Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zimbabwe update

year in and year out, depressing and sad news from Zimbabwe rolls into my mailbox. really, for how long must this situation go on?
first, the latest news from Cathy Buckle (you will note that South Africa is still the silent neighbour...), and then below that, a related news piece from Yahoo.
Blanket of fear
Saturday 22nd June 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
A blanket of fear has descended over Zimbabwe as we count down the last few days before the second Presidential election. Our streets and towns are seething with police, army and youth brigade members. Our shops are empty of all basic foodstuffs; filling stations still have no diesel or petrol; water and electricity supplies are scarce; queues at banks and cash machines are immense and prices increase at least once every day. The trauma of living like this has been compounded a hundred fold as now each day brings news of terror, torture, kidnapping, burning and murder. The reports are of barbaric behaviour and extreme cruelty and they are coming from all over the country. The perpetrators move in groups; sometimes they come in the day but more often it is at night.

A report released this week by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights contains details of some of the victims of violence seen in the last month: men and women with broken arms and legs, fingers and toes, soft tissue damage to face, feet and buttocks; burns, lacerations and bruising. One patient the doctors described had been: " beaten extensively on the shoulders, back, buttocks and thighs, was also struck in the face and suffered a leak of vitreous humour (the transparent gel-like substance behind the lens of the eye) resulting in blindness."

Alongside the fear of physical violence is the rhetoric from the rallies whose words are now being quoted around the world. In the last few days Zanu PF leader Mr Mugabe has said on four different occasions:
"We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it."
"We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X. How can a ballpoint fight with a gun?"
"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country - never ever."
"Only God, who appointed me, will remove me, not the MDC, not the British."

Its hard to know what the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been saying as he's been detained by police five times, his rallies have been cancelled, his vehicle has been impounded and his secretary general is in police custody charged with treason. To further silence the MDC leader, and in obvious violation of electoral laws, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said that they wouldn't air campaign adverts from the opposition party. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended the ZBC's stance saying that international coverage favoured the MDC and never reported Zanu PF's position.

As silenced as Zimbabweans are, hope has come at last from our neighbours who have begun to speak out. This week Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said: "There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair," adding that he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola would write to their presidents "so that they do something urgently so that we can save Zimbabwe."

And now, beaten, bloodied, scared and in a state of mourning, we go to the polls again. We don't need the rallies and the speeches to know where to vote on the 27th of June.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy


Mugabe's rival Tsvangirai pulls out of election

By Nelson Banya Reuters - 2 hours 22 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off election against President Robert Mugabe on Sunday, saying a free and fair poll was impossible in the current climate of violence.

More can be read here


Saturday, June 21, 2008

lo dice todo


EDICIóN IMPRESA - 20 - 06 - 2008

Woman says: It is incongruent that it is more punishable to be innocent and an immigrant, than to be a delinquent but EU citizen.

Man replies: Europe and I, we are like this Señora.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

is social study of the Internet akin to writing a history of the present?

This weekend I´ve read two history books (Beevor on the spanish civil war, the other Garton Ash on Europe in the 1990s). And it is prompted by Timothy Garton Ash´s musings in the introduction to the volume named "History of the Present", that I now write here. I mention both books since they seem to deal with two different kinds of History scholarship: the one more traditional, the other not so; and so formed an interesting contrast for me.

