The Matches Are Lit, The World Is Burning

The Matches Are Lit, The World Is Burning


What is it that we westerners do not get about what the rest of the world is experiencing around us? Do we really think that our children will live in a world that is safer than the world we grew up in? If you would, please lend me your ear for a few moments. Hopefully the things you read will help to broaden your understanding as to why I chose the title that I have for this conversation with you.


Do you remember the so-called “Arab Spring” of a few years ago? O what a beautiful thing this could have been for this region of the world plus the vibrations it could have caused around the world, this shaking off of dictators. But the people of the region have learned it seems that a military strong man is the only way to keep other religion based dictators from taking their place. Back during the first Gulf War than American President George H.W. Bush knew the importance of keeping the dictator in Iraq in power. It seems that his son George W when he took power of the Office had not learned at his dads feet, or, was it ego that made him make up a story so he could attack Iraq and remove Saddam? There are many American people who I have come across who believe that “we the people” are paying fat pensions to at least three international war criminals (President, V.P., Secretary of Defense). Criminal or not because of their actions the whole world is crawling with the Asps they helped unleash on all of humanity.


In this real world that hopefully the politicians will soon join us in, it does not matter if you are a republican, democrat, independent (like me), or none of the above. Hopefully soon partisan party politics can be shelved and they and the national media outlets can become more concerned about current imminent physical threats to our people. This threat is to all of our non-strict Muslim cultures, to their property, their religions, and their very lives. There are tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of fellow brothers and sisters who because of being misguided who simply want you to get off of the face of the earth, “their earth”. A life where only loyal followers of Allah will be allowed to live a non-slave life, if you are allowed to live at all, doesn’t that sound exciting? America our location on the globe no longer gives us an immunity from other continents griefs. When it comes to ideologies land or water give us very little protection any longer.


By mans laws here in the States any person can choose to be of any faith they wish, or of no faith system at all. Mans laws write in a few laws governing people’s physical safety though that should be a no brainer, besides what actual religion would condone attacking or killing other people? Then these laws of civil society for all must be enforced if a humane society itself is going to be able to exist, or it will be erased.


Within the religion of Islam are two main sects, the Sunni, and the Shiite. These two sects have existed on this planet for almost 1,400 years now, and it seems that they have hated each other right from their earliest roots 1,400 years ago. For the few year’s a large Sunni militia called ISIS by western media has murdered and plundered their way into power covering hundreds of miles of land belonging to two adjoining Shiite nations, Syria and Iraq. ISIS is like several other high-profile Sunni groups like Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda in that they want to bring strict Islamic law to the middle-east, then the world. Their difference by what we hear in the West is that ISIS is the most violent and most strict toward adherence to Islamic fundamentalist theology, Sunni theology.


By what I have heard and read from the media throughout the years is that within Islam the Sunni are about 80% and the Shiite the other 20% of the Islamic faith. So when you take into account the hatred between these two groups is it any wonder why the Mullahs in Iran want the ability to nuke other nations?They can say it is a defensive weapon though knowing very well that it is a preemptive strike weapon also. Then it comes down to a trust factor, or a stupidity factor, how much you are willing to trust their “Supreme Ruler”  and others just like him with the lives of everyone on earth?


For those of you who don’t already know it the word Islam by definition means submission, as in absolute submission to the will of Allah. I have another question for everyone, what kind of religion is it that tells its followers to kill everyone who will not obey? Why would anyone ever listen to a “prophet” who orders either worldwide conversion, or worldwide extermination? Here in the States we have as a nation been blessed, lucky, and just plain good at shutting down larger terror cells who wished to kill us and our families. But folks there are supposed to be at least 18 million Islamic believers inside our borders with us. If only 1% of this population is a true believer of Islamic teachings that equals 180,000 soldiers implanted waiting on their orders to kill as many infidels (non-believers) as they possibly can. America, when they strike, not if, what are you going to do? Are you going to fall apart and burn into ashes? Only time will tell, or, a person could simply read the play book on-line if you are not allowed a paper copy, it’s called the Bible! For those who don’t understand it, the end times are spelled out very well in its last book, the book of Revelation. The human race has a simple choice of living and possibly dying for the winner or, living for a short time but in slavery to the biggest loser in the history of all eternity.


The matches are lit, for now several large Islamic hate groups are fighting each other all over the Middle-East in an attempt to kill each other. If all of those efforts to kill each other were being directed at western targets as they soon will be, what then? If the two main Islamic factions were to quit fighting among themselves they would then join forces in their hatred for everything and everyone that is not Islamic. Every nation, every people on earth, you, your culture, your religion, your country, you are currently being measured for bagging. America (and every other nation on earth), folks, life is about to change more rapidly toward the negative than any sane person could ever want. The question is simple, are we going to fold as a culture, and as a Nation, when more horrible things start happening on our soil? By these horrible things I do mean markets and grocery stores being blown up, bridges blowing up, churches being shot up and our school children being massacred live on CNN? This is the reality that the whole world is facing, we as a people must all decide how we are going to react to this reality when it comes busting into our own homes, because folks, it is coming, soon!



‘National Geographic’ Reckons With Its Past: ‘Our Coverage Was Racist’


((Commentary from: Oldpoet56) During my lifetime I probably read articles within National Geographic Magazines about a dozen times. Because I only read spot articles here and there I never realized that they had been this racist. Their history on race is disgusting, and this does disappoint me greatly. I do commend them though on finally recognizing this glaring fault and for having the guts to ‘call themselves out’ on this issue. Hopefully in their future they will eliminate this fault. I know that any of their magazines that I come across in the future I will be looking to see if their racism has stopped.)  

