Monthly Archives: April 2010

US getting younger and less educated immigrants. Why and what’s up?

I just posted a large piece on my George Mason blog site about the latest Gallup survey about immigration and who goes where and why.

US attractive to younger less educated immigrants. What’s your neighborhood like?

And to be honest I really don’t want to repeat it all here. So just click on the hede above and take a look at what I posted at Mason.

Bottom line is that Canada is getting the older and better educated immigrants. And the competition for younger immigrants is no cake walk for the US either.

As I said but did not go into with the Mason blog, there are policy immplications here. I would think that some enterprising journalist in the DC area should be able to do several good stories about this issue. He/she just needs to follow up on the Gallup numbers, tie them in with Census data and conduct a few a interviews.

Oh, and convince an editor that there is much more here than just numbers and survey results. There is a local-global connection as well as policy issues that should keep even the most jaded DC wonk happy.

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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

World Press Freedom Day: May 3

This year the organizers of World Press Freedom Day are focusing on journalists in exile.

The day is organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

In a note to WAN members, global affairs director Timothy Balding explained why WAN was emphasizing exiled journalists this year.

World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2010 Journalists in Exile

Dear Colleague

Despite the existence of rights enshrined by national and international conventions, journalists continue to find themselves in frequent peril for simply doing their job, as they strive to report the truth in the passionate belief that reporting what they see is the foundation of a healthy democracy.

That’s why we’re dedicating our 2010 World Press Freedom Day campaign to Journalists in Exile.

We urge you to explore with your readers these issues by visiting and downloading our free, ready-to-publish materials made available to you over the next few weeks.

Thousands of publishers worldwide will run press freedom stories, features and special supplements on 3 May. We hope you will join us.

The World Press Freedom Day site has some moving interviews with journalists forced into exile.  And a contest for the best use of World Press Freedom Day material in a school newspaper.

World Press Freedom Day 2010 Competition

Deadline: May 10

Here are a couple editorial cartoons:

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Filed under International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Follow up: Brazil upset with Google stats

Last week Google started releasing data about requests it received to take down material from its servers. (Who is asking Google to take down stuff and why)

In the first report, Brazil came out #1 in data and removal requests.

And the Brazilians are not happy with that title.

Brazil: Google data gives bad censorship rap

By Bradley Brooks

Rio de Janeiro

Brazilian prosecutors said Monday a new Google tool showing government requests for data on users of the Internet giant’s services or the removal of content is giving their country a bad rap.

Google Inc. released an online tool last week showing where it faces the most government pressure to remove material and turn over personal information about its users.

Brazil led the roughly 100 countries in which Google operates by making 291 requests to remove data and 3,663 requests for information on users during the last six months of 2009, the period analyzed.

Rest of story

When you look at the removal requests, 165 of the 291 requests are because of court orders. And, by and large, the Brazilian courts are trustworthy in enforcing enforce local laws.

And it is the local laws that may be causing Brazil’s high ranking in requests for Internet take downs.

Brazilian law punishes inciting discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity or religion on the Internet with penalties up to five years in prison. No action has to be taken on the statements. The statements alone are sufficient grounds for prosecution.

Back in 2006 Brazil looking into Orkut communities to prosecute those associated with racism, homophobia and pedophilia. Judges handed down orders for Google to turn over its Orkut database or face fines of $23,000 a day.

In a case decided yesterday, Google was fined $8,500 by a Brazilian court after an Orkut user accuses a priest of pedophilia.

The judge said:

“By making space available on virtual networking sites, in which users can post any type of message without any checks beforehand, with offensive and injurious content, and, in many cases, of unknown origin, (Google) assumes the risk of causing damage” to other people.

Back to the latest complaint from the government.

Priscila Schreiner, a Sao Paulo-based federal prosecutor, said in the article, most of Brazil’s requests relate to child pornography and racism cases on the Internet.

But Google says it automatically removes these types of items and those pull-downs are not included in the numbers. They make that point in the FAQ section for the tool:

The statistics we report here do not include content removals that we regularly process every day across our products for violation of our content policies (for example, we do not permit hate speech in Blogger and other similar products) in response to user complaints. In many cases, those removals result in the takedown of material that violates local law, independent of any government demand or court order seeking such removal.

The local prosecutor wants Google to turn over how it compiled its statistics. She said it is important for the public to know that the Brazilian government is not attempting to censor speech.

Perhaps one of the reasons Google may get a large number of take-down requests from Brazil and India is because the Google social network Orkut is very big in those two countries.

Brazil represents 50 percent of all Orkut users in the world. And Google is learning from court case after court case that even anonymous Orkut postings can cause the company a lot of grief.

One of the real downsides to this tool is that it does not include requests to block items. Google says it is working on a separate tool to report on demands from governments to block items on the Google servers.

Once that happens, just watch how far down Brazil goes on the list.

It is interesting the Brazilian government is upset with its ranking in terms of removal requests when its own prosecutors and independent judiciary keep filing judicial orders to remove material or impose penalties  for anonymous posting.

For now, we have a tool — albeit clearly in beta — to look at the raw number of requests by governments to take items off the Internet.

