [es] (a Rising Voices project) and several more interesting projects in development which focus on social inclusion and citizen media training. One of the new projects is El Puente_lab [es], a production platform for art and culture. They define their objectives [es]:

desarrollar proyectos culturales en el ámbito local, creando puentes de comunicación con artistas y expertos a través una infraestructura operativa de cooperación internacional.
Los proyectos que desarrolla el puente_lab responden a necesidades especificas del contexto social donde se realizan, utilizando la creatividad artística como instrumento de activación de dinámicas culturales que inicien, faciliten y/o acompañen procesos de educación, comunicación y transformación urbana y social.

develop cultural projects on a local level, building bridges of communication with artists and experts through a strategy of international cooperation.
The projects developed by el puente_lab meet the specific needs of the social context where they are carried out, using artistic creativity as a tool of activation of cultural projects that initiate, facilitate and/or accompany processes of education, communication and urban and social transformation.

Among their projects is Proyecto Espacios de Memoria [es] (”memory spaces”): “artistic interventions in the public space of the Moravia neighborhood in Medellín. These interventions will serve to communicate to Moravia's inhabitants at first place and to the public in general, the importance of the neighborhood’s urban and social development and urban transformation during the past years”; and Nodos de Desarrollo Cultural [es] (”cultural development nodes”), that tries to “tackle the lack of cultural spaces in a marginalized densely populated neighborhood, and in addition, work under the condition of a low budget, using recycled materials and strict conditions of use of public space.”

Moravia, Medellín

Moravia, Medellín. Photo compilation from Flickr user Archivo_vivo (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Moravia is a neighborhood in northeast Medellín sharing a common story with other neighborhoods in Latin America. As this article [es] explains: “During the 70s and 80s, (Medellín) received a tidal wave of provincial, rural displaced Colombians that settled in a hap-hazard manner, setting up shacks on top of a landfill next to the bus station. This encampment received the name ‘El Morro de Moravia' (Hill of Moravia).” Later “a complete intervention project began that involved different action stages: relocation of inhabitants, decontamination and recovery of Morro as a public space.”

The blog G4Moravia reports [es] additional characteristics of this neighborhood:

Moravia y su área cercana son hogar de miles de familias que surgieron con el crecimiento de Medellín, principalmente con el auge de las grandes empresas manufactureras y de construcción. También ha sido la puerta de otros grupos familiares que llegaron principalmente desde el norte y el Urabá antioqueños, los departamentos de Córdoba y Chocó y que encontraron alternativas de subsistencia en la economía formal e informal de la ciudad. […] Por la manera como se urbanizó, Moravia es un sistema urbano de configuración cerrada, que propicia el “desarrollo hacia adentro” de la vida comunitaria de sus habitantes, presenta una malla urbana laberíntica y poco permeable desde y hacia la ciudad.

Moravia and the surrounding area is home to thousands of families that have grown as Medellín has expanded, mainly due to the boom of the large manufacturing and construction companies. Also it has been a gateway for other families arriving from the north and Urabá, the departments of Córdoba and Chocó, as these families encounter alternatives to subsistence living through the city's formal and informal economy. […] Due to the way it has grown, Moravia is a closed configuration urban system, which helped in the introverted development of the communal life, creating a labyrinthine urban mesh difficult to navigate or visit from the city.

In this environment the projects of El Puente_lab have been developed. Daniel Urrea [es], one of the members of the Puente_lab group, spoke with Global Voices about what Puente_lab is doing currently:

Given that this video dates from April, the date of the project mentioned by Daniel working with girls from Moravia is currently nearing completion. The blog Moravia Video_Lab [es] has information and news on the workshops and what has been accomplished so far. In their About us [es], they state:

El proyecto pretende capacitar en video a un grupo de 20 mujeres del barrio Moravia a través de talleres que tendrán lugar entre el 16 de Agosto y la primera semana de Septiembre, liderados por las artistas María Rosa Jijón y Margarita Vázquez Ponte […] Será un proceso en el que chicas entre los 12 y los 17 años aprenderán a registrar y editar video, pero además será un espacio para reflexionar en torno a su rol como mujeres.