‘National Geographic’ Reckons With Its Past: ‘For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist’

In a full-issue article on Australia that ran in National Geographic in 1916, aboriginal Australians were called “savages” who “rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.” The magazine examines its history of racist coverage in its April issue.

C.P. Scott (L) and H.E. Gregory (R)/National Geographic

If National Geographic‘s April issue was going to be entirely devoted to the subject of race, the magazine decided it had better take a good hard look at its own history.

Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg asked John Edwin Mason, a professor of African history and the history of photography at the University of Virginia, to dive into the magazine’s nearly 130-year archive and report back.

What Mason found was a long tradition of racism in the magazine’s coverage: in its text, its choice of subjects, and in its famed photography.

Enlarge this image

The April issue of National Geographic is all about race.

National Geographic

“[U]ntil the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers,” writes Goldberg in the issue’s editor letter, where she discusses Mason’s findings. “Meanwhile it pictured ‘natives’ elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.”

Unlike magazines such as Life, National Geographic did little to push its readers beyond the stereotypes ingrained in white American culture,” Goldberg says, noting that she is the first woman and first Jewish person to helm the magazine – “two groups that also once faced discrimination here.”

To assess the magazine’s coverage historically, Mason delved into old issues and read a couple of key critical studies. He also pored over photographers’ contact sheets, giving him a view of not just the photos that made it into print, but also the decisions that photographers and editors made.

He saw a number of problematic themes emerge.

“The photography, like the articles, didn’t simply emphasize difference, but made difference … very exotic, very strange, and put difference into a hierarchy,” Mason tells NPR. “And that hierarchy was very clear: that the West, and especially the English-speaking world, was at the top of the hierarchy. And black and brown people were somewhere underneath.”

For much of its history, the pages of National Geographic depicted the Western world as dynamic, forward-moving and very rational. Meanwhile, Mason says, “the black and brown world was primitive and backwards and generally unchanging.”

One trope that he noticed time and again were photographs showing native people apparently fascinated by Westerners’ technology.

“It’s not simply that cameras and jeeps and airplanes are present,” he says. “It’s the people of color looking at this technology in amusement or bewilderment.” The implication was that Western readers would find humor in such fascination with their everyday goods.

Then there’s how the magazine chose its subject matter. Mason explains that National Geographic had an explicit editorial policy of “nothing unpleasant,” so readers rarely saw war, famine or civic conflict.

He points to an article on South Africa from the early 1960s that barely mentions the Sharpeville Massacre, in which 69 black South Africans were killed by police.

South African gold miners were “entranced by thundering drums” during “vigorous tribal dances,” a 1962 issue reported.

Kip Ross/National Geographic Creative

“There are no voices of black South Africans,” Mason told Goldberg. “That absence is as important as what is in there. The only black people are doing exotic dances … servants or workers. It’s bizarre, actually, to consider what the editors, writers, and photographers had to consciously not see.”

Then there’s the way women of color were often depicted in the magazine: topless.

“Teenage boys could always rely, in the ’50s and ’60s, on National Geographic to show them bare-breasted women as long as the women had brown or black skin,” Mason says. “I think the editors understood this was frankly a selling point to its male readers. Some of the bare-breasted young women are shot in a way that almost resembles glamour shots.”

Mason says the magazine has been dealing with its history implicitly for the last two or three decades, but what made this project different is that Goldberg wanted to make reckoning explicit — “That National Geographic should not do an issue on race without understanding its own complicity in shaping understandings of race and racial hierarchy.”

Although slave labor was used to build homes featured in a 1956 article, the writer contended that they “stand for a chapter of this country’s history every American is proud to remember.”

Robert F. Sisson and Donald McBain/National Geographic

For those of us who have spent long afternoons thumbing old issues of the magazine and dreaming of far-off lands, Mason wants to make clear that looking at foreign people and places isn’t a bad thing.

“We’re all curious and we all want to see. I’m not criticizing the idea of being curious about the world. It’s just the other messages that are sent—that it’s not just difference, but inferiority and superiority.”

So where does the storied publication go from here?

One good step would be to invite the diverse contributors to the April issue to become part of the magazine’s regular pool of writers and photographers, Mason suggests.

“Still it’s too often a Westerner who is telling us about Africa or Asia or Latin America,” he says. “There are astonishing photographers from all over the world who have unique visions – not just of their own country, but who could bring a unique vision to photographing Cincinnati, Ohio, if it came to that.”

He notes that the magazine’s images have so often captivated, even when they were stereotypical or skewed. Mason says a number of African photographers have told him that it was magazines like National Geographic and Life that turned them onto photography in the first place.

“They knew that there were problems with the way that they and their people were being represented,” he says. “And yet the photography was often spectacularly good, it was really inviting, and it carried this power. And as young people, these men and women said, I want to do that. I want to make pictures like that.”

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Making Deals with Donald Trump and Jared Kushner Taught Me About Deception



Senior Advisor Jared Kushner waits for a meeting with Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, U.S. President Donald Trump and others in the Cabinet Room of the White House Sept. 12, 2017 in Washington, D/C. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Senior Advisor Jared Kushner waits for a meeting with Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, U.S. President Donald Trump and others in the Cabinet Room of the White House Sept. 12, 2017 in Washington, D/C. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images


9:25 AM EDT
Carter, a former publishing director of the New York Observer, is a writer based in Brooklyn.

