Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise McCauley Parks) was born on February 14th, 1913. She is widely regarded as 'the mother of the freedom movement'. Her most famous act was to refuse to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama for a white passenger. Her refusal sparked a civil disobedience movement that propelled not only her but also Martin Luther King, Jnr. to international fame. Rosa Parks died in 2005. She was the first woman and only the second non-government official to be buried at the Capitol Rotunda.

One of the interesting things about Rosa Parks was that although she became a leading figure in the Black Civil Rights Movement in America she was not an intellectual, a radical or a preacher. She was just a normal woman who worked as a seamstress. She said she acted as a private citizen that was 'tired of giving in'. Rosa Park's protest was one that was not based on an intellectual position but a deep seated visceral feeling of injustice. Nobody needed to tell her that black and white people should be treated equally. She knew because she felt it every day of her life. She probably hadn't read Gandhi's articles about civil disobedience. She just knew that she should protest, and that she should do so in a non-violent manner. For these reasons she has gone down in history. She represents the everyman (or everywoman) who has had enough and who will no longer toe the line.

The main issue with civil disobedience is that it is breaking the law. Many intellectuals, most notably Gandhi and Martin Luther King, have propounded the theory that it is people's duty to resist unfair laws. Because something is a law it does not make it just. This is hardly a contentious issue since man makes the laws and man is fallible. Even in the area of religion, laws can be changed. They are not carved in stone. Jesus famously broke the commandment about not working on the Sabbath stating that the laws were made for man, not man for the laws.

It is those brave people who take action against unjust laws and unjust situations who are the real guardians of democracy. Sometimes the only way the will of the people will be heard by a government is through protest. Most recently this has been the case in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. For too long the people complained but their protests fell on deaf ears. Many were imprisoned and tortured for their comments. Eventually, enough was enough and mass protests ensued. This is truly the will of the people in action and represents the true meaning of the word democracy? 'demos' meaning people and 'cracy' meaning rule.

Societies and mores are evolving. The general consensus is changing about what is acceptable behavior. In the 1930s in America few whites stopped to think about the injustice of racial segregation. Now it is a given that the policy of barring black people from the amenities, facilities and educational opportunities that white people enjoy is abhorrent. The same movement can be seen in terms of the environment. Before 'nature' was morally neutral and pollution was just an inconsequential by-product of economic activity and human expansion. Now people are beginning to espouse the notion of an inherent value to natural resources such as trees. They need to be protected by the law.

Other people have articulated the idea that animals deserve to have rights to be protected against cruelty. Many regard animal liberationists as a looney fringe, but they too have made an impact on public mores. This is seen in the fact that cosmetic companies now go to great lengths to advertise the fact they do not test their products on animals.

Not all causes are just or find sympathy with a wider public. However, it is necessary that people like Rosa Parks continue to stand up and say 'enough is enough'. Civilizations are judged as much by their sensitivity to human and other rights as by their architectural and other cultural achievements.

This website is a forum for debate about issues that matter. It is the place to say 'I'm tired of giving in'. The Twenty-first Century is the age of information. It is our duty to publish information about injustice and perceived wrongs. If the cause is truly just then others will respond and act. Suffering the tyranny of injustice in silence is a crime in an age where the World Wide Web gives everyone with access to the internet a voice.

Advice for Women Visiting Saudi Arabia

Women Saudi Arabia
You will feel the difference after you land on the Riyadh airport. However it’s not just the heat that you’ll experience the difference especially if you’re female. For there are huge cultural differences that you’ll be best to prepare for before you even board a flight to Riyadh. It’s a rare event for the employees there to see a western woman and you certainly won’t see many out on their own. The western females who are here generally prefer living in their compound houses or are found in shopping centers.

So here are some immediate differences you’ll feel. Well one thing that may come as a surprise is that there’s no automobile driving for women. No arguments I’m afraid, you simply can’t drive a vehicle. Don’t whatever you do try and get into an argument about the moral values behind this, it’s the law and you’re not going to change it from street level!

Shopping is actually excellent and it’s worth noting that opening times are more flexible than in Western shopping centers. One large difference you will notice is that in Riyadh you are able to go purchasing very late into the night and it’s totally normal for people living there.

For those of us who use the internet for all aspects of our lives, there might also be an issue.  The Saudi authorities heavily filter and restrict access to the internet and you may find access to many sites blocked.  These are for a variety of reasons usually cited as religious or security based, but they can be very restrictive.  The usual fix for this is to invest in some sort of VPN or proxy based in another country.  For example if you connect directly to a German proxy like this then you’ll have no filters or blocks applied.   You can even use this sort of technology to keep up with the news, accessing a UK VPN server for example will allow you to watch the BBC News streaming abroad – check here for information.

