Syrian cyber activists report on the ongoing repression across the country. America’s controversial CISPA bill at the centre of much online discussion. And an American man exercising all over the world.
Syria: crackdown continues despite ceasefire
This video, purportedly filmed on Saturday, shows activists in the opposition hotbed of Homs begging UN observers to stay. Shortly before their arrival, a relative calm had been restored to the city which has been siege by Syrian security forces for months. Two of the observers did stay and continue to monitor the city. But according to reports from local cyber activist Samson, the crackdown continues regardless, and although the shelling has stopped, the snipers have not.
This footage, said to have been filmed in Hama, appears to show protesters greeting observers when they arrived in the city which is located around 50 kilometers outside of Homs. And it would seem the visit did not totally curb the repression here either. The person who filmed this video apparently took a wound to the arm whilst he was recording.
And as this amateur document appears to show, whilst all this was going on, security forces carried out an attack on Douma, in the Damascus suburbs, a region which had already witnessed violent clashes between the Syrian army and rebels before the ceasefire was implemented on April 12th.
But according to accounts doing the rounds on social networks, the situation on the ground had calmed down by Monday, as UN observers headed to Zabadani, another Damascus suburb.
Online protests against controversial CISPA bill
First there was SOPA, then PIPA, and now another bill is now causing concern for American web users. It’s called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, and it hopes to help combat cyber threats, with a particular focus on protecting US economic interests from online espionage.
And to make this happen it plans to set up a framework for the sharing of cyber information between the private sector and the US government. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights advocacy and legal organization says it will be devastating to web users’ privacy, and will give service providers, and sites like Google or Twitter, the right to intercept private communications between users and share this information with the authorities.
And while many of the major players from the Internet sector, like Wikipedia which went on a one day strike in January, actively opposed SOPA and PIPA, the CISPA bill has drawn some heavy weight support, from the likes of Facebook for example.
But this has done little to deter critics of what they deem an ‘intrusive’ bill. Numerous groups are lobbying US Congress. Web users are encouraged to contact their political representative and ask them to vote against the legislation.
And a petition entitled « Save the Internet from the US » has been started on the Avaaz website. It has already been signed by over 700 000 web users across the planet; it is in fact an issue that transcends national borders. The British government for example is about to announce new legislation that will give them the authority to monitor online communications.
NASA looking for ideas to explore Mars
In view of recent budget cuts, NASA has decided to ask researchers and engineers the world over for help in re-launching its Mars exploration program, which intends to send humans there by 2030. The Space Agency is looking for ideas for future robotic exploration of the red planet. Projects can be submitted to the dedicated web page and the most interesting ones will be presented at a conference in Houston, Texas, in June.
Now trending on social networks
Web users in Uganda have been responding to the « Kony 2012 » viral campaign against Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, under the hashtag #Uganda Speaks. The Kony 2012 campaign has proved extremely successful online but also been the subject of much controversy: many feeling it over simplified the situation in Uganda. So local cyber activists have decided to take action by urging fellow citizens to speak up via social media platforms and share accounts of what is actually happening in the country.
Video of the day
Inspired by the incredibly popular viral video "Where the hell is Matt?" which depicted a young man dancing in different locations across the globe, Steve Kamb decided to film himself exercising in every place he visited during on 18 month trip around the world, which took him to 16 different countries.