About 13 years ago, I walked into Donald Trump’s office hoping to sell him advertising in The New York Observer. At that time, I was publishing director of the newspaper, which was still owned by my father, Arthur Carter, but I could see a potential sale of the struggling paper looming and sought to fend it off. In those days, I sold ads because I had the noble idea that I could save the newspaper. That didn’t happen. But over time, I did grasp something about the nature of selling and witnessed a range of ways in which it’s achieved.

That day, Trump — who was speaking on the phone, to one of his children, I believe — smiled, greeted me wordlessly and pointed to a chair. He had no intention of pausing his activities because I had arrived for a meeting. He continued on in a seemingly friendly, inclusive manner, but ignored the stated purpose of my visit. He picked up the phone intermittently, while employees wandered in and out of the office. A consummate performer, he appeared to be conscious of his audience. I tried to corral his attention and began my sales pitch several times, but I don’t think I spoke two uninterrupted sentences. He chatted with me off and on, talking fondly of his kids, then asked my advice on interior design for one of his properties. It was a question about gilded molding, I believe.

“You like this one?”


And then, my allotted time was up.

Play Video


On my way out, Trump beamed at me. “You’re so thin!” he cried out. I didn’t have a good response to his oddly inappropriate comment, which he probably intended as flattery. I smiled awkwardly and waved goodbye. Unfortunately, he didn’t buy ads from me that day or any other day. I doubt he ever intended to. He probably met with me hoping to ingratiate himself and get some positive coverage from the Observer.

A year or two later, in 2006, I was seated with my father in his living room and 25-year-old Kushner walked in. This time, we were selling the whole newspaper. I don’t mean to inflate my role — I was merely on the selling team, just a passive spectator. Nevertheless, I had a personal stake in the outcome, having gone to work for my father with the idea that I’d take over when he retired. I experienced the sale of the paper as a crushing blow. I’d moved to New York to work there and invested five years of my life. But if it was inevitable, then at least I could hope for a like-minded owner, ideally someone who’d welcome my presence and assistance.

Kushner positioned himself as a naïve protégé who looked up to my father as a mentor. His family’s name had recently been sullied by his own father’s misdeeds and subsequent time in prison. He had yet to meet Ivanka Trump. In retrospect, it seems clear to me that his desire to acquire the newspaper had to do with rehabilitating his family’s image. The Huffington Post reported that a family friend of the Kushners said the move was one of three suggestions public relations guru Howard Rubenstein gave Jared. (Kushner Companies and Rubenstein denied the account.)

Outwardly modest and guileless, eyes and chin down, he talked in his soft-spoken voice of his respect and admiration for this venerable institution. He said if he were to own the newspaper, he would be eager for my father’s continued participation as well as mine — in fact, he seemed enthusiastic about my staying on at the Observer. Lastly, he implied he had enough money to keep the paper running forever.

Kushner was effective in selling himself to my father and me, but I would grow to realize that his interest in the Observer had nothing to with a love of journalism, or even a passing interest in journalism. Once he owned the paper, colleagues told me he said he found it excruciating to read — and acknowledged as much in a 2009 New York magazine interview. Once he owned the paper, we barely spoke. Kushner didn’t fire me, nor did he formally demote me. But I left after six months, when he’d made it clear to me, with his lack of words or a blink in my direction, that he did not intend to work with me.

Almost everyone has to sell, no matter your occupation. It’s one of the hardest and most underestimated jobs. Though I didn’t excel at it, I recognize what it requires: sharp intuition — the ability to discover who people are. Salespeople are social creatures who enjoy learning. They figure out people in order to provide them with what they want or need. At least the principled ones do.

But there are other sorts of salespeople who take the exact opposite tactic — you might call them show people. They are the ones who go through life projecting an image ceaselessly. They believe success comes from the ability to ignore information that doesn’t suit them. They write their own narrative, and they commit wholly, relentlessly.

Every president this country has ever had was to some degree a salesman. But it is clear to anyone who has done business with President Trump that he views the presidency as an extension of sales: in his view, it is an occupation that has little to do with listening. To take in new information, he would need to stop projecting an image.

You could have seen this at the listening session held at the White House on Feb. 26, in which the President spoke with governors about school shootings. Twenty-five seconds into remarks from Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the President crosses his arms; when Inslee stopped speaking, Trump quickly refuted what the governor said and moved on to someone who agreed with him.

Kushner, too, never stops projecting an image. Though Senior Advisor to the President and Trump’s son-in-law, the public has little first-hand knowledge of his character. Witness this recent and somewhat puzzling story on BuzzFeed, which emphasizes his opportunistic streak: “Kushner Sought To Sell Newspaper to Trump’s Political Enemies” shortly after the 2016 election.

Perhaps wishful thinking led me to believe in Kushner’s initial sincerity when he bought the Observer because it served me to do so, but eventually I felt duped. Once he owned the newspaper, his deferential attitude was replaced by a posture of superiority. That air of superiority, as opposed to authority, defied common sense because he had no experience in journalism. At times, it seemed to me that he was acting a role and knew he was. At other times, it seemed more likely that Kushner had come to believe his own performance. Given his prominent role today, either is a disturbing prospect. Apparently similar to President Trump, he didn’t and doesn’t know that leadership has to do with learning and listening. For this White House, leadership is about presentation. All you need to do is say it, and then it will be true.