This is one big advantage you will have finished the western countries, since largely the dinning and shopping in these countries closes early. If you’re in Jeddah then there’s absolutely no time at all limit. The malls are mainly open until midnight and eating you may do all day long. In the month of Ramadan, the stores are open until the dawn prayers. In whole of the nation, all the stores are closed for prayers. If you are within a mall purchasing, then the doors will be shut and you’ll remain inside for 30 mins until the prayers are over. No outdoor entertainment is allowed at all at this time.

In religious and holy areas, there are no cinemas, bars, clubs etc. If you’re with a family it does have a positive side, you are simply able to spend more time with your children and husband. Being a women in Saudi Arabia does take some getting used to one of the first things you’ll notice is that you will be having lots of time at home. Additionally if you are living in a western compound area then you might discover some facilities and amusement there and these are available without a gender difference.

There are places women can’t travel to, for example you can’t go to Makkah and Madina. For men it’s easier, you can travel throughout the whole country, but if you’re a non muslim then you won’t get permission to enter these Holy cities. Remember though, no alcohol for anyone and narcotics are strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia and carry severe penalties.

For Christians worship can be difficult, there are after all no churches anywhere, In fact you won’t find any church in Saudi Arabia so you’ll have to confine yourself to your home if you wish to practice any religion other than Islam. One season all year long and the weather doesn’t change that much mostof thetime it’s hot in Riyadh, but there’s winter for few months where you may need a light jacket while moving out during the night. There’s one experience you must not miss out on and that’s the famous desert safaris. Riyadh is situated right in the center of the Arabian desert. Unfortunately for a woman you’ll need to find a male partner to drive or you won’t be allowed but there worth doing and most people enjoy a lot of desert safaris. These safaris are planned independently but also can be booked though the tourism department. The reality is that Saudi Arabia has lots to offer the traveller or tourist however the cultural differences can be challenging especially for women travelling alone.

The Growth of a Global Women’s Movement

The term women’s suffrage identifies women’s right to vote by law in local and national elections. There was perhaps no real place was left for this issue per se, however women were very clearly present in all reform oriented action. With the notable exception of the top social classes, women also didn’t really perceive their social and political rights to be at odds with all the rights of men in their course. Actually on the flip side, they believed themselves to be mostly on an equal footing, seeing guys as comrades and allies in the battle to acquire a better life for many socially, politically and judicially downtrodden men and women.

Later in her article, she asserts that the problem of suffrage thus didn’t provide a foundation for the dispersing of a battle between the sexes in Finland. Irrespective of the difficulty of the job, Norwegian women succeeded several years ahead of most other countries in Europe.  This was, largely, because of their non militant, concerted methods, which on all the whole sought to accent the suffrage struggle wasn’t a battle between the genders, but instead that women were mature and curious enough to undertake the vote, and perform an active, supportive role in forming society.   It is a role that you can see today with most Scandinavian countries having extremely equal and progressive societies – try checking out their TV through this video proxy site here. Practically talking, the current women’s conditions in these states, no matter the historic events, represent a very developed situation wherein women attained equal rights, they are regarded as a roll model for other nations.

There was a continuing battle between defenders of Islam and critics upon girls problems. You can claim that there is now an almost universally held belief that nearly all women in Islam societies face wretched persecution also that Islam itself is entirely to blame. Joshua Holland, as a denial of the idea considers that there’s no empirical data to suggest that an Islam majority itself correlates with all the subordination of girls better than other co variables like economic growth, women’s capability to serve in government, a political culture that enhances all the rule of law or access to college education.

The matter of women’s suffrage seems quite absent from academic functions of those countries. One important point we ought to take into account is the social and cultural scenarios of those nations shouldn’t be regarded as the same in addition to their women’s social situations. Each one of these names connote to a particular culture and attitude toward women, e.g. In Saudi Arabia, probably the most male dominant nations, there’s No suffrage for females. In 2003, 300 Saudi girls signed a petition calling on all the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, to recognize their legal and civil rights.

Update on Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia – BBC News Streaming Abroad

Is Gerrymandering Really Democratic?

