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Latest update : 2013-02-14

Vietnam's bloggers under pressure

The Vietnamese authorities are intensifying their crackdown on cyber activists. Meanwhile, the "Harlem Shake" is taking over the web. And a skier has fun in a derelict building.

Vietnam bloggers under pressure

A joint report released by the Worldwide Human Rights Movement and a local NGO has documented at least 33 web users who have been sentenced or detained awaiting trial in Vietnam for their peaceful online dissent or criticism of government policies. The report condemns the ruling communist party’s intensified crackdown on freedom of expression online.

The report cites the example of Nguyen Van Hai, aka Dieu Cay, a blogger who was sentenced to 12 years in prison back in September for “anti-state propaganda”. He recently released a letter from prison in which he criticizes Article 88 of the Criminal Code, the article he and most of the other detained web users in Vietnam have been accused and charged of violating.

And as is the case in neighbouring China, Hanoi has set up a legal framework and created a cyber-police force to try and silence online dissent. But in a country where one third of residents now have access to the Internet, it’s proving difficult to exert total control over the blogosphere.

And so despite the repression, anonymous bloggers from the site Dam Lam Bao, which is one of the most popular platforms in the country, continue to discuss and write about subjects state controlled media deems taboo; exposing cases of corruption or stories of villagers and farmers facing arbitrary confiscation of their land.

Another influential website, Bauxite Vietnam, is campaigning against the bauxite mining by Chinese companies; a mineral used to produce aluminum, experts say bauxite extraction is having a devastating impact on the environment. 

The 'Harlem Shake', the new viral phenomenon

Last year flashmobs and the Gangnam Style phenomenon well and truly took the web by storm, and now a new trend is taking over the Internet: the “Harlem Shake”. It all started with this video, made by a group of four friends, and posted online on the 2nd February. We see them dancing frenetically to the electronic dance hit by New York DJ, Baauer.

The wacky dancing style soon inspired countless other web users to perform their own “Harlem Shake” and sharing sites soon became inundated with videos imitating the original. The videos all follow the same pattern: a person wearing a mask or a helmet is strutting their stuff oblivious to the people around them who in turn are paying no attention and going about their day but then it all changes when the music drops, and everyone suddenly springs into action shaking, gyrating and showing some really crazy dance moves.

And enthusiasts are going all out to find the most unlikely, improbable spots to do the “Harlem Shake”. As we can see in these online videos, some have taken to their University campus, some to the workplace, whilst others prefer the subway or the privacy of their own home…

But the prize for most unexpected version goes to these Norwegian soldiers: their take on the new viral phenomenon is proving hugely popular online, and has racked up over 1,8 million views in just a few days.

Now trending on social networks

Kim Dotcom has once again proved his talent for self-promotion, unveiling details about the new music file sharing platform, Megabox, on Twitter. He has posted two photos on the micro blogging site, providing a sneak preview of the homepage and the news feed for his new service, which according to its notorious creator, will be entirely legal, free of charge and a new advertising based economic model will allow content creators to keep up to 90% of earnings.

'Death Star' project launched on Kickstarter

Back in November, American web users petitioned the White House to build a Death Star, a space station from the Star Wars movies. The Obama administration issued a somewhat tongue in cheek response, denying the petition explaining it would be too costly: and so a British web user, again not taking things too seriously, has launched an appeal for online donations to help pay for its construction. An unusual initiative which has raised around 230000 pounds sterling so far.

Video of the day

Logan Imlach from Alaska in the US came up with the unlikely idea of skiing around a derelict building … you can check out his fantastic performance in this video called “Five Floors of Fury” which is currently doing the rounds on sharing sites.

By Electron Libre

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