Carter’s work has appeared in The EconomistThe San Francisco ChronicleThe Chicago TribuneThe Philadelphia InquirerThe New York Observer and other publications.

Slovakian Reporter And His Girlfriend Shot Dead In Their Home



 Prague—A Slovak investigative reporter and his girlfriend were shot dead in their home in an attack likely linked to his reporting on tax evasion, Slovakia’s top police official said Monday.

The bodies of 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and his partner were found on Sunday evening in their house in the town of Velka Maca, east of the capital, Bratislava, national police force president Tibor Gaspar said.

Police went to the house at the request of a worried family member.

Gaspar said the slayings “likely have something to do with his investigative activities.” He declined to elaborate.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said if that if that were the case, it would be “an unprecedented attack on freedom of the press and democracy in Slovakia.”

Fico announced his government was offering 1 million euros ($1.23 million) to anyone who helped the authorities find the people responsible.

Reporters Without Borders, a watchdog group based in Paris, noted that Kuciak was the second journalist killed in the European Union in five months.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a reporter in Malta who investigated corruption, was killed in October by a bomb that destroyed her car. The crime drew attention to financial corruption on the island nation.

Three Maltese men believed to have triggered the powerful bomb that killed Caruana Galizia were ordered in December to stand trial for murder. Investigators think the men were working for someone, but no mastermind has been identified.

In Slovakia, Gaspar said the reporter was shot in the chest and his girlfriend was shot in the head. He said the killings were estimated to have taken place between Thursday and Sunday.

He added that Slovakia “has never faced such an unprecedented attack on a journalist.”

Kuciak was working for news website. He focused mainly on tax evasion.

“We are shocked and stunned by the news that Jan Kuciak and his partner were apparently victims of a cruel attack,” publisher Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia, to which belongs, said in a statement.

“We mourn with the family, the friends and the colleagues; we will do everything to support the investigating authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Kuciak latest story reported on a businessman suspected of selling flats in an apartment complex to his own companies. The reporter questioned the business reason for doing that, and speculated that it could be a method of avoiding taxes.

Last year, Kuciak alleged that the businessman, Marian Kocner, threatened him following publication of a previous story. The reporter said he filed a complaint with police and alleged they failed to act.

Gaspar said everyone who had been in touch with Kuciak will be questioned. Police plan to provide protection for an unspecified number of other reporters from, he said without elaborating.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska called Monday for a quick investigation of the crime.

“We have to find those who did it as soon as possible and ensure the safety of all journalists,” Kiska said in a statement.

Editors-in-chief of major Slovak media urged the government to take necessary steps to find the people responsible for the slayings and “to create conditions for the safe work of journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders also pressed for quick action.

“We call for an investigation in order to establish the exact circumstances of Jan Kuciak’s death and we demand that the authorities shed all possible light on this case, especially as he and those close to him had been threatened in recent months,” Pauline Ades-Mevel, head of the group’s Europe and Balkans desk, said in a statement.


Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison



‘They Fear Pens, Not Guns’: Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

Demonstrators on World Press Freedom Day in Turkey, 2013. Image by Amnesty International Turkey.

After spending just over a year behind bars without charge, Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel was released from a Turkish jail on February 16. Just hours later, six other journalists in the country were issued a life sentence for “or attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”.

With 155 journalists serving jail time because of their work, these days of highs and lows are beginning to feel routine for Turkey’s embattled independent media community.

BBC described Deniz Yucel’s imprisonment as a long-standing “irritant” in the relations between the two countries. His release came shortly after Turkish PM’s visit to Germany this week.

Deniz Yucel was arrested exactly 367 days ago on suspicion of “inciting the people to racial hatred and enmity” and “spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization”.

Soon after his release was announced, crowd gathered outside the jail, where Yucel joined his wife who was waiting for him:

But the ordeal is not yet over. Yucel was charged and indicted upon his release, with the prosecution demanding that he be sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Same court that ordered ‘s release has apparently accepted an indictment calling for up to 18 years imprisonment.

Not quite clear what is going on, but a key issue is whether he is being allowed to travel abroad.

In ordering Deniz Yücel’s release, the court also accepted his newly issued indictment. He faces 4 to 18 years in prison. 

While colleagues and friends celebrated the news of Yucel’s release, another court decision came down, this time affecting the fate of a different group of journalists.

A Turkish court has jailed for life journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilicak & Fevzi Yazici & one other defendant for seeking to “overthrow the constitutional order” in alleged coup plot 

Esas hakkındaki savunmalar tamamlandı

Haberin detayları için tıklayın

Awful news coming in from Silivri jus now. & faced a trial in which no credible evidence was presented beyond their words. This verdict does not pass the test of international human rights law. 

Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilica, Yakup Şimşek, Fevzi Yazıcı and Şükrü Tuğrul Özsengül were handed a lifetime prison sentence after being convicted of involvement with Turkey’s 2016 coup, despite a lack of direct evidence.

Five of the six defendants are journalists and intellectuals all had strong ties with opposition news outlets in the past. Ahmet Altan is the former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper and his brother, Mehmet Altan is an academic and journalist who once wrote for Hurriyet. Nazli Ilıcak has written for Hurriyet, in addition to other newspapers, and briefly served as an MP for the Virtue party.

