September 2005

handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents.jpg Reporters Without Borders | Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents: It’s too soon to really know what to think of blogs. We’ve been reading newspapers, watching TV and listening to the radio for decades now and we’ve learnt how to immediately tell what’s news and what’s comment, to distinguish a tabloid “human interest” magazine from a serious one and an entertainment programme from a documentary. We don’t have such antennae to figure out blogs.

These “online diaries” are even more varied than the mainstream media and it’s hard to know which of them is a news site, which a personal forum or one that does serious investigation or one that’s presenting junk evidence. It’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some bloggers will gradually develop their own ethical standards to become more credible and win public confidence.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest. Plenty of bloggers have been hounded or thrown in prison. One of the contributors to this handbook, Arash Sigarchi, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for posting several messages online that criticised the Iranian regime. His story illustrates how some bloggers see what they do as a duty and a necessity, not just a hobby…


George Galloway: “We who live in the United States or Britain, only have to answer one question, do we stand with the occupier, or with those who are resisting colonial occupation.”

“The swamp of hatred that our policies have created in the Muslim world nourish the mutation of hatred that believes killing innocent people in New York or London is somehow a blow against those responsible in our countries for those policies. All we have done by invading and occupying Iraq is increase the number of people who hate us and the intensity with which they hate us.”

“The US and Britain’s unquestioning support for the State of Israel is the flaw that lies at the heart of the West’s attitude toward the Muslim world.”

America was influential in deciding the outcome of World War II. The Pearl Harbour attack by Japan was meant to disable America’s naval fleet in order for Japan to have free reign with their savagery on the nations of South East Asia. We know now what a strategic disaster that was for Japan.

Then Nazi Germany declared war on the United States soon after the attack on Pearl Harbour. President Roosevelt, the greatest President of the United States, rallied his nation and catapulted the United States of America to fame as the Hero of Europe and Asia.

No subsequent president has been able to emulate the statesman that was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From Harry S Truman who created the Agency that has terrorised nations around the world with the mandate of protecting America’s financial interests, to John F Kennedy’s anti-communist rhetoric and support of a coup leading to war in Vietnam, a war continued by Lyndon B Johnson and Richard M Nixon–a war on an ideology deemed incompatible with America’s interests, to the illusionary Ronald W Reagan’s Star Wars defence system, and on to probably the worst of the lot, George W Bush–it has gone downhill all the way.

Bush has single-handedly destroyed America’s “hero” reputation. No longer does the international community look upon America as the guardian of peace but rather, a nation of aggressors. This country is so despised and its president, the object of ridicule.

Before this situation gets any worse than it already is, drastic actions by the American people is imperative. It is not for the civilised world to take measures against America’s foreign policies, but if forced to do so, what shame for this once great nation.

mandala.gif We have an objective in mind or a goal to achieve, and accomplishing this objective is either easy or difficult. When difficult, how do we remain strong in spite of obstacles to accomplishing it?

At a monastery to learn zazen meditation with Buddhist monks, one of the daily chores was to shine the floor of a long wooden corridor. Silly it was, I thought, all the monks shining this floor everyday, with everybody at the monastery walking across it in socks. You could have your meals off this floor, it was so clean.

Then it dawned upon me–my moment of enlightenment. I realised that there was more to this chore of shining the floor. It was meant to strengthen character–a blind resolve to accomplish what is meant to be accomplished. It was an exercise in determination. But the monks won’t tell you that. Buddhists are fond of enigmas, and you have to find out those hidden meanings on your own.

So when we come across people who don’t finish what they’ve started, they could learn a thing or two from shining floors.

yahoologo.jpg At the expense of free speech, democracy and human rights, Yahoo has acted in very poor judgment on the case of Shi Tao, by providing Chinese investigators with his Yahoo email records. If this were a criminal investigation, then perhaps Yahoo would be right in providing the information. But for simply posting a message warning journalists that there could be trouble on Tiananmen Square because of government restrictions, I ask: Where is the crime in that? Shi Tao is sentenced to ten years in prison, Yahoo providing the evidence for his conviction.

That is a lame excuse… forced to co-operate. Have you no principles? Have you no integrity? Moral grounds should have been in your decision parameter here. Was it morally right to co-operate in the imprisonment of Shi Tao? I think not.

Collaborators were treated harshly after the War. No one will exactly shave your head for this and parade you naked in the streets, but you have lost the respect of at least one person here.

Yahoo sidesteps claim of complicity: Shi, who worked for Hunan-based Contemporary Business News, has insisted he is innocent, arguing that the government order was not a state secret. China, however, considers a wide variety of information, which would be public information in other countries, to be state secrets.

Yahoo, along with Google and Microsoft, have been accused of putting business ahead of integrity by succumbing to China’s pressure and censoring sensitive information on its Chinese search engines, websites and blogs.

Clinton Urged to Raise Shi Tao Case at China Internet Summit
Committee to Protect Journalists

MillenniumGallery_512x186.jpg   Eight Ways to Change the World: Leaders from the 189 countries in the UN promised to deliver eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Only world leaders can deliver aid, cancel debt and make trade fair. But it is ordinary citizens who have brought them to the negotiating table, by standing up and demanding justice.

Let us keep poverty and development at the top of the political agenda so that rich countries will fulfil their promise to increase aid, cancel debt and make trade fair. We must keep them to their promise.

Goal 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: To give all children a primary school education
Goal 3: To promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: To reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five
Goal 5: To improve maternal health
Goal 6: To combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: To ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: To develop a global partnership

Help keep the promise. Get involved.

UN Millennium Development Goals

Bolton Throws World Summit On Poverty and UN Reforms Into Disarray
Poor Nations Lose in Watered-Down UN Document
The Fight Against Poverty Needs Action Not Words

biofuel_in_Germany.gif Biofuel: Biofuel is a renewable energy source, unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal and nuclear fuels. It is seen by many as a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by using them to replace non renewable sources of energy. Agricultural products and waste from industry, agriculture, forestry, and households can be used for the production of bio-energy.

Argonne National Laboratory: Researcher Michael Wang addresses energy and environmental impacts of fuel ethanol as a substitute for gasoline in transportation fuels. Wang concludes though that energy balance value alone is not meaningful in evaluating the benefit of ethanol or any other energy product. For proper evaluation, a product’s energy balance must be compared with that of the product it replaces. Compared to gasoline, any type of ethanol fuel substantially helps reduce fossil energy and petroleum use. Ethanol produced from corn can achieve moderate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol produced from “cellulosic” plants, such as grass and weeds, can achieve much greater energy and greenhouse gas benefits.

Germany’s Bio-Energy Accomplishments: Bio-fuels represent the most promising alternative to conventional fuels in Germany, and bio-diesel represents the most popular of biofuels. Bio-ethanol also exists, derived from plants rich in sugar and starch.

During the last few years, the sale of bio-diesel in Germany has doubled. In 2004, a million tons of bio-diesel was produced. The actual annual consumption of 300,000 vehicles is 376 million litres of bio-diesel. With government subsidies through tax exemption until 2009, bio-diesel has become the most important alternative to fossil fuels.