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The Death and Gloom of Donetsk and Gaza

Vladimir Putin in Israel, visiting a memorial dedicated to the Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany. June 25, 2012. Kremlin press service, public domain.

Vladimir Putin in Israel, visiting a memorial dedicated to the Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany. June 25, 2012. Kremlin press service, public domain.

There were two headline-grabbing events on Thursday, July 17: the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17, presumably by separatists in eastern Ukraine, and the beginning of Israel’s ground assault into the Gaza Strip. While the former received immense attention on the Russian Internet, the latter incident went decidedly less noticed. There are obvious reasons for this. MH17 crashed in Russia’s backyard, and the fact that Moscow might have provided the missile makes the story front-page news. Also, the media onslaught in Russia, which attempts to hawk any conspiracy theory to cast doubt on the possible guilt of separatists and Moscow, makes the catastrophe ripe for online discussion. 

The current crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn’t arouse as much passion as MH17. It is only tangentially connected to Russian interests, and though Putin is personally sympathetic to Israel, he stops short to condoning the Jewish state’s war on Hamas. Indeed, a perusal of RT coverage of the conflict puts Russia mainly on the side of the Palestinians. Also, the latest back and forth between the Israelis and Palestinians is easily cast off as just the latest round of violence in a never-ending conflict. Despite a mounting death toll on the Palestinian side (at the time of writing, the figure is 620), few RuNet users are writing substantive comments.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t some chatter about the conflict. It’s common for Russian users of Twitter, for instance, to post regular updates about the conflict. Tweets counting Palestinian deaths are routine. A typical tweet reads:

С начала операции в секторе Газа погибли более 500 палестинцев

— troleumkom (@troleumkom) July 21, 2014

500 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the operation into the Gaza Strip.

Or to highlight the intensity of the death, some have tweeted:

За последние сутки в секторе Газа погибли более 100 человек

— Демидова Елена (@lshewou) July 21, 2014

Over 100 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours.

Another user pointed to the fact that Gaza is essentially an open-air prison.

#Палестина – самая большая в мире тюрьма под открытым небом. #Газа #GazaUnderAttack

— Marianna Abakarova (@abakarova1988) July 18, 2014

Palestine is the largest open-air prison in the world. #Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

Another Twitter user simply said:

Гуманитарная катастрофа наблюдается в секторе Газа

— Игорь Юферев (@dudtiopi87) July 21, 2014

The Gaza Strip is witnessing a humanitarian disaster. 

Aside from these and other news-headline tweets, not all, of course, are pointing to Israeli-inflicted death. For updates from an Israeli perspective, Russian language users can follow the Israeli Defense Forces’ official Russian Twitter feed, @Tsahal_Rus. There, you find tweets like the following:

Всего с начала наземной фазы операции #ЦАХАЛ ликвидировал 110 террористов и нанёс удары по 1302 террористическим объектам

— ЦАХАЛ (@Tsahal_Rus) July 20, 2014

Since the beginning of the ground operation, the IDF has liquidated 110 terrorists and bombed 1,302 terrorist targets.

Besides chronicling the war casualties, some RuNet users have pondered the apparent hopelessness of the age-old conflict. Blogging on Ekho Moskvy, political analyst Mikhail Osherov argues that Israelis are unwilling to give up the spoils of the Six Day War. Reflecting on the Israeli saying, “There are no solutions,” Osherov writes:

За счёт дешёвой и бесправной арабской рабочей силы, за счёт бесплатной земли на оккупированных территориях в конце 1960-х – начале 1970-х годов в Израиле произошёл экономический бум, плодами которого местные израильтяне пользуются до сих пор. Благосостояние израильского среднего класса, благополучие целых отраслей израильской экономики, таких, как строительство, дорожное строительство, сельское хозяйство, невозможны без дешёвой арабской рабочей силы, значительную часть которой составляют жители оккупированных арабских территорий. Прекращение оккупации означает для Израиля и израильтян если не конец “халявы”, то начало его конца.

Due to a cheap and disenfranchised Arab workforce, and due to free land in the occupied territories, there was an economic boom in Israel in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the fruits of which local Israelis still use. The welfare of the Israeli middle class, and the wellbeing of entire sectors of the Israeli economy, such as construction, road construction, and agriculture, would be impossible without cheap Arab labor, much of which composed of inhabitants of the occupied Arab territories. Ending the occupation would mean for Israel and Israelis, if not the end of the “free lunch,” then the beginning of the end.

Instead of delving into the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some users used the opportunity to make comparisons to Ukraine, mostly to point out the hypocrisy of world opinion.

@Schrodinger1986 tweeted:

Пока в Секторе Газа #Израиль уничтожает 6-летних “террористов”, на украине… Хотя, нет – на украине то же самое. #война #украина #террор

— Константин Горбунов (@Schrodinger1986) July 20, 2014

Now, in the Gaza Strip, Israel annihilates six-year-old “terrorists,” and in Ukraine . . . believe it or not, in Ukraine it’s the same.

In a post on his Vkontakte wall, Sergey Gostev wrote:

ООН игнорирует ситуацию на Украине, где ежедневно гибнет больше людей чем в Секторе Газа.

The United Nations ignores the situation in Ukraine, where more people die every day than in the Gaza Strip [sic].

Another Vk user, Vladimir Vladimirov, asks

Мне вот интересно, летают ли гражданские самолеты над Сектором Газа? И если нет, то почему. 

I would like to know: do civilian planes fly over the Gaza Strip? If not, then why.

