#Greece: Free speech faces abyss #FOE #FOS #Censorship #Media

The arrest of editor Kostas Vaxevanis for exposing alleged tax cheats is just the latest attack on free speech in Greece. Democracy itself is now in danger, say Asteris Masouras and Veroniki Krikoni

UPDATE: Since this article was published, journalist Spiros Karatzaferis was arrested on an outstanding charge after claiming he would publish classified documents relating to Greece’s financial bailout. 

Athens, Greece. 29th October 2012 -- Greek Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis has his trial postponed. Stathis Kalligeris | DemotixIn recent months Greece has recorded multiple instances of censorship and attacks on the press. Systematic efforts to curtail media freedom are taking place against a backdrop of rising police brutality used to quell anti-austerity protests and mounting neo-Nazi violence against journalists, immigrants, and homosexuals linked to rise of the far-right Golden Dawn party, which gained 18 seats in June’s parliamentary elections (having achieved a record 21 seats in the May election).

28 October, National Day in Greece, saw the arrest of investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis, whose Hot Doc magazine published a leaked list (nicknamed the “Lagarde list”) of over 2,000 names of Greeks with bank accounts in Switzerland. Reporters Sans Frontieres appealed for his release, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, expressed her concern, and netizens rallied to his support on Twitter, gathering over 16,000 signatures on a petition demanding that charges be dropped, as did the European Federation of Journalists.

“They are after me instead of  the truth,” Vaxevanis stated in a video uploaded on the night before his arrest.

New York Times editorial slammed the Greek government for being “shamefully quick” to attack the messenger and strip basic social services from the country’s most vulnerable citizens but shamefully slow at probing possible tax evasion by the well-connected. Vaxevanis, whose magazine has been steadily publishing investigative reports on graft and corruption scandals, had reported a seemingly abortive ambush at his home on the northern suburbs of Athens earlier in September by five unknown individuals.

Several other incidents of censorship have plagued the media in the last month, leading to international condemnation and grave concerns about the state of democracy in its nominal birthplace.

On 25 September, a 27-year-old netizen was remanded to trial on blasphemy charges for maintaining a Facebook page titled “Gerontas Pastitsios” (Elder Pastitsios), which included satirical comments on Christianity and the noted Eastern Orthodox monk Elder Paisios and his alleged“prophecies”, as well as the commercial exploitation of Paisios’s legacy. The matter was raised by a member of parliament from Golden Dawn. According to the defendant, the blasphemy charge was later dropped, but he still faces defamation and insult charges over third-party comments left on the Facebook page (he maintains he never defamed or used abusive language himself, and even deleted abusive comments).

On 9 October, the Guardian published a report by the Nation’s Maria Margaronis on torture allegations made by anti-fascist protesters arrested after a clash with Golden Dawn members on 26 September, in which detainees spoke of being subjected to an “Abu Ghraib-style humiliation” at police headquarters in Athens. The Μinister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias, later announced his intention to sue the British newspaper for defamation and instead of ordering a public inquiry while investigating the torture allegations in a “sworn administrative inquiry”, a process described by the UNHCR in 2008 as an internal and confidential police procedure designed to protect the rights of the officer involved rather than those of the complainant.

On 11 October, religious groups and neo-Nazis protested against the gay-themed play Corpus Christi in Athens, deeming it blasphemous; they assaulted a theatre critic and forced the cancellation of the performance. Five days later, Greek public television channel NET censored a gay kiss scene from the British TV series Downton Abbey. Management apologised after a furore online against censorship, and rebroadcast the episode uncensored.

On 26 October, ERT3 state TV reporter Christos Dantsis, assigned to cover the celebrations of the liberation centenary of Thessaloniki, “disappeared” on screen, after reporting on citizen protests against the Greek Prime Minister and President of the Republic outside St Dimitrios’ church and the heavy police presence that had descended on the city. His substitute was ordered to present a more amicable image of festivities.

On 28 October, a 35-year-old man arrested in Corfu for posting photos of police and Golden Dawn on Facebook during the Ochi Day parade, was reportedly charged with breaching privacy, defamation and “spreading false news with the intent to destabilise the state”.

The following day, two journalists, Kostas Arvanitis and Marilena Katsimi, had their morning news show on Greek state TV (ERT) cancelled, after analysing claims by the Guardian of police torture of Greek anti-fascist protesters in Athens, and criticising the Greek Minister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias.Katsimi told the Guardian:

About an hour after the programme ended, the director of information called for a transcript. He didn’t ask to talk to us. And it was then announced that two other journalists would present tomorrow’s show. We were cut.