There seems to be a lot of political talk in the news at the moment, perhaps more than ever. In some areas it introduces a whole new vocabulary, with which some of us might not be that familiar with. One such word you may have heard is gerrymandering, and hopefully this article will explain what it means. It’s a phrase much in the news nowadays and “‘gerrymandering” is actually a practice which is hotly disputed , ie the official drawing of the boundaries of an electoral constituency in favor of a party or a particular political group. In the upcoming October term, U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide in Gill v. Whitford if electoral maps drawn intentionally in favor one political party are acceptable under the U.S. Constitution. That decision might have a major effect on future U.S. Elections. But will it really change anything? Gerrymandering got its name from Elbridge Gerry, the 5th VP of the U.S., who served with President James Madison.

Gerry is one of those distinguished founding fathers several people know and is famous in his own right. Gerry signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was one of 3 who refused to sign the 1787 Constitution because it then had no United States United States Bill of Rights. But primarily he’s remembered because in the year 1811, when he was governor of Massachusetts, the legislature approved extremely partisan state Senate districts that simply looked like salamanders. Therefore, the word gerrymander was born. He was a well known character around the Capitol Hill neighbourhood in Washington, D.C. He was often found walking deep in thought around the historic Congressional Cemetery, 18 blocks from the Capitol.

Of course, the best place to find information on all the founding fathers is online or on the many documentaries that cover their lives.  There was a great programme about American history that was accessible on the UK TV although the BBC started blocking VPN access so it might not be accessible now.

In fact you may be surprised to find Gerry’s grave there, he never went home to Marblehead, Massachusetts. There he sleeps, not far from J. Edgar Hoover, John Philip Sousa, Mathew Brady and several other notables. Carving Up the States. Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires that every decade the US government conduct a census. Current law divides the country into 435 congressional districts, each with a population of approximately 710, 000. In most states, the legislature draws boundaries for the state and U.S. Legislature districts, in a few, special commissions make that. Some technocrats have suggested that nonpolitical computers should do redistricting.

In 1962, in Baker v. Carr, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that federal courts could intervene in redistricting cases. One man, one vote, it ruled. Since that time the court has ruled concerning compactness and racial composition, however it never addressed an intentional partisan advantage. That is why waiting for Gill v. Whitford cases in Wisconsin, and another of my home state of Maryland, have such an importance. Other cases are pending in Texas and North Carolina. The evils of gerrymandering are very much in the eyes of the beholder. Both political parties do it every time they can, then attack the opposition when they do it.

Perhaps the applicable phrase here is President Donald Trump’s inelegant defense of his son’s meeting with a Russian agent offering dirt on Hillary Clinton: That’s politics!”. The Ills of Democracy. Psychology suggests that individuals perceives and interprets ambiguous or complex problems in the simplest form possible. We prefer things clear and ordered in order that they seem safer and take less time to process intellectually.

Further Reading:

Using an Online IP changerReference

US State Alcohol Laws

Although many don’t bother, there is no legal restriction on British women against enjoying a drink of wine occasionally during pregnancy.  However in the United States, this is certainly not as clear cut.  More than forty US states have laws and regulations around mothers to be drinking.  These range from criminal prosecution to mandatory rehab course for pregnant women caught drinking alcohol.

Now obviously exposing an unborn child to high levels of alcohol is harmful, it is proven that it can cause all sorts of health problems including disabilities.  However is it the role of the state to legislate what women can do when pregnant?  An interesting study recently highlighted a fact that states which strict laws against pregnancy and drinking also had very restrictive abortion laws too.

Of course the reality is that most women don;t drink when pregnant, so are these laws actually effective or indeed even required?   There has been virtually no studies on whether legislation actually affects drinking behaviour in pregnant women.   This is surprising considering the amount of studies and research which has been conducted on other alcohol related areas.

In some states the legislations are stricter than others, for example in 20 states pregnant women caught drinking can be liable for child abuse and in some actually face incarceration.    The stance definitely divides many people, even if the objective is shared.  Of course, most agree that drinking in pregnancy should be discouraged but the role of the state is more controversial.

Many organisations consider that drinking while pregnant should be a criminal offence and that this is essential in order to protect the rights of the unborn child.    Other sectors are concerned that these laws are merely a way for pro-life or religious groups to further control women’s choices and prevent options for them.  This seems to have some truth in it considering the legislation often passes onto abortion rights too.

There is no doubt that in the US alcohol disorders are a huge problems just like in many developed countries.   There are many innovative treatments that offer a solution including like this method based on a drug called Selincro and The Sinclair Method – referenced here – http://cipec.org/science/selincro-an-alcohol-wonder-drug – however these can be expensive and not always accessible to poorer members of society.