Dark humor on the Web is never hard to find, and the news from Ukraine and Gaza is no exception. Playing off the Russian word for gas (“gaz”) and the literal name of the Gazа Strip in Russian (“the sector of gas”), some users joked,

#Путлер устроил в #Донбассе сектор сланцевого #Газа.

— Люся Тютюник (@alciona4) July 19, 2014

Putler [a play on “Putin” and “Hitler”] is establishing in the Donbass a sector of shale gas.

Израиль – Сектор Газа, Украина – Сектор Не Газа

— Николай Степашин (@untranis88) July 20, 2014

Israel—the Gas Sector, Ukraine—the No-Gas Sector.


на Украине возник “правый сектор” потому что кремль вовремя не создал пророссийской партии “сектор газа” #Украина

The “Right Sector” [nationalist movement] arose in Ukraine because the Kremlin didn’t create its own pro-Russian “Gas Sector” party in time.

Not everyone was laughing on July 17. @isma_mustafaev tweeted:

Как же гадит настроение мои лента новостей!!! #новости #политика #россия #украина #Палестина #Газа

— Исмаил Мустафаев (@isma_mustafaev) July 18, 2014

How the headlines put me in a shitty mood!!! #news #politics #russia #ukraine @palestine #gaza

Written by Sean Guillory
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Fear, Love and Iran’s Favorite Internet Enemy (it’s Facebook)

"My Stealthy Freedom" page and Foreign Minister Zarif. Images used with permission, mixed by Fred Petrossian.

“My Stealthy Freedom” page and Foreign Minister Zarif. Images used with permission, mixed by Fred Petrossian.

Written by Mahsa Alimardani and Fred Petrossian.

On July 13, Iran’s official state news agency reported that eight people had been sentenced to a combined term of 127 years in prison for their activities on Facebook. The eight youths reportedly were charged with “acting against national security, spreading propaganda against the establishment, insulting the sacred, and insulting the heads of the Islamic Republic.” The Iranian judiciary has not revealed the identities of those sentenced, or the particulars of this offensive activity. Iranian activists both in and outside the country seem to know almost nothing more about the case.

The sentences appear to be part of a trend. In May, a 47-year-old British-Iranian woman was sentenced to 20 years in jail for Facebook comments against the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic. Seven other Facebook users in the country were imprisoned at the same time. 

Throughout its 35 years of existence, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not tolerated free expression or public gatherings beyond its control. Facebook offers some semblance of both of these things on an easy-to-use platform. What might Iranian citizens do if granted unbridled access to Facebook? Persecuting—and prosecuting—Facebook users is a way to instill fear in the population. The recent cases provide a chilling example of what could happen to Iranians who try to express their ideas online.  

Iran and Facebook: A doomed romance?

The government’s relationship with Iran’s most popular social network is complicated, tenuous, and often appears to vacillate between love and hate. Despite the fact that Facebook is filtered in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani and many in his cabinet, particularly Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, are among the most savvy and popular Facebook users within Iran. All 2013 presidential candidates, approved by the highest authorities within Iran known as the Guardian Council, used Facebook to promote their campaigns. This tacit acceptance of the platform by those within the elite highlights two facts. The first is that filtering does not work within Iran. The Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has verified this claim by stating he estimates about 4 million Iranians use Facebook. Second, Iran does not hate Facebook; rather Iran wants to control. 

The Rouhani government has publicly emphasized its concern about the state of Iran’s Internet and has criticized long-standing filtering practices. But Rouhani’s actions have fallen short of his pledges when Facebook users and gadget bloggers are slapped with lengthy jail sentences. These decisions technically lie outside the control of the president’s authority and within the discretion of the judiciary and sometimes the supreme leader. Still, the president has a voice and can take a stand for those unjustly jailed. Yet he has remained silent.

Facebook and the Green Movement

Facebook became a central tool during the 2009 protest movement, as millions of Iranians defied the regime and protested the controversial presidential election. Presidential candidate Mir-Hussein Mousavi, a leading figure in the Green Movement that followed the election, used Facebook to convey his message and communicate with his supporters. Fear of the popularity of reformist candidates like Mousavi on Facebook led to the filtering of the site a month prior to the 2009 election. 

Four years after the Green Movement was repressed and its leaders placed under house arrest, Iranian authorities publicly denounced Facebook as an enemy of the Islamic Republic.

This repression has had double-edged effects. While some netizens stopped blogging because they were jailed, others escaped the crackdowns and moved abroad, only to lose their relevance, as well as their online audience within the diaspora. This helped create the phenomenon know as the decline of bloggers. Facebook quickly emerged to fill this gap, as successful campaigns emerged, often functioning as a bridge between Iran and the diaspora. One popular example of this is “My Stealthy Freedom,” the Facebook page of London-based journalist Masih Alinejad who published a series of photos of herself posing in Iran’s public spaces without a hijab. This started a virtual mass movement, gaining her page more than 500,000 likes, and garnering an influx of photos and comments from Iran. This Facebook page became an outlet for Iranian women to challenge the Islamic system’s 35 years of mandatory hijab. 

A call to Rouhani

Today, eight Facebook users face accusations of criminal activity against the establishment, but the details of their crimes remain unknown. There are redlines within the Islamic Republic about what constitutes online criminal content, but they are difficult to identify and seem to be forever in flux. This further perpetuates ambiguities over what constitutes an online crime, leaving netizens unknowingly vulnerable to arbitrary arrests and sometimes even killings, like that of Sattar Beheshti in 2012. The vague nature of these arrests creates an atmosphere of fear where authorities can accuse anyone of acting against the state, leaving citizens to guess what consequences they will face for speaking online.

