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.

In partnership with the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions, a global union federation representing 20 million workers organized in 355 industrial trade unions in 115 countries

SIGN THE PETITION!

http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1383

 

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a trade unionist, activist and journalist in Thailand has been in jail since April 2011 on charges of lèse majesté. The charges allege that he has defamed the King by publishing two articles in the magazine he edited, The Voice of Thaksin. Somyot is innocent of these charges, a position supported by expert witnesses and human rights organisations. An international campaign has been underway for the last 12 months to secure his release, which has included demonstrations across the region and a hunger strike by Somyot’s son, Tai, for 122 hours earlier this year. The campaign is supported by a number of international and national trade unions and human rights organisations, including the IFJ, ICEM, Article 19 and the National Human Rights Commission in Thailand.

Somyot is now in the last week of hearings and we are concerned that a fair trial takes place. He has been denied bail nine times and is experiencing extraordinarily harsh conditions. Thai trade unions will hold a demonstration outside Parliament and the UN delegation in Bangkok on the 30th April.

In advance of Independence Day, a host of groups and individuals have launched the Declaration of Internet Freedom, fighting for a free and open Internet.

Lance Whitney

CNET News: July 2, 2012

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57464995-38/will-you-sign-the-declaration-of-internet-freedom/

SIGN THE PETITION!:

Individuals: https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8750

Civil society: http://www.internetdeclaration.org/freedom

 

[Lance Whitney/CNET]

Do you believe the Internet needs protection against censorship and other threats? If so, then you may want to join in on the new Declaration of Internet Freedom.

Launched by a large coalition of privacy groups, Web sites, and individuals, the Declaration of Internet Freedom is the start of a process striving to keep the Internet free and open. The organizations and people who kicked off this process are looking for other Internet users to discuss the ideas, share their own thoughts, and sign the declaration.

“We’ve seen how the Internet has been under attack from various directions, and we recognize that it’s time to make that stop,” said TechDirt, one of the Web sites involved in the new movement. “The Internet is an incredible platform that we want to grow and to thrive, and thus, a very large coalition got together to produce the following document as a starting point, hoping to kick off a much larger discussion which we hope you’ll join in.”

At this point, the Declaration of Internet Freedom advocates five basic principles:

  1. Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
  2. Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
  3. Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
  4. Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
  5. Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

People who want to sign the petition or share their opinions can do so at any number of Web sites, including TechDirt, Freepress, Accessnow, and the declaration’s own site.

For now, the declaration and its principles are still in the discussion stage, inviting people to debate the issues and offer their own opinions.

But the groups behind this cause are clearly hoping the power of Internet users and Web sites can have an effect on Washington, especially in light of the defeat of the SOPA bill earlier this year.

Lee Yoo Eun

Global Voices: June 27, 2012

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/06/27/japan-korean-comfort-women-photo-exhibit-sabotaged/

Ahn Se-Hong, a South Korean photographer was harassed leading up to and during his exhibition in Japan, where he displayed pictures of aging ‘Comfort Women,’ a term used for Korean women that were drafted as sex slaves by the Japanese during World War II. Ahn disclosed that he is facing threats from Japanese right wing groups, who held protests against the photo exhibition.

On his Facebook page [ko] photographer Ahn Se-Hong (ahnsehong) revealed that during his exhibition, he was closely watched, placed under surveillance and his visitors were thoroughly searched by security hired by Nikon, the Japanese camera maker, who also owned the building where the exhibit was on display.

Nikon first refused to sponsor the location and abruptly cancelled the event a month ago. However, Nikon eventually succumbed to the Tokyo District Court order to sponsor the location. News media speculated Nikon’s abrupt canceling of the exhibit was an attempt to fend off the controversy and pressure from conservative groups.

The South Korean online space erupted with rage and countless users accused Japanese extremist right-wing groups of not only refusing to admit their war crimes, but attempting to sabotage the art exhibition.

Ahn’s show “Layer by Layer: Korean women left behind in China who were comfort women of the Japanese military,” shows faces of innocent victims who were dragged into inexplicably horrid situations in their teens or early twenties, now wrinkled and crippled. During Japanese colonization, approximately 50,000 to 200,000 Korean women were kidnapped and forced to leave their homes to become military sex slaves. Less than 70 percent of these women managed to return home.

