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July 29, 2016

Red-handed

 

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Now that Thailand’s Internet ‘Great Firewall’ is being erected and we are reduced to a single international gateway to the rest of the world for purposes of surveillance, there’s only one solution to your privacy: Virtual Private Networks.

There has been some talk that VPNs may be made illegal in Thailand. Govts have shot themselves in the foot before but this is unlikely to happen because all corporations use VPN to communicate with their head offices to protect trade secrets.

To put this in perspective, Thailand currently has 10 international Internet gateways, bearing bandwidth of 1,954 Gb/sec.

With so many VPNs to choose from, it’s hard to make a decision for the right provider for you. Two of those crucial decisions are choosing a VPN which maintains no logs of your activity and one which you are able to pay anonymously.

PIA logo

TorrentFreak uses the Private Internet Access and FACT has been testing PIA for some months with great success. It’s possible to use PIA as an ‘always-on’ solution so you can just set it up and forget about it.

FACT needs to caution ANYBODY who uses VPN. “Loose lips sink ships!” Using a VPN is no excuse for using speech you might not use in public. No VPN is a “get out of jail free” card!

FACTsite has never succumbed to the gilded lure of advertising but, in today’s political climate, we think Private Internet Access is one of your very best choices. Don’t fancy decades in prison for your Facebook posts?

PIA supports OpenVPN, PPTP and IPSEC/L2TP multi-gigabit VPN tunnels. PIA has 2,906 servers in 31 locations in 20 countries on every continent for you to choose, meaning you can access content which is copyrighted in your choice of country, such as streaming TV or movies.

PIA’s IP cloak masks your real IP address with one of our anonymous IP addresses, effectively keeping websites and internet services from tracking your webbrowsing habits, monitoring what you search for, and discovering your geographic location.

Here’s how VPNs work:

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Private Internet Access works on all your devices on every platform so you can take your VPN everywhere with you. Better still, each PIA account can be used on five different devices so you can carry your privacy wherever you are: home, office, mobile. Use a Windows PC at work, carry a MacBook Pro (OS X), play with Linux at home, use an iPad (iOS), and have a Galaxy (Android) in your pocket? PIA has you covered!

For a one-year subscription, PIA costs THB 121 (USD $3.33) a month. Surely your freedom deserves this.

Protect yourself today! Private Internet Access.

MICT-Just a moment

2012 in review

January 1, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Tessa Houghton

Global Voices: July 18, 2012

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/07/18/malaysia-national-harmony-act-greeted-with-cynicism/

 

The Malaysian social and alternative media sphere is describing an impending ‘National Harmony Act,’ as “Orwellian” and “draconian.”

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced that Malaysia’s Sedition Act of 1948 is to be repealed, and replaced with the National Harmony Act (NHA.)

The Sedition Act, a hangover from Malaysia’s era of colonial rule, was originally introduced to quell opposition against the British, but is infamous for its vague definitions and use by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to silence political opposition.

Rather than celebration, there is widespread concern that the new National Harmony Act will not prove any better than its predecessor. Barisan Nasional has dismantled several existing laws only to replace them with barely improved or even worse versions. For example the Internal Security Act, the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Evidence Act amendments.

Many Malaysian netizens are concerned that the NHA is yet another example of double-talk.

Mustafa K. Anuar, writing for Aliran describes it as a ‘Seduction Act in the offing’, identifying the widespread cynicism towards the new Act as predictable:

In the recent past, the promise of a repeal of certain undemocratic laws such as the equally draconian Internal Security Act turned out to be a nightmare for Malaysians, especially human rights activists, as the replacements are either the same or even worse than the laws they replaced.

 

A political cartoon by well-known Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, depicting what many Malaysians fear from the planned National Harmony Act. [Zunar Kartunis Fan Club’ Facebook page]

Phil Robertson, the deputy director Human Rights Watch’s Asia division,  also summed up this worrying legislative trend in the alternative media website The Malaysian Insider:

He said “the government should realise that change for change’s sake is not enough”, adding that the drafting of replacement laws “has gone on behind closed doors with little input from civil society.”