In an interview with NBC’s David Gregory, Zarif called on the West for respect for the people of the Middle East, a reasonable request. In the same vein, we call on the Rouhani government to take a stand to respect Iranian citizens, and condemn the unjust arrests and punishments of its netizens.


Written by Mahsa Alimardani · Translated by Mahsa Alimardani
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Court Ruling Against Restaurant Reviewer Leaves French Bloggers Reeling

"Please don't feed the writers.” Photo by Flickr user Michelle. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Please don't feed the writers.” Photo by Flickr user Michelle. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If a blogger writes a scathing review of a restaurant, it's natural that the headline would match the tone of the article. After all, a unique, accurate title is part of Google's official advice for improving the positioning of a webpage in its search results.

But a blogger in France called “L'Irrégulière” was ordered to pay damages and court fees totaling 2,500 euros (3,400 U.S. dollars) for doing just that after the restaurant filed a complaint.

Appalled by what she considered to be unwelcoming staff and poor service during a meal at the end of August 2013 in Cap Ferret, the blogger published a biting review of Il Giardino on her French-language literary blog Cultur'elle. The article, titled “The place to avoid in Cap Ferret: Il Giardino”, ranked highly in the results of a Google search for the eatery. 

This angered the restaurant owner, so she took the blogger to court. The Bordeaux High Court ruled in the owner's favour on 30 June 2014 during an emergency hearing not because of the review itself, which “falls within the scope of freedom of expression” according to the judgement, but because of its title, which was considered to be defamatory.

The blogger, who had no lawyer, withdrew the review on her own accord, although the court did not request her to do so. However, it can be read on tuxicoman's blog here or as a cached version. Reeling from the experience, “L'Irrégulière” decided not to appeal.

Under the French system for emergency hearings, the court rules chiefly on the basis of whether the plaintiff suffered wrongdoing as a result of the actions of the defendant — in this case, an emergency measure was issued, but could be overturned if a full hearing is to take place. Why did the case merit an emergency hearing in the first place? Well-known lawyer and blogger Maître Eolas, who has 142,000 followers on Twitter, offered one answer:

Nouveau : des restaurants poursuivent leurs clients qui osent les critiquer. Il faut dire qu’ils trouvent des juges pour leur donner raison.

— Maitre Eolas (@Maitre_Eolas) 7 Juillet 2014

Newsflash: restaurants are suing customers who dare to criticise them. And it has to be said, they are finding judges who will decide in their favour.

He went on to analyse the case in further detail for L'Express magazine:

Il ne faut pas donner à cette décision une portée plus large qu'elle n'a [...] Le droit de critique existe. Il peut être sanctionné en cas d'abus. La distinction classique est quand il y a intention de nuire ou concurrence déloyale si le dénigrement est fait par un concurrent. Ainsi, si cet article avait été publié par quelqu'un qui tient un autre restaurant de pizza du Cap Ferret, on aurait été dans le cas de la concurrence déloyale puisqu'il y aurait volonté de dénigrer pour faire fuir le client. Or ici, c'est une cliente mécontente qui raconte une expérience malheureuse. On a tout à fait le droit d'expliquer pourquoi on n'est pas satisfaits, en mettant le titre que l'on veut.

This ruling should not be given more significance than it actually has [...] There is such a thing as a right to criticise. This criticism can be penalised, however, if it becomes abusive. Usually, the distinction lies in whether there is intention to cause harm or, in the case of defamation by a competitor, the creation of unfair competition. So, had this article been published by someone who runs another pizza restaurant in Cap Ferret, it would have been a matter of unfair competition. This is because there would have been intention to defame in order to drive customers away. But in this case, it is a dissatisfied customer describing an unhappy experience. People have every right to explain why they are not satisfied, using whatever title they like.

When other bloggers heard about the matter, they pointed out this type of legal action could overload the justice system. Lady Waterloo, for instance, wrote:

Les juges ont donc condamné cette malheureuse blogueuse, pour L'endroit à éviter au Cap Ferret: Il Giardinocela en valait il la peine? Je ne le pense pas. Si les juges commencent à s'occuper des blogs qui dénoncent des apéros servis avec du retard sans cacahuètes et du vin trop froid ou trop chaud, j'ai oublié, la Justice sera complètement paralysée.

So the courts have ruled against this poor blogger, for The place to avoid in Cap Ferret: Il GiardinoWas it worth the trouble? I don't think so. If judges start getting involved with blogs criticising delays in serving aperitifs with no peanuts, and wine that's too cold or too warm (I can't remember which), the justice system will grind to a complete halt.

Others referred to the frequent misunderstandings between tourists, restaurateurs and the Internet, like Le Parisien libéral:

La vérité, c'est que désormais, tout resto, tout hôtel, doit faire avec l'existence du Net. Au lieu de faire une pub monstrueuse pour l'Irrégulière, pourquoi Il Giardino n'a pas crée son propre site web, ou fait le dos rond en attendant que ses clients qui ont aimé le resto s'expriment, comme Berthomeau.

The truth of the matter is that from now on, every restaurant and hotel must take account of the existence of the Internet. Instead of creating massive publicity for l'Irrégulière, why didn't Il Giardino create its own website, or weather the storm while waiting for favourable customers to give their opinions, like Berthomeau.

recherche Google

Google search result for “Il Giardino Cap-Ferret”, 18 July 2014: post still visible – screenshot taken by author

Can Google results be used to attack a blogger? The owner of the restaurant justified herself, saying the article was doing her business harm. “People are allowed to criticise, but there is a way of doing it, with respect, and that was not the case here. Now the court has made a decision and as far as I'm concerned, the matter is closed,” she said.