Yakup Şimşek and Fevzi Yazıcı worked with Zaman newspaper, which was one of Turkey’s largest independent daily newspapers until 2016, when the government seized its operations, alleging that the outlet had ties to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Anadolu Agency reported that six people were convicted for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and of having communicated with associates of Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the July 2016 failed coup.

In addition to facing legal threats, all of these journalists have been subject to extralegal harassment. One year ago, President Erdogan called Yucel a terrorist in one of his televised speeches.

Bu konuşmayı tam 1 yıl önce çekmiştim. Deniz sonunda özgür. Darısı Alman vatandaşı olmayan gazeteci arkadaşlarımızın başına.

I filmed this speech one year ago. Deniz is finally free. I wish the same for the rest non-German citizen journalists friends of mine.

Video clip translation:
 They are hiding this German terrorist, this spy at the embassy. They hid him for a month. And German Chancellor asked him from me. She said to release him. I told her we have an independent judiciary. Just like your judiciary is independent so is mine. It is [the judiciary] objective. That is why I am sorry to say, you won’t take them from us. Finally, he was brought to court. He was arrested. Why? Because he is spy terrorist. Who cares he is a German citizen. It doesn’t matter whose citizen you are, if you are spreading terror in Turkey, if they are secretly spies, they will pay the price.

Supporters in Turkey and around the world tweeted their shock at the decision:

Today’s verdict & sentences of life without parole for , & mark an apex of the disintegration of the in . Judge ignored a binding Turkish Constitutional Court decision. The European Court of Human Rights must act.

As Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak are given “aggravated life sentences”, it is worth remembering what that sentence is.

It is life without parole, with up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. Forever and ever, amen.

On February 12, both Ahmet and Mehmet Altan were thrown out of the courthouse, for demanding to read the constitutional court decision which ruled for their releasein January. The two brothers demanded that the decision which was overturned within 24 hours by the ruling of the 27th High Court is put on the record.

The next day, on February 13, speaking from high-security prison via video link, Ahmet Altan in his defense said the following:

Those in political power no longer fear generals. But they do fear writers. They fear pens, not guns. Because pens can reach where guns cannot: into the conscience of a society.

When the verdict was handed to Altan brothers today, one observer said cries and screams filled the courtroom.

Meanwhile, there are at least four other German Turkish citizens behind bars in Turkey, while the total number of imprisoned journalists and writers since the coup has now surpassed 150.

South Asia Saw New Threats to Free Expression Online in 2017



From Internet Blackouts to Violent Attacks, South Asia Saw New Threats to Free Expression Online in 2017

Social media ban. Images mixed by Rezwan.

In 2017, South Asian countries faced growing challenges in the field of internet freedom, censorship, and freedom of expression. The Global Voices South Asia team highlighted many of these issues throughout the year. Here is a summary of our coverage.

Internet shutdowns

Internet shutdowns and blackouts in conflict areas rose sharply in 2017, threatening citizens’ access to communications, information and free expression online. Unique regions of India and Pakistan saw both total shutdown and partial shutdowns (e.g. of mobile data networks). The shutdowns not only curb the rights of freedom of expression laid out in these countries’ constitutions, they also have economic implications affecting business and public services.

The Global Voices Advox Netizen Report noted that internet blackouts are becoming an increasingly common tactic for local and regional authorities when faced with public consternation around politics and elections, ethnic and religious tensions, and incidents of violence.

Since January 1, 2017, there have been 65 regional-level Internet shutdowns in India. In 2016, there were 31 such shutdowns. The Software Freedom Law Centre of New Delhi has an online interactive map that shows the location and details of each Internet shutdown in India, along with a short description of public events coinciding with the shutdown.

Screenshot from the website CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

According to data provided by digital rights group, since January 2016, Pakistan had 10 digital blackouts. Mobile internet service was shut down for more than a year in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), starting in June 2016, according to a Freedom House report.

When we look at details of these shutdowns, we find various reasons. Internet and mobile services were shut down for several days in the northern Indian states of Haryana and Punjab following a court ruling in the criminal case against guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the controversial leader of the hugely popular Dera Sacha Sauda sect.

Last April, in the Indian city of Kendrapara, provincial officials blocked Internetconnectivity for 48 hours to prevent the circulation of an “objectionable” video that witnesses said was insulting to the Prophet Mohammad.


Censored: News sites, tweets and Bollywood ripoffs

Internet filtering and blocking of specific websites have been a common tool of regulators and governments in several South Asian countries. In most instances, the goal was to block access to politically sensitive content. Authorities often cited national security as the reason for blocking. The blocking and filtering of the global Internet is a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grants everyone the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

In April, authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir blocked 22 social media applications, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. According to authorities, the social media services were “being misused by anti-national and anti-social elements” in the Kashmir Valley to disturb “peace and tranquility”.

Even Bollywood gave cause for online censorship in August 2017. The Internet Archive and more than 2,600 file-sharing websites were blocked in India following two court orders issued by the Madras High Court in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu (accessible here and here). The ruling, issued on August 2, 2017, was based on the petitions of two prominent Bollywood production houses, Red Chillies Entertainment and Prakash Jha Productions, to stop file-sharing websites from distributing pirated copies of two recently released Bollywood movies, “Jab Harry Met Sejal”, and “Lipstick Under My Burkha”.

