Syrian activists report on the ongoing crackdown in Homs. Polish web users campaigning against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA. And a dancing traffic cop in the Philippines…
Syria: ongoing crackdown in Homs
Residents of Homs continue to live in fear. The repression ordered by the Bashar al-Assad regime appears to have become even more brutal in recent days. The situation is extremely tense in this city which has been a hotbed of anti-government protests and cyber activists in Syria are doing what they can to provide as much online coverage as possible.
These videos are being aired on Syrian opposition websites and would suggest loyalist forces recently received reinforcements to bring down the protesters in Homs once and for all. A number of extra armored vehicles have apparently been deployed to intensify shelling across the city.
Numerous amateur documents bear witness to the violence of the loyalist forces’ indiscriminate shelling and the damage it has caused throughout Homs. We see people’s homes riddled with bullets, buildings gutted. These disturbing images give us a glimpse of what the people of Homs must be going through.
Other videos filmed by a local activist, Omar Tillawi, show pieces of shrapnel and what’s left of other ammunition the Syrian army has been using to attack this rebel city.
But despite the brutal and bloody crackdown, opponents appear as determined as ever to bring down the Bashar al-Assad regime. As we can see in this footage filmed in Homs at the beginning of the week protesters continue to organize rallies across the city, both during the day and at night. And always with the same objective: show the authorities they will not give up the fight until Syria is free.
Poland: protests over the government’s decision to sign ACTA
Thousands of protesters gathered in front of Warsaw’s European Parliament building on Wednesday in opposition to the Polish government’s plan to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA. It is an international agreement and aims to fight copyright infringement and online piracy.
It includes measures on blocking sites suspected of violating copyright laws or cutting off the Internet access of copyright infringers caught red handed. A number of features of ACTA have received strong criticism, even more so because the treaty was developed amid the highest secrecy.
The Polish government still intends on ratifying the treaty despite intense pressure from the street and the online community. There has been mass anti-ACTA campaigning on the web over the past few days. Numerous websites went on strike on Tuesday, shrouding their pages in black to protest Poland’s endorsement of the agreement.
And hacker groups, like Anonymous, have launched cyber-attacks, bringing down the official websites of, amongst others, the Prime Minister, Parliament, and the Minister for culture.
Opposition is also growing in the US, where American web users, who have already managed to make representatives back track on two proposed anti-piracy acts, are now turning their attention to ACTA. A petition was started on the White House website on Saturday night, calling upon the authorities to ‘End ACTA’; it’s already gathered close to 30,000 signatures.
Four billion videos viewed per day on YouTube
YouTube has released some new stats to illustrate its phenomenal growth. The figures are staggering; according to a statement posted on the video sharing platform’s website, four billion videos are viewed per day on YouTube! We are also told that 60 hours of video is uploaded every minute! According to the company, this all represents a 30 % growth in the past eight months. This success is largely down to the development of mobile phone and television applications.
Now trending on social networks
Chinese micro blogging platform, Sina Weibo, has broken a record previously held by Twitter, which is blocked in China. Within the first few minutes of the Chinese New Year on the 23rd January, over 32,000 messages were posted on the site, per second! Beating the 25 000 tweets per second recorded on Twitter in Japan last December. An estimated 330 million people in China have a micro blog account; it’s somewhere they can express themselves freely. It’s also a tool the authorities are hoping to control more closely by making it compulsory for web users to use their real name when they register.
Video of the day
If you are off to the Philippines soon then you might come across this traffic cop! He’s obviously a huge fan of Michael Jackson, and when he’s directing traffic he just can’t stop himself doing some of his idol’s moves. His behavior is somewhat out of the ordinary but it doesn’t have any effect on his ability to handle the traffic flow effectively.