In fact, the article and the controversy over the judgement still have a high position in the Google search results. SEO expert Tubbydev was amazed at the lack of knowledge of how a search engines work:

Mais surtout, le vrai scandale à notre humble avis est tout entier dans le bout de phrase de la restauratrice: Mais cet article montait dans les résultats Google ..C'est Google qui montre le résultat, avec et par ses algorithmes mais c'est le contenu initial qui est “puni”. Personne ne demande à Google de corriger .. Et a priori aucune demande n'a été faite à Google. [...]

Google est devenu un Dieu ou tout du moins un des éléments de la nature…Non seulement, il est donc IRRESPONSABLE mais en plus, sa force est telle qu'il attise encore plus la censure et les problèmes contre les malheureux qui y sont bien considérés .. Le monde à l'envers non ?

But the real scandal, in our humble opinion, lies in the remark made by the restaurant owner: “But this article was rising in the Google search results.” It's Google that displays the result, with and through its algorithms, and yet it is the original content that gets “punished”. Nobody asks Google to make corrections. And, a priori, no request has been made to Google. [...]

Google has turned into some kind of god, or force of nature. Not only is it IRRESPONSIBLE, but its power is such that it encourages more censorship and creates problems for those unfortunate enough to be well regarded. The world has turned upside down, no?

While advises caution when it comes to reviews, Elisabeth Porteneuve, a self-described “Internet veteran,” anticipates that businesses may begin exploiting the so-called “right to be forgotten“.


@Maitre_Eolas L'étape suivante: droit à l'oubli, enlever la critique de @Google avec l'aide de la @CNIL … des juges et législateurs!

— Elisabeth Porteneuve (@EPorteneuve) 7 Juillet 2014

The next step: the right to be forgotten, removal of the review from Google with the help of the [French data privacy authority] National Commission on Informatics and Liberty … the judges and the legislators!

The European Court of Justice ruled in May that individuals may request that search engines delete certain search results if they are found to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.” Google, the plaintiff in the case before the court, has now implemented systems for reviewing and enacting requests. Modifications to search results will be implemented only within the EU.

While the implications of this case regarding freedom of expression on the Internet are still a matter for debate, the publicity continues to have a detrimental effect on the restaurant. Although it is no longer readable on Culturelle, the controversial post title remains visible in search results.

Written by Suzanne Lehn · Translated by Elizabeth Tamblin
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Global Voices Welcomes Juanita Leon to Board of Directors

Juanita Leon, the newest member of the Global Voices board

Juanita Leon, the newest member of the Global Voices board

We are very pleased to introduce our newest board member, Juanita León to the Global Voices family.

Juanita is the founder of, a news site about power in Colombia. She is a lawyer with an MS in journalism from the Columbia Journalism School. She was a Harvard Nieman Fellow `06. She was launch editor of in New York and editor-in-chief of She is the author of Country of Bullets, about the war in Colombia, among other books. She taught Guerrilla News in the New York University Journalism School and now lives in Colombia.

Global Voices takes to another level the idea that journalism is increasingly not so much — or at least not only — about information but about conversation,” says Juanita. “This is the platform where the smartest and most interesting voices around the world are curated and aggregated with the result that the whole is much better than the parts. Global Voices is a lab about the future of journalism, where the theory of the Internet gurus is made real. As a digital journalist and as digital entrepreneur, Global Voices is an example for me and I´m very proud to now be part of it.” 

Juanita replaces one of our original board members, Rosental Alves. Rosental rotated off our board after eight years of service. We'll miss his warmth and wisdom.

 Global Voices’ nine-member board meets four times per year, and has been an active, engaged and vital part of the GV community since its inception. Our board is composed of our two founders, three community representatives, and four external members.




Written by Ivan Sigal
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Global Voices is Looking For a Passionate Leader to Shape Our Portuguese-Language Coverage

A typical rabelo boat from Porto carrying the open data flag for the #OpenDataDay. Banner by Ana Carvalho / Transparência Hackday.

A typical rabelo boat from Porto carrying the open data flag for the #OpenDataDay. Banner by Ana Carvalho / Transparência Hackday.

Are you a Portuguese- and English-speaking news buff who values justice, equality, friendship across borders and can't seem to get enough of the Internet? Are you available to work 10 hours a week? Global Voices is looking for you!

Our newsroom is unique — it's completely virtual, our writers are volunteers, our sources are multilingual and live on the Internet. Our newsgathering focus is on trending news, freedom of speech issues, online censorship, activism, and stories that are underreported or misrepresented in mainstream media.

The part-time Portuguese-language editor leads daily newsgathering from Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe and Timor-Leste. The editor will write and coordinate stories by volunteer writers and translators, while developing a robust set of sources to stay on top of regional social, political and activism trends.

Primary tasks:

Be responsible for our coverage from Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe and Timor-Leste.
Write, fact-check, and edit the most compelling and important stories from online sources in their region.
Add relevant context to stories for our global audience.
Keep on top of developing stories, buzz and trends across social media and citizen media the region.
Develop a database of reliable and vetted online sources across their region.
Manage volunteer writers.
Meet deadlines and posting requirements.
Stay engaged with virtual regional group, newsroom and larger community.
Carry out work in line with the Global Voicescommunity, editorial guidelines, mission and culture.