The project attempts to build up and train, on video, a group of 20 women from the Moravia neighborhood through workshops taking place between August 16 and the first week of September. These workshops are led by artists María Rosa Jijón [es] and Margarita Vázquez Ponte [es] […] It will be a process for the girls between 12 and 17 years old to learn how to record and edit video, but it will also be a chance for reflection by these women in their gender role.

You can also visit their Flickr site and Vimeo video channel, where 10 videos from the workshops are already uploaded, including this one:

Finally, Margarita Vázquez Ponte, the visual artist and one of the facilitators of the training classes, wrote on her blog [es] about her experiences in Medellín and the workshops. In one post [es] she relates her impressions from the final socialization session of the project:

Bueno, ¿qué puedo decir? todo, el taller, la presentación, fue como que un éxito, las chicas eran una mezcla de turbación y orgullo de ver sus trabajos en público y en pantalla grande, creo que fue empoderador para ellas ver cuánto podían hacer en tan poco tiempo. Todas recibieron certificados por su trabajo. ¿Qué nos piden ahora? Están dispuestas a hacer más… lo que es excelente y espero suceda…

Well what can i say, it the whole thing, the workshop, the presentation was a bit of a success i think, the girls are a mixture of embarrassed and very proud to see their work in public and on a big screen, i think it was very empowering for them to see how much they could do in such a short time. They all received certificates for their work. They ask us what now? they are keen to do more…which is great and hopefully will happen…

Global Voices author Catalina Restrepo supported the El Puente_lab workshops in Moravia and helped compile much of the information in this post.

The image used in this post is a photo composition from Flickr user Archivo_vivo used under the license CC BY-SA 2.0.

October 03 2011

Chile: With Therapeutic Abortion Up for Vote, Chile is Pro-Tweet

As Chile’s Senate decides whether to join the all but five countries around the world that allow therapeutic abortion, Chileans are signing on to social networks en masse to talk straight to politicians about the previously swept-under-the-rug topic.

Nine months ago, three Chilean politicians from the Senate Health Committee nudged the taboo topic onto the table. As early as this week, the Senate must choose whether to allow abortion when a mother’s life is in danger, there is an unviable fetus, and in cases of rape.

Chile, a leader in Latin American modernity, makes headlines for its hearty economy. At the same time, necklines still run high, divorce was legalized only in 2004, and traditional family values reign in the 70-percent Catholic nation. Despite pressure from UN-based lobbyists and its popularity in the poles, this is the first time therapeutic abortion hit the Senate floor since it was banned in 1989 at the tail end of Augosto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Malta and Vatican City stand as the last places without legalized therapeutic abortion.

The Senate will be deciding on all three pieces of the legislation as soon as Senate President Guido Girardi puts the legislation up for vote. In Chile, the issue has overwhelming popularity in the poles:  94 percent of Chileans believe it’s time for a legislation revision.

Karen Espindola lost her two and a half year old, Oswald, in July. A severe brain defect plagued him since the day he was born. She employs Twitter [es], Blogspot [es] and traditional media outlets to spread the word about his painful life story. She blogs to convince legislators to support therapeutic abortion. One opinion piece [es] she wrote has been shared on Twitter 792 times and 2121 times on Facebook.

Under @KEspindola, she recently tweeted:

Hoy amaneci echandote de menos a veces no soporto esto,que hacer cuando un hijo se te va despues de una vida corta y llena de sufrimiento?

Today, I woke up missing you. Sometimes I can’t stand this. What can you do when a child passes away after a short life full of suffering?

How to resolve the weighty question is now driving a wedge between the center-right National Renewal party (RN). President Sebastián Piñera, a member of RN, vowed to veto any abortion legislation that passes through congress. The already unpopular president’s approval ratings tanked to a 25-year record low of 22 percent according to a poll from the Center for the Study of Contemporary Reality (CERC).

