An activist publishes private conversations with Syria’s former Foreign Ministry spokesman. China adopts new measures to increase already tight controls on Internet use. And an interactive map with names and addresses of handgun permit holders in New York.
Missing Syrian official discussed defection in online chats
As Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi spoke to media representatives from all over the world, he was the voice and face of the regime, up until he disappeared last month that is. British daily the Guardian has reported that the Christian from Damascus has defected and fled to the US.
Syrian opposition activist Rami Jarrah, who goes under the pseudonym Alexander Page appears to be backing up this version of events. He has released what he claims are screenshots of private Twitter messages sent by former spokesman back in July.
Conversations that appear to show the diplomat voicing support of the opposition movement and his intention to promote dialogue to end the conflict and bloodshed across the country.
When asked if he wants to defect, the diplomat apparently says he does not want to join the Syrian National Council, a grouping of Syria’s main opposition factions, and would be prepared to leave his job, but only when he feels he has done everything in his power to put an to end the violence.
Although he was not a member of the inner sanctum of the Syrian authorities, if Jihad Makdissi’s defection is confirmed, then it will be a hard hit to the Syrian regime and president Bashar al-Assad who continues to refuse to step down from power.
China tightens Internet controls
China’s communist regime has adopted new measures to increase already tight controls over Internet use in China requiring web users to register their real names with service providers and legalizing the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain “illegal” information.
Officially, these new regulations are aimed at protecting web users’ personal information and guaranteeing national security. But critics say it threatens freedom of expression in China where the web is already closely monitored. Extensive censorship measures, which block foreign sites like YouTube and Facebook and filter messages on social networks containing politically sensitive key words.
Chinese web users have learnt how to bypass the Great Firewall. And the past few months have seen a spate of embarrassing online reports about abuses of power from Chinese officials. Cyber activists have exposed stories of corruption, involving highly placed communist party officials owning designer wrist watches for example and also expensive property.
And for China’s 500 million web users most of whom use social networks, the web has become a place where they can express themselves relatively freely, and is being increasingly used to forge public opinion. China’s new generation of leaders appears intent however on monitoring online activity more closely than ever before losing control.
Who’s got a gun? NY permit map
American daily the « Journal News » has published an interactive map on its web site with the names and addresses of handgun permit holders in two New York counties. Launched in the wake of the Newtown shooting, it has drawn criticism from web users all over the US, some saying the newspaper has gone too far in leaking personal information. They fear the information could be used by criminals as a guide to places where they can steal guns, or indeed which homes to avoid…
Dominick Reed’s wacky self-portraits
Every day, for the past two years, Dominick Reed has taken a wacky photo of himself and posted it online. The British software developer has used wigs, make up and photo editing software to produce these astonishing shots. And over the months his eccentric self-portraits have gained a cult following, so much so that they will soon be compiled into a book, the publication of which will be financed by the public.
Video of the day
Give Havard Rugland an American football and he will demonstrate all sorts of amazing drop kicks, highly accurate field goals, you name it. You can see him in action in this YouTube video which has been viewed over one million times, and which has caught the attention of professionals in the United States, earning the 27 year old Norwegian a try out for the NFL’s New York Jets…