As reported by Malaysiakini (paywall-protected site), Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing (as well as Lim Chee Wee, head of the Malaysian Bar Council) has suggested that the government should just repeal the Sedition Act, rather than replace it with more legislation prone to selective enforcement:

“We have seen a politician or two and some religious leaders raise the bogey of Christian proselytisation of Muslims and proffer no substantive proof in support and yet they have not been hauled up for seditious speech.

“Don’t replace obsolete laws with newfangled ones, especially if you cannot be counted on to enforce them with equity,” he contended.

Commenters on the Malaysiakini article seem to agree:

Hang Babeuf: Of course, the National Harmony Act provokes scepticism. Just look at the name.

Absalom: If you want national harmony, you don’t need an Act, for that’s all it is, an act.

Ez24get: National Harmony Act – harmony for whom? Harmony for the corrupt BN as nobody could question or take away their gravy train?

Similar sentiments are expressed in yet another Malaysiakini commenter round-up:

Kee Thuan Chye: The Sedition Act should be repealed, not put into a new wine bottle with a nicer-sounding name. A repressive law by any other name still stinks just as bad.

Abasir: Deja vu! We’ve been here before. Remember how he introduced the so-called Peaceful Assembly Act following which a well-publicised peaceful assembly of citizens was deliberately trapped, gassed, beaten by gangs of unnamed men in uniform and thugs in mufti?

Kgen: Knowing Najib, the false democrat, the new Act will be even worse than the old Act. Just like the Peaceful Assembly Act, which is even harsher than the existing Police Act.

However, PM Najib Razak claims that the Act will “ensure the best balance between the need to guarantee the freedom of speech for every citizen and the need to handle the complexity of plurality existing in the country”, as reported by the state news agency Bernama:

”With this new act we would be better equipped to manage our national fault lines. It will also help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony… and mutual respect in the Malaysian society made up of various races and religions.”

Najib also stated that the government wants to invite views and opinions from Malaysian individuals and organisations on the legislation, naming the Attorney-General’s Chambers as the agency responsible for consulting with such stakeholders.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, a minister in the Prime Minister’s department, stated that unlike the to-be-repealed Sedition Act, the NHA will allow for criticism of the Malaysian government:

There should be no absolute freedom to the extent we can call people pariah, pimps and so on.It is [obvious] we want to protect the Institution of the Malay Rulers. They are above politics and this country practises Constitutional Monarchy

According to Mohamed Nazri, the new Act is not expected to be tabled until next year. It is therefore likely that the Sedition Act will remain in place until after the 13th Malaysian General Election, which must be held before March 2013.

China Turned Michelangelo’s David Into Porn

Alexander Abad-Santos

The Atlantic:  July 10, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/china-turned-michelangelos-david-porn-130954982.html;_ylt=A2KJjalsNfxPP34ALkP_wgt.

 

In one of the more amusing and intriguing stories of Chinese censorship, it appears state-run China Central Television just couldn’t decide whether or not Michelangelo’s David was classified as porn, so they decided to pixelate the statue’s famous junk.  “[E]ditors from China’s CCTV decided to blur-out parts of Michelangelo’s ‘David-Apollo’ statue, triggering criticism and a barrage of jokes from hundreds of thousands of internet users,” reports The Telegraph’s Tom Phillips, adding that CCTV was reporting from an opening of a major Renaissance exhibition at Beijing’s National Museum of China. Jokes like “The real David has a penis” and comments like “Without the mosaic [the pixelation], it is art. With the mosaic, it has become porno,” floated on China’s social media outlets and web portals like Weibo and NetEase, reports Phillips.

The odd thing is, and we’re not sure (and may never know) if whoever is in charge of CCTV was moved by the Internet outrage and mocking, that CCTV decided to un-blur David in a subsequent broadcast. “CCTV removed the mosaics when it rebroadcast the program at about 3:54 pm on July 9. As of the morning of July 10, CCTV had not offered any explanation for adding or removing the mosaics,” reported China Daily’s An Baijie. Bending to free speech would be unusual for the China, considering how seriously the country takes censorship.

While we don’t know what moved CCTV to change its mind about the pixelation, the country’s Xinhua news agency (by way of BusinessInsider) reported, “China will launch a renewed campaign to crack down on the distribution of pornographic material, the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications said Monday.” So, if it you or I were the guy/gal in the editing booth with our finger on the pixelation trigger with stringent Chinese law enforcement looming in the background, we too might err the same way CCTV did.