 [Ahn's Exhibition on Comfort Women]

Ahn wrote [ko] on his Facebook page on June 26, 2012 with the photo above. The post has been shared for over 900 times:

오늘 사진설치를 하기 위해 기쁜 마음으로 니콘살롱에 왔으나. 도착해서 들어가 보니 실상을 달랐습니다. 니콘은 전시장을 빌려주는것 외에 아무것도 안한다고 했지만,외부 언론의 출입 통제및 개인이 사진 찍는 것 조차 못하게 하고 있으며, 심지어는 니콘측 변호사 3명이 저에게 붙어 일거수 일투족을 감시하며, 대화를 엿듣가하면 촬영을 하고 있습니다. 보러올 관객들을 위해 참고 있지만, 일제시대가 따로 없습니다. 니콘은 전시기간 내내 변호사를 상주 시켜 저를 감시하고 꼬투리를 잡아 전시를 중단시킬 계획입니다.

I arrived at the Nikon exhibit salon today happy, to prepare for the photo exhibit, but as I entered the place, I realized this is not the picture I had in my mind. Nikon claimed that they will be merely renting out their space without doing anything, but no, they’ve done far more than that: They blocked media’s entrance and forbid media coverage and even individual’s from taking photos. Furthermore, Nikon dispatched three lawyers who closely followed and watched me. These lawyers kept overhearing my conversations and recorded me. I’ve suppressed (my anger) just for my visitors. But I felt as if I were living under the past Japanese Imperialist rule. The reason Nikon let their lawyers stay with me throughout the entire exhibition was to find an excuse to halt my exhibition.

[A regular visitor (supposedly Japanese National) being searched by security hired by Nikon upon entering the photo exhibit.]

He added this comment [ko] with the photo above.

이건 분명 인권 침해입니다. 오시는 모든분께 죄송할 따름입니다.

This is a clear violation of human rights. I am so sorry for everyone who came to see my exhibit.

There were small rallies of right-wing groups held in front of the exhibit. Ahn wrote he was expecting such pressure from the start. Last week, Ahn wrote [ko]:

다음주부터 전시에 들어갑니다. 지금 일본에서는 우익들의 강한 반발이 시작 되었습니다. 조심하라는 등 지난번보다 협박의 수위가 높아지고 있습니다.

I will be starting the photo exhibit from next week. Now in Japan, right-wing groups’ strong attacks have already started. Someone threatened me and said/wrote I should take care of myself and the severity of their threat has moved up a notch.

Another user Ahn Hyun shared [ko] her experience on Ahn’s Facebook wall.

건물 입구와 니콘의 홈페에지에는 할머니의 사진전에 관한 정보가 하나도 없습니다. 니콘 살롱 문을 을 여는 순간 니콘 경비원들은 관람자들의 가방을 열어 확인하고, 금속탐지기로 몸을 검사합니다. 오전중에는 여러 우익 단체들이 데모를 하고 전시장으로 찾아와 소란을 피우며 저에게 항의 서한을 전달 하여 했으나 실패하자, 더욱 거세게 소란을 피웁니다. 많은 언론매체가 취재를 위해 왔지만, 니콘의 건물전체 에서의 취재불가라는 이유로 기자와의 대화조차 가로막고 있습니다.결국엔 니콘의 시선을 피해 갤러리 건물을 벗어나는 순간에도 니콘관계자 둘은 건물밖까지 쫒아나와 감시하였습니더. […] 관람객 몇분이 할머니에게 꽃을 가져다 놓았지만, 니콘은 그것 마져 하지 못하게 저지하였고, 좋은일에 쓰라며 주는 기부금도 문제가 된다며 니콘의 변호사가 보관하고 있습니다. – 모든것이 상식밖의 일이고 저의 분노 또한 한계에 다다르는 순간이었습니다.

I could not find any information about the exhibit at the building entrance nor on the Nikon website. When I opened the door to the Nikon salon exhibit, security came to me and they started opening our bags and we were searched with a metal detector. In the morning, several right-wing groups held protests and created commotion. When they tried to hand me a complaint pamphlet but failed, they stirred up even more commotion. Many news outlets came to cover the story, but Nikon blocked us from even having a conversation with journalists, claiming it is forbidden to cover news inside the building. When I fled from the building to escape the eyes of securities, two Nikon personnel followed us outside the building and watched us. Several people endowed flowers to those old ladies [note: referring to comfort women, not clear whether it was given to the women or endowed in front of the photo of the ladies]. But Nikon blocked people from giving flowers. Some donations were made by people— Nikon’s lawyers are keeping that, saying those are problematic. Everything was so irrational and pushed me to the verge of anger.

