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Syria's young cyber activists keep protests in view

Citizen journalists defy threats of violence to replace harassed local reporters and banned foreign media with web technology
citizen journalism
© AP
A citizen journalism image taken on a mobile phone shows Syrian women holding an anti-government demonstration in Banias.
He's got sim cards and pseudonyms, cigarettes and light fingers that dance across the touchpad in a mad ballet of digital information sharing. "Now I'm receiving reports of four people killed in Deraa. They opened fire there now," says Rami Nakhle.

Staring down at his laptop, Nakhle reconnects, for the eighth time that afternoon, a Skype call to a protester in Banias, a port on Syria's western Mediterranean coast. "Now I will tell demonstrators in Banias there are four killed in Deraa," he says, sucking back on a cigarette.

On the laptop screen is the pixelated image of a man holding an olive branch in one hand and a mobile phone in the other, which he is using as a video camera to stream, via the social media programme Qik, live images of tens of thousands of protesters in Banias directly into Nakhle's laptop, ready for uploading to YouTube.

Over a faltering digital connection, Nakhle tells his colleague in Banias about the deaths in Deraa. The message is relayed to a protester with a megaphone, who broadcasts it to the masses. Ten minutes later the reaction comes in: "OK, now we can hear chanting in Banias, 'With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice to you Deraa.' And they are in Banias, a different side of the country!"

Among unprecedented and growing protests against the 41-year dictatorship of the Assad family over Syria, social media mavens such as Nakhle are emerging as the thread that binds disparate protests together. Foreign media have been all but barred from reporting from Syria and dozens of local and Arab journalists have been arrested or expelled. In their place, Syria's cyber activists are using social media and technology to ensure reporting gets out, linking the protesters on the street with the eyes and ears of the world.

Gear

Internet Rumor of Inbound 2012 Spaceships Untrue

NO Spaceships Headed for Earth

Has the SETI Institute discovered three objects en route to our world? Alien spacecraft that will arrive in 2012?

If you believe a widespread story now being circulated on the internet, and published by the ironically named "Pravda", you might think so. But it's all nonsense - it's a rumor, a hoax, and a fabrication that uncritical web sites have reprinted without checking.

Nuke

Japan to pay compensation to Fukushima nuclear plant evacuees

Tokyo Electric Power ordered to pay ¥1m to families forced from their homes due to nuclear crisis after quake and tsunami
Evacuation centre
© Wally Santana/AP
Thousands of people with homes near Fukushima Daiichi have been forced into evacuation centres outside the expanded 30km exclusion zone around the nuclear plant.
Japan's government has ordered the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to compensate tens of thousands of households forced to evacuate due to radiation leaks.

As many as 50,000 households within 30km (19 miles) of the plant will be eligible for provisional damages, which have been set at ¥1m (£7,300) per family and ¥750,000 for single-person households.

The bill will reach ¥50bn, the president of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), Masataka Shimizu, told reporters. Additional compensation claims expected from farmers and fishermen who have had their livelihoods destroyed could see the total rise much higher.

Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave last month after the government evacuated areas within 20km of the facility, where engineers are still confronted with huge amounts of radioactive water and overheating reactors. Earlier this week the government said it would expand the no-go zone to five communities further from the plant where radiation levels could pose a long-term threat to health.

Handcuffs

UK: Thousands may sue over police kettling at G20 protests

High court rules way in which police kettled up to 5,000 demonstrators at G20 protests in April 2009 was illegal
kettling
© Martin Godwin for the Guardian
Thousands may sue the police over kettling at 2009's G20 protests. Here, police hold protesters outside the Bank of England.
Thousands of people found by the high court to have been illegally detained for hours by police at a central London protest may sue Scotland Yard for false imprisonment.

The high court has ruled that the Metropolitan police had broken the law in the way it kettled up to 5,000 demonstrators at the G20 protests in April 2009.

The judges heard police used the tactic of mass detention against protesters that they accepted were peaceful, with officers meting out punches to the face, slaps and shield strikes as they tried to move a demonstration against climate change.

Judges found that the force used by police was "unjustified", criticised "imprecise" instructions given by senior officers about releasing innocent people, and said the mass detentions for five hours were an unlawful deprivation of liberty under article 5 of the European convention on human rights.

Bomb

Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist: Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Facility is a "Ticking Time Bomb"


The Japanese government is trying to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, even as it has raised the severity rating of the crisis to the highest possible level. "Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors, the situation is not stable at all," says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University Of New York and the City College of New York, in an interview on Democracy Now! April 13. "The slightest disturbance could set off a full scale melt down at three nuclear power stations - far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl."