In two separate requests, dated 16 August and 24 August, Indian authorities asked Twitter to suspend more than two dozen Twitter accounts and censor more than 100 tweets.

Kashmiri woman protestor dares a policeman to stop her from moving ahead during restrictions imposed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Administered Kashmir. Photo by Ieshan Wani, used with permission.

Shortly thereafter, Twitter notified the account holders and asked them to voluntarily remove the questionable content, warning that Twitter might otherwise be obliged to take action regarding the content identified in the complaint.

Early this year Sri Lanka enacted the Right to Information Act. On November 8, 2017 independent news website LankaeNews had been blocked across all internet service providers in Sri Lanka. Three independent news sites in Sri Lanka filed requests as per the RTI Act in order to get more information about the blocking process and the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) revealed that 13 websites had been blocked from 2015 and the paper trail leads to the highest levels of the government. The websites included political news and pornographic material.

Violent threats against bloggers and media workers

Several journalists, bloggers and media workers were killed in a number of South Asian countries.

As many as nine Pakistani bloggers went missing within the first week of 2017. Four of the missing activists are known for their secular and left-leaning views. Some of the activists returned after weeks of captivity. According to media reports, the bloggers were subjected to torture and made to sign agreements stating that they would not seek legal course to file cases against their abductors.

In India, activists, journalists, and human rights defenders have faced increasing strain and legal intimidation under India’s sedition laws and Information Technology Act 2008 in recent years.

Several journalists, writers, and poets were sued for their writings. Freelance cartoonist Bala G was arrested on November 5, 2017 for defaming the Chief Minister of the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu in a cartoon shared on social media. On on June 5, 2017, India’s oldest private news channel New Delhi Television Network (NDTV) known for its hard-hitting, anti-establishment journalism had multiple offices raidedby the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Gauri Lankesh (2012), Image from Flickr by Hari Prasad Nadig. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Veteran Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot to death by assailants on September 5, 2017, outside her home in Bangalore. Lankesh, 55, was the editor of a Kannada-language tabloid called Gauri Lankesh Patrike that took a fierce stance against Hindu nationalist organizations and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hate speech in public discourse in India is growing, and Lankesh’s murder is seen as a clear warning to the voices in India who express dissent that intolerance is growing.

In the Maldives, blogger and activist Yameen Rasheed was stabbed to death in his home in the capital Malé on April 23, 2017. An outspoken critic of the government and radical religion-based politics, Rasheed had previously reported to police that he received death threats via text message and social media for his writings. Police have said that religious extremists killed Yameen Rasheed and have initiated proceedings for a closed trial on his murder. Rasheed’s family is pushing for the trial to be open to the public, out of fear that some evidence against the defendants might be destroyed.

In a statement commenting on the assassinations of Lankesh and Rasheed, the International Federation of Journalists wrote:

These killings horribly encapsulate the latest picture of threat and danger emerging from the violent discourse overtaking parts of South Asia, and more broadly around the world where authoritarian rule is eroding the very essence of democracy. With it, suffers press freedom and the public’s right to know.

In May, four independent Maldivian bloggers and activists living overseas were issued arrest warrants by the police. They were warned that authorities may seek to prosecute them in absentia if they fail to return to the Maldives within two weeks of the warrants being issued. They have not yet been prosecuted.

This year, over a span of four months in Bangladesh, more than twenty journalistswere sued under the country’s controversial ICT law. Nearly 700 cases have been filed under the law since it was amended in 2013. Almost two thirds of the cases have been filed under Section 57 of the 2013 Information and Communication Technology Actwhich prohibits digital messages that can “deteriorate” law and order, “prejudice the image of the state or person,” or “hurt religious beliefs.”


Cinema censorship

The film industries in a number of countries also faced censorship for its contents.

The Bhutanese Authorities have banned screening of feature film Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait, cannot be screened in the country for ‘misusing’ religious masks on screen.

Screenshot from YouTube

In India, the authorities banned two movies for ‘Being Too Lady-Oriented’ and ‘Glorifying Homosexuality’. Although the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression, it places certain restrictions on content, in order to protect communal and religious harmony and control obscenity.

As we look ahead to 2018, we hope to see justice for the many online voices and media workers who have been threatened because of their work, and we pledge to continue our coverage of the many legal and technical threats to free expression online.


Washington Post Says a Woman Tried to Give Them a Fake Roy Moore Story  



By Aric Jenkins

7:19 PM EST

The Washington Post said on Monday that a woman tried to give the paper a false story about embattled GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. The Post‘s subsequent reporting indicates that the woman attempted to deceive the paper as part of a undercover sting operation likely led by a conservative activist.

According to the Post, a woman by the name of Jaime Phillips reached out to one of the paper’s reporters earlier this month with a claim that Moore — who is battling sexual harassment allegations from women who say they were teenagers at the time —impregnated her in 1992 when she was 15, prompting an abortion. After a series of interviews, the Post began fact-checking Phillips’ allegation and background, which became increasingly inconsistent throughout the reporting process, the paper said.

The Post said it was able to trace Phillips back to Project Veritas, an organization formed by right-wing activist James O’Keefe that frequently targets mainstream news outlets with deceptive tactics like covert video recordings in order to expose what it believes is media bias.