But there was support from [ko] Japanese citizens:

오늘 셀 수 없을 정도의 많은 분들이 다녀 가셨습니다. […]  저에게 많은 응원을 하시고, 할머니들을 위로하는 일본분들이 많았습니다. 혼란과 뿌듯함이 함께한 하루였습니다. 내일도 우익들의 집회가 예정되어 있습니다. 또 어떠한 난동을 피울지, 니콘의 감시는 어디까지 이어질지, 이 모든것이 할머니를 응원하는 이들을 이길 수 없습니다.

Countless people visited the exhibit. Some of them showed support for me and many Japanese people showed condolences to these old ladies. I feel both confused and rewarded throughout today. However, another right-wing protest is planned  tomorrow. I don’t know how much commotion they will stir up and how long Nikon’s surveillance will continue, but neither of these tactics can beat  the people supporting these old ladies.

Many users, such as @iron_heel, tweeted [ko] said that they will start boycotting Nikon.

This is not the first time extremist Japanese  right-wing groups have enraged Koreans, Chinese and other Asians, who suffered prior and during the World War II, when Japan colonized Korea and occupied parts of China. On June 21, this Youtube video of some of right-wing members driving a stake into the statue of Comfort Women sparked controversy. They referred to the women as ‘prostitutes’.

These groups are also gathering signatures for a petition [ko] to remove a monument commemorating Comfort Women in the United States, fueling an old animosity between Japan and South Korea once again.

Wikipedia’s founder calls for halt to Richard O’Dwyer extradition to U.S.

James Ball

The Guardian: June 24, 2012

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/24/wikipedias-founder-calls-for-halt-to-richard-odwyer-extradition-to-u-s/

SIGN THE PETITION: http://www.change.org/petitions/ukhomeoffice-stop-the-extradition-of-richard-o-dwyer-to-the-usa-saverichard

Do you really want to gaol this kid???

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has made a rare political intervention to call on Theresa May to stop the extradition of British student Richard O’Dwyer to the US for alleged copyright offences.

Launching an online campaign, Wales said O’Dwyer, 24, was the “human face” of a global battle over the interests of the film and TV industries and the wider public, which came to a head in the global outcry against proposed US legislation, Sopa and Pipa, cracking down on copyright infringement.

O’Dwyer, a multimedia student at Sheffield Hallam University, faces up to 10 years in a US prison for founding TVShack.net, a crowdsourced site linking to places to watch full TV shows and movies online.

“When I met Richard, he struck me as a clean-cut, geeky kid. Still a university student, he is precisely the kind of person we can imagine launching the next big thing on the internet,” Wales wrote in a comment article for the Guardian.

“Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face felony charges for something that he is not being prosecuted for here. No US citizen has ever been brought to the UK for alleged criminal activity that took place on US soil.

“From the beginning of the internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the ‘content industry’ and the interests of the general public. Due to heavy lobbying and much money lavished on politicians, until very recently the content industry has won every battle.

“We, the users of the internet, handed them their first major defeat earlier this year with the epic Sopa/Pipa protests which culminated in a widespread internet blackout and 10 million people contacting the US Congress to voice their opposition. Together, we won the battle against Sopa and Pipa. Together, we can win this one, too.”

Wales was at the forefront of the campaign against the Sopa and Pipa bills aimed at enforcing online copyright more vigorously, which many warned would threaten sites at the core of the internet: Google, Wikipedia and others. With other senior editors, Wales set aside for the first time Wikipedia’s vaunted principle of neutrality, blacking out the online encyclopedia for a day as a warning of the consequences of too-strict copyright enforcement.

On Sunday, he launched a petition on change.org, an international campaigning website which garnered 2.2m signatures for a campaign to prosecute the killer of Trayvon Martin in the US. Wales’s petition called on May, the home secretary, to stop O’Dwyer’s extradition.