Bacon

Invasive, Non-native Wild Hogs Gaining a Foothold in New York

Image

A feral hog
This information comes to us from Cornell University

An expert on wildlife and human conflicts says there are more and more wild hogs in New York state.

Paul Curtis, a professor of natural resources at Cornell University, said some of these feral hogs weigh nearly 300 pounds.

"Breeding populations of wild boar are becoming established in New York state," he said. "These invasive, non-native hogs can cause tremendous damage to crops and native plant communities. There is also a risk of spreading diseases, such as pseudorabies, from feral hogs to domestic livestock. Feral swine produce rapidly, have large litters of six to eight piglets, and can produce multiple litters per year."

Eye 1

Gulf Residents; Please Take our Dolphins and Turtles Away

dead dolphin
© Laurel Lockamy
Dolphin carcass left on sand, Pass Christian, MS
Laurel Lockamy was upset that a dolphin had been lying dead in the sand near Pass Christian, MS, for more than five days. It had been painted orange after being counted by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and tagged as counted. But it still was not moved and was decomposing in the sand.

So Laurel decided to take matters into her own hands and posted a note and a few photos of the dolphin onto the local WLOX-TV website: Dead Dolphin on Pass Christian Beach.
this is the dead dolphin that is still out there 5 days after the marine institute for mammals came and spray painted and tagged it in orange..it stinks..it is rotting and it is so wrong that this beautiful creature is rotting on the beach after 5 days..go look its still out there on the beach in Pass Christian where people are still swimming in this bad water..Someone Please Help This Dolphin!!

Heart - Black

Freelancer to File Class-Action Suit Against HuffPost and AOL Over Compensation

Arianna Huffington
© Richard A. Lipski/The Washington Post
Arianna Huffington arrives for the Gridiron Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C. on March 12, 2011.
A freelance writer who successfully sued newspapers and magazines for copyright infringement filed a class-action lawsuit against the Huffington Post and AOL on Tuesday that seeks compensation for hundreds of unpaid contributors to the online publication.

Jonathan Tasini is the lead plaintiff in the suit against the news site, which AOL bought for $315 million in February. His suit, which he filed in a New York court Tuesday, seeks $105 million in damages in behalf of bloggers and other Huffington Post writers who submitted work for which they weren't paid.

Since its founding by liberal activist and author Arianna Huffington in 2005, Huffington Post has grown into one of the most successful and heavily visited news and information sites on the Internet. But its practice of soliciting commentaries and other articles, some from celebrity authors such as Alec Baldwin, without paying for them has irritated some writers.

Tasini, in an interview, said HuffPost was engaging in breach of contract with its contributors because of an "implied promise" of compensation. "Some people were given some promises about future payments," he said, declining to provide specifics.

Heart - Black

25 Reasons To Be Absolutely Disgusted With The U.S. Economy

It seems like wherever you turn there is bad news for the U.S. economy. Unemployment is rampant, the cost of gasoline is going up, the cost of food is going up and American families are getting poorer. Millions of jobs continue to leave the country and everyone is wondering why it seems like the "American Dream" is dying. American consumers are absolutely swamped with staggering levels of credit card debt, student loan debt and mortgage debt and each year the consumer debt crisis only seems to get worse. For millions of American families the money problems never seem to end. Meanwhile, our politicians are doing next to nothing to fix our horrific national debt problem. So yes, there are a whole lot of reasons to be absolutely disgusted with the U.S. economy. We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and anyone with half a brain can see that we are heading for complete and total disaster.

A lot of Americans do not like to read about economics, but what has been going on over the last few years has been nothing short of extraordinary. The Federal Reserve has basically tripled the adjusted monetary base. We have now been conditioned to accept that trillion dollar deficits are "normal". The U.S. dollar is being systematically destroyed right in front of our eyes and most Americans don't even seem alarmed about it.

Heart - Black

US: Man accused of raping woman at Denver airport

dia
© AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2010 file photo, a plane takes off from Denver International Airport just before sunrise. An Oregon man is in a Colorado jail after police say he sexually assaulted a woman in a deserted concourse at the airport Tuesday night, April 12, 2011.

Denver - The rape of a woman at Denver International Airport has left family members raising questions about the late-night attack and officials defending security at the Rocky Mountain hub, which serves millions of travelers each year.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Wednesday that violent crime is rare at the airport, and that he knows of one other alleged sexual assault there, which he said involved an airport worker attacking another employee in an area not accessible to the public.