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Bloggers : Pope Fallible April 19, 2007

Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, sold more than 50.000 copies on its first day. Published in a new edition on the pontiff’s 80th birthday, the book is the Pope’s personal view of the life of Jesus and as such does not represent Church doctrine. With tongue slightly deviated toward cheek, bloggers are taking the Pontiff on, claiming that his own words show him fallible.

“The Pope is not infallible – there’s a little mistake in his last book,” Italian journalist Sandro Magister said in his blog Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven).

Source: books.guardian.co.uk

The Pope says “everyone is free to contradict me.”

The Pope Blog 

Tags: Theologian | Shows | publisher | printing | PONTIFF | infallible | edition | criticise | copies | Rizzoli | Pope | Politics | Jesus | ITALIAN | BENEDICT

Zimbabwe Journalist Arrested March 26, 2007

Apparently, this trainee asked the wrong question and was detained. There is no word on whether the intern is still in detention. This is one of those arrests that it would be easy to forget, given the media prominence of the official Zimbabwean opposition and the chaos in the country. I would appreciate any help on follow-up and verification.

A trainee journalist with state media was arrested in Zimbabwe for allegedly asking why police did not feel guilty for killing an opposition activist, it was claimed Sunday.

The privately-owned Standard claimed 23-year-old Tapiwa Chininga was arrested last Saturday, a week after police shot and killed a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist in Highfield township after an aborted prayer rally.

Source: jurnalo.com

Tags: Tapiwa | Chininga | TRAINEE | township | shot | report | rally | Questions | Privately-Owned | prayer | police | opposition | Media | KILLED | journalist | guilty | claimed | asks | arrested | allegedly | Activist | aborted | Zimbabwe | Standard | Saturday | Politics | movement | Highfield | DEMOCRATIC

Blogger’s Appeal Tomorrow March 11, 2007

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak probably had no idea what a firestorm would be let loose when his courts sentenced a blogger to four years in prison for defaming Islam and insulting Mubarak.

Egyptian blogger Kareem Nabeel Sulaiman’s appeal is expected to be heard by an Alexandria court tomorrow (March 12th).

The Egyptian blogger made history last month by being the first writer in his country to be sentenced to four years in prison for articles he wrote on his blog.

Source: globalvoicesonline.org

The latest reposte to Mubarak came in the form of a letter to the editor of the Washington Post from Representative Trent Franks (R-Arizona).

What can Mubarak lose by freeing this blogger? Not much. If anything, he will have to take some misplaced criticism charging him with being an American toady. But he will have an easy comeback to that, since this harsh sentence has generated outrage all over the world. Freedom of speech is not an exclusively American value.

Related Link:Free Kareem: a website dedicated to the blogger’s release

Related NP Link: Mubarak Ad Words Campaign 

Tags: YEARS | writer | Prison | expected | court | Blogger | being | Articles | appeal | Rights | Politics | Nabeel | Middle East | Kareem | Egyptian | Egypt | ALEXANDRIA | Africa

New Rules Threaten Internet Radio March 8, 2007

Anne Broache from CNET news reports that a Congressional hearing on the
Future of Radio contains some very bad news for smaller radio stations
attempting to compete with satellite providers. According to Edward
Markey (D-Mass)
and other critics, a Tuesday ruling by the U.S.
Copyright Royalty Board threatens the viability of small commercial
providers. The proposed changes increase royalties to record companies
by 30%, retroactive to 2006, and each station would have to fork out a
$500.00 minimum payment. According to Markey:

This represents a body blow to many nascent Internet radio broadcasters and further exacerbates the marketplace imbalance between what different industries pay,” Markey said at a hearing here titled “The Future of Radio.” The hearing was convened by the House panel on telecommunications and the Internet, of which Markey is chairman. “It makes little sense to me for the smallest players to pay proportionately the largest royalty fee.

Source: news.zdnet.com

Robert Kimball, the general council for RealNetworks, spoke on behalf of the Digital Media Association and told Congress that if the CRB decision is not overturned, homogeneity will invevitably result. He suggested that a proposed merger between SM and Sirius be postponed until certain biases against internet broadcasters are corrected.

The report cites two instances of such biases. At present, certain programming restrictions apply only to webcasters, including a prohibition against announcing upcoming songs, and the Copyright Act also prohibits net radio from offering its own recording devices and portable radio devices. Neither restriction applies to satellite based stations.

The Radio and Internet Newsletter(see the rates) estimates that the new rates would require webcasters to pay 1.28 cents per listener per hour.

Related Link: Video of the Hearing from the Committee on Energy and Commerce

Related Link: Copyright Board Decision (115 pages, PDF)

Tags: SERVICE | Rules | represents | proposes | prices | hearing | companies | Washington | Technology | Satellite | royalty | Net | Markey | internet | Capitol Hill

BBC YouTube Deal March 3, 2007

The BBC and YouTube have announced a deal:

The BBC has confirmed a deal with YouTube to make programming available via a number of branded channels, including supplying an ad-funded BBC News clips service

Source: business.guardian.co.uk

YouTube will offer two BBC entertainment channel. The BBC may be seeking to recover some of its edge after being trounced recently by independent stations in British television awards.