Aimilios Liatsos, ERT’s general director, defended his decision and stated that the two journalists “violated minimum standards of journalistic ethics”. Various political parties and organizations have condemned ERT’s action, while journalists at ERT/NET launched a 24-hour rolling strike as of 30 October, until the decision on Arvanitis and Katsimi is withdrawn.

In reaction to these developments, The Nation’s Maria Maragaronis argues:

Greece can no longer be called a functioning democracy […], as press freedom, always precarious in Greece where most private media are in the hands of well-connected oligarchs, is a dead letter.

David Hughes of the Daily Telegraph underlines that “press freedom is under threat in Greece and the EU doesn’t seem to care”.  Yiannis Baboulias similarly accuses European leaders of treating what is happening in Greece as a national problem, predicting in a New Statesman article that “they’re holding the door open for their countries to go down the same path”.


An apparent lack of Internet policy and judicial ignorance of the nature of the internet had led to the first publicised incident of online censorship in Greece in October 2006. During the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Athens, news emerged that Greek authorities had arrested Antonis Tsipropoulos, a Greek aggregation service administrator, and confiscated his hard drives, for linking to US-hosted blog posts that satirised Greek businessman and tele-evangelist Dimosthenis Liakopoulos. Bloggers organised a massive online solidarity campaign and held courtside protests, declaiming the lack of web savvy of the complainant and the court, as well as the technophobe spirit of the time. Tsipropoulos’ case was mired in legal limbo for years, as often happens in similar cases. Subsequent attempts over the years by Greek governments to institute “anti-blog laws” — similar to ones recently enacted in Jordan, Zambia and Malawi, among others — that would enforce mandatory registration and hold bloggers accountable for third-party comments, were held in check by netizen initiatives.


Overt press censorship is banned by the Greek Constitution, but systematic efforts to curtail press freedom have intensified in recent years, as unpopular austerity measures, corruption scandals and police violence are fueling frequent protests and dissent. Greece notably plummeted 35 ranks in the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders in 2010, in large part due to the assassination of online journalist Sokratis Giolias, allegedly because of his work on an undisclosed corruption story, and targeted police attacks on photojournalists covering protests. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations have repeatedly chastised the Greek state, urging a “zero tolerance” approach to police violence. Threats and abuse against journalists by newly-elected politicians from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party prompted CPJ to remark that the party “casts a shadow on Europe’s press freedom”.

While Greece is widely and casually demonised as “patient zero” of the European financial crisis, politicians and the media are routinely displaying a callous shortsightedness in addressing its corrosive effects on press freedom and free speech,  eating away at the core values that made the European Union a necessary reality. This is, in large part, to oppose the spectre of totalitarianism ever rising again in the continent.

As Kostas Vaxevanis has written: “Greece gave birth to democracy. Now it has been cast out by a powerful elite”.

Asteris Masouras and Veroniki Krikoni are Global Voices authors and editors of Global Voices in Greek







#Russia -#Censorship f’Internet blacklist law takes effect #FOS #FOE

Children using a computer

Nov 1, 2012  BBC

A law that aims to protect children from harmful internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline has taken effect in Russia.

The authorities are now able to blacklist and force offline certain websites without a trial.

The law was approved by both houses of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin in July.

Human rights groups have said the legislation might increase censorship in the country.

The law is the amendment to the current Act for Information.

The authorities say the goal is to protect minors from websites featuring sexual abuse of children, offering details about how to commit suicide, encouraging users to take drugs and sites that solicit children for pornography.

If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosting companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.

It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet”

Yuri VdovinCitizens’ Watch

Critics have described it another attempt by President Vladimir Putin to exercise control over the population.

“Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don’t think it will be limited to that,” Yuri Vdovin, vice-president of Citizens’ Watch, a human rights organisation based in Saint-Petersburg, told the BBC.

“The government will start closing other sites – any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline.

“It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet.”

Mr Vdovin said that to close a website, the government would simply have to say that its content was “harmful to children”.

“But there are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites – and they could have easily been closed down by now – but no, [the government] doesn’t care, there are no attempts to do so,” he added.

A risk for websites?

Besides NGOs and human rights campaigners, websites including the Russian search engine giant Yandex, social media portal Mail.ru and the Russian-language version of Wikipedia have all protested against the law.