In said introduction Garton Ash contemplates if not elucidates the differences between writing a history of the present versus writing journalism or say literature. What separates the first two from the third is "the kind of truth being sought" and that, for both History and Journalism the facts cannot be played "fast and loose" with. For one, he says that Historians always need at least thirty years to elapse before they tend to study an era or event what by then has been deemed to be "historical". And since his (Garton Ash´s) works have always been more about "the present", in the interstice between recording recent history as historian versus journalistic recording of what has happened, he goes on to distinguishing the two professions from one another, and in turn, from literature. As I read this intro it made me think about what differentiates good scholarly work in the area of studying the Internet, versus something as being more journalistic. For, after all, in studying technology, and in particular the Internet, are we not engaged in an exercise of writing, in a mode similar to Garton Ash, a kind of "history of the present"? In this regard, I wish Garton Ash would write a manual of praxis for his art/science, if only so that I could ponder more on what it can mean to do "social studies of the Internet". But then again, maybe my stance contradicts his closing "argument". He writes and concludes as follows:

"So I maintain that, for all its pitfalls, the literary enterprise of writing ´history of the present´ has always been worth attempting. It is even more so now, because of the way history is made and recorded in our time. And it has suffered from developments in the professions of journalism and academic history. Yet you can soon have enough of such methodological self-examination. Altogether, the habit of compulsive labelling, pigeon-holing and compartmentalizing seems to me a disease of modern intellectual life. Let the work speak for itself. In the end, only one thing matters: is the result true, important, interesting or moving? If it is, never mind the label. If it isn´t, then it´s not worth reading anyway."

(Garton Ash, T. 1999. History of the Present: Essays, sketches and despatches from Europe in the 1990s)

Links FYI publisher/purchasing info:

Garton Ash


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Friday, June 06, 2008

Media convergence sees PCC surveying Britons on SNS concerns

The Press Complaints Commission has surveyed Britons on their concerns re social networking sites. I am surprised by this seeming extension of the PCC´s remit.

From the article:

"Nine out of 10 people think there should be tighter regulation of information on social networking websites, according to new research.
A survey found that most Britons believe sites such as Facebook and MySpace should be covered by rules that would help ordinary people complain about intrusive material posted online"

There is a suggestion of Internet self-regulation lite, though I´m not sure what that means entirely... Since the PCC is involved in this study, the conceptual link with abuse of information by the media is there, but is this kind of abuse really of the sort we should most be concerned about?

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

SNSs might be regulated in the EU

Here below follows a brief report from EDRI on ENISA´s call for legislation addressing social networking sites. I´ve checked my mail, and ENISA, funnily enough, has not yet announced the below proposal to registrants. Let it be said that ENISA has thus far concerned itself with online _security_, not to be confused with online _safety_. As such, their discourse to date has tended to focus on and at the level of the hardware or code, i.e. systems, rather than direct people-safety.

But considering social networking, isn´t it that you are only as vulnerable as the weakest link in your friendship chain? If you don´t "friend" just anyone, and cordon off your profile to a limited set, you might smugly sit back and think that you´re safe from your details being snatched. But what if one or a couple of your friends are, let´s call them "digitally promiscuous" -- they friend anyone and everyone -- where does that leave the user intent on being more prudent in their social networking habits? Just a thought. Nothing original about it.

I have yet to read the ENISA report btw.

EDRI-gram - Number 6.11, 4 June 2008
Social networking sites might be regulated in EU
4 June, 2008» Privacy Security
On 27 May 2008, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) called for new legislation that would regulate social networking sites. ENISA, which was created in 2004 to oversee online security measures in the 27 EU countries, issued a preliminary report of its General Report in which it pointed out that social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace need more regulation to protect their users against security risks. "Social networking sites are very useful social tools but we must make recommendations for how to better protect people from the risks these sites create," said Andreas Pirotti, executive director of ENISA and author of the report. He suggested the EU legislation should be expanded in order to "cover the taking of photos of people and posting them on the internet".

In Pirotti's opinion, network security is under a permanent threat from spammers or criminals. "Internet security is extremely important, considering how much business takes place online now. We don't want infrastructures to be disrupted, we don't want a digital 9/11 to happen," he said. He also considers crucial to "raise awareness about how social networking sites work. Few people realize that they can be offered up as friends to people they don't know. Also, many people don't realize that it's almost impossible to erase material once it has appeared on the internet".