Many worry that legislation like this will act in the same way as criminal charges around drugs abuse – which are mainly ineffective.  It is very possible that threatening pregnant women who have alcohol issues with criminal charges will be detrimental to their and their baby’s health.  It is almost certain to deter women from seeking help or treatment if they have issues with alcohol during pregnancy.

Jason Williams

http://cipec.org/

Is the Right to Beg – a Fundamental Right

It’s an interesting question which will probably receive vastly different answers depending on where you happen to be. Now in New Zealand three defendants have gone to court to argue that the right to beg is a fundamental freedom of expression. The three men involved are from Napier City – Turei Cooper, Major Keelan and Myles Hemopo, have pleaded not guilty to charges of breaching a council bylaw that prohibits them in soliciting for cash without consent.

A major human rights attorney believes that the guys have a fantastic case, as any council bylaw that prohibited begging was illegitimate.

Apart from councils throughout the country are keeping a close watch on the Napier instance to learn what effect it may have in their very own pleading bylaws.

Cooper and Keelan will have their case heard in a judge-alone trial in August. Hemopo is going to be assessed on precisely the exact same day.  There will be local media covering the trials but it’s likely because of the nature of the case, there may be some international coverage.  Some people are even hoping that the BBC will be present although it’s blocked abroad from outside UK.
In a memorandum to the Napier District Court, Cooper and Keelan’s attorney, Alan Cressey said that the guys will attempt to challenge the authenticity of Napier’s bylaw “insofar as it pertains to pleading”.

“It’ll be filed, as it currently has in foreign jurisdictions, that to deny someone the right to ask others for help is the most fundamental violation of freedom of expression possible,” he explained.

“Moreover … pleading is a form of political expression that is located at the center of freedom of expression since it draws attention to the defendants’ predicament, thereby raising social and political awareness amongst the general public.”

The 3 guys’s alleged offending occurred on different dates in May. Keelan faces charges of soliciting for cash and breaching city bylaws, Hemopo of breaching a bylaw, and Cooper of soliciting for cash and disorderly behavior.

The council bylaw in question says which soliciting any subscription, either collection or gift or project any busking at a public place may only be accomplished with prior consent of the council or an authorised individual.

When asked ​what standards the Napier City Council considers before deciding to grant approval, regulatory options supervisor Hayleigh Brereton said it’s scope to issue licenses for busking, raffles, info stalls and street appeals, supplied a charitable objective was clearly exhibited.

Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis explained that when the beggars could demonstrate the bylaw was void under the Bill of Rights, the council wouldn’t have the ability to use it in order to lay charges.

“The whole point of freedom of speech that can be at the Bill of Rights Act, is that individuals ought to have the ability to talk no matter what people in authority believe of this message”

Auckland and Hamilton have bylaws that outlaw annoyance behavior – like intimidatory pleading – while Christchurch scrapped a pleading bylaw after deciding it would be too hard to enforce.

Wellington City Council voted this past year against a pleading ban. Nevertheless, it’s now reviewing its public spaces bylaw and pleading will be among several things tested.

Human rights attorney Michael Bott reported no council could build a bylaw which has been inconsistent with Bill of Rights.

“By outlawing pleading the [Napier City] council has essentially behaved unlawfully.”
Councils can legislate against beggars forcibly or aggressively approaching individuals for cash on footpaths, Bott said. However banning the weak from seeking assistance from others more fortunate is always overkill.

Further Information on BBC VPNs – available here.

Benin Hosts the 9th African Carbon Forum

In a few days one of the most important African meetings takes place. It is the 9th African Carbon Forum and the agenda is one of huge significance – human rights and carbon emissions take centre stage.

Key stakeholders in the public sector, private sector and civil society in Africa and beyond are set to meet next week at Cotonou, Benin, to carry ahead collaborative climate action for sustainable growth within the area.   There is limited coverage of this event although some will be evident in the UK and US media for example.   If you are able to buy UK proxy IP address, then you can access the BBC which is well known for covering climate change and human rights based conferences.

In the African Carbon Forum, being held in Benin in 28-30 June, participants will concentrate on how to reinforce cooperation between authorities and other stakeholders in crucial sectors for Africa — particularly energy, agriculture and human settlements. This includes the function of future carbon markets in boosting climate activity and sustainable growth.

The assembly includes a high level ministerial department hosted with the Government of Benin, where Ministers and high-level officials will talk about mobilizing financial resources to undertake climate change.