Screengrab of Russian Wikipedia pageThe Russian version of Wikipedia went dark for a day in protest at the law in July

The latter, for instance, took its content offline for a day ahead of the vote in July, claiming the law “could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the entire internet in Russia, including banning access to Wikipedia in the Russian language”.

Yandex temporarily crossed out the word “everything” in its “everything will be found” logo.

“The way the new law will work depends on the enforcement practice,” said a spokesman.

“Yandex, along with other key Russian market players, is ready to discuss with lawmakers the way it is going to work.”

In July, the Russian social networking site Vkontakte posted messages on users’ homepages warning that the law posed a risk to its future.

However, the country’s telecom minister Nikolai Nikiforov, suggested that such concerns were overblown when he spoke at the NeForum blogging conference this week.

“Internet has always been a free territory,” he said, according to a reportby Russian news agency Tass.

“The government is not aimed at enforcing censorship there. LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook showcase socially responsible companies.

“That means that they will be blocked only if they refuse to follow Russian laws, which is unlikely, in my opinion.



#India- #Punjab bans vulgar songs in buses to stop accidents #Censorship #wtfnews

TNN | Nov 1, 2012, 02.31AM IST

CHANDIGARH: If the khap panchayats believe eating chowmein can lead to an increased libido and that spicy noodles were behind the recent rise in rape incidents in Haryana, then the transport minister of Punjab thinks playing “vulgar and provocative music” in buses can cause road accidents.

Punjab transport minister Ajit Singh Kohar on Wednesday banned drivers from playing “vulgar and provocative songs” in the state-run transport buses as a preventive measure against fatal accidents.

According to Kohar, vulgar music is a great distraction for those behind the wheel. “Frequent playing of vulgar music in buses not only generates mental pollution among passengers but is also instrumental in fatal accidents due to distraction,” he said.

The minister has issued the ban orders to the state transport department, asking officials to implement the same with immediate effect.

Kohar said strict action would be taken against drivers violating the order.

To keep an eye, and an ear, on the lovers of “vulgar songs”, special teams would soon be set up to conduct random surprise checks on the state transport buses, said a senior official of the transport department.

Agreeing that there has not been any bus accident caused by vulgar music in recent memory, the officials added that “prevention is always better than cure”.

The officials said the state censor board would be of great help in marking vulgar songs. The Punjab government has already constituted its own censor board following protests against many Punjabi singers, who are accused of demeaning women in their sexually suggestive songs.

The transport minister has also asked the passengers to inform him if they came across drivers playing vulgar music. The state transport department has a fleet of 3,500 buses for the state and inter-state travels.


#India – Nuclear safety before vendor interests

October 30, 2012, The Hindu

    M. V. Ramana
    Suvrat Raju
BEYOND MEGAWATT: Making the operator and supplier share liability is not only fair but crucial from the point of view of cover.
Photo: AP BEYOND MEGAWATT: Making the operator and supplier share liability is not only fair but crucial from the point of view of cover.

The question that must be asked, is whether India is willing to compromise on its laws and the safety and rights of its citizens to protect the business interests of reactor suppliers

In 2010, under pressure from multinational nuclear suppliers, the Manmohan Singh government pushed through a law to protect them from the consequences of a nuclear accident. The law makes it impossible for victims to sue the supplier, even for an accident that results from a design defect. Liability is effectively transferred to the Indian taxpayer, first to the public sector Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) and then the government. Even this is capped at a maximum of Rs.2,500 crore and victims need not be compensated for any additional damage.

However, the law also includes a clause that, under certain circumstances, allows the NPCIL, although not the victims, to sue the supplier and recoup the money it has paid out. It is this relatively minor clause that nuclear suppliers, and their friends in the Indian establishment, have been railing against for the past two years.

The Russian Deputy Prime Minister warned India, on his recent visit, that if the Russian company Atomstroyexport (a subsidiary of Rosatom) was forced to obey this law, then the cost of power from the Kudankulam third and fourth reactors would go up. He must have been hoping that no one would try and square this threat with earlier claims of safety made about these plants.

In a paper, published by “Nuclear Engineering and Design” in 2006, three NPCIL officials claimed that, in any given year, the probability of a severe accident at these plants was one in 10 million. If Atomstroyexport can persuade insurers that this figure is correct, then to obtain cover even for accidents where the highest possible liability of Rs.2,500 crore is applicable, it would need to pay a premium of only about Rs.2,500 per year. For the 1,000 MW Kudankulam reactors, operating at an 80 per cent load factor, this should lead to an increase in tariff of about a third of a millionth of a rupee per unit!

