Cambodia’s June 28 national elections ushered in the dawn of a new age of electoral politics in the small, southeast Asian country. A hotly contested election saw unprecedented political engagement coming from the country’s youth – those under 25 years old. And in an indirect way, Mark Zuckerberg and friends are responsible.(...more)
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
A first-of-its-kind review by the Government Accountability Office will examine whether security agencies are keeping too many secrets and how officials decide what information to deem classified and what to release to the public.
Lawmakers and security experts have long complained that the government makes too much information classified and routinely keeps information from public view that poses no risk to national security. But one member of Congress is also concerned that by making so much information secret, the government is increasing the number of people who have security clearances–more than 5 million government employees and contractors today–who could one day decide to reveal classified information without authorization. In effect, the study is asking whether by keeping so many secrets, the government is making leaks more likely.(...more)
Saturday, 27 July 2013
The scenes in Phnom Penh last week were astonishing. Hundreds of thousands of people, including many young people, welcomed opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who had just returned to Cambodia after four years effectively in exile. Not to be outdone, the very next day, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) staged a huge youth rally and concert in Phnom Penh for more than 10,000 supporters. Amid the election fever that has gripped Cambodia ahead of the national polls on Sunday, one thing is clear – people seem less afraid than ever to voice their opinion.(...more)
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Much has been written either empathetically or as a challenge of Myanmar’s “Rohingya problem.” Between June and November 2012, the Rohingya bore the brunt of communal violence, human rights violations, and an urgent humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, and still face an uncertain future.
A great deal of rhetoric has attended these accounts—by officials and citizens of Myanmar, Rohingya organizations, journalists, human rights groups, and others—essentially attaching labels to the situation. And while there have been a number of thoughtful attempts to define or even explain the Rohingya problem in historical or political terms, they have been largely drowned out by emotive outbursts and media-friendly sound bites.
This is not only unfortunate, it is also consequential, for as was seen in 2012, rhetoric can influence both the way in which a crisis plays out as well as in how it is responded to. In other words, how we talk about what it is we are talking about matters… full article (pdf)
Monday, 1 July 2013
After weeks of anticipation, I finally had a chance to watch the premiere of Crossing Lines, the new NBC drama about a police unit that works for the International Criminal Court. As a police procedural, the show is not bad. William Fichtner is fantastic as always. Production values are extremely high. Bringing together detectives and investigators from a number of European states is a nice idea. And all the actors have nice accents.
But as a show about the ICC, Crossing Lines is an unmitigated disaster.
The problem, of course, is with the basic premise…
I was very curious to see how, if at all, the writers would get around the inconvenient fact that the ICC team will investigate crimes over which the Court has no jurisdiction. At first they just avoided the issue: after the newly-recruited Fichtner character points out that the ICC usually investigates war crimes and genocide, the leader of the team simply replies, “for now we’re going to try something…” He then changes the subject and explains that the team is comprised of the best and brightest detectives from various Western European states. (Africa’s worst nightmare!)
But then things get ridiculous.(...more)
Sunday, 30 June 2013
Turkey’s “standing man” protester, created by performance artist Erdem Gunduz, is a brilliant addition to the iconography of non-violence. It’s not a long list. The image catalogue of aggressive resistance is much longer. It includes the knight errant on his horse, with a lance; the lone rider in the old west; the private eye pacing the mean streets, taking down crime and corruption; the guerrilla fighter in the hills. They all pack weapons. Gunduz had only a backpack and when the cops checked inside, whatever they found was harmless.(...more)
Sunday, 16 June 2013
Ever since news came out about Edward Snowden’s leak of secret National Security Agency surveillance programs, there have been both denunciations of Snowden and widespread expressions of support. Both the Obama administration and the technology companies entangled in the programs are under heightened scrutiny. But what does the leak mean for organizing? To find out, I asked a few questions of a pair of organizers developing plans to further a pro-democracy, pro-transparency agenda in the wake of these revelations.
Josh Levy is Internet campaign director at Free Press, where he advocates on behalf of consumer protection and open access. David Segal is executive director of Demand Progress, an advocacy organization he founded with the late Aaron Swartz.(...more)
Sunday, 9 June 2013
While most of Turkey’s journalists were carefully avoiding mention of the tens of thousands of protesters who poured into the streets this week, in a show of deference to the government that enraged supporters of the demonstrations, the host of one Turkish game show found a way to raise the issue not once but 70 times during a broadcast on Monday night.(...more)
Thursday, 30 May 2013
Should Paramilitary Murals in Belfast Be Repainted? … city’s struggle over how to commemorate its violent past
BELFAST, Northern Ireland — During the height of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, Devenny was shot while trying to rob a bank for the IRA. He was hit three times in the arm by an automatic rifle, and the doctors cut a single long incision to remove the bullets. He was then sentenced to eight years in prison for the attempted robbery. Since that chapter of his life, Devenny has worked as a designer for Republican publications and as a poster artist for Sinn Fein. Now, 40 years later, he is one of Northern Ireland’s most prolific muralists.
He has also been one of the most vocal critics of the Re-Imaging Communities project, a program by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland that supports communities across the region that want to tackle sectarianism in their neighborhood.(...more)
Monday, 27 May 2013
ROXBURY, Mass. — The community of Roxbury had high hopes for its newest public school back in 2003. There were art studios, a dance room, even a theater equipped with cushy seating.
A pilot school for grades K-8, Orchard Gardens was built on grand expectations.
But the dream of a school founded in the arts, a school that would give back to the community as it bettered its children, never materialized.