“The Africa Carbon Forum can investigate how existing emission reduction initiatives could be further reinforced in crucial sectors of African nations. It’s also a chance to learn more about the part of future carbon dioxide markets to assist nations in reaching the targets of the Paris Agreement.”

Two-thirds of Africans earn their living off the land, therefore, it’s vital that the continent secures a climate-resilient economical and growth path. Hosting the Africa Carbon Forum establishes Benin’s dedication to the Paris Agreement and also to the wider prosperity of this continent”

The Africa Carbon Forum at Benin will incorporate the discussion of:

  • Practical illustrations of initiatives, policies and activities in Africa;
  • Barriers and allowing measures for participating climate activity in key sectors;
  • Advancing the measures to reduce climate activity.

Further Information:

To Access Geo-Locked websites  – Video on Paid VPN service.

EU Research Experts to Assist Hungary and Bulgaria in Defining Standards

Bulgaria and Hungary are the first E.U. member states to enlist the European Commission’s help to reform their research policies. The two Eastern European nations will receive guidance from external reviewers as a piece of the commission’s new Policy Support Facility (PSF), declared here yesterday.

For registering for the scheme the countries were praised by moedas. “Having a [science] minister [who] says: ‘we’re committed to doing the reforms, please include independent experts and tell me if I’m doing the best thing’; I think it requires a lot of bravery,” said Moedas, who presented the strategy with Bulgaria’s science minister Todor Tanev.

Bulgaria has requested “peer review” and advice in three areas: public funding of research, science professions, and knowledge transfer from academia to business. The commission has collected a number of five external reviewers and five “peers”–senior government officials involved in research policy within their particular state. The panel, headed by Luc Soete, rector of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, will conduct state visits in April and June and is anticipated to provide recommendations by the end of July.

The media on the whole don’t cover this sort of European cooperation but it makes interesting reading in these times of Brexit and other countries questioning the advantages of the European Union. SOme of the bigger broadcasters do cover these events to some extents though for example the BBC, you can actually watch the BBC in France and other European countries – see here.
This type of exercise is not completely new: there have been reviews of national science systems before, through consulting companies or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for example. But Soete says PSF could carry more weight if its recommendations are linked to the European Session, the annual evaluation of financial reforms in member states of the commission. Presently, the commission’s prescriptions focus mainly on budget area, but armed with the reviews of PSF, it might make more powerful recommendations about research and initiation reforms. (All member states have signed up to align their policies under the European Session, but its recommendations remain nonbinding.)

The commission has consented to prepare the ground to get an identical exercise in Hungary after in the year. Other nations, including Poland and Italy, have expressed an interest in setting their research policies beneath the microscope too. “The countries that feel the most powerful pressure as being underperforming [will] be the first to rap on the door,” while other nations “wait and see,” Soete says. Nonetheless, “I wouldn’t be surprised if many nations took advantage of this” eventually, he adds.

Authorities who use PSF will also have the ability to get practical assistance from your commission officials to roll out reforms.

 

Additional Sources:

How to Access BBC iPlayer Outside UK

The Martin McGuinness Paradox

The death of the Sinn Fein leader, Martin McGuinness has caused as much controversy as he did in life.   If you read the opinion pieces in the media there is a definite split, should we remember McGuinness for the latter part of his life involving the peace process and compromise or the violence of his IRA days.

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Much of course probably relies on your age and experiences to how you viewed the controversial figure.  Norman Tebbit of course, who’s wife was paralysed in the Brighton bombing orchestrated by the IRA has more reason than most to despise McGuinness.   For those unaffected directly though perhaps the most inspiring moment was when Arlene Foster joined the funeral congregation and was applauded by all the those who sat around.

The DUP leader has more reasons than most to despise Martin McGuinness,  she lost her father when he was shot by the IRA.   When she was 16 years old, her school bus was attacked by an IRA bomb.    Yet for the last 15 months she has worked with Sinn Fein and their leader in an attempt to maintain the peace process and lead Northern Ireland forward.

It was a bright moment which surprised many, yet the reception she received from the largely Catholic audience seemed genuinely affectionate.   Was it a political stunt, no-one except Arlene Foster would know but it’s moments like these that give hope to maintaining the peace of Northern Ireland.  The tribute was extended by Bill Clinton who praised the DUP leader, he also empathised with how difficult it was to attend the funeral of someone involved in her father’s killing.

It is important because hate and division has for so long been ingrained in the very fabric of Northern Irish society.  Even if the attendance was merely a political gambit, it had real power and demonstrated that it was possible to forgive even in the most extreme situations.  The symbolism was powerful, it might inspire others to follow her example on both sides of the political divide.