Successful candidates will:

Be fluent in English and Portuguese.
Have a strong journalism and/or digital rights activism background.
Possess sound editorial judgment on regional issues.
Know who the credible social and citizen voices are in their region.
Understand mainstream media, local press and social media dynamics in their region.
Understand digital rights, freedom of speech, and activism-related issues and dynamics in their region.
Have proven sourcing and news writing ability.
Possess strong leadership qualities.
Have a strong and reliable Internet connection.
Be available 10 hours a week.

To apply:

Please submit a résumé and a cover letter that highlights your work and explains why you would be a great fit for Global Voices. Apply by emailing us at with your name and ”Portuguese-language Editor” in the subject line.

Read 8 Solid Reasons to Work for Global Voices here. 

Written by Sahar Habib Ghazi
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MH17: i missili della propaganda


di Michele Paris

I fatti relativi all’abbattimento dell’aereo della Malaysia Airlines MH17 continuano a essere sottoposti a un vergognoso processo di distorsione da parte dei media e dei governi occidentali, così come dal regime ucraino installatosi illegalmente a Kiev. La tragedia avvenuta giovedì scorso nei cieli del paese dell’Europa orientale viene infatti sfruttata appositamente per superare gli ostacoli e le resistenze ad un pericoloso confronto con Mosca e per legittimare un’escalation della repressione in corso contro i ribelli filo-russi.

Martedì a Bruxelles, un vertice dell’Unione Europea ha allungato la lista di individui ed entità russe sottoposte a sanzioni. Allo stesso tempo, con un mix di irresponsabilità, vigliaccheria e totale stupidità, i ministri degli Esteri hanno minacciato di passare alla “fase 3” delle sanzioni – misure cioè che potrebbero paralizzare ampi settori dell’economia russa e, di riflesso, penalizzare le stesse economie europee – se il Cremlino non si adopererà con i ribelli per ristabilire la pace in Ucraina orientale e non collaborerà con l’indagine internazionale sul disastro aereo.

L’iniziativa europea era stata anticipata lunedì dall’annuncio del primo ministro canadese di estrema destra, Stephen Harper, dell’intenzione del suo paese di preparare un nuovo round di sanzioni economiche contro la Russia. Martedì, poi, il neo-ministro degli Esteri britannico, Philip Hammond, e il suo omolgo svedese, Carl Bildt, hanno chiesto un embargo sulle forniture di armi alla Russia alla luce dei nuovi scenari seguiti al disastro aereo.

Curiosamente, nonostante non siano state presentate prove concrete della responsabilità dei ribelli o di Mosca, l’improvvisa accelerazione delle misure punitive è motivata apertamente dall’abbattimento del Boeing malese.

La totale irrazionalità della situazione – resa possibile grazie al contributo dei media ufficiali in Occidente che propagandano in larghissima misura le accuse dei governi dei loro paesi – è confermata dal fatto che in più di un’occasione gli stessi leader occidentali hanno ammesso di non potere ancora stabilire con certezza chi siano i responsabili dell’abbattimento del velivolo.

Esemplari della strategia impiegata dagli Stati Uniti e dai loro alleati per confondere le idee all’opinione pubblica internazionale sono le dichiarazioni rilasciate lunedì dal presidente Obama. L’inquilino della Casa Bianca, dopo che l’intelligence del suo paese aveva sostenuto che ad abbattere l’aereo era stato un missile SA-11 fornito dalla Russia ai ribelli ucraini, ha accusato questi ultimi di avere impedito agli investigatori di accedere al luogo del disastro e di avere rimosso prove importanti per stabilire la verità dei fatti.

Obama si era poi chiesto che cosa i ribelli stessi “stavano cercando di nascondere”. Parallelamente, il presidente ucraino Poroshenko aveva definito “barbara” la condotta dei ribelli. Queste dichiarazioni rappresentano però il tentativo da parte di Kiev e Washington di mettere le mani avanti e di denunciare manipolazioni da parte dei ribelli nel caso un’indagine realmente indipendente dovesse portare a conclusioni imbarazzanti.

Nel mondo reale, invece, tra lunedì e martedì i ribelli in Ucraina orientale hanno consegnato le scatole nere del Boeing alle autorità malesi e facilitato il trasporto delle salme nella città di Kharkiv sotto il controllo governativo. Le due iniziative sono giunte dopo l’approvazione di una risoluzione al Consiglio di Sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite che chiede un’indagine internazionale sull’abbattimento e in seguito al raggiungimento di un accordo tra i leader della cosiddetta Repubblica Popolare di Donetsk e il governo malese del primo ministro Najib Razak.

Le critiche occidentali lasciavano al contrario intendere che i ribelli – ma anche Mosca – volessero ostacolare lo svolgimento delle indagini, ma i fatti delle ultime ore hanno delineato un quadro differente. Per cominciare, i membri dell’OSCE inviati sul posto hanno affermato di avere avuto libero accesso ai resti del velivolo, mentre uno degli esperti olandesi giunti in Ucraina ha affermato di essere rimasto sorpreso dall’efficienza dei ribelli nel recuperare i corpi delle vittime.

Martedì, piuttosto, ostacoli alle indagini sono stati posti dalle forze del regime di Kiev, così come è sembrata emergere forse la volontà di quest’ultimo di volere nascondere qualcosa. Infatti, secondo quanto riportato dall’agenzia di stampa russa Ria Novosti, un aereo da guerra ucraino ha bombardato la città di Shakhtarsk, a circa 30 chilometri dal luogo dello schianto, violando un cessate il fuoco che il governo e i ribelli avevano sottoscritto lunedì. Questa intesa riguardava un’area fino a 40 chilometri dal luogo stesso del disastro, così da garantire la sicurezza degli investigatori internazionali.