Some of the threats related to social networking identified by ENISA are related to face recognition, digital dossiers, reputation damage, social engineering attacks on enterprises, phishing attacks, ID theft and others. The report of the organisation includes 19 recommendations to social networks on ways to improve their security practices.

Among other things, ENISA calls for a regulatory review of social networking frameworks, an increased transparency of data handling practices, more education for users on security, and the discouragement or even banning of social networking in schools.

A study conducted by enterprise IT management company CA and the National Cyber Security Alliance in 2006 found out that the majority of users of social networking sites were not very aware of the security issues involved. 83 percent of them admitted having downloaded unknown files from unknown users and 74 percent said that they were easily providing the personal data online. Also, a Symantec report issued in 2007 showed that social networking sites offer easy pickings for phishers. The security practices of the respective sites make it easier to invade and to spread attacks to more people.

Top EU security agency calls for policing of social network (27.05.2008)

EU may regulate social networking sites over security issues (27.08.2008)

ENISA General Report 2007 - adopted, non designed version

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Say no to the Repatriation Directive - Sign the appeal

Véase también

Appeal to the Members of the European Parliament

On the 18th of June 2008, a proposal for a directive concerning the detention and deportation of immigrants will be submitted to the European Parliament.

Since 1990, the policies of European governments with respect to immigration and asylum have resulted in a continuous reduction of the guarantees and fundamental protections of the people they affect. Europe is becoming a locked-down fortress and uses disproportionate means to prevent access to its territory and to deport unauthorised migrants.

The project before the European Parliament, if it were to be adopted, would represent yet another regression.
In foreseeing detention that could be extended up to 18 months for people whose only offence is to want to live in Europe, it holds to an inhuman logic : generalizing a policy of confinement for aliens could become the normal way of treating migrant populations.
In establishing a five-year ban from Europe for all people who are expelled, this project stigmatises the illegal immigrants and transforms them into delinquents who must be deported.

The proposed directive which will be presented to the Parliament is the first in this domain to be submitted to a procedure of co-decision with the Council of Ministers. The Parliament therefore has the possibility to once and for all put an end to this policy which goes against the human values at the heart of the European project and which give it its meaning.

Today, the Members of the European Parliament have an historical responsibility : act as to not let Europe fall back to the dark era of segregation between nationals and undesirables through the systematisation of detention camps and forced repatriation.

We call on the Members of the European Parliament to assume their responsibility and reject this project.

More information / Plus d'information
Why we are against this directive : English - French - Spanish - Italian

10 réponses à 10 idées fausses sur ce projet de directive : French

Text amended by the COREPER - April 2008 : English - French

Report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs : English - French - Spanish - Italian

Initial proposal of the European Commission (text amended by the report above) : English - French - Spanish - Italian

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Freedom of Information: a Comparative Legal Survey (2nd ed. revised & updated)

Full text available from:

From the UNESCO site:

The importance of the right to information or the right to know is an increasingly constant refrain in the mouths of development practitioners, civil society, academics, the media and governments. What is this right, is it really a right and how have governments sought to give effect to it? These are some of the questions this book seeks to address, providing an accessible account of the law and practice regarding freedom of information, and an analysis of what is working and why.

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Anoche cuando dormía (Machado)

Anoche cuando dormía

Anoche cuando dormía
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que una fontana fluía
dentro de mi corazón.
Di, ¿por qué acequia escondida,
agua, vienes hasta mí,
manantial de nueva vida
de donde nunca bebí?
Anoche cuando dormía
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que una colmena tenía
dentro de mi corazón;
y las doradas abejas
iban fabricando en él,
con las amarguras viejas
blanca cera y dulce miel.
Anoche cuando dormía
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que un ardiente sol lucía
dentro de mi corazón.
Era ardiente porque daba
calores de rojo hogar,
y era sol porque alumbraba
y porque hacía llorar.
Anoche cuando dormía
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que era Dios lo que tenía
dentro de mi corazón.

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