Instead, the dance studio was used for storage and the orchestra’s instruments were locked up and barely touched.
The school was plagued by violence and disorder from the start, and by 2010 it was rank in the bottom five of all public schools in the state of Massachusetts.
That was when Andrew Bott — the sixth principal in seven years — showed up, and everything started to change.
“We got rid of the security guards,” said Bott, who reinvested all the money used for security infrastructure into the arts.(...more)
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
This amazing portrait of Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, painted by William Blake in 1795, captures perhaps the most dramatic women’s story in the entire Hebrew Bible. It is a story that is associated with the holiday of Shavuot because of the mention of the importance of the harvest for the story and for this ancient holiday. This is a book I urge everyone to read, and read about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ruth
This is a tale the tragedy of drought, loss, death and homelessness, in other words the most common tale of forced emigration. But the story is unique in its description of undying devotion and selflessness and the unforgettable bond between two women suffering, and the heroic determination of Ruth to rebuild their lives.
What strikes me as important about their behavior and their relationship is how completely bereft it is of anger and violence toward others.(...more)
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Amid the Western media’s obsessive search for a Palestinian Gandhi, many stories of peaceful, non-violent resistance are often overlooked. One such story is that of Budrus, a small West Bank village — dotted with ancient olive trees and cacti — lying very close to the Green Line (the internationally-recognized border separating Israel from the West Bank). In 2003, Budrus’ residents found out that Israel’s separation wall would swallow chunks of their land. It was then that the villagers decided to employ non-violent tactics to protect their trees and land.(...more)
Monday, 6 May 2013
Arn Chorn-Pond was a child in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. Born into a family of artists and musicians, he was sent to a children’s labour camp where he escaped death by playing his flute for the camp guards…
As a Cambodian-American, he considers the festival his personal answer to the US bombing of Cambodia. “The US bombed Cambodia,” he says. “I am carpeting New York with artists.”(...more)
Thursday, 2 May 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Arnetta Streeter Gary vividly remembers turning a corner in downtown Birmingham 50 years ago and being met by the force of water coming at her at an estimated 50 to 100 pounds per square inch.
“We had been taught that if they put the water hose on you, to sit down and cover your face so that the pressure of the water would not hurt your eyes,” said Gary, an Ullman High School student at the time. “If we balled up into balls, then the water would not hurt as much. But that was not so. I can remember us balling up, hugging together, and the water just washing us down the street.”
Gary was one of thousands of students from Birmingham’s elementary, middle, and high schools and nearby Miles College who participated in the May 1963 demonstrations. Called Demonstration Day, or D-Day, and later dubbed the Children’s Crusade, these marches led to concessions from the city’s white power structure.
On Thursday, thousands of area high school and college students will assemble at Birmingham’s historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church–where students gathered 50 years ago–to re-enact those pivotal civil rights-era demonstrations.
Birmingham Councilman Jay Roberson said the way child marchers responded nonviolently to conflicts in 1963 is a lesson for young people today.(...more)
Thursday, 4 April 2013
On The 45th Anniversary Of His Death, 11 Powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes | compiled by George Stromboulopoulos
On April 4, 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot while delivering a speech from the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
It’s been 45 years since that night. To pay tribute to King and his legacy, here are some photographs from his remarkable life, along with some of the powerful things he said over the years.(...more)
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
The value of video games far surpasses fun for geeky guys in the basement, but the stereotype remains despite the cultural upheaval games have created, says a writing professor at the University of Victoria.
In fact, video games play an increasingly positive role in society, says David Leach, organizer of today’s Games Without Frontiers session at UVic’s Ideafest.(...more)
Monday, 1 April 2013
In the months leading up to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the radio station Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines blanketed the country with anti-Tutsi propaganda, inciting its Hutu listeners to “exterminate the cockroaches.” During the genocide, the station took on an even more active role, reading out lists of people to be killed and their locations.
The role played by the station only became widely understood outside of Rwanda after the violence was over. Three of its former executives were eventually indicted by a U.N. tribunal for their part in the genocide, but what if the world had been monitoring Milles Collines before the killing started?(...more)
Friday, 1 March 2013
As a film, 5 Broken Cameras works on both an artistic and a political level. It’s a deeply personal film to Burnat in many ways, while also being a chronicle of the struggle of his village, Bilin, against Israel’s apartheid wall and policies of dispossession.(...more)
Friday, 22 February 2013
IN 2005 Emad Burnat was given a video camera to record the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel. It was while he dutifully chronicled the formative years of his son that Mr Burnat unexpectedly became the film-maker behind “Five Broken Cameras”, a sombre documentary about the struggle of his native West Bank village of Bil’in against Israel’s construction of the separation wall.
The film’s premiere in the Palestinian territories took place recently at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, a multimillion-dollar centre unmatched in its size and facilities in the territories. The audience featured mainly young Palestinians and foreign expatriates, a common mix in a city that has become the West Bank’s administrative capital.(...more)
Monday, 18 February 2013
To cool off a hot argument, sometimes it needs to be turned upside down. That may well happen in the national dispute over media violence if enough Americans heed a new study that reverses the terms of that debate.
The study, by researchers in Seattle and published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that young children who are encouraged to watch TV programs that depict kindness, respect, and cooperation are more likely to express those traits than kids who watch everyday TV fare that includes fictional violence.
Two other surprising results of the study are worth noting: Low-income boys, who tend to watch the most television, benefited the most in displaying empathy after watching nonviolent shows. And many of the parents who were guided on what kind of pro-social content to watch and how to avoid violent shows asked that such advice continue even after the study.(...more)