This absurdly low figure arises because both the factors in the calculation earlier make little sense. As preliminary data from Fukushima shows, a nuclear accident can cause economic damage that is more than a hundred times larger than the artificial cap on liability in the Indian law. Moreover, empirical evidence — in a total of about 15,000 reactor-years of operation, there have been several “core-damage” accidents including Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island — suggests that the probability of severe accidents is about a thousand times higher than what the industry claims.

Suppliers have successfully wielded their influence in other countries to avoid economic liability for accidents. Their argument that the Indian law will lead to cost escalations is meant to veil the real reason for their worry: the law sets a bad precedent and, in the future, either in India itself or in another country, it may lead to a more rational law centred on victims rather than the industry. In such a law, there would be no cap on liability, and suppliers would be held jointly responsible with the operator for paying out damages.

In fact, the Supreme Court has already admitted a petition, by the lawyer Prashant Bhushan, requesting precisely these changes in the law. Making the operator and supplier share liability is not only fair but crucial from the point of view of safety.

Design and accidents

The history of nuclear power shows that design failures have played an important role in all severe accidents. This is true of Fukushima, where the underlying problems with the Mark 1 design had been recognised many years earlier. The Kemeny Commission, set up by Jimmy Carter, to analyse the Three Mile Island accident pointed out that the suppliers, Babcock & Wilcox, shared culpability. The disaster at the Chernobyl reactor, which was built by the Soviet predecessor of Rosatom, was caused by a combination of two grievous design features: a positive “void coefficient of reactivity,” and the lack of appropriate containment.

Apart from the untenable claim about higher tariffs, nuclear suppliers and the Indian government have made other disingenuous arguments to get rid of the clause on supplier liability. One of them is that the law is hurting India’s domestic manufacturers, some of whom are involved in supplying small parts of the plant.

In general, as in other industries, exposing all manufacturers along the supply chain to tort claims helps make them more conscious of safety and quality. Manufacturers who are supplying parts to a hazardous industry need to be more careful about reliability.

Nevertheless, the law does not, as such, prevent the NPCIL from signing subcontracts that indemnify smaller suppliers along the chain. The NPCIL’s problem is that it is politically infeasible to extend this indemnity to the manufacturer of the plant itself, as it discovered when it tried to provide blanket indemnity to Atomstroyexport for the Kudankulam third and fourth units.

Industry on Indian law

The nuclear industry also argues that India’s current law is out of sync with international conventions on nuclear liability. This is a poor argument because these conventions were all drafted under pressure from nuclear manufacturers who, historically, were in a stronger position than they are now. In the early days of nuclear power, American suppliers exploited this to impose the idea that liability should be channelled to the operator. Later, suppliers from other countries also adopted this self-serving argument.

Until recently, the United States itself never joined any international liability convention, because under its domestic law, called the Price Anderson Act, victims retain the right to sue suppliers. Economic compensation is channelled through a complicated insurance system, but manufacturers can be found legally liable and this has consequences.

In 1997, the U.S. engineered the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), with a special rider for itself. When Bush communicated the convention to the U.S. Senate for ratification, he emphasised that “The United States in particular benefits from a grandfather clause that allows it to join the convention without being required to change certain aspects of the Price-Anderson system that would otherwise be inconsistent with its requirements.”

India’s own law is largely borrowed from an annex of the CSC. After showing no inclination to join any of the existing treaties for half a century, the Indian government rushed to sign this discriminatory convention soon after the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. This shows that it was acting under external pressure, and not out of any concern for potential victims.

Even granting that suppliers should be liable in principle, many well-meaning people argue that India must acquiesce to the demands of the industry because it desperately needs electricity. Leaving aside the debate on the role of nuclear power in general, it is clear that India’s push towards importing reactors has less to do with electricity, and more to do with other factors.

Kakodkar article

Even by the standards of UPA II, the process of handing out multi-billion dollar contracts for reactors to various multinational companies has been opaque and arbitrary. In Jaitapur, the government has promised to buy up to six European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) from Areva. No EPR is in commercial operation anywhere in the world and in France and Finland, Areva is running into severe construction-difficulties. Two nuclear complexes have been promised to the U.S., again involving designs that have never been built before.