Under UK law, May must grant permission for extraditions to proceed, so she is able to stop extraditions without recourse to the courts.

O’Dwyer’s cause has already attracted cross-party support in the UK from prominent MPs, including the Liberal Democrat party’s president, Tim Farron, the chair of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz, and liberal Conservatives such as David Davis and Dominic Raab.

Other US extraditions, such as those of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon and the NatWest Three, have led to calls for reform of the US/UK extradition treaty, which campaigners say is biased against UK interests.

O’Dwyer was arrested by City of London police, accompanied by US customs officials, in his student room in November 2010. Six months later, he was informed that the UK investigation into him would not be pursued, but that he faced extradition to the US.

O’Dwyer, a UK citizen who has not travelled to America since early childhood, faces two charges of copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, each carrying a maximum of five years in prison. Under UK law, the comparable offences carry a maximum sentence of six months.

In his first major interview since his arrest, O’Dwyer told the Guardian of his efforts to ignore his potential fate in order to try to complete his degree and start his career of choice.

“It does get in the way, it distracts you … if you thought about extradition all day, you’d never get any work done. It’d be a horrible mess. It’s quite difficult but I think I’m managing quite well.

“I think about it sometimes during the day, but I try to think about other things that are more important. I don’t let their extradition warrant ruin my life. Otherwise you’d fail university, just sit in your room all day moaning. They’d be winning if I let it do that.”

Jimmy Wales likened O’Dwyer’s website to Google – as TVShack.net only hosted links to videos hosted elsewhere, it worked much like the search engine. And like Google, O’Dwyer says he complied with the small number of takedown notices from copyright owners he received.

Previous court cases in America have argued that linking to other websites is protected speech under the first amendment. Website owners such as O’Dwyer should also receive protection for content submitted by their users – whether comment or links – under safe harbour provisions.

May has given her permission for O’Dwyer to be extradited, but he remains in the UK pending an appeal to the high court, to be heard later this year.

Agence France-Presse: June 8, 2012

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/08/amazon-tribe-appeals-for-eviction-of-loggers-from-its-land/

SEND A LETTER: http://www.survivalinternational.org/actnow/writealetter/awa

 [AFP/File, Lunae Parracho]

A tribe that calls the Amazon rainforest home is urging the Brazilian government to stop the illegal logging of its land, a watchdog said Friday.

In a statement, Survival International said the Awa tribe has made a “desperate appeal” to Brazil’s justice minister to “evict loggers from our land immediately… before they come back and destroy everything.”

Consisting of just 450 people, the Awa tribe suffers the fastest rate of deforestation in the Amazon, according to the group.

The appeal is part of a campaign launched on April 25 with the help of British actor Colin Firth, who won an Academy Award in 2011 for his performance in “The King’s Speech.”

It calls on the public to show their support for the Awa by sending protest messages to the justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo. So far, more than 27,000 people have done so, Survival said.

“Brazil’s government must stop ignoring the Awa, and put them at the top of its agenda,” said Survival’s director, Stephen Corry. “The start of the logging season is a critical time. Pressure must not cease.”

Brazil’s indigenous population makes up less than one percent of the country’s 191 million people and lives on 12 percent of the country’s territory, mostly in the Amazon rainforest.

Later this month, more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of participants from governments, the private sector and NGOs will converge on the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Ahead of the June 20-22 gathering, Brazil announced this week it planned to preserve an additional 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of land and pledged not to let economic woes stop it from implementing other measures to protect the environment.

SIGN THE PETITION: https://www.accessnow.org/page/s/itu

 

The internet we’ve come to know and love — one that’s open, decentralized, and governed by many stakeholders — is threatened.

Right now, several countries, including China and Russia, are proposing to expand the powers of a non-transparent global institution, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), allowing it to change the rules on how our internet is used and governed. And what’s worse, the ITU won’t even release their negotiating documents to the public or give internet users a seat at the table.

The ITU isn’t used to public accountability, but together we can change that. Let’s tell the ITU that we don’t want a secretive body where only governments have a vote deciding the future of our internet!

Click here to sign the petition demanding the ITU makes its plans public and we’ll work on delivering the petition at their next planning meeting.

The ITU gives every country one vote — that’s why it’s crucial we call upon our individual governments to support our cause. Multi-stakeholder governance of the internet is one of the reasons we can so easily access sites around the world, share with our friends on social networks, and participate in a global community.