BBC at YouTube

Tags: supplied | programming | including | confirmed | clips | CHANNEL | branded | ad-funded | YouTube | worldwide | unlimited | Technology | news | guardian | business

Robert Mugabe’s Birthday: Zim Imperiled February 19, 2007

Robert Mugabe’s birthday is this week, and Zimbabwe’s tyrant is
planning quite the birthday bash- a celebration estimated to cost a million dollars in a country racked by 400% monthly inflation ,
striking doctors and nurses, an outbreak of cholera, and the advent of
a police state. Yesterday, Mugabe’s policemen killed a meeting of the
main opposition political party before it even got started.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike for a month over several
issues, and civil servants have also gone out on strike. Annual
inflation is running at some 1600% ( if it can even be estimated). The
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, one of the many organizations becoming
increasingly alarmed at the country’s hyperinflation, estimates that
the cost of living for a family of six (not an unusual family size in
Zimbabwe) jumped from $245 in December to $1, 835 in January. In a
country where the average wage is $100 per month, that is clearly an
unsustainable situation. Moreover, a number of basic food staples are
simply not available through official markets and are becoming
increasingly hard to obtain in the “parallel”- read underground-

 Political opposition is heating up. In addition to the threat of
widespread strikes, Mugabe’s main opponent, the Movement for Democratic
change, tried to hold a Zimbabwean court sanctioned assembly
yesterday.The response was brutal police oppression,and suspension of an already tenuous right to assemble :

A tense calm prevailed in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, on Monday after a police crackdown led to several clashes with angry supporters trying to attend an opposition party rally on Sunday, sanctioned by the High Court.

There were unconfirmed reports that three people died in skirmishes between the police and an estimated 50,000 supporters of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who had congregated. Police said they were investigating.

Source: alertnet.org

The MDC has good cause to rally. In addition to the hyperinflation and shortages, Mugabe appears to be setting himself up for an extension of his decades- long rule. He was expected to step down in 2008, but now is suggesting a two year extension of his term to 2010, the year of parliamentary elections. And the reason? To save money.

As a measure of the civic chaos now overtaking the country, a cholera epidemic seems to be in the offing. Three people have already died and at least nineteen more are sick with the waterborne illness. The breakdown of basic water and sanitation will probably ensure many needless fatalities in a country where the medical establishment, meager as it is , is on strike. Since 2000, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has deteriorated to medieval levels. Men can expect to live 37 years: women, 34 years.

Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of southern Africa, is a starving nation. International aid agencies blame most of the decline on Mugabe’s land redistribution program , and his vicious efforts at urban slum clearing.

Now Mugabe is facing a revolution. No matter how extravagant the Potemkinesque celebrations, his country can feel no joy.

Tags: congregated | Tsvangirai-led | unconfirmed | trying | tense | supporters | SKIRMISHES | sanctioned | Reports | rally | prevailed | police | opposition | faction | estimated | died | crackdown | clashes | calm | attend | ZIMBABWEAN | Zimbabwe | sunday | Politics | movement | MORGAN | Monday | HARARE | DEMOCRATIC

Flickr Filtered in Iran, UAE: Resistance February 17, 2007

Internet users in the United Arab Emirates and Iran discovered some time ago that their access to Flickr, the popular social networking-photo archive site, had been blocked yet again, for the third time. In the UAE, the major Internet service provider, Etisalat, is the responsible party. But dedicated photojournalists and ordinary users alike may have a new technological countermeasure, a free Firefox extension called Access Flickr that is the brainchild of Hamed Saber, an Iranian with a technical bent, an ingrained opposition to Big Brother, and a belief that “no one has the right to censor anything for me.”

In a Global Voices interview with Sami Ben Gharbia, Saber said that he was unaware of any similar Firefox extension specifically designed to circumvent censorship. The idea was to create something similar to Tor, but more accessible. Saber says that the tool is “so simple…not sophisticated and powerful like Tor.” It sounds easy enough:

This extension just substitutes some parameters in HTTP request header before sending it, and after receiving the response, again it substitutes some other parameters in the HTTP response header. The source code is not encoded, and the extension is open source, anyone can read the simple source code!

Source: globalvoicesonline.org

Other forms of resistance to internet filtering in Iran ( Filtering Country Study) and the UAE (Filtering Country Study) are spearheaded by the Open Net Initiative. Because the technology is simple, the obvious solution for the censors is to block the extension—and what will Saber do if that happens?

He’ll just develop another “bypassing way.”

With people like Saber in the world, we can all take heart. We are, collectively, smarter than they are.

