Algerian opposition is mobilising for democracy. Jean-Claude Duvalier’s return to Haiti continues to spark reactions online. And Google launches a science fair for 13 to 18 year olds.
Algerian police break up rally
Thousands of police were deployed to Algiers on Saturday to suppress several hundred demonstrators. These images were filmed by Algerian journalist Elias Filali and show that despite the authorities banning a pro-democracy march, Algerian opposition is more mobilized than ever.
Inspired by the Tunisian revolution, intellectuals have launched an online petition calling for change. This group of academics, journalists and artists make mention of the riots that rocked the country at the beginning of the month and are notably criticizing the authorities for having found just one reason for this anger: rising food prices.
Djamaledine Benchenouf takes a similar stance. This video blogger based in France does not think this uprising can be summed up as a simple food protest. He deplores however the lack of coordination between the different opposition groups and appeals to them to unite in order to mobilize the masses.
And as the Algerian blogosphere is in a fever of excitement, web users are accusing the government of taking measures to censor the Internet. They believe Twitter, Facebook and SMS services have been intermittently blocked over the past few days.
And this was all that was needed for Anonymous to launch an operation against the Algerian government. This cyber activist group that lent its support to Tunisian demonstrators is reportedly behind a series of cyber-attacks that notably blocked the web site of the Interior Ministry.
But the success of this mobilization will depend on the demonstrations, which is why blogger Hchicha, who lives in Paris, is relaying the appeal made by numerous trade unions and political parties to take to the streets on the 9th of February, the anniversary of the establishment of the state of emergency, which has been in force in the country for nearly 19 years.
Haitians react to Duvalier’s return
One word: shocked. This is how this anonymous Haitian feels about former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier’s surprise return to Haiti on the 16th of January after 25 years in exile. His arrival in the country continues to spark much reaction online.
Web users are wondering about the intentions of Port-au-Prince’s former strong man. Manuchca, a Haitian woman living in the US wonders if “Baby Doc” who now advocates national reconciliation, is trying to involve himself in the highly controversial presidential election by supporting one of the candidates and thus regain a predominant political position.
Karl Jean-Jeune does not think this will happen. This 24 year old blogger says that Duvalier is now just a simple citizen and has no reason to get involved in the ballot. But he does say that we may not have seen the last of the former dictator as some sections of the country, and the younger generation in particular, looks back on his time in power with nostalgia.
This idea is backed up on the blog « livesayhaiti » by two American expatriates working in Haiti who say that many Haitians tend to forget all of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s wrongdoings during his time in power and believe that they had a better quality of life during his rule. The two bloggers also mention a rumor which says Duvalier’s return was orchestrated by outgoing President René Préval, to make people forget the fiasco surrounding the first round of the presidential elections.
Joel Dreyfuss warns fellow citizens in an article published in online magazine The Root. This Haitian journalist says Duvalier’s time as president must not be idealized, and asks all those who, like him, lived under the dictatorship, to share their accounts of the climate of fear that weighed upon the island and convince younger Haitians that in no way is Duvalier the person to bring the country of out of misery.
Naked on Pluto
You are stranded on Pluto, naked; the “Las Vegas” of the solar system is governed by a corrupted artificial intelligence. This is how “Naked Pluto” begins, a multiplayer text adventure game on Facebook, which incorporates personal data from the player and his or her friends into this interactive fictional game. The combination makes the game both gripping and highly unsettling. The creators hope to make players aware, in a fun way, of how social networks work and the problems linked to data sharing.
Google science fair
Attention all budding scientists: Google is launching its own « science fair ». The competition is open to all projects and anyone between the ages of 13 and 18, from anywhere in the world, can enter. The prize: a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a 50 000 dollar grant. 60 entries will be shortlisted and then web users will vote to choose the 15 finalists whose projects will be judged by well-known scientists.
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