Now, with the ITU renegotiating a new treaty this year, China, Russia, and others are pushing proposals that would give governments greater control over how you access the internet. Imagine how that might impact your privacy, security, and freedom of speech online.

The ITU has played an important role in telecommunications and spectrum management and its use for development, but this is not cause for expanding its mandate. While an evolution of internet governance is needed (including an examination of the role of the US), it should evolve in the same way that it was originally designed — in an open, decentralized, and inclusive manner.

Civil society needs a voice in the ITU negotiations. We’ve cosigned a letter with other organizations including the CDT (USA), CIS (India), FGV (Brazil), EFF (USA), and EIPR (Egypt) urging all stakeholders to be a part of this process and for the ITU to be transparent in their negotiations.

Click here to join us in our call to keep the ITU from regulating the internet, publicly release its plans, and respect our role in the internet’s future by signing the petition below. 

In solidarity,
The Access Team

For more information:
Civil Society urges openness, multi-stakeholder process for WCIT
ITU Move to Expand Powers Threatens the Internet
Hey ITU Member States: No More Secrecy, Release the Treaty Proposals

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: This is the most exciting proposal for genuine social change we’ve seen. Any govt which tells you this is not possible right now, today, is LYING. Getting rid of bloated politicians and govt agencies, vastly reducing police forces (this is getting rid of the reasons for any economic crimes), abolisging prisons and deleting the military can find this money in a heartbeat. Getting rid of all military spending, the world could flourish with human creativity. This is genuine national security.]

Switzerland: An Initiative to Establish Basic Income for All

Stanislas Jourdan Translated by Vivienne Griffiths

Global Voices: May 7, 2012

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/05/07/switzerland-an-initiative-to-establish-basic-income-for-all/

SIGN THE FREE WORLD CHARTER: http://www.freeworldcharter.org/en/charter. (Note. You must check each ‘I agree’ box before signing at bottom.)

 

An initiative to establish a new federal law known as “For an unconditional basic income” [fr] was formally introduced in Switzerland in April. The idea, which consists quite simply of giving a monthly income to all citizens that is neither means-tested nor work-related, has generated commentary throughout the Swiss blogosphere.

The Swiss referendum process is a system of direct democracy that enables citizens to call for legislative change at the federal or constitutional level.

If the initiative to introduce a basic income gathers more than 100,000 signatures before October 11, 2013, the Federal Assembly is required to look into it and can call a referendum if the initiative is judged to be credible.

Swiss Francs by Flickr user Jim (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

On his blog, Pascal Holenweg explains what it’s all about [fr]:

L’initiative populaire  pour un revenu de base inconditionnel  propose d’inscrire dans la constitution fédérale l’instauration d’une allocation universelle versée sans conditions devant permettre à l’ensemble de la population de mener une existence digne et de participer à la vie publique.

La loi règlerait le financement et fixerait le montant de cette allocation (les initiants la situent à 2000-2500 francs par mois, soit, grosso modo, le montant maximum de l’aide sociale actuelle, mais n’inscrivent pas ce montant dans le texte de l’initiative). Le revenu de base est inconditionnel : il n’est subordonné à aucune contre-prestation. Il est universel (tout le monde le touche) et égalitaire (tout le monde touche le même montant). Il est individuel (il est versé aux individus, pas aux ménages).

Il n’est pas un revenu de substitution à un revenu ou un salaire perdu. En revanche, il remplace tous les revenus de substitution (assurance chômage, retraite, allocations familiales, allocations d’étude, rentes invalidité) qui lui sont inférieurs. Comment le financer? Par l’impôt direct sur le revenu et la fortune, par l’impôt indirect sur la consommation (la TVA), par un impôt sur les transactions financières, et surtout par le transfert des ressources consacrées au financement de l’AVS, de l’AI, de l’aide sociale et des autres revenus de substitution inférieurs au montant du revenu de base.