US Sponsored “Democracy”: New Egyptian TV channel to only feature fully face-veiled women

The first niqabi-only TV channel will be launched on the first day of Ramadan; eyebrows raised in media circles

Ahram Online: July 7, 2012

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31805

 

The first Egyptian satellite channel completely operated by women wearing the full face veil (niqab) is set to be launched 20 July, which will coincide with the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

This…

…or this?

Honey, pass me the remote…

The channel will be named “Mariya” after one of Prophet Mohamed’s wives, who was a Coptic Egyptian freed slave. A full niqabi film crew will manage and operate the channel, including TV presenters, producers, directors and correspondents.

The channel will air its programmes through the ultra-conservative Islamic Umma Channel for six hours every day. The majority of the programming will focus on the niqab and married life.

The channel will be exclusively managed by women. Men will be prohibited from working in or appearing on Mariya, and even participating in phone-ins during live programmes.

El-Sheikha Safaa Refai, a preacher who will head the channel, said that Mariyaprogrammes aim to educate Muslim women about their religion.

“Our message will be directed at Muslim women, to teach them the Sunna (practices) of the Prophet Mohamed,” Refai told Al-Ahram Arabic news portal Thursday.

Refai pointed out that this is not the first time niqabi women work in the media, adding that they have already been working as presenters in several religious channels over the past few years.

She insisted that the niqab is the proper Muslim attire as stipulated by Islamic Sharia law.

Refai went on to label any woman who does not wear the full face veil as “uncovered,” stressing that the niqab is a “red line” that cannot be crossed.

She indicated that Mariya plans to feature only niqabi pundits. However, if the channel airs a programme about an issue and cannot find a niqabi expert, they will host a non-niqabiand give them two options: either to wear the niqab temporarily during the programme, or have their faces blurred out while the programme is being broadcast.

However, Refai added that this does not mean that they will be “excluding anyone” explaining that Mariya aims to bring back the dignity of niqabi women who were oppressed and fired from their jobs over the past few decades.

Among the programmes that will be featured on Mariya is “Memoires of a woman,” which will discuss marital infidelity, with the focus on women cheating on their husbands.

The channel currently has 30 niqabi TV presenters. They also have a temporary male director, Mohamed Dunia, who will be replaced with a niqabi woman soon, according to Refai. Similarly, the “uncovered” camerawomen Mariya has hired for the timebeing will also soon be replaced.

The head cover (hijab), the more common Islamic attire in Egypt, was banned on Egyptian TV channels during the Mubarak era. It was, however, common in a variety of religious satellite channels.

News about Mariya caused shockwaves across the Egyptian media sector.

Al-Jazeera TV anchor Mona Salman, who is also Egyptian, says that facial expressions are an important tool used by TV presenters when programmes are being aired.

“They are vital tools in connecting with your audience, including eye contact,” Salman said.

She added that Mariya’s concept seems more appropriate for radio.

“There are certain types of programmes in which the TV presenter does not appear. These include documentaries or other programmes where the presenter is not on camera.” Salman explains. “However, once the presenter is in front of the camera, then yes, facial expressions become very important.”

According to Refai, the idea of the channel was presented in 2005 by El-Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Abdallah, the owner of the Umma Channel. Abdallah began by producing several niqabi only programmes on his channel, before coming up with the idea of creating a channel exclusively for niqabi women.

Refai refused to reveal who is funding the channel.

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Egypt has witnessed an ongoing Islamist ascendency. During the Mubarak regime there were heavy crackdowns on Islamists, with the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group, officially banned, though tolerated.

Members of the Brotherhood were routinely detained, their properties regularly confiscated, and they were often banned from running for political office. This situation changed after the 25 January 2011 uprising, with the Brotherhood launching the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Islamists have since enjoyed a predominent presence in the political sphere, with the Brotherhood and the Safafist El-Nour Party winning 47 and 23 per cent of parliament seats respectively.

The presidential race also saw several Islamist candidates vying for the top post, including Salafist Hazem Abu Ismail, Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh and the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who went on to win the elections and become Egypt’s first Islamist president.

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