“Down With (the Very, Very Evil) Facebook”

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Some people will kill you — and your family — if they “think” you’re blasphemous.

Pakistan’s government ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook on Wednesday amid anger over a page that encourages users to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.The page on the social networking site has generated criticism in Pakistan and elsewhere because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet. The government took action after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order Wednesday requiring officials to block Facebook until May 31.

By Wednesday evening, access to the site was sporadic, apparently because Internet providers were implementing the order.

The Facebook page at the center of the dispute — ”Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” — encourages users to post images of the prophet on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of ”South Park” for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit during an episode earlier this year.

There’s more…

A smart and thoughtful comment from my friend Todd Curl:

For me, this is a very complicated and polarizing issue. Being agnostic — meaning I know enough to know that I don’t know everything — I despise religious extremism in any form that it manifests itself. I do, however, try to respect another person’s beliefs as long as they are not infringing on me.

There is fanaticism and extremism in every one of the “big three” monotheistic religions. With Islam in particular, fundamentalists have created theocracies in the middle east, essentially squashing any form of legitimate critique. With Pakistan, a country that has yet to fully become one of these theocracies, a state crackdown on a particular website might be a sign of a theocracy in the making.

I also realize that the creators of this facebook page probably have little understanding of Islam other than the fanaticism they see through a western media lens, and feel like they are pointing out how absurd their fanaticism is. Of course, the U.S. is largely Christian, and many Christians, not unlike Muslims and Jews, view their beliefs as the only true spiritual path and everything else is false.

Despite the large Christian demographic, those who believe it to be a fairy tale, or hypocritical, are able to mock it or be as derogatory or critical as they want, due to more freedoms of expressions that aren’t so common in the Muslim world. Likewise, I doubt the Pakistani Government would have a problem with something critical of Christianity being written or displayed through other forms of media.

Is the Pakistani Government being hypocritical? Perhaps they are, but the divide between the west and the middle east brings about nothing but reactionary words and actions from both sides. Is the facebook page designed to mock Muhammad racist and culturally insensitive? Probably so, but is still acceptable due to western notions of freedom of expression and opinion.

There is no right side or wrong side. It’s complicated and is part of the reason I have no involvement with religion of any sort. Rather than looking at similarities, we focus on the differences, leading to a history of war and destruction under the guise of religion. Everybody loses unfortunately.

You can visit Todd’s blog HERE

Today Is “World Press Freedom Day”

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Journalists In need of help from around the world

A reminder from Amnesty International:

World Press Freedom Day (May 3) provides an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate the fundamental human right to freedom of expression, defend the media from attacks on their independence and honor the memory of journalists who have lost their lives because of the peaceful exercise of their right to speak and write freely.

Amnesty International works to protect journalists from harassment and death threats, free them from arbitrary detention and guarantee them their right to freedom of expression. TAKE ACTION now on behalf of these journalists around the world.

Net Neutrality Moves to Endangered List

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Via Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders is asking Congress to take a stand in favor of Net neutrality after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority under existing legal framework to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing specific websites.

“This is a major stepback”, the organization said “The ruling is contradictory to the government’s commitment to Net neutrality and equal access to the Internet for all American citizens. It allows Internet service providers to control Internet traffic, rerouting people to sites and search engines they own. This is not only a commercial decision, it also has enormous consequences for the free flow of information. The neutrality principle has made the Internet an open, creative and free space. It is already being put under threat by the world’s authoritarian states, led by China and Iran. It would be disastrous if the United States was to go against this key principle.”

There’s more…

A Few Ladies (Dressed) in White Threaten to Topple Military Regime

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From Amnesty, UK:

Amnesty International has urged Cuban President Raúl Castro to ensure the safety of a group of female relatives of prisoners of conscience ahead of a scheduled demonstration today (18 March).

The call came after a protest by the Damas de Blanco (‘Ladies in White’) was forcibly broken up by Cuban police on Wednesday 17 March, who briefly detained several women.

After the incident, some of the women said they had been beaten by the police. They include Reyna Tamayo, mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike to demand the release of prisoners of conscience.

There’s more…

Como Los Censurados Practican La Censura

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Blogger is blocked by anti-internet censorship site

(Una version en Ingles de este articulo se encuentra AQUI)

He sido bloqueado por un usuario de Twitter que dice ser un canal para los que no tienen voz y son oprimidos en Cuba. Esto nunca me habia sucedido a mí.

Yo confundi este sitio, cuyo eslogan dice: “La prensa libre es la madre de todas nuestras libertades y de nuestro progreso bajo la libertad” y que retuitea este tipo de mensaje: “Internet es nuestra fuerza, no nos pueden callar!” con un lugar donde la discusión honesta sobre las cuestiones importantes se podía llevar acabo y donde la crítica justa y constructiva sería bienvenida.

Parece que me equivocaba.

Al parecer ofendi a alguien cuando me queje de chistes chocantes y homofóbicos, de comentarios racistas y de propaganda de la ultra-derecha Estadounidense. Yo no he podido encontrar ninguna otra razón. Y para comprender mejor lo que pasó, voy a hacer un breve recuento de los acontecimientos que llevaron a mi “prohibición”.

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How the Censored Practice Internet Censorship

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Blogger is blocked by anti-internet censorship site

(A Spanish version of this post is HERE)

I’ve been blocked by a Twitter user who claims to be an outlet for the voiceless and oppressed in Cuba. This is a first one for me.

I mistook  this site, which displays this slogan: “The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty” and that retweets this kind of message:  “Internet is our force, they can not silence us!” for a place where honest discussion about important issues could be had and where fair and constructive criticism would be welcomed.

It appears that I was mistaken.

I must have gotten on somebody’s bad side for complaining about crude, homophobic jokes, racist remarks and U. S. Right Wing propaganda. I could not come up with any other reason. So in order to better understand what happened, I’ll do a brief recounting of the events that led up to my “banning.”

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Careful What You Tweet

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It could land you in jail:

On the afternoon of September 24, 2009, Pennsylvania State Troopers, their guns drawn, broke down the door of room 238 of the CareFree Inn on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. The troopers were acting on a search warrant related to protests planned for the G20 summit—a meeting of the heads of state of the world’s major economies. Thousands of protesters had descended on the city, presenting demands ranging from curbs on carbon emissions to the outright abolition of capitalism.

Anticipating hordes of black-masked, Starbucks-smashing anarchists, the Pittsburgh police and the Secret Service coordinated nearly 4,000 law enforcement officers, outfitting them with the latest in riot-dispersal technology. Crowds marching on the summit were met with pepper spray, stun grenades, and—for the first time on US soil—acoustic cannons that blast painful sounds as far as 1,000 feet. But the protesters had their own crowd-control methods, and that’s what had brought the state troopers to the CareFree Inn.

There’s more at Mother Jones…