The grassroots initiative “for an unconditional basic income” proposes that “the establishment of an unconditional universal benefit” be written into the federal constitution which would “allow the entire population to lead a dignified existence and participate in public life”.The law will address financing and set the amount of the benefit (the proposers suggest around 2,000-2,500 Swiss francs per month (or 2,200-2,700 US dollars per month), which is about the same as the maximum current social security payment, but they have not written this into the text of the initiative[fr]). The basic income does not come with any conditions attached: it is not subject to any means testing. It is universal (everyone will receive it) and egalitarian (everyone will receive the same amount). It is also personal (it is paid out to individuals, not households).It is not income to replace a lost salary. Rather, it replaces all inferior income support (unemployment benefit, pensions, family allowance, student grants, disability payments). How will it be financed? Through direct taxation of income and wealth, indirect taxation on consumption (VAT), taxing financial transactions, and most especially through the reallocation of resources currently allotted to financing state pensions and unemployment payouts, social security and other welfare payments lower than the amount of the basic income.

On his blog [fr], Fred Hubleur makes the point:

Le truc important, c’est que ce revenu est fixé pour toutes et tous sans qu’il n’y ait de contrepartie de travail ; oui, un revenu sans emploi. Cela peut choquer. Mais dans le fond c’est une idée parfaitement défendable. D’une part, on lutte ainsi contre la pauvreté et la précarité, plus besoins d’aides sociales en complément de revenus autres et des dizaines d’aides différentes et complexes à mettre en œuvre. Ce revenu inconditionnel est également un bon point pour l’innovation et la création. (…) On est aussi dans un nouveau paradigme qui peut effrayer les capitalistes acharnés : libérer l’Homme du travail et lui rendre son statut d’homo sapiens prévalant à celui d’homo travaillus qui a tellement cours dans notre société.

The important thing is that this revenue is fixed for everyone without there being a requirement to work; that’s right, it is income without employment. This might seem shocking. But at its heart it is an entirely defensible idea. On the one hand, we are fighting against poverty and insecurity, there will no longer be a need for social security to bolster other incomes, and dozens of different and unwieldy benefits. This unconditional income is equally good news for innovation and creativity. (…) We have also made a paradigm shift that dyed-in-the-wool capitalists might find alarming: the liberation of working man, returning him to his status as homo sapiens over that of homo travaillus (ed’s note:  Homo travaillus is a play on word to describe the working man) which holds such sway in our society.

Martouf sets out a number of arguments in favour of a basic income [fr], as illustrated here:

Human reason to work by freeworldcharter.org

This new world vision has most notably been explored in the Helvetico-German film Basic Income: A Cultural Impetus, by Ennon Schmidt and Daniel Hani, two of the eight Swiss citizens founders of the initiative: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQzz654G-6g.

“And what would you do with a basic income?”

On the website of BIEN_Switzerland, the Swiss branch of the global network calling for a basic income, Internet users were asked the following question [fr]:

Voilà, ça y est, vous l’avez. Chaque mois vous recevez 2500 francs sans condition. Dites-nous en quoi votre vie a changé. Dites-nous ce que vous faites de votre temps. A quoi vous consacrez votre vie ?

So here it is. You receive 2,500 Swiss francs every month no strings attached. Tell us how your life would change. Tell us how you would spend your time. What would you devote your life to?

The responses were varied. Antoine would set up a restaurant. Gaetane a farm. Renaud would devote himself to music:

Mon premier projet serait de finir et de tenter de produire un instrument de musique que je suis en train de créer. Parallèlement à ça je proposerais des cours d’utilisation de mon instrument de musique préféré et peu connu dans la région

My first project would be to finish a musical instrument that I am in the process of creating and attempting to put it into production. At the same time I would offer lessons on how to play my favourite musical instrument, one which is not well known in this region.

User herfou70 would prioritise his family [fr]:

Je suis Père de famille (3 enfants – 6-11-14 ans) et suis le seul salairé de la famille. Disposer d’une revenu de base me permettrait de consacrer plus temps à mes enfants. Mon épouse pourrait également avoir une activité autre que celle qu’elle occupe dans le foyer, ce qui lui permettrait de plus s’épanouir

I am a father (3 children – 6, 11 and 14 years old) and I am the family’s only earner. To have a basic income would allow me to devote more time to my children. My wife would also be able to do something outside of looking after our home, allowing her to grow and develop.

Poster from the “revenu de base inconditionnel” initiative

On Facebook, supporters of the basic income initiative have launched a competition [fr] called “star for life”. Visitors to the site are invited to take a photo of themselves as if they were sentenced to life.

