Concerns over the Arab League observer mission in Syria. The online tools available to help follow the American Presidential campaign. And two Finnish divers fishing under ice, upside down.
Questioning the Arab League’s Syrian monitors
Since the deployment of Arab league peace monitors to Syria on the 27th December, regime opponents have been doing what they can to provide online coverage of the mission. This footage is from Wednesday and apparently shows them filming security forces’ checkpoints in Deraa, where the anti-regime unrest began 10 months ago.
And in this other video, apparently filmed in Homs, a woman stops a member of the delegation to ask them if they know what has happened to her husband, as she has had no news from him since he was taken to prison.
As this footage from Hama suggests, the presence of Arab League observers has clearly done little to curb the repression. We see residents going to meet the observers when all of a sudden gun fire rings out.
The effectiveness of the mission has indeed been harshly criticized. Even more so because the government is doing everything in its power to confuse the issue; in this online message, soldiers, who have since defected, say their superiors gave them police cards so they could pass themselves off as such should they encounter any observers.
Al Manar, the Lebanese satellite television channel affiliated to Hezbollah, and which backs the Damascus regime, has uploaded this report. It is subtitled in French and shows members of the delegation saying they were targeted by armed anti-government gangs for saying they supported Bashar al-Assad.
Online tools to follow the American presidential campaign
The Republican Party caucus process kicked off in Iowa on Tuesday night, officially launching the US Presidential race with elections scheduled for November. And there are many non-partisan online tools available to help web users decide on who will get their vote. Here’s a quick round up of the ways in which you can follow the campaign online.
A YouTube channel called "YouTube politics" has been set up, devoted entirely to the Presidential Election, hosting each of the candidates various campaign videos. There is also an infographic which you can use to compare, in real time, the presidential hopefuls’ popularity on the video sharing platform.
On Social debating site "Two Sides" web users can compare their views and opinions on a given question to those of the candidates. All sorts of themes are touched on, from the abolition of the death penalty to the reality of global warming; in just a few clicks you can find out where each presidential hopeful stands on each of the topics.
American daily "The Washington Post" is using Twitter to follow campaign trends. The newspaper has developed an application called “Mention Machine” which counts, again in real time, the number of times the candidates are mentioned on Twitter and other media. This tool gives an overview of the candidates, with stats to boot.
And finally Google, has set up a participative platform to gather, amongst other things, all the press articles, catalogued by theme, that mention the name of one of the Presidential contenders. It’s also keeping a log of online trends. It’s a way of monitoring candidate related searches and also recording the number of views the candidates’ campaign ads have received.
Are Twitter followers a protectable customer list?
The website PhoneDog is seeking 340 000 dollars in damages from one of its former employees Noah Kravitz, in a dispute over a Twitter thread he created when he worked for the Californian company. When he quit in 2010, Kravitz took the account and it’s thousands of followers with him. His ex-employer is now suing him saying the Twitter list was a customer list, raising the question of whether or not employees have rights to the social network accounts they run on behalf of their company.
Now trending on social networks
A web user has been passing themself of on Twitter as Wendi Deng Murdoch, even fooling administrators of the social network. The account was set up in the name of Rupert Murdoch’s wife shortly after the media tycoon made his debut on the social network, and was initially certified as being ‘authentic’ by Twitter. The hoax was finally revealed on Tuesday. Obviously embarrassed, the social network apologized for the confusion surrounding the fake account, but refused to make any comment on its verification process.
Video of the day
This video is called « fishing under ice » and as its name would suggest, it was filmed under ice, in a lake in Finland. What makes the clip even more extraordinary is that the two divers decided to use the underwater surface of the ice to do their fishing upside down. It’s beautiful to watch and takes us to a world somewhere between dream and reality.