In a rare candid admission, the former chairperson of the Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar, provided the rationale behind these seemingly bizarre decisions.

Writing in the Marathi daily Sakaal, in January 2011, Kakodkar explained: “America, Russia and France were the countries that we made mediators in the efforts to lift sanctions, and hence, for the nurturing of their business interests, we made deals with them for nuclear projects.”

As the debate on liability continues both in public and in the courts, the question that the country must ask is whether it is willing to compromise on its laws, and the safety and rights of its citizens to protect the business interests of reactor vendors.

(The authors are physicists.)


Press Release-Koodankulam Could Be Another Bhopal Disaster In Waiting: Noam Chomsky

Koodankulam Could Be Another Bhopal Disaster In Waiting: Noam Chomsky

Press Release By Koodankulam Solidarity Group

31 October, 2012

Internationally acclaimed academician Noam Chomsky of Massachussets Institute of Technology of the United States has said that Koodankulam could be another Bhopal disaster in waiting. In a solidarity letter to the struggling people he said `Nuclear energy is a very dangerous initiative, particularly in countries like India, which has had more than its share of industrial disasters, Bhopal being the most famous,’ said Noam Chomsky. ` I would like to express my support for the courageous people’s movement protesting the opening of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant.’

Avram Noam Chomsky is internationally famous linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, historian, political critic and activist. He has worked as a professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT. In addition to his work in linguistics, he has written on war, politics, mass media and a many other areas. Chomsky was cited more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992 and he was voted the “world’s top public intellectual” in a 2005 poll.Described as the “father of modern linguistics, he is most well known for his book called ` Manufacturing Consent’

`The support of Noam Chomsky is a major blessing to the fishing community of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, who are unfortunately the first victims of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant,’ said T.Peter , Secretary, National Fish Workers’ Forum. `We hope more and more groups and individuals will flow now to support the struggle.’

`Chomsky is one of the most leading existing internationally reknowned left intellectuals today. It is surprising that while such a great personality has expressed support to the Koodankulam struggle, the left in India is still confused about their stand on the hazards of nuclear energy,’ said Civic Chandran , activist writer . Chomsky’s response came as a part of the efforts of the anti-nuclear activists to campaign on Koodankulam issue through the internet in a unique manner through a well known website http://www.countercurrents org The site has been publishing posters using statements in support of the the Koodankulam struggle from well known national and international personalities every day along with their photographs from October 11, onwards.

Mairead Maguire, the 1976 nobel peace prize winner and Irish peace activist also expressed her solidarity to the koodankulam struggle. She said the struggle is an inspiration to the world. She also said “I offer my solidarity with the brave people of Koodankulam, as they nonviolently resist the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in their community. The courageous villagers-men and women- who are risking their lives do so to safeguard the lives of their children, the livelihood of all their fishermen,and their environment.We support you all, continue to be brave, refuse to be silent, and you will overcome… your actions are in inspiration to many of us around the world and we join you in spirit…Shanti”

The campaign through posters on the net began with former Chief Minister of Kerala, V.S.Achuthanandan who said: `We do not need this nuclear bomb. The Central Govt. must immediately stop all activities regarding this plant. The Kerala Govt. must wake up with an understanding on the threat from this on the people and act immediately.’

While the stand of Achuthanandan on nuclear energy was being debated, some of the others who expressed their stand on the campaign are the following:

`What the poor people of Koodankulam is doing is what anyone would struggle for the protection of one’s own life and future. It is not surprising that the Government which has become a part of the nuclear lobby could not understand this. Let them learn from the widespread lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima ‘ – Binoy Viswarm, Former Minster of Kerala & CPI leader.

` We fully support the courageous struggle against the nuclear power station in Koodankulam. In Denmark the resistance against nuclear power was strong and well organized and today Denmark is free of nuclear energy. Our resistance was able to close the nuclear power station Barsebäck in Sweden close to Denmark ‘ – Christian Juhl, Member of Parliament and spokesman, The Red-Green Alliance , Denmark .

`Koodankulam nuclear plant is a Fukushima in the making. It will be another genocide of the Tamils, Sinhalese and Indians waiting to happen. Sri Lanka is just a stone’s throw away from Koodankulam. We the Sri Lankan people, Tamil, Sinhalese and Tamil speaking Muslims oppose it tooth and nail, along side our brothers and sisters of Idinthakarai and Koodankulam – Siritunga Jayasuria, Former Presidential candidate, General Secretary, United Socialist Party, Sri Lanka

`We agree that electricity is needed for development. But the main question is whether we have used all safer options for the production of energy before we think of nuclear option. This question is leading to a lot of suspicions’ – Annie Raja, National Council Member, CPI.