Post reporters said they witnessed Phillips walk into Project Veritas’ office in Mamaroneck, N.Y., about 30 miles north of Manhattan. O’Keefe denied subsequent requests for comment regarding Phillips’ appearance at the office in addition to questions asking if he was working with Moore, former White House adviser and Moore supporter Steve Bannon, or other Republican officials. Both O’Keefe and Moore’s campaign did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.

The Post said one of its researchers also found a GoFundMe campaign created by a “Jaime Phillips” asking for contributions to move to New York for a new job. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM,” the page read. Two months earlier, Project Veritas had posted job listings on Facebook seeking candidates to “adopt an alias persona, gain access to an identified person of interest and persuade that person to reveal information,” according to the Post.

These findings prompted the paper to publish Phillips’ off-the-record comments because “we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith,” Post executive editor Martin Baron said in the report. That decision cleared the way for Post videographers to accompany reporter Stephanie McCrummen as she confronted Phillips in an Alexandria, Va. restaurant last week with a printout of the GoFundMe page.

“We have a process of doing background, checking backgrounds and this kind of thing, so I wanted to ask you about one thing,” McCrummen says in the video recording as she pulls out a copy of the GoFundMe page. “So I just wanted to ask you if you could explain this, and I also wanted to let you know, Jaime, that this is being recorded and video recorded.”

Phillips responded by saying that she was going to take a job with the Daily Caller last summer but it “ended up falling through.” Daily Caller executive editor Paul Conner told the Post that none of the publication’s top editors had interviewed a woman by the name of Jaime Phillips.

“I think I probably just want to cancel and not go through with it at this point,” Phillips said to McCrummen in the restaurant shortly before ending the interview. “I’m not going to answer any more questions. I think I’m just going to go.”

Later that day, the GoFundMe page was gone, replaced by a new one, according to the Post.

“Campaign is complete and no longer active,” the posting read, according to the paper.


Trump And Clinton’s Are Proof Sexual Harassment And Sexual Assault Mean Nothing



As about every one here in the U.S. know, and probably in all other countries as well, if you are very rich, well-connected, or are in a powerful job, you can treat women like insignificant sex toys. Ever since that well-connected Hollywood Producer finally got called out for his sexual crimes and this “#ME-TO” group got started a few days afterword, it seems that everyday more people are being called out for these crimes. In our society we tend to think of men sexually pushing themselves onto women and I believe that in probably 90+% of the real world cases are such, men against women. Yet folks we must also realize that there are cases of powerful women ‘forcing’ themselves sexually on some men and upon some other women. Also there is the reality of men ‘forcing’ themselves sexually on other men. There are some gay men and some gay women who are guilty of these crimes also.


In our society we have known for many decades that men, and women, are being raped while in prison. In our society it is so bad that people make jokes about when a guy gets sent to prison that his rear end is going to be getting torn up. Folks this is not funny, it is not humorous, it is mentally and morally sick! Back in 1978 I worked as a state prison guard for about two weeks in Illinois. I had a couple of family members in State Prisons before but I wanted to have a better understanding of what they had to live through, other than just from the ‘visiting’ room. I never witnessed a rape while I was there but I did hear some guards laughing about ones that they had ‘set up’ against some prisoners, they thought such things as prisoners getting gang raped was hilarious. I know that when I was in my early 20’s that I had several times that gay men tried to insist that they could force their wishes on me even though I had made it very plain that I was totally straight and told them to leave me alone or they would end up getting hurt. Unfortunately, there were several times that I had to make my point more clear to them when they refused to leave me alone.


Now, I would like to get to the headline of this article, people like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and we should add in others like George H.W. Bush and his ‘little me’ George W. Bush. Even well before Bill Clinton of Donald Trump were elected President most everyone should have know that these two men were nothing but sexual predators, yet both major political parties endorsed these two criminals to lead their party. Think about it, millions of men and women voted for them anyway. Right now Mr. Trump should be in a federal prison cell, right next to Bill Clinton. Think about this issue also please, both of their wives know exactly what their husbands are and yet they are still married to them and still support them. Now lets talk about the disgusting old fart George H.W. Bush. Folks evidently he is still, even from his wheelchair, sexually assaulting women, and his wife Barbara is standing right next to him in some cases, just smiling. Now, the reason I think that ‘Little Me’, George W. Bush belongs in this scum pile. Do you remember when he was President and he was at a gathering of World Leaders in Europe when he came up from behind the seated German Chancellor Angela Merkel and started massaging her shoulders and upper back? Do you remember how she yelped because she had no idea this moron was either behind her nor that he was fixing to physically put his hands upon her? For George W. to have so casually done this to a woman in such a camera filled event, what do you think he does to women, whom he doesn’t even know, where the cameras aren’t at?


Friends, until the people of the United States physically force these perverts to be put into prison for their sexual assaults, they will continue. If we the people do not right now force these people out of their positions and insist on long prison terms for them and for their wives (because they are accessories to their crimes in some cases) as they just go along with the flow per say, these crimes are only going to get much worse. Right now if you are paying any attention to the National News stations we are seeing the proof of what I am saying here today. Examples of our First Lady, she just stays totally silent, obviously ‘living the life style’ is more important to her than her own personal integrity or the lives of the women her husband molest. Look at how Hillary Clinton is acting about all of these men being brought out into the open! She is only verbally attacking the men whom are Republicans and she is staying quiet about the accused Democrats and about her own husbands continuing assaults on women. Donald ‘the Fraud’ Trump, do you notice how he will blast accused Democrats yet stay totally silent about this anti-Christian dude in the Alabama Senate race as well as being totally silent about the dozens of women that he has sexually assaulted himself? And speaking of this child molester in Alabama how even his wife is verbally and physically ‘standing behind her man’?