Alcuni esperti malesi, inoltre, sempre martedì sono stati testimoni diretti di un’incursione aerea delle forze del regime ucraino in una località vicina a Donetsk proprio mentre stavano raggiungendo il luogo dove si è schiantato il Boeing.

Com’è ovvio, sulla stampa occidentale hanno però trovato maggiore spazio le speculazioni ucraine e occidentali sulle responsabilità del Cremlino. La CNN, ad esempio, ha titolato e aperto un pezzo sul proprio sito web con le “rivelazioni” di un esponente del governo di Kiev, il quale si è detto certo che “un ufficiale russo ha premuto personalmente il pulsante che ha causato l’abbattimento del volo MH17”. In maniera singolare, tutto il resto dell’articolo è stato dedicato alla cronaca degli eventi del giorno in Ucraina, mentre non è stata indicata una sola prova a supporto delle affermazioni “esplosive” anticipate dal titolo.

Ugualmente ignorati o irrisi in modo più o meno aperto sono stati anche gli interrogativi sollevati lunedì dal generale russo Andrei Kartopolov nel corso di una conferenza stampa tenuta a Mosca. L’alto ufficiale russo ha presentato alcune conclusioni dell’indagine preliminare condotta nei giorni scorsi dalle forze armate del suo paese, mostrando i dati satellitari e dei radar risalenti alle ore precedenti e successive all’abbattimento.

Le domande a cui il governo di Kiev è stato invitato a rispondere per mostrare un reale interesse a fare luce sulla vicenda riguardano in primo luogo la presenza di un aereo da guerra ucraino Sukhoi-25 a non più di 5 chilometri di distanza dal velivolo MH17 e in un corridoio riservato ai voli civili poco prima dello schianto.

Inoltre, i russi sono in possesso di immagini satellitari del 17 luglio scorso nelle quali è visibile una batteria missilistica Buk dell’esercito ucraino – simile a quella da cui, anche secondo gli USA, sarebbe partito il missile che ha abbattuto il Boeing – in un luogo all’interno di un’area dalla quale sarebbe stato possibile colpire il volo diretto a Kuala Lumpur. Solo tre giorni prima, lo stesso sistema di lancio si trovava in un altro punto, dove è tornato regolarmente il 18 luglio.

Il generale Kartopolov ha anche rilevato un’insolita attività nelle stazioni radar ucraine il giorno dell’attentato, poi ridotta sensibilmente a partire dal 18 luglio. Lo stesso ufficiale ha infine chiesto agli Stati Uniti di rendere note tutte le informazioni ottenute da un loro satellite individuato dai militari russi al di sopra dell’Ucraina orientale al momento dell’espolosione dell’aereo malese. Gli americani, poco dopo il disastro, avevano citato i dati ricavati da questo stesso satellite per affermare che il velivolo era stato abbattuto da un missile ma non hanno finora mostrato pubblicamente quanto in loro possesso.

In definitiva, il mistero del Boeing della Malaysia Airlines è ancora lontano dall’essere risolto, ma quello che conta per Kiev, Washington o Londra è che la tragedia di settimana scorsa rappresenta un’occasione unica per fare avanzare i propri piani in Ucraina.

L’amministrazione Obama e il regime fantoccio di Kiev, cioè, confidano che la morte di 298 persone possa contribuire a convincere i paesi europei più riluttanti ad appoggiare l’escalation dello scontro con Mosca, indifferentemente dalle prove della responsabilità russa o dei ribelli nell’abbattimento del velivolo.

In ultima analisi, comunque, al didi chi si sia realmente macchiato della strage di giovedì scorso, come aveva suggerito il presidente russo Putin poco dopo il disastro, la responsabilità ultima per avere creato le condizioni nell’ex repubblica sovietica che hanno consentito l’abbattimento di un aereo civile sono da assegnare interamente agli Stati Uniti e ai loro partner occidentali.

Questi ultimi governi da mesi operano in maniera sconsiderata in Ucraina, nel tentativo di sottrarre il paese all’influenza russa. Per raggiungere questo obiettivo strategico, l’Occidente ha coltivato e promosso forze ultra-reazionarie e neo-fasciste che ora occupano posizioni di rilievo all’interno del nuovo regime golpista.

La creazione di un governo di questa natura – pronto a obbedire ai diktat del Fondo Monetario Internazionale e a implementare devastanti misure di ristrutturazione economica – ha provocato dapprima l’inevitabile reazione della Russia, concretizzatasi con l’annessione della Crimea, e successivamente la nascita di un movimento di resistenza di massa nelle regioni orientali, la cui repressione continua ad essere avallata dall’Occidente nonostante il crescente numero di civili vittime dell’offensiva delle forze di Kiev.

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In merito all’incontro con il Presidente del Consiglio


Interpellato sul colloquio di oggi pomeriggio, l’Ufficio Stampa del Quirinale ha fatto sapere:
Il Presidente della Repubblica e il Presidente del Consiglio hanno compiuto un giro di orizzonte sulla situazione internazionale con particolare attenzione al conflitto in corso a Gaza e ai difficili rapporti tra Russia e Ucraina, temi trattati questa mattina dal Capo dello Stato nell’intervento alla cerimonia del "Ventaglio". Il Presidente del Consiglio ha ampiamente ragguagliato il Presidente Napolitano sul suo viaggio in Africa e sulle opportunità che possono scaturirne per le relazioni economico-commerciali tra l’Italia e i Paesi visitati. Si è inoltre fatto il punto sui prossimi sviluppi dei contatti in Europa in vista della soluzione dei problemi rimasti sospesi per quel che riguarda le nomine a posizioni di rilievo nelle istituzioni dell’Unione.