A basic income will “do more harm than good”

But not everyone is convinced by the idea. According to Jean Christophe Schwaab, a member of Switzerland’s lower house of representatives, socialists must not support the proposition, which he judges will “do more harm than good and be a disaster for employees”. He gave the following explanation on his blog [fr]:

Les partisans du revenu de base prétendent que ce revenu doit «libérer de l’obligation de gagner sa vie» et entraînerait la disparition des emplois précaires ou mal payés, car, puisque le revenu de base garantit le minimum vital, plus personnes ne voudra de ces emplois. Or, c’est probablement le contraire qui se produirait. Comme ces faibles montants ne suffiront pas à atteindre le premier objectif de l’initiative, à savoir garantir des conditions de vie décentes, leurs bénéficiaires seront obligés de travailler quand même, malgré le revenu de base. La pression d’accepter n’importe quel emploi ne disparaîtra donc pas.

Supporters of a basic income claim that it must “free people from the obligation of earning a living” and lead to the disappearance of unstable or poorly paid employment, because, as this basic income guarantees a minimum living wage, no one will want these jobs. Now, it’s more than likely to produce the opposite effect. As the low level of the payouts will not be sufficient to satisfy the initiative’s primary objective, namely ensure a decent standard of living, the beneficiaries will be obliged to work anyway, despite the basic income. The pressure to accept any available job will not go away.

He added:

Enfin, le revenu de base inconditionnel aurait pour grave défaut d’exclure définitivement bon nombre de travailleurs du marché du travail (dont on nierait alors le droit au travail): ceux dont on ne jugerait pas la capacité de gain suffisante (p. ex. en raison d’un handicap, de maladie ou de faibles qualifications) n’auraient qu’à se contenter du revenu de base.

Lastly, an unconditional basic income would, worst of all, permanently exclude a good number of workers from the job market (by denying their right to work): those who are judged to have insufficient earning potential (e.g. due to disability, illness or lack of qualifications) will just have to content themselves with the basic income.

His analysis is controversial, as can be seen from the comments thread under his post. From a French perspective, Jeff Renault explained why the left are “dead set against” [fr] an unconditional basic income:

La gauche de la fin du 19è et du 20è siècle s’est forgée autour de la valeur travail et la défense des travailleurs. Ce combat se retrouve dans la défense persistante du salariat et de son St. Graal, le CDI, alors même que ce “statut” ne concerne plus qu’une minorité de personnes.

The left of the end of the 19th and the 20th centuries was forged on the values of work and defending workers. This fight centres around the never ending defence of the salaried worker and the Holy Grail of permanent, salaried contracts, even through this “status” only applies to the minority.

With the launch of the initiative, Hubleur hopes [fr] that a great societal debate will open up in Switzerland:

Ce sera au moins la porte ouverte à un grand débat de société et l’occasion de réfléchir à ce que l’on veut et à quelle vie on aspire. Ce système d’allocation universelle (ou autres noms), ça fait un moment que je le suis, je me souviens qu’on en avait parlé dans des cours sur la précarité et le lien social il y a une dizaine d’années à l’université. Le principe est franchement séduisant et mérite qu’on s’y arrête.

Quand on voit le monde que nous donne le système capitaliste et productiviste actuel, on peut bien se prendre à rêver d’autre chose, d’un monde laissant plus de chances à chacune et chacun.

This will at least open the door to a great societal debate and the chance to reflect on what we want and to what kind of life we aspire. I’ve been following the idea of a universal benefit system (amongst other names) for a while. I remember talking about it in a class on instability and social ties a decade ago at university. The idea is frankly very seductive and deserves a closer look.When you look at the world created through the current capitalist, productivist model, you could easily end up longing for something else, for a world that gives everyone a better chance.

Petition for human rights defender facing life in prison

Frontline Defenders: April 4, 2012

http://frontlinedefenders.org

 

Free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja JOIN THE CAMPAIGN

http://www.bahrainhrd.org/

 

Dear friends and colleagues,

A former colleague of mine and staff of Front Line Defenders, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, is facing a life imprisonment in Bahrain for leading a peaceful demonstration last year. He has been severely tortued while he was arrested, including sexual assault by the prison guards.