Those against legalizing therapeutic abortion often argue that it would create a slippery slope toward legalizing all abortion. If any form of abortion is legalized, pro-choice advocates could point to a precedent. While many pro-life groups distinguish between therapeutic abortion from abortion in general, [es], a pro-life blog, believes that the therapeutic abortion legislation veils what actually, “deserves the name of ‘abortion with the pretext of being therapeutic.’”

Piñera fell out with the bloggers behind Chile Liberal: speaking truth to power [es], when he strayed from socially liberal campaign promises regarding abortion and gay marriage according to the blog. They asked the president to reconsider his bar-nun decision to veto. The blog reads [es]:

Presidente: deje que prospere el debate en el Congreso y absténgase de emplear el veto, por mucho que lo amenacen nuevamente. …. Póngase firme con el aborto terapéutico, deje en claro que es la decisión de una instancia legítima, como lo es el Congreso Nacional.

President: Let the debate in Congress thrive and don’t employ a veto, even if you’re being pressured to do it… Put your signature on the therapeutic abortion legislation, let it be clear that it is legitimate, since it is from our National Congress.

Espindola tweeted:

Tengo mucha rabia el presidente defendera la vida hasta su muerte natural y el sufrimiento de un hijo con una malfor cerebral severa q hacen.

I’m furious that a president, who defends life until a natural death, allows the suffering of a child with a severe brain defect to do it.

Karla Rubilar, an RN deputy, shares the president’s political party, but has a different opinion on the issue. She said she will vote in favor of therapeutic abortion.

Rubilar’s twitter account boasts a stampede of almost 20 thousand followers, considering that she represents only a slice of constituents from Chile’s capital city. She called Twitter “a great system. It’s a revolution in how we do politics. It’s practically instantaneous and checks the pulse of the how citizens feel.”

Rubilar told Mi Voz that one young man’s tweet actually jumped from the virtual world into a real political discussion. The less-than-140 characters opened her eyes to the importance of providing palliative care for fetuses with severe brain defects. Rubilar brought this to the health minister and representatives from other political parties. New legislation to help mothers pay for palliative care is now underway.

Chileans spend an average of 8.7 hours a month on social networking sites, compared to the 5.4-hour worldwide average according to a comScore, Inc survey. Facebook corralled its third highest percentage of users from Chile. Chilean tweets and blog posts aren’t wandering aimlessly through cyber space. Politicians are paying close attention; This month Piñera met with 15 of Chile’s “most influential” Twitter users. Citizens are tweeting out.

Katie Manning wrote this post as part of our partnership with Mi Voz.

Brazil: Historic Speech at UN for Brazil's First Female President

Dilma Vana Rousseff, the first female president elected in Brazil, also became the first woman to open an annual meeting of the General Assembly of United Nations (UN), on September 21, 2011. Historically Brazil has been the country that opens the sessions since the first, which took place in 1947.

Besides the historical moment, the speech (full version available online) was marked by courage through Rousseff's indirect criticism of a “first world” in crisis; she also spoke about the defense of human rights, the recognition of Palestine as a state and member of the UN, the continued occupation in Haiti and Brazil's renunciation of the use of nuclear weapons - even though more nuclear power plants are to be built in the country.

Dilma Rousseff. Cartoon under CC by Carlos Latuff.

Dilma Rousseff. Cartoon under CC by Carlos Latuff.

Historical moment

Hugo Albuquerque, from the blog Descurvo, sums up [pt]:

Nunca na história deste planeta uma mulher fez o discurso de abertura da Assembleia Geral da ONU. (…) Dilma foi precisa ao enfocar a gravidade da crise mundial, saudar a ascensão da Primavera Árabe, tocar no problema de gênero e, sobretudo, exortar o reconhecimento do Estado Palestino.