Roma, 22 luglio 2014

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Il Presidente Napolitano ha ricevuto il Presidente del Consiglio, Renzi


C o m u n i c a t o

Il Presidente della Repubblica, Giorgio Napolitano, ha ricevuto oggi pomeriggio al Quirinale il Presidente del Consiglio, Matteo Renzi. Al colloquio erano presenti i rispettivi Consiglieri Diplomatici, Ambasciatore Antonio Zanardi Landi e Ambasciatore Armando Varricchio.

Roma, 22 luglio 2014

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Expired Meat Was on the Menu at McDonald’s, KFC and Other Fast Food Restaurants in China

A Starbucks in Beijing. Photo by Flickr user byLorena. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A Starbucks in Beijing. Photo by Flickr user byLorena. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

International brands like Starbucks and Burger King have been dragged into a reputation crisis after one of their suppliers were found supplying expired meat, in the latest nationwide food safety scandal that threatens to disrupt supply chains of fast-food stores across China. 

Shanghai-based Husi Food, a subsidiary of Illinois-based OSI Group, was accused of repackaging expired chicken and beef, meat materials supplied to fast-food chains such as KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut outlets in China.  

The revelation, a result of a two-month undercover investigation by Dragon TV in Shanghai, has gained traction among Chinese media and forced McDonald's and KFC to apology to its customers. Since the allegations were made public, the two chains and Pizza Hut have announced plans to remove the products in question from their menus. 

On Tuesday, Starbucks said some of its stores sold products containing chicken sourced from Husi, adding that the company had stopped selling the food item called “Chicken Apple Sauce Panini”. Burger King also said it had taken all products supplied by Husi off its shelves. 

In response to the latest food scare, the State Drug and Food Administration, which overseas food safety issues, has vowed a thorough investigation. The Husi processing plant was closed down by Shanghai authorities. 

In recent years, China has seen a string of food safety scandals, including a 2008 milk contamination that killed six infants and left some 300,000 babies hospitalised.

Last month, China said it would impose higher fines for food safety violators and sack the top local official should the violations happen frequently. Chinese premier Li Keqiang said in March that his administration would tackle food safety violations with “a heavy fist”. 

Hema Hen Wenrou speculated on popular Twitter-like Sina Weibo what impact the investigation could have for China: 


Let's wait for the investigation results. If violators were indeed punished severely, it would be a major wake-up call for food safety in China.

 A Weibo user from southwestern province of Guangxi praised the journalists who work to uncover food safety issues:


There is the issue of lack of social conscience by the companies, also a lack of supervision by the state. When can Chinese be assured of eating out? I've also seen the dedication of journalists, they are the eyes of our society. I salute all of them.

 Jinzi Zai Sahuan raised his doubts about the food supply chain in China: 


It occurred to me, why does Husi have so much expired food? Some of it even rotten? If what was said in the news is true that it's supplying a couple of fast-food chains, it then shouldn't have so much expired meat in stock. I want to ask if this chicken and beef was bought elsewhere and then reprocessed at the company?

Written by Owen
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​​Dozens of Activists in Brazil Were Arrested Not for Protesting the World Cup, but for Possibly Planning to Do So

Graffiti on the walls in Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro reads "Genocidal police loves FIFA." 13 July 2014. Photo by Shay Horse. Copyright Demotix

Graffiti on the walls in Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro reads, “Genocidal police loves FIFA.” 13 July 2014. Photo by Shay Horse. Copyright Demotix

A day before the final World Cup match, 28 people opposed to hosting the tournament in Brazil were arrested “preemptively” at their homes in the city of Rio de Janeiro on the early morning of July 12. Police suspected they would engage in violent acts during a protest scheduled for the next day and accused them of “forming an armed gang” based on what activists and alternative media are calling false evidence.

A total of 37 people were arrested as part of Operation Firewall; some were detained simply for having a connection to the activists. Most were released, but five are still in jail waiting to be brought before the court or indicted.

Police reportedly found weapons, masks and explosives at some of the homes of those arrested, but activists have disputed the claim, saying that only knee pads, a tear gas mask, newspapers and a flag were seized. A 16-year-old, one of two minors detained, was accused of forming an armed gang based on a gun belonging to her father discovered in the house she was in, according to the collective Rio na Rua.

Those jailed before the World Cup final match were also accused of belonging to or helping the so-called Black Blocs, who have attended some demonstrations since 2013. “Black Bloc” describes the tactic of wearing black clothing and covering the face with a mask or bandanna, and some protesters dressed this way have vandalized property or committed arson. 

The activists have denied being part of any Black Bloc group or engaging in any violent activity.

This isn't the first time during the World Cup that police have accused protesters of being Black Blocs. Fabio Hideki Harano was arrested on June 26 after a demonstration against the mega-event in São Paulo. Police said he was carrying an explosive, but haven't produced evidence of it. He remains in jail.

Amnesty International and the Order of Attorneys of Brazil have criticised the latest arrests, calling them illegal and a method of intimidation. One activist and lawyer, Eloisa Samy Santiago, who was arrested asked unsuccessfully for asylum at the Consulate of Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro after she was released. 

