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To Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011

To Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011
The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 - May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press. The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. Highlighting the many events surrounding the celebration will be the awarding of the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize at the National Press Club on May 3rd. The Newseum will host the first two days of events, which will engage a broad array of media professionals, students, and citizen reporters on themes that address the status of new media and internet freedom, and challenges and opportunities faced by media in our rapidly changing world.

Social Media and the UK Riots: “Twitter Mobs”, “Facebook Mobs”, “Blackberry Mobs” and the Structural Violence of Neoliberalism Social Media and the UK Riots: “Twitter Mobs”, “Blackberry Mobs” and the Structural Violence of Neoliberalism “One formula [...] can be that of the mob: gullible, fickle, herdlike, low in taste and habit. [...] If [...] our purpsoe is manipulation – the persuasion of a large number of people to act, feel, think, known in certain ways – the convenient formula will be that of the masses”. — Raymond Williams “What is true of London, is true of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, is true of all great towns. Everywhere barbarous indifference, hard egotism on one hand, and nameless misery on the other, everywhere social warfare, every man’s house in a state of siege, everywhere reciprocal plundering under the protection of the law, and all so shameless, so openly avowed that one shrinks before the consequences of our social state as they manifest themselves here undisguised, and can only wonder that the whole crazy fabric still hangs together”.

Maybe you’re better off not holding hands and singing We Shall Overcome By Francesca Polletta Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport wade into the debate over the role of the Internet in contemporary social movements with a provocative claim: the Internet is ushering in a new repertoire of protest. In this repertoire, mobilizations are sporadic rather than deep-rooted and enduring. What makes this picture so compelling is not only that it is grounded in extensive and meticulous data on activists’ use of new digital media, but also that it builds on three decades of social movement theory and research. Earl and Kimport’s data is from 2006, and, as they point out, predates the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. How about the two most recent movements to occupy the international center stage—the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements? On the other hand, new digital media have been vital to both movements. So a collective identify forged online may be mobilizing precisely insofar is it is virtual, and therefore partial and even ambiguous. [ii] Lea, M. 2007.

U.S.-Funded Internet Liberation Project Finds Perfect Test Site: Occupy D.C. | Threat Level Occupy D.C. protesters preparing to livestream a solidarity march. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/ When Sascha Meinrath saw the Occupy encampment in D.C., he saw something few others would — a testbed for technology. Meinrath has been chasing a dream for more than a decade, ever since he was a liberal arts grad student in Urbana, Illinois: community wireless networks. From that small beginning, Meinrath now runs a State Department-funded initiative to create an Internet in a Suitcase — the Voice of America of the digital age. If he has his way, Meinrath’s project will lead to low-cost, easy-to-use wireless connections around the globe, all lashed together in mesh that can withstand the whims of dictators willing to pull the plug on the internet to quash dissent. “This started due to massive naiveté,” said Meinrath, whose official title is Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative.

Afghanistan: Draft Law Threatens Media Freedom (New York) – The Afghan government should withdraw a draft media law that would expand government control over the media and chill free speech. The draft law raises serious questions about the Afghan government's commitment to freedom of expression.The proposed law, which would replace the 2009 media law, was recently circulated by the Ministry of Information and Culture to other government bodies for comment before it goes to parliament. It would greatly increase government control over the media by the information and culture minister, deputy ministers, and other officials within a complex set of regulatory bodies. “Press freedom has been one of Afghanistan’s most important success stories since 2001,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. A number of provisions in the draft law would undermine free expression, Human Rights Watch said. Even the word choice of media outlets would be controlled by the government, Human Rights Watch said.

Social Media Prosecutions Threaten Free Speech in the UK -- and Beyond (London) — Visitors to Hyde Park on a Sunday can see people standing on stepladders engaged in passionate debate with groups clustered around them. Speakers’ Corner is a symbol of Britain’s centuries old commitment to freedom of speech. When it comes to free speech on the internet, however, Britain seems to have lost its way. Recent prosecutions for material posted on social media sites and internet forum raise troubling questions about the state of the law and limits of free expression. These prosecutions are causing dismay not just in the UK but among those battling internet censorship around the globe. This week alone, a 19-year old man was sentenced to 12 weeks in a young offenders’ institution after posting comments, some sexual, about two girls who are missing and presumed dead. In March, a 21-year old man was sentenced to 56 days in prison for racist comments on Twitter about a seriously ill black footballer. Hyde Park has long been famous.