Never in the history of this planet had a woman made ​​the opening speech at the UN General Assembly. (…) Dilma was precise on focusing the seriousness of the world crisis, on welcoming the rise of the Arab spring, on touching on the issue of gender and, above all, on urging the recognition of the Palestinian state.

Cristina Rodrigues, from the blog Somos Andando, complemented [pt]:

(…) falou pela paz, criticou a violência, em um recado direto aos Estados Unidos. Pediu o espaço pro Brasil. Afirmou o papel das mulheres. Defendeu, sem meias palavras, deixando implícita uma crítica, a criação do Estado Palestino (no que foi muito aplaudida, o que demonstra que uma minoria poderosa impede os anseios da maioria). E deu uma aula de humanidade e solidariedade, refletindo a atitude do governo do qual foi parte por oito anos: “Queremos para os outros países o que queremos para nós mesmos”.

[Dilma] spoke for peace and criticized violence, in a direct message to the United States. She asked for space for Brazil. She affirmed the role of women. She defended, in no uncertain terms, implying a criticism, the creation of a Palestinian state (in what she was very applauded, which shows that a powerful minority prevents the wishes of the majority). And she gave a lesson of humanity and solidarity, reflecting the attitude of the government she was part of for eight years: “We want for other countries what we want for ourselves.”

Journalist and blogger Rodrigo Vianna selected some key parts of President Dilma's speech and published them on his blog, Escrevinhador, besides explaining [pt] the relevance of the speech:

Foi importante porque Dilma se diferenciou da baboseira (neo) liberal que ainda sobrevive no chamado mundo desenvolvido (e sobrevive também entre “colunistas” e “analistas” que pensam o Brasil feito girafas: têm os pés na América do Sul e a cabeça em Londres ou Washington). Dilma falou na necessida de controlar capitais. Os colunistas de economia brazucas devem ter sofrido uma síncope nervosa. Controle? Capitais devem ser livres. Controle, só para as pessoas.

It was important because Dilma differed from the (neo) liberal crap that still survives in the so-called developed world (and also survives between “columnists” and “analysts” who think of Brazil as a giraffe: with its feet in South America and its head in London or Washington). Dilma spoke of the need to control capital. The “Brazucas” [slang for Brazilians] columnists on economy must have suffered a nervous reaction. Control? Capital must be free. Control, only for the people.


Dilma's speech was historic but it has also been target of several critics, either for its tone or for the gap between it and the actual practices of the Brazilian government, as analyzed [pt] by teacher and journalist Mauricio Santoro:

Em suma, a presidente está em bom momento internacional, mas convém não esquecer que os problemas e contradições de seus aliados no governo representam obstáculos para que o país alcance os objetivos ambiciosos de sua política externa.

In short, the president is in a good international moment, but let us not forget that the problems and contradictions of her allies in government represent obstacles to the country to achieve the ambitious goals of its foreign policy.

Blogger and activist Leonardo Sakamoto pointed out serious problems [pt] on the difference between the speech and practice, especially concerning Belo Monte, the powerplant that has raised huge controversy and legal fights that, according to Sakamoto, puts the most basic rights of the Brazilian indigenous communities in jeopardy:

(…) Mas soa irônico o governo brasileiro pagar de progressista lá fora e ser reacionário aqui dentro.

O Brasil tem tentado parecer o “bom moço” da comunidade internacional, mas nem sempre aplica a mesma cartilha internamente. Por exemplo, a defesa dos direitos humanos. (…)

Como um país que declara em seu discurso à Assembléia Geral das Nações Unidas que deseja um assento no Conselho de Segurança ignora uma solicitação de outro organismo internacional, a Comissão Interamericana de Direitos Humanos (CIDH), ligada à Organização dos Estados Americanos, para que interrompa a construção da usina hidrelétrica de Belo Monte até que os indígenas sejam devidamente ouvidos.

Kind of ironic that the Brazilian government plays as progressive out there and is reactionary in here.