`Public pressure is needed to break the power of the greedy nuclear lobby. Koodankulam struggle is vital and I will do my utmost to spread the word about your struggle within the trade union and anti nuclear movement in Europe ‘ – Reknowned politician Paul Murphy, Member of the European Parliament for the Socialist Party of Ireland .

`Socialist Alternative (SAV) Germany condemn the state terror unleashed on the peaceful protesters of Koodankulam. We demand the immediate withdrawal of the police force. We demand that the government heed to the sane voice of the anti-nuclear movement and immediately stop the killer project which is bound to put the people, flora and fauna, the fragile environment and the other species in irrevocable danger’ – Lucy Redler, Spokesperson of Socialist Alternative (SAV) Germany

` The government must immediately stop the brutal treatment of protesters and shut down the plant without further delay. The investment should be channeled to renewable energy production. All development should be people centric and not for the profits of the few. Tamil Solidarity campaign will continue to support the Koodankulam anti-nuclear struggle and will continue to build support internationally’ – TU Senan, International coordinator for Tamil Solidarity Campaign.

`I am totally in solidarity with people in Koodankulam and elsewhere protesting against nuclear reactors. This we do not need in the world. We do not understand the long term dangers and must ban all new installations’ – Mallika Sarabhai, Indian classical dancer and social activist

`Atomic power is against Humanity. Human beings have not evolved enough to handle atomic power. At source level atomic energy is no different from atomic weapon. Every Nation has a hidden agenda of producing atomic Weapon. Say NO TO ATOMIC POWER!’ – KAVIGNAR Thamarai .

`The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project will have serious health consequences, not only for the local people, but also for the people of the entire region. This will be accompanied by large scale loss of livelihood for the fisher folk communities of the entire area. The long term risks of a nuclear accident are unpredictable’ – Dr. Binayak Sen, Member, Planning Commission’s Steering Committee on Health.

`Without a fully worked out disaster management plan, Koodankulam or any other nuclear reactor is a sure passport to disaster. This is an unwarranted risk. A nuclear reactor is potentially more dangerous than an ato bomb, because each 1000 MW reactor contains radio active materials equivilant to 200 nagasaki bombs’ – Dr. M.P. Parameswaran, Nuclear Engineer, KSSP.

`Stop Nuclear Menace in Koodankulam. Defend the Planet!’ – Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker .

`I stand in complete solidarity with the villagers of Idinthikkarai who are resisting Koodankulam reactor. I happened to be in Japan in March 2011 when the earthquake damaged the Fukushima reactor. After the disaster, almost every country that used nuclear energy declared that it would change its policy. Every country, except India ‘ – Arundhati Roy, Writer.

The campaign through http://www.CounterCurrents.org is generating more and more national and international support through face book, twitter, e-groups, websites and many other ways of internet sharing. ` The anti-nuclear activists have always used creative ways of campaigning and this poster campaign through the net is certainly a new step,’ said Subramanian, State Convenor of the Koodankulam Solidarity Group. ` What is most important is that we motivated Noam Chomsky himself to respond to this struggle which is situated in the other part of the planet. We are sure it will inspire many significant personalities and organizations to come out strongly against the nuclear power plant to defend life and environment’

Contact: N. Subramanyan :09497881489. nsubrahmanyan@gmail.com

K. Sajeed: 09496827652. sajeedacl@gmail.com

Geo Jose: 09446000701. geojoselily@gmail.com


#Bangalore- Kathalaya’s three day course on storytelling- Nov 27- Nov 29

Kathalaya has been traveling the length and breadth of the country since 1998 training teachers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and parents to “Use story telling as an educational and communicative tool to effect a change in society”.

Kathalaya works with storytelling centers around the world in both urban as well as rural scenarios. The main aim is to enrich the curriculum by introducing stories in the classroom related to the curriculum. Kathalaya”s Story Educators motivate learning in children using stories, anecdotes and experiences throughout the year in schools.

It has catered to specific segments and customized storytelling to address language development, skill building, vocabulary enhancement, awareness of the environment and to revive interest in Social sciences. Above all Kathalaya evokes innovative thinking with its Thinking, Telling and linking programs both for children and corporate.