Just as I was getting ready to close this letter to you a ‘Yahoo notice’ just popped up on my computer saying the following “President Trump discounts assault accusations against Republican candidate Roy Moore, saying Alabama voters ‘don’t need a liberal’ in that Senate seat”, end of quote. Remember, Mr. Moore is a former DA and a former Alabama State Supreme Court lead Judge. Also notice these facts, this fraud we have as our Nations ‘top Cop’ (Attorney General) Jeff Sessions held the Senate Seat Mr. Moore is trying to fill. Mr. Sessions has personally know Mr. Moore for decades down in Alabama, is this why the Attorney General isn’t having him arrested and put into prison? Is this a case of the ‘good ole boy system’, especially being they are of the same ‘anti-Christ’ political party? Folks, I am not a Democrat either, they have proven themselves over and over to be just as bad or even worse that their Republican bedfellows. Either ‘We The People’ stand up as one and physically throw these pieces of trash out of ‘Our Government’ or we as a Nation deserve to have these pieces of trash as our ‘Leaders’. My personal bet is that the Democrat Doug Jones will win the Senate seat in Alabama on December 12th then hopefully that will be the start of sweeping the human feces’ out of Our Political System, the business world and out of Hollywood. If not, we have no one to blame but ourselves!



Charlie Rose Suspended After Eight Women Accuse Him of Sexual Harassment  



By Aric Jenkins

November 20, 2017

Television host and journalist Charlie Rose apologized for his “inappropriate behavior” after eight women accused him of sexual harassment in a Washington Post report Monday.

“It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior,” Rose said in a statement to the Post. “I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”

In response to the Post‘s report, CBS News — where Rose co-anchors CBS This Morning and contributes as a correspondent to 60 Minutes — suspended him, according to the Associated Press. Bloomberg TV and PBS — the latter of which has distributed Rose’s eponymous talk show since 1993 — said they would immediately halt distribution of the program. “PBS was shocked to learn today of these deeply disturbing allegations,” the network said in a statement.

The eight women who spoke to the Post said that Rose, 75, made unwanted sexual advances towards them from the late 1990s up until 2011. Of those women, who ranged in age from 21 to 37 at the time of the alleged incidents, five detailed their accusations under the condition of anonymity. Three spoke to the paper on the record. The women’s allegations include that Rose groped their breasts, buttocks and genital areas, along with inappropriate phone calls and Rose walking around naked in their presence.

“It has taken 10 years and a fierce moment of cultural reckoning for me to understand these moments for what they were,” Rhea Bravo, a former intern and associate producer for Rose’s PBS show, told the Post. “He was a sexual predator, and I was his victim.”

“It makes me a little upset to see him on television,” Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, a former assistant for Rose during the mid-2000s, said. “Everything I experienced with journalism there made me not want to stay.” She added that Rose fired her once he learned that she had confided to a mutual friend about his behavior.

Rose is one of the numerous individuals in media, entertainment and politics to be accused of sexual harassment or assault since news of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults broke. Other prominent journalists have been accused in recent weeks, including MSNBC’s Mark Halperin and, as of earlier Monday, New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush.


Where do the drugs go? No law for Ky coroners leaves concern



Where do the drugs go? No law for Ky coroners leaves concern

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) – What are coroners expected to do with legal drugs after investigating a death? Even county coroners don’t know.

There is a Kentucky law that says coroners are entitled to take in their possession any evidence or anything or anything they believe contributes to cause and manner of death, which would include medications and narcotics. However, after a coroner’s investigation is complete, there’s no law saying how a coroner is supposed to dispose of the drugs.

“There could be issues. Absolutely there could be issues. You have the availability without question,” explained Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison. Cornelison told WKYT’s Miranda Combs that a lot of people don’t realize that when it comes to a death investigation the coroner is the highest law enforcement authority at the scene. “So we can take anything and everything we want to take. We don’t have to have maybe a search warrant that police have to have because we’re doing a death investigation. It’s different,” he explained.

“It’s just come to our attention that the coroner now has possession of these narcotics,” explained Henry County Coroner and Kentucky Coroner’s Association Legislative Liaison James Pollard. “We’ve got 120 coroners, so we have to come up with a plan that’s not only going to dispose of these narcotics, but it’s also going to protect the coroner.” He said coroners also take narcotics at the request of the family, or in some cases, because the coroner knows the family or friends will take the drugs.

Pollard went on, “We feel like what we need to do now is get a piece of legislation put together.”

Combs asked, “Are we opening a can of worms with this?”

Pollard replied, “It may be a good can of worms to open up. And that way, let’s get everybody covered, protect everybody.”

Pollard and other coroners have started writing a draft of a law to require coroners to follow the same protocol to dispose of medications and narcotics.

Cornelison already has a protocol for his office. After the medications are counted and logged, the labels are torn off the bottles and they are taken straight to a DEA drop box. There are 178 boxes in Kentucky, in almost every county. “I’m not sitting here saying that people are doing things wrong, but if you don’t know if you’re doing them wrong, or if there’s a better way to do it, we don’t know what it is right now.”