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Filed under Censorship, International News Coverage, South America

Local-Global: Threat to South Park creators came from DC area got an exclusive on the guy who threatened Matt Stone and Trey Parker for their attempt to use and image of Mohammed in the 200th episode of South Park.

Seems the guy is not from New York. (The website is based in New York.) Rather he is from Fairfax County, just outside Washington, DC. (Road to Radicalism: The Man Behind the ‘South Park’ Threats)

This is a big story.

Comedy Central — over the objections of Trey and Parker — censored the episode because of the death threat. Once again the issue of censorship and religion hit the airways and newspapers.

Jon Stewart on The Daily Show did his take on the situation, telling the Revolution Muslim group to go F*&k Themselves as only JS can.

April 22, 2010: South Park Death Threats

(Sorry, I am having difficulty getting the video to embed properly in this site.)

And Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin talked to the animators just before the episode aired.

Now that you have the background, we come back to the local nature of this story for the Washington, DC area.

Only had the DC-area connection. Fortunately a student journalist at Connect2Mason at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., saw the piece and did some digging on her own.

Seems the threat came from not only a resident of the same county as GMU but he also attended the school for one term. (Former Mason Student Responsible for Threats to South Park Creators)

And that is all there is about the case from the Washington, D.C., media.

I would think that more news outlets in the nation’s capital would be interested in the local nature of someone who wants to revisit the killing of a Dutch movie maker and the threats to Danish cartoonists.

More on this at the DC SPJ chapter web site: Threat to South Park creators came from DC-area


Filed under Connections

Thai situation dangerous to journalists and media freedom

Anyone who has an interest in events in Asia has been following the running battle in Thailand between the “red shirts” and the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The “red shirts” are holed up in an upscale shopping center in Bangkok and are demanding the end of the current. government. The protesters are from the rural areas and feel they have been excluded from the decision-making process. Weaker agricultural prices and higher costs for agricultural inputs have not helped the situation.

And caught in the middle, trying to report on the situation are the Thai media.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement (Media beset by both violence and state of emergency) over the weekend calling on the Thai government to stop harassing the domestic and international media covering the situation. It also called on the government to end censorship of web sites favorable to the “red shirts.”

At last count, the government had shut down access to 2,500 websites and the number is growing.

The danger to the safety of journalists has gotten so severe that many are now wearing protective helmets provided by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand.

A Japanese cameraman was killed in a bomb blast over the weekend. Another was killed a couple of weeks ago by gun shot.

Reporters are regularly pelted with bottles and other debris tossed by the “red shirts.”

The protest leaders say the only way to guarantee the safety of the journalists is for them to wear green armbands that say “Dissolve Parliament.”

Journalists are refusing to do so.

Another factor has been injected into the already volatile situation: Tourists are entering the demonstration areas with their mobile phones and digital cameras hoping to be able to sell pictures to news outlets. These “citizen journalists” have little understanding of the dangers they face in what is now being described by seasoned journalists as a war zone.

Some additional reading on the situation

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Filed under Asia, Harassment, International News Coverage

Another kidnapping case in Brazil and the AP gets the terms right

There is another kidnapping case (of many) of a child of American and Brazilian parents.

Brazil woman appealing order to give boy to US dad

This case like the Goldman case that was settled December 2009, is part kidnapping and part custody.

As the reporter, Tales Azzoni, points out, this is a kidnapping case under the Hague Convention.

During the Goldman case too many reports referred to it as a custody case, when the legal basis for all the arguments for the father were based on the Hague Convention.

I am glad to see that the AP got it right this time. Let’s hope other news organizations getting ready to do follow up stories on this new case also get it right.

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Filed under International News Coverage

Who is asking Google to take down stuff and why

Google and other online services regularly gets requests to provide information about users or to take items off their servers. Google, however, has decided to release information about where these requests are coming from.

This month Google has started to publicize what countries have asked to have material taken down.

The number one country with requests? No, it’s not China. (I’ll get back to that in a bit.) It’s Brazil with 291 removal requests and 3,663 requests for data.

Of the removal requests, 155 were because of court orders. Google says it complied — fully or partially — with 82.5 percent of the total requests.

FYI, number 2 in data requests is the United States with 3,580. Requests to take down material puts the States at number four with 123 requests.

Germany (188) and India (142) fill in the numbers two and three slots for requests to remove material from the Google system.

As I said, we’ll get back to China.

Here is the Google note about China:

Chinese officials consider censorship demands as state secrets, so we cannot disclose that information at this time.”

A lot of the requests in India and Brazil are to remove material from Orkut. It seems that 51 percent of all Orkut users are from Brazil. India accounts for 20 percent of all Orkut users. The united States is third at just about 18 percent.

Orkut is Google’s response to Facebook and MySpace. It has about 100 million active members as of Februaryy 2010 and ranks 61st in social network usage.

The large Brazilian user base prompted Google to move its Orkut operation from California to Belo Horizonte in Brazil about a year and a half ago.

No one really knows why Orkut took off in Brazil but it did. And, in response to the slow Internet connections in the country, Google developed a lite version. (Hello, Facebook. You listening?)

And now it seems Orkut is number one in Estonia as well.

So, if you want to know more about Brazil, India and Estonia from social network denizens, get an Orkut account.

Some extra reading


Filed under Censorship, Freedom of access, Freedom of Information, International News Coverage