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27 Jan 2012 18:10


Tech: Twitter responds to controversy over new country-based censorship

  • cause On Thursday, while evoking a post the company wrote during the Arab Spring, Twitter discussed a new policy for allowing countries to censor tweets, arguing it would allow the company to go more places.
  • reaction While many reacted to the news negatively, Twitter was not without its defenders, most notably UNC professor Zeynep Tufekci, an expert on the intersection of social media and global politics.
  • response A day later, Twitter updated the post with a FAQ, saying the overall goal is transparency: “We have users all over the world and wanted to find a way to deal with requests in the least restrictive way.” source

06 Nov 2011 21:21


World: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, stuck with huge tax bill, gets huge donations

  • $2.4M the size of the fine China gave to firebrand artist Ai Weiwei — to be paid in just 15 days
  • 20k number of people who have offered Weiwei donations to help pay this insane tax bill
  • $550k amount of money these people have given the artist in just five days; impressive source
  • » This on top of a long arrest earlier this year: Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in jail on tax evasion charges, but claims all authorities wanted to talk about was his pro-democracy record. The fine Ai has been forced to pay is more than three times the size of his tax bill — and he needs help paying. The surprising part is that he actually got said help. “It’s surprising; it has really changed my perspective on people,” he said, noting that people traveled long distances to give him financial help — in person. Ai prefers to think of the payments as loans, and turned down a $157,000 payment from a businessman, saying he preferred smaller loans.

07 Aug 2011 10:41


Culture: School district bans Kurt Vonnegut book at request of home-schooling dad

  • cause In the small Missouri town of Republic, some douchenozzle named Wesley Scroggins led a campaign to stop the distribution of a handful of books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” in the local school district. He was actually successful, by the way. The kicker? While the dude has kids, he home schools them.
  • reaction While Sarah Ockler, the author of fellow banned book “Twenty Boy Summer,” wrote a harshly-worded response, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library plans to offer up over 150 copies of the book to students for free. And yes, they’re taking donations. Take that, Scroggins, and take that, school district that bowed to him. source

07 May 2011 15:07


World: Traditionally-harsh Singapore expands freedom of speech online

  • Social media have lowered the barriers of entry into political discourse everywhere. But that’s particularly significant in Singapore because here the barriers to entry into political discourse and the accompanying risks have been so high.
  • Nanyang Technological University professor Mark Cenite • Discussing the recent changes that Singapore has made to its internet policy, allowing for a larger amount of freedom of speech online. The country, well-known for basically banning any sort of political dissent and creating incredibly harsh punishments for those who break the rules, could prove a breaking point for smaller parties that don’t have the money or influence that the leading People’s Action Party does. It’s already proven itself in the form of large crowds at some opposition rallies. But the real question: Will it translate to actual votes? source

08 Feb 2011 10:44


World: Recently-freed Egyptian protester Wael Ghonim inspires many

  • I want to tell every mother and every father of the people who died, I am so sorry, I swear to God it’s not our mistake. It’s the mistake of the people who are in charge of the country and don’t want to leave their positions.
  • Egyptian protest figurehead Wael Ghonim • Talking on Egyptian television about the people who were injured and killed while he was held in captivity for days. Ghonim’s statements, which were very teary-eyed and heart-wrenching, have proven inspiring to protesters today, who are reportedly showing renewed vigor on the streets this morning. “I’ve been following since it started, but after last night I realized I couldn’t stay away any more,” says Ahmed Osman, who was inspired to join the protests in Cairo based on Ghonim’s statements. “Our demands are simple, and they haven’t been met.” source

06 Feb 2011 23:27


World: Egypt: Google’s Wael Ghonim likely to see release tomorrow

  • They told us they’ll probably bring him to us, and that he will likely be escorted by security.
  • Egyptian Hazem Ghonim • Discussing the fate of his brother, Wael Ghonim, who will reportedly be released from Egyptian custody tomorrow. Wael, a Google executive, quickly became a lightning rod for the pro-democracy movement after his unexplained disappearance over a week ago. Turns out that Egypt targeted and arrested him. They had good reason – he was one of the catalysts for the Egyptian protests. “I said one year ago that the Internet will change the political scene in Egypt and some Friends made fun of me :),” he wrote on Facebook not long before his disappearance. Wael was one of the administrators for a key fan page used to organize the movement. But he’s one of many who have been arrested so far – the count is around 1,275, although most have been released. Hopefully, Wael will join them tomorrow – and be able to tell his story. source

05 Feb 2011 21:47


World: Is this Google’s Wael Ghonim getting arrested in Egypt?

  • As you might remember, we expressed serious concern for Wael Ghonim, the head of Google’s Middle East marketing, in a post last week. He hasn’t been heard from since the end of January. This video, however, might provide a clue. It shows someone getting arrested by the Egyptian police who looks A LOT like Ghonim. Hopes and prayers, people. In other news, he’s been named the spokesperson of the April 6 opposition movement in absentia, in an attempt to get Egyptian authorities to release him to them. source

30 Jan 2011 11:35


World: Google’s Middle East head, Wael Ghonim, missing in Egypt

  • This is one of the last tweets Wael Ghonim sent. He hasn’t been heard from since last week, and many are worried about the head of Google Middle East – and it’s gotten to the point where al-Jazeeera is asking aloud where he is. Has anyone heard from him?  source

31 Dec 2010 12:07


Tech: Will China force Skype off the mainland? It’s a strong possibility

  • China wants to stamp out “unauthorized” VOIP services. The country’s Ministry of Information and Industry Technology said as much in a statement a couple of weeks ago – pointing out that the only services that could run VOIP services were China’s big telecom companies. Skype, still inexplicably partly owned by eBay for some reason, has been gaining major popularity in China lately. Which suggests that, while not explicitly stating it, that the Ministry’s statement was targeted at Skype, with the possibility of lawsuits. Skype, by the way, is on track to make $1 billion from an IPO next year, or more money than God. source

16 Sep 2010 11:02


Politics: Should fired Koran-burner have lost his New Jersey state transit job?

Turns out that this dude, who burned pages of the Koran at Ground Zero for some reason, was a New Jersey state employee. And he was fired for his free-speech act. source