It will be interesting to see if McGuinness’s death  has any impact on the negotiations for power sharing, but it is hoped that something positive will develop.  It’s worth keeping an eye out on the local media for a fuller picture.  The Irish broadcaster RTE in the Republic of Ireland has good coverage but you’ll need to use the same technology people use to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland like this to access it from the UK mainland for example.

Additional Sources:

BBC in Ireland

 

 

 

 

China Still Last in Internet Freedom

It will probably come as little surprise to anyone who follows the stories of internet censorship and filtering that once again China has been listed as the least free place to use the internet.    The report was release by an organisation called Freedom House who produce this survey annually and monitor changes to the tables.  There is also a worrying global trend with overall online freedom declining across the world for the sixth year in a row.

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The survey uses a simple assessment which rates the level of freedom online from a 1 (completely free) to a 100 which is the worse possible score.  China again scored an oppressive 88, the same as last year and again higher than any other country in the survey.  These include countries like Syria, Iraq and Cuba who are known to heavily restrict and filter access to the internet.  China  is cementing it’s position as the most oppressive state with regards internet freedom.

There are some digital activists in China, those who are able to protest and who use VPNs like these to speak online.  However they are increasingly coming under pressure from  increasingly draconian legislation and restrictions.  For example one amendment to criminal law has added a 7 year prison term for those deemed to be spreading rumours – these are usually interpreted as anything which criticizes the state.  Other example include members of religious minorities who have been imprisoned for watching religious videos on their mobile phones.

Many thousands of websites are inaccessible from China and the list grows every day.  Any publication which criticizes any aspect of China or it’s policies is likely to be added to the banned list.  recently the Economist and the South China Morning Post (which operates from Hong Kong) were blocked for their political articles.   Most Chinese will routinely use a VPN to access something for an independent media source, it’s common to see BBC World News streaming on laptops and mobile phones although users will tend to obviously try and be discrete for obvious reasons.

Oddly China hosts a World Internet conference, which is full of irony in both practice and it’s speakers.  Last year the President Xi Jinping delivered a speech calling for ‘cyber sovereignty’ where no country holds a monopoly on internet governance and that Chinese internet users are allowed freedom online.  Of course, nobody pointed out that it was his Government who were wholly responsible for their lack of freedom.   There were some concessions though, foreign journalists were allowed access through the Great Chinese Firewall, local journalists though were blocked as normal.

 

The End of NGOs in Egypt?

It’s not been widely reported but there’s a chilling new law being drafted in the Egyptian parliament which would essentially block the existence of any civil groups unless they were controlled by the government.  Human rights organisations are universally condemning the rules which would essentially ban any non-governmental group from operating within Egypt.

Egypt

The draft was approved by the State Council on the 28th November and now is awaiting approval from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi which will sign it into the law books.  There is little doubt that the Egyptian state is trying to rush the law into force in order to bypass the public scrutiny of legislation which would simply ban all civil society groups from operating effectively.

Many are hoping al-Sisi will not sign through the legislation, for example it is in conflict with Egypt’s constitution and international law – this though seems unlikely.   The United Nations are concerned that the civil society which often perform essential work in African countries like Egypt will be merely transformed into an ineffectual Government puppet.

It is similar to previous drafts which have been heavily criticised by the international community however many experts suggest that this revision is actually even more far reaching.  For example it raises the maximum prison term for violating this law to five years, which considering many of the legislation’s vague provisions would make it extremely dangerous to be involved in any sort of civil group or charity.

For example individuals could potentially be imprisoned for up to five years if they conducted a public survey or anything which constituted field research without government approval.  Further conditions are equally vague relating to any work of ‘political nature’.  These terms as usual are not defined  by the legislation which means they will be interpreted by the authorities in any way that is convenient to their needs.

The law will put over 45000 local people and over 100 foreign groups working in Egypt at huge risk according to some estimates.   There are already many human rights groups being investigated on various ridiculous allegations of foreign funding, the latest laws would make running any sort of human rights groups in Egypt almost impossible and a huge risk to those involved.

It is already extremely difficult and dangerous to operate any of these groups as there are a myriad of laws that the Egyptian state can ‘utilise’ to target organisations it disapproves of.  There are also extensive internet surveillance and content filters in use to block access and monitor internet connections.  It is possible to bypass these using VPNs and technical fixes like using a US DNS server instead of an Egyptian one but there is still a risk.