He is currently on an indefinite hunger strike, currently into his 52 days. We are collecting a petition to be submitted to King of Bahrain calling for him to be release and to receive urgent treatment. This will be submitted through the Bahraini embassy some time next week.

If you are interested to join this cause, please send your name and your affiliation to pokpong@frontlinedefenders.org by Mon 9 April.

The information about Abdulhadi and his arrest can be found at: http://www.bahrainhrd.org/act_now.html

 

HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Office of The King
The Amiri Court, Rifa’a Palace
PO Box 555
Manama
Bahrain

Your Highness:

I am writing to express my deep concern for the health and welfare of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is a prisoner at the Jaw Prison in Bahrain. He has been on hunger strike since the night of February 8/9 and his health is deteriorating.

I know that the Foreign Minister of Denmark has made the specific request for Abdulhadi to be released to Denmark on humanitarian grounds, so that he can receive treatment both for the effects of the hunger strike and the ongoing pain he suffers as a result of the torture he suffered during his detention (BICI report, Annex B, Case #8).

Abdulhadi is well known as a human rights defender, and his work to support other human rights activists and victims of abuse is highly respected around the world. His conviction in a Bahraini court has been deemed unfair by the panel you empowered to review the cases that were brought before the National Safety Court.

Your Majesty, you are in the unique position of having this man’s life in your hands. I urge you to show mercy and grant his release from prison so that he may go to Denmark for urgent treatment.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

 

Pokpong Lawansiri, Protection Coordinator for Asia, Front Line Defenders

109 Soi Sittichon, Sutthisarn Rd, Huaykwang, Bangkok 10310

Tel: +66 (0) 2 275 4231, Mobile: +66 (0) 84 388 8110

Fax: +66 (0) 2 275 4230

 

Website: www.frontlinedefenders.org

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/yw4BXi

Follow Front Line Defenders on Twitter: @FrontLineHRD

 

Free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN

http://www.bahrainhrd.org/

The US Congress is sneaking in a new law that gives them big brother spy powers over the entire web — and they’re hoping the world won’t notice. We helped stop their Net attack last time, let’s do it again.

Over 100 Members of Congress are backing a bill (CISPA) that would give private companies and the US government the right to spy on any of us at any time for as long as they want without a warrant. This is the third time the US Congress has tried to attack our Internet freedom. But we helped beat SOPA, and PIPA — and now we can beat this new Big Brother law.

Our global outcry has played a leading role in protecting the Internet from governments eager to monitor and control what we do online. Let’s stand together once again — and beat this law for good. Sign the petition then forward to everyone who uses the Internet:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa/?vl

Under the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), if a cyber threat is even suspected, companies we use to access the Internet will have the right to collect information on our activities, share that with the government, refuse to notify us that we are being watched and then use a blanket immunity clause to protect themselves from being sued for violation of privacy or any other illegal action. It’s a crazy destruction of the privacy we all rely on in our everyday emails, Skype chats, web searches and more.

But we know that the US Congress is afraid of the world’s response. This is the third time they have tried to rebrand their attempt to attack our Internet freedom and push it through under the radar, each time changing the law’s name and hoping citizens would be asleep at the wheel. Already, Internet rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have condemned the bill for its interference with basic privacy rights — now it’s time for us to speak out.

Sign the petition to Congress opposing CISPA. When we reach 250,000 signers our call will be delivered to each of the 100 US Representatives backing the bill:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa/?vl

Internet freedom faces threats everyday from governments around the world — but the US is best placed to attack the rights of Internet users because so much of the Net’s infrastructure is located there. Our movement has, time and time again, proven that global public opinion can help beat back US threats to our Net. Let’s do it again.

More information

Move over SOPA & PIPA: Here comes CISPA — Internet censorship (Digital Journal)

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/322396

CISPA: Congressional plan to censor Internet concerns critics (Examiner)

http://www.examiner.com/progressive-in-portland/cispa-congressional-plan-to-censor-internet-concerns-critics

Good freedom, bad freedom: Irony of cybersecurity (RT)

http://rt.com/usa/news/usa-internet-cybersecurity-cispa-299/

Internet SOPA/PIPA Revolt: Don’t Declare Victory Yet (Wired)

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/internet-revolt-follow/

H.R. 3523: Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3523

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