Related Link: Freedom for UAE Flickr Users Petition UAE

Tags: vs | users | Filter | Extension | Community | Citizens | access | United Arab Emirates | Technology | saber | Middle East | Iran | internet | hamed | Flickr | Africa

Stevens Bill: Banning Wikipedia? February 16, 2007

The Congressional response to the problem and the pseudo-problem of online predation via social networking sites has reached a new nadir. Ted Stevens introduced Senate Bill 49 last month . The putative legislation requires that “any school or public library that gets Federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well.

Here’s the newest from Sen. Ted Stevens, the man who described the Internet as a series of tubes: It’s time for the federal government to ban access to Wikipedia, MySpace, and social networking sites from schools and libraries

Source: computerworld.com

The new bill is closely related to DOPA ( HR5319)  a bill that passed the House. But Marianne Richmond, among other commentators, rightly states that the bill goes well beyond that previous piece of censorious legislation. One part requires that sites distributing adult content excise the adult content from the homepage and to publish a warning on the homepage. The real menace comes in title 2, the subsidies section. This section also appears to require that schools monitor the net activities of students when not supervised by faculty.Such a duty would cause no end of headache and heartache for parents, school administrators, and teacher, even if , as would probably be the case, the more onerous duties were removed through a series of court cases. Who needs this expense? Who wants to generate this much confusion?

Related Links: Stevens: The Official Site

                    Stevens: Wikipedia profile

Tags: TUBES | sites | Series | newest | networking | library | introduced | Government | federal | described | bill | ban | access | Wikipedia | Technology | stevens | senate | MySpace | internet

Bastards and Roses: A Love Story February 14, 2007

There will be no “Love Song on the Bank of Mekong” tonight if Laos has its way with Thai television.That is the title of a soap opera scheduled to play this evening:

\Vientiane has conveyed their concerns to the television executives through the Thai Foreign Ministry last week that the soap opera “Pleng Rak Song Fang Kong” (Love Song on the Bank of Mekong) contained many scenes deemed inappropriate and contradicting to Lao culture, said Lao foreign ministry’s spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy.

Source: nationmultimedia.com

Apparently, the Laotians object to the melodrama on two grounds. One is that the female romantic heroine’s mother is unmarried, which makes our lead- not to put to fine a point on it- a real bastard. The other is that in a fit of romantic pique, the lady trashes a flower- in this case a white fragipani, which happens to be the national flower of Laos.

Apparently, the depiction of the heroine as a bastard offends the national sense of decorum, as does the impression that she is an “easy woman”. And the flower is definitely treason by another name:

“You might get angry with your boyfriend who hand you (sic!) the flower, but the national flower should not be thrown away in that manner… why didn’t the producer use rose or the other kind, rather than our national flower?” whined the official, patriotically and pathetically.

It will be small comfort to the would be Laotian censors that it is Valentine’s day in some places, and that the tale of bastards and roses will ring out many variations tonight, with happy and otherwise endings. No doubt many roses and precious few single fragpiani will find a dustbin home today, some hurled in anger, some dropped indifferently. And the appellation “bastard” will no doubt be applied more than a few times, although not mostly in the genealogical sense. Let’s hope the nascent Laotian censors just sit back and enjoy the Thai program- because not even the most melodramatic and cliched art deserves to be censored. After all, life does often imitate it.

Tags: conveyed | Yong | Pleng | urged | television | suspension | spokesman | soap | scenes | opera | inappropriate | EXECUTIVES | deemed | Culture | contradicting | contained | Concerns | Vientiane | thai | Politics | MINISTRY | laos | Kong | fang

UN to Somalia: Release Journalists February 12, 2007

The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in Somalia , Ghanim Alnjjar,has called for the release of three Somali journalist detained shortly after Ethiopia’s lightning invasion of Somalia in late December 2007. The Ethiopians invaded that country to displace the Islamic Courts Union (BBC Backgrounder) and to aid in the installment of a transitional federal government.

The capital, Mogadishu, was warlord-dominated before the rise of the ICU, and Reuters reports that the four outlets shut down in Modadishu were HornAfrik Media, Shabelle Media network, a Koranic radio station (IQK), and the local office of Al-Jazeera.

The three journalists detained in Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, worked for a group called Haatuf Media Network.

The U.N. expert named them as Yusuf Abdi Gabode, Ali Abdi Din and Mohamed Omar Sheikh, but gave no indication of the charges against them.

Source: today.reuters.co.uk

The three were detained in Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent entity with no international recognition.

The Bush administration regards Ethiopia as a major U.S ally in the Horn of Africa, and U.S. helicopter gunships aided the Ethiopians during the December invasion.

Relevant Links: Alnjjar’s U.N. Press Release

More Articles by Ganim Alnjarr

Tags: threats | Media | journalists | independent | freedom | Expert | called | somaliland | Somalia | Politics | Mohamed | Mogadishu | Alnajjar | Abdi

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