It is believed that these activists were targeted by authorities because they have taken part in past street demonstrations since June 2013, when massive anti-government protests rocked the country. Their demands vary, as well as their political affiliation. Some are members of socialist or anarchist groups, and some have no affiliation whatsoever.

In 2013, protesters demanded free or reduced fare for bus tickets, rallied against the treatment of those living in the slums, and called for the impeachment of Rio de Janeiro's mayor and governor of Rio de Janeiro. This year, activists railed against the public money spent on the World Cup and the forced evictions for infrastructure construction that left some people homeless.

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, one of the most famous anthropologists in the country, detailed the police operation quoting a friend who preferred to stay anonymous:

A policia esta com mandados de prisão indo na casa de educadores, manifestantes com alegações mentirosas e variadas (sequestro, vandalismo, crime de internet).. estão t[am]b[em] seguindo pessoas na rua através de grampo no celular e prendendo… não se sabe o numero de militantes, mas não para de chegar gente na cidade da policia…

The police are going to the homes of educators and protesters with arrest warrants with false and varied allegations (kidnapping, vandalism, Internet crime) and are also following people in the street through bugs on their mobile [devices] and arresting… no one knows the number of activists, but more and more are arriving at Police City… 

According to Pablo Ortellado, a professor and leading figure within many social movements in Brazil, teachers and free media and anti-Cup activists were among those taken in. Alternative newspaper The New Democracy reported that relatives and friends of those arrested were “threatened and intimidated at the police station.”

The arrests appeared to be an effort to prevent protests during the final day of the World Cup at Maracanã stadium. Targets were usually leaders or prominent figures of previous demonstrations who participated in last year's mass protestsGlobal Voices reported in June on similar preemptive arrests of activists even the games began.

The Network of Communities and Movements Against Violence explained:

O objetivo imediato dessa ação, tão ilegal e arbitrária como várias outras que acontecem no país desde os protestos que começaram em junho do ano passado, parece ser intimidar e amedrontar as pessoas dispostas a participar dos protestos que estão sendo convocados para amanhã, durante a partida final da Copa do Mundo, no Maracanã. Para isso, está sendo utilizada a legislação de exceção aprovada aos níveis federal e estadual desde o ano passado.

The immediate objective of this action, as illegal and arbitrary as several others that have happened in the country since the protests began in June last year, seems to be to intimidate and scare people willing to participate in the protests tomorrow during the final match of the World Cup at Maracanã. For this, an legal exception approved at the federal and state levels since last year is being used.

Luiz Eduardo Soares, a leading expert on public security in Brazil, agreed: 

A manobra visa evitar manifestações na final da Copa. Arrogância, incompetência e corrupção degradaram nosso futebol e estão arruinando as instituições que se pretendiam democráticas. É hora de denunciar e resistir.

The move aims to prevent demonstrations during the Cup final. Arrogance, incompetence and corruption eroded our football and are ruining the institutions that pretended to be democratic. It's time to denounce and resist.

A local judge in the 27th Criminal Court of Rio, Flavio Itabaiana de Oliveira Nicolau, gave the order to make the preemptive arrests. Filmmaker Fernando Marés tweeted a copy of the judge’s decision:

Decisão do juiz da 27ª Vara Criminal do Rio: prisões tentam impedir protestos marcados pra amanhã.

— Roteiro de Cinema (@roteirodecinema) 12 julho 2014

Decision of the judge of the 27th Criminal Court of Rio: Arrests try to prevent protests scheduled for tomorrow.

The Jornal Zona de Conflito Mídia Independente posted a list of activists who were arrested and those who were considered fugitives. Luis Rendeiro, considered a fugitive, sent a message on Facebook to the newspaper The New Democracy saying police have accused him of a plot to bomb Maracana stadium. “They are harassing me and making bizarre accusations” in front of his wife and 3-year-old son, he wrote. 

The arrests sparked outrage on social media. The hashtag #PresosdaCopa (World Cup arrests) reached the top of trending topics in Brazil in the early evening of July 12. 

On Facebook, activist Renata Gomes was direct in her description of what was happening: “Temporary detention warrants are the SCANDAL OF SCANDALS! To prevent people from demonstrating today! Someone please watch over the body of Brazilian democracy, because she's dead!”

Another activist, Caio Almendra, summarized the situation:

Ativistas suspeitos de serem capazes de um dia, em algum momento, por alguma razão ainda não estabelecida, cometer atos violentos são detidos sem acusação clara, direito a advogado, com flagrantes forjados.

Viva o estado de direito!

Activists suspected of being able to one day, at some point, for some reason not yet established, commit violent acts are held without clear accusations, access to lawyers, with false evidence.

Long live the rule of law!

Written by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia · Translated by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
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Cristianos huyen de Mosul ante ultimátum de terroristas islámicos


Bagdad.- Mosul, una de las mayores ciudades de Irak, se ha quedado sin habitantes cristianos después de que estos huyesen tras un ultimátum del grupo terrorista sunita Estado Islámico, informaron hoy fuentes oficiales locales.

“En Mosul había unos 50.000 cristianos”, afirmó Bashar Kiki, un jefe de consejo local de la norteña …
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Pastores billonarios usan su fortuna para distribuir biblias en las escuelas


Con la decisión de utilizar “la riqueza que el Señor les ha dado” los pastores billonarios dedican parte de su tiempo a distribuir biblias en las escuelas de los Estados Unidos.

Los dos hermanos tienen posiciones muy conservadoras sobre temas controversiales como el aborto y la homosexualidad, y son muy …
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