Since al-Sisi led the military coup which overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president many thousands have been prosecuted for any opposition to the state whether peaceful or not.   This includes any one who have demonstrated in any minor way including such things like joking or criticizing on social media or online.  There are a myriad of activities protected under the Egyptian constitution which can easily be adapted by the authorities to prosecute and imprison anyone deemed to be a threat.    If the bill does pass then the future of civil and humanitarian groups in Egypt seems to be threatened.

John Williams

The Anonymous Torrent

Thor Halvorssen – Modern Human Rights Activist

As stated on Time.com, the story of Thor Halvorssen can be understood when you realise that his whole family was involved in several sorts of political activism. Thor Halvorssen wants every child to eventually become aware of their rights and to promote these within their very own straightforward ways. It is a useful parable of how people can become familiar about the people who play important roles in protecting and promoting human rights.

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Thor Halvorssen is a significant player within the human rights community. In regards to his private life, Thor Halvorssen Mendoza always keep it private for security and security reasons on account of the threats.

Any journalist looking for an actual story really has to be inside these meeting. Kevin Spacey kept a minimal profile regarding his three-hour visit however he was happy to relish a lengthy photo-op, and after that tour a different film facility. Mr. Halvorssen helped organize a global campaign because of his father’s release. Thor Halvorssen is also a global celebrity and has been covered in many documentaries, try checking out online media sites, this tool allows access despite the Netflix VPN block if you have issues.

Socialism is just like a knife. To begin with, Halvorssen contends that socialism will erode individual rights. Halvorssen discussed socialism for a policy and for a governmental structure.

Basically, what Halvorssen appears to be attempting to say is he doesn’t think that socialism in of itself is bad news. He will not every want to change.

He is famous in various countries of earth due to his advocacy concerning human right protection. His contributions paved way rising of freedom fighters who really need to change the shape of their government. Halvorssen has many contributions within the government that is certainly indeed beneficial on every people within the society. Because his group targets human rights violations around the world, he’s become the target for a lot of negative reactions by different groups.

Thor does see an extended war to fight in regards to providing more human rights for others in countries that aren’t so free. He understands exactly how hard it is to reside beneath a government that doesn’t respect human rights. Let’s continue spreading the amazing contributions of Halvorssen so that the brand new generation would have the capacity to understand why they’re free and why their rights are guarded.

His grandfather proved to be a prosperous military fighter with a series of winning stunts. He always put great efforts on each act he did and it’s evident on the success which he has. Liberty and human rights are topics which are incredibly critical to Halvorssen. Here are a few of the awards and recognitions he received.

Human rights is a rather beautiful situation to have. Yet, argues Halvorssen, there are lots of counter-examples wherein socialism was been abused. After all, he’s in the struggle for human rights. He doesn’t discriminate in regards to his cause.
Furthermore, Halvorssen’s cousin is presently imprisoned in Venezuela. He’s allowed only a single book, the Holy Bible, whereas ahead of the sentencing he had a library of over 100 books.This definitely is a critical topic that deserves exploration except to sidestep individual rights round the world is appalling.

John Simpson

Technology, News Blogger 

Turkish Press Crackdown Escalates

The TV and press coverage were shocking, Turkish police force through steel gates with bolt-cutters, frightened demonstrators cower under a barrage of tear gas and water cannons. A wounded women staggers away from the crowd helped by  onlooking journalists.  However this wasn’t the breaking of a siege or closing down some extensive criminal enterprise, but merely the Turkish Government closing down a newspaper which had dared to voice it’s opposition.

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This is now how Turkey deals with dissent, free speech is a term subject to the approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government.

Turkey has long been treading down this path, it has fallen steadily down the league table of Press Freedom and now sits among the likes of Russia and Iraq where dissent is simply not allowed among  the press.  The newspaper is called Zaman and is the most popular daily newspaper in Turkey.

It is the latest in a long line of journalist casualties – hundreds are currently under prosecution, many independent broadcasters have been take off air or prosecuted on spurious charges.  The common ‘excuse’ is in the ‘national interest’ or to fight terrorism however the reality is that if you disagree with the government then you’d better not say it aloud.

Turkey is supposedly a democracy but it’s actions are beginning to mirror something quite different.  At the moment Turkish authorities are pursuing an aim of quicker integration into the European Union whilst simultaneously ignoring the building blocks of any democratic system.    This is not restricted to the persecution of dissenting journalists, there is a lack of freedom in other areas too.