With the growing need, Kathalaya felt it was time to set up an Academy of Storytelling. It has two centers in India, Bangalore and Chennai. Kathalaya conducts short term and long-term certificate courses in Storytelling and is affiliated to the International Institute of Storytelling, Tennessee, in U.S.A. The course includes the essentials of integrating storytelling into education, storytelling techniques, extrinsic and intrinsic qualities of a storyteller, importance of gestures and body language, use of chitrakathas, toy theatre, mask making, origami, clay modelling, and puppetry in project presentations.


The Changes at Change.Org: Is This Change We Can Believe In?

Author image

by Gwen Emmons

October 29, 2012 -, rhrealitycheck.org

Last week, the Huffington Post reported that Change.org, long regarded as a progressive organization, would begin accepting sponsored petitions from conservative organizations and businesses. The new policy marks a dramatic shift for the company, whichpreviously claimed in its advertising guidelines that the organization only “accept[s] sponsored campaigns from organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear—fairness, equality, and justice.”

Now the company that once stated that it did not run sponsored petitions from parties that violate their values will welcome petitions from the very organizations that do, giving anti-choice organizations, astroturf groups, corporations, pro-gun groups, and political parties access to an international activist community of millions.

Change.org is an online petition site founded in 2007 by Ben Rattray. Individuals around the world can use Change.org tools to create free petitions advocating for causes. Sponsors can also pay to host a petition on the site, in exchange for the email addresses of those who sign their petition. The company is home to some of the best online organizers in the world, and they’ve racked up serious victories in five short years—including a petition that successfully pressured Bank of America to drop their five dollar debit card fee, and a 13-year-old’s petition aimed at Seventeen magazine which forced editors to re-evaluate their Photoshop policies.

For the most part, Change.org’s victories have been progressive ones. Protecting women who call out their rapists, demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, looking out for Apple workers in China—these have been noble victories that challenged our ideas of what online petitions can do. However, the company now plans to extend that transformative power to organizations fighting for people and companies previously on the receiving end of Change.org petitions, while claiming that they have never said they were a progressive company.

Internal documents leaked by a Change.org staffer who has since been fired from the company explain that Change.org’s new “openness policy” is a result of a rapidly expanding company trying to keep up with demand. Previously, Change.org vetted petitions to ensure each petition and organization aligned with their values. A “Frequently Asked Questions” document notes that Change.org “will soon have thousands of advertisers, and is [sic] would be impossible to scaleably investigate the organizations behind all of these petitions.” The FAQ document adds, “By rejecting some advertisers because we disagree with them, we’d be implicitly endorsing those we accept and exposing ourselves to daily attacks from people who don’t think certain advertisers fit within a set of values.”

The shift comes as Change.org continues to expand internationally, where, the group claims, progressive values don’t always translate. It also appears to be a response to controversy that erupted this summer, when Change.org received significant blowback for running petitions for anti-labor organizations Students First and Stand for Children.

Raven Brooks, Executive Director of Netroots Nation, believes the policy reversal will happen in two phases. In an interview, he told RH Reality Check, “Corporate front groups will be the first things we’ll see [on the site], since they already have an existing model with Michelle Rhee’s group, Students First. The next phase will be going after conservative issue areas – but first, Change.org has to get those people into their system so they can advertise to them.”

Despite requests from RH Reality Check, Change.org declined to comment for this article, stating that their communications staffers were instead focusing on promoting high-profile petition campaigns on the site. Change.org’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, Matt Slutsky, pointed me to a message he posted to the listserv Progressive Exchange in response to an email thread about the policy change. In it, Slutsky writes:

We believe our impact on the world will be greater if we’re an open platform than if we’re an agenda-driven organization. This is pretty unique and in some cases different from the organizations represented on [Progressive Exchange], and it can also be difficult as openness means that some people many of us personally disagree with are able to launch campaigns on our site. That said, our petition platform is, and always has been, open to anyone to start a petition on whatever they care about. That’s what defines our organization and it’s the core component of our work.

He also noted the company is working on personalization technology to target petitions to certain people (and hide them from others)so if you sign a petition in support of Trayvon Martin, you likely won’t be asked to also sign a petition for the NRA.