Brazil has been trying to look like the “good guy” of the international community, but it does not always apply the same tactic internally. For example, the defense of human rights. (…)

As a country, it declares in its speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations that it wants a seat on the Security Council, while ignoring a request from another international body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), linked to the Organization of American States, to stop the construction of the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte until the indigenous people are properly heard.

Criticism was also made by the left wing party PSTU published [pt] on the Diário da Liberdade against keeping Brazilian forces in Haiti, against the cuts in public spending and the impoverishment of workers and especially against the economic model adopted by the president:

Entre omissões, distorções e meias verdades, o discurso de Dilma não trouxe nenhuma novidade, apesar do simbolismo de sua própria presença naquele palanque.
O discurso de Dilma foi bonito. Seria melhor, porém, que fosse embasado na realidade, para que o entusiasmo de tanta gente, em especial a de mulheres trabalhadoras, não fosse em vão.

Among omissions, distortions and half truths, Dilma's speech did not bring anything new, despite the symbolism of her own presence at the podium.
Dilma's speech was beautiful. It would be better, however, if it was grounded in reality, so that the enthusiasm of so many people, especially women workers, was not in vain.

Moreover André Kenji, from the blog Dissidência, commented [pt] on Brazil's wish to be part of UN Security Council:

Muitas das críticas - incluindo deste blog - da participação do Brasil no CS partem do princípio que a política externa do Brasil é pouco consistente e de que a diplomacia brasileira não tem respostas para algumas das questões mais cruciais envolvendo questões diplomáticas (Isso quando não passa a mão na cabeça de ditadores brutais tendo em vista apenas interesses comerciais).

Many of the critics - including this blog's - on Brazil's participation in the Security Council assume that Brazil's foreign policy is weak and that the Brazilian diplomacy has no answers to some of the most crucial issues involving diplomacy (All this when it is not cherishing brutal dictators only with commercial interests in sight).

Blogger and judge Saraiva, on his blog Saraiva 13, sums up [pt] what he considered to have been a historical moment for Brazil in defending the promotion of peace and human rights around the world:

Dilma defendeu as liberdades democráticas e os direitos-humanos, como era previsível. Surpreendente foi Dilma tirar apenas o foco de países africanos e do oriente, como as potências imperialistas gostam de fazer, e chamar à responsabilidade o chamado primeiro-mundo, condenando as violações de direitos humanos nestes países ricos através da xenofobia, do racismo, da pena de morte, da miséria. Em todo o discurso defendeu uma ordem mais justa para os países pobres, desenvolvimento sustentável em vez de bombas, soluções para o Oriente Médio, o Estado Palestino. Enfim, arrastou as fichas, conquistando corações e mentes do terceiro mundo, já bastante simpáticos ao Brasil.

Dilma defended the democratic freedoms and the human rights, as expected. Surprising was the fact that Dilma took out the usual exclusive focus on the East African countries and, as the imperialist powers like to do, called the so-called first-world to account, condemning human rights violations in these rich countries through xenophobia, racism, the death penalty and misery. Throughout the speech she called for a fairer order for poor countries, sustainable development instead of bombs, solutions to the Middle East and the Palestinian state. Eventually, she dragged the chips, winning hearts and minds of the third world, already quite sympathetic to Brazil.

October 02 2011

India: Goa Takes Steps To Stop Female Foeticide

Ali Waris at Youth Ki Awaaz reports that the Goa local government is offering a special monetary scheme to girls born in the state to stop female foeticide and help change the skewed sex ratios.

September 29 2011

Cuba: Jailed Activists

Uncommon Sense continues to keep a close eye on three members of the Damas de Blanco who were arrested recently, as well as political prisoner Sara Martha Fonseca, whose son was allegedly attacked after trying to obtain information about his jailed parents.

Brazil: The Sexist Ad of Supermodel Gisele Bundchen

Thalita, from the blog Futepoca, comments [pt] on a lingerie advertisement featuring the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen that has been object of intense discussion because of its alleged sexist content.


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