The internet has long been seen as a problem for the Turkish government and it has actively been trying to control access from within the country.  It is considered  almost essential to use a fast VPN to gain access to many legitimate news sites via a Turkish controlled ISP.  This allows internet users to bypass IP blocks on specific sites which have been blacklisted by the Turkish Government , the list was established some years ago but has been growing exponentially over the last few years as dissent in the country grows.  If Turkey is admitted to the European Union in exchange for it’s help in the immigration crisis it would ironically be the first member where you need to buy VPN services in order to allow unfettered access to the internet, just like you needed to do in Syria and Afghanistan.

European Block Personal Search Results

Most of us have some sort of digital footprint online now, obviously the size of this varies between individuals.    The person who blogs, logs their every move on social media and takes pictures wherever they go will obviously have much more of a presence than the occasional web user however nearly everyone has some sort of personal information stored online.

However in some places you’ll find it much harder to find through the search engines if you’re looking for personal information.  Europe has actually become home to a certain amount of censorship of search engine results due to the effect of the ‘right to be forgotten’ rules which were passed in 2014.  This EU legislation states that companies like Google have a legal obligation to remove personal information about individuals from their search indices. Their are some caveats – the exclusions don’t apply to information which is in the public interest and data which is ‘inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive.’

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In practical terms it means that Google and indeed all search engines, have to remove links to pages for example in news and current affair stories if an individual requests it.  Of course this becomes very difficult for search engines, controlling access and tailoring results based on different locations.  In fact it became a little confusing that search listings were deleted in the European Union countries and still existed in other countries. So if someone from Europe invested in a fast USA proxy or VPN then they could view the results by using the US version of Google without any problems.

Such are the problems of the internet, you can pass legislation and laws in one country and watch as they are completely ignored or even contradicted in another country.  Google has decided on a pragmatic approach and will now remove all results in line with the European guidelines although presumably these excluded results can be accessed on request in other countries.

Such administrative issues are nothing compared to the more sinister moves by different countries across the world.  Many governments are trying to create their own versions of the internet, following on the heavy restrictions in force in China – places like Brazil, Turkey and Russia are trying to create their own barriers.  Fortunately no one has yet found a way to make these blocks complete and investing in the best VPN software you can afford will almost certainly bypass any of these restrictions including the technologically advanced Great Firewall of China.

We can see quite clearly though that without a global vision and central governance the internet is going to become increasingly fractured and localized.

Update on the USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom act was approved by the House Judiciary Committee at the end of April, 2015.  There is a hope and indeed many human rights organisation have stated that the Act should be passed as soon as possible to stop the collection of bulk communications data, the expanse of surveillance and improve transparency of the US intelligence services.

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The USA Freedom Act is designed to stop the domestic bulk collection of both communication and phone records.    Over the last few months and largely thanks to Edward Snowden, the US government has been collecting millions of phone records of innocent civilians justified by a very loose interpretation of the USA Patriot Act (section 215 specifically).

It’s not a complete solution but merely a first step towards reining in the huge surveillance program that is currently in place in the USA.   the mass violations of people’s privacy may have continued without our knowledge if it wasn’t for the revelations of Edward Snowden which began now nearly 2 years ago.   There are still many areas of concern for human rights, which the USA Freedom Act doesn’t begin to address, at least there will be a statutory foundation for future reforms.

Human Rights Watch spokespeople urged the Act to be passed as soon as possible, without any modifications which would weaken it’s protection.    The situation is further complicated by the fact that section 215 of the USA PAtriot Act is set to expire on June 1st 2015, but it is expected without the Freedom Act that the Patriot Act would be extended without implementing any further privacy provisions.

There are of course concerns that the bill won’t be passed at all, in fact several versions of the Freedom act have been introduced and debated heavily in Congress.  Most of these happened in 2014 and they were not enacted, fortunately most of the key reforms involved in the 2014 Act have been carried over to the 2015 version.

Section 215 gives intelligence authorities the power to acquire data and records which could be relevant to an investigation.  This is of course a very loose definition and is subject to huge variations in interpretation.  Imagine that someone uses a VPN to encrypt their connection or simply to watch something like Hulu or the BBC iPlayer like this system – http://iplayerusa.org/index.php/proxy-to-access-bbc-iplayer-abroad/. This example could use by the agencies to investigate the encryption involved in using these tools, or simply include the records because they are being actively hidden. Millions of innocent people use these tools every day, are they relevant to such investigations because of this.

The Act strengthens these requirements, so that wholesale mass collection becomes much more difficult. The idea is that a specific selection term must be defined – that is a term which identifies a specific account or personal device which is deemed to be linked with some sort of terrorism or criminal activity.

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