The misgivings Slutsky acknowledges in his email to Progressive Exchange are echoed in internal emails to Change.org staff, some of who undoubtedly are also uncomfortable with the change. “For some of you, this vision won’t feel like a shift at all. For others, it might seem like a big re-framing of who we are,” Change.org CEO Ben Rattray wrote in an email to staff in July of this year. Possibly anticipating as much external turmoil as internal turmoil, the company planned to quietly roll out these changes without notice to the advocacy community.

Progressive advocates aren’t buying the new policies.

“I would argue that the founder of Change.org is clearly not attempting to further progress, but is attempting to further his income,” says Shelley Abrams, a Virginia activist who founded Cooch Watch 2012, in an interview with RH Reality Check.

He started the site with one agenda, and is now changing that agenda. But don’t try to tell me you are still trying to be an agent for progressive change. That is clearly bullshit.

Rattray’s own words in an internal email to staff posted by Aaron Krager and shared publiclyare telling. “While our mission to maximize our positive impact in the world is our guiding light, it’s not why we’re having such influence,” he writes. “The reason for our impact, and what makes us unique and potentially transformative, is our strategy: empowerment.” Brooks believes that’s exactly the problem.

“I believe in movement infrastructure and competitive advantage. Where [conservatives] excel is money, and they’ve got a media infrastructure that’s second to none,” he admits. “But on our side, our strength has been people and creativity. Technology supports, extends, and expands those things… and it’s not in anyone’s interest to give them a hand in that.”

Abrams has seen this firsthand, as right-wing groups in Virginia are frequently co-opting her group’s ideas in support of their own missions. But she notes that they’re rarely able to use them as effectively as her group has.

“That’s because there is an agile mindset to progressivism that obviously un-progressive groups do not have. Progressivists are about changing (for the better) and non-progressive groups are about stagnation,” she wrote in an email. But as we’ve seen with astroturf groups and SuperPACs, it’s all too easy to bend a conservative message to fit a progressive-sounding mold. Change.org’s new policy of openness doesn’t provide a safeguard for that.

But will Change.org’s move affect progressive advocacy? Abrams, who prefers on-the-ground activism to online petitions, says the move “reeks of selling out… [But] is it the end of the movement if they sell out? No.” After consideration, Brooks believes the loss of Change.org as a progressive advocacy platform is a small one. He pointed to SignOn.org, a similar site created by MoveOn.org, and Care2, as alternatives to Change.org, and believes this policy change will open up more competition for online advocacy platforms. Still, he says, “we’re losing a great team of campaigners.”

That loss has hit the progressive community hard.  Brooks says Netroots Nation activists and other progressives on listservs he follows are “pretty universally upset and betrayed.” Brooks has already heard of listserv managers expunging Change.org subscribers from their lists, and nonprofits dropping their contracts with the company.

Others believe that empowering former enemies stands in the way of progressive causes’ progress. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch, which previously hosted paid petitions on Change.org, wrote in a blog post Wednesday, “We don’t want to see climate change deniers empowered. We have worked with Change.org to empower people with a vision of a better world that is economically and socially equitable and where the environment is protected.”

Hauter continued, “Even after talking with Ben [Rattray], I get the impression that their decision comes down to increasing their size and reach…. We’re disappointed that Change.org has apparently decided that profit trumps progressive values. I think Change.org has become confused about what kind of change we want and what democracy really looks like.”

Follow Gwen Emmons on Twitter, @gwenemmons


#India #Ambala 13 year old raped delivers child #VAW #Torture #WTFnews

A 13-year-old girl, who was reported to be pregnant on Saturday after being allegedly raped by a married man here, delivered a girl child at a Panchkula hospital on Sunday.
Assistant sub-inspector Karan Singh Rana said: “Suspect Deepak, who is a Balmiki Majri resident, was produced before the duty magistrate on Sunday and has been remanded in police custodyfor two days.” He said the police were also on the lookout for his accomplice Mohit, who was allegedly providing him accommodation for the sordid act.Local residents said Deepak was married with a daughter, adding that the victim, a Class-6 student, had lost her father a few years ago. They said as her mother was mentally challenged, she was being looked after by her grandmotherwho was eking out a living by doing odd jobs in houses.The incident had surfaced when the victim had developed pain in the abdomen and her grandmother had taken her to the civil hospital for check up on Friday. After doctors diagnosed her to be pregnant, the victim had reportedly told her grandmother that the accused was exploiting her sexually for the past several months.She had said that she was scared of the suspect, as he had threatened her against divulging details to anyone.

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November 2012
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