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Sri Lanka Plans to Deport 1,500 Pakistani and Afghan Refugees

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A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra town. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra, Pakistan. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.

According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.

Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.

W3Lanka English blog opines:

The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?

Written by Rezwan
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Mercoledì 23 Luglio 2014 – 288ª Seduta pubblica : Comunicato di seduta

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Seduta Antimeridiana
Ora inizio: 09:30

L’Assemblea ha ripreso l’esame del ddl costituzionale n. 1429, e connessi, recante disposizioni per il superamento del bicameralismo paritario, il contenimento dei costi delle istituzioni, la soppressione del CNEL e la revisione del titolo V della Costituzione.

Prosegue l’illustrazione degli emendamenti riferiti all’ articolo 1, iniziata nella seduta pomeridiana del 21 luglio. L’articolo 1 ridefinisce le funzioni del Senato che rappresenta le istituzioni territoriali, concorre alla funzione legislativa, esercita la funzione di raccordo tra l’Unione europea, lo Stato e gli altri enti della Repubblica, partecipa alla formazione degli atti normativi comunitari, valuta l’attività delle pubbliche amministrazioni, verifica l’attuazione delle leggi dello Stato, controlla le politiche pubbliche, concorre all’espressione di pareri su nomine governative.

I sen. Santangelo (M5S) e Minzolini (FI-PdL) hanno sottoscritto l’emendamento del sen. D’Alì (NCD) che propone l’elezione di un’Assemblea costituente per procedere all’approvazione di una riforma costituzionale condivisa, che maturi al riparo dello scontro politico contingente. Il sen. Scilipoti (FI-PdL) ha sottoscritto gli emendamenti della Lega Nord.

In fase di illustrazione degli emendamenti, M5S ha ribadito di voler concorrere ad una riforma della seconda parte della Costituzione giusta ed equa, che concorra a restituire linfa alla democrazia e a ridurre i costi di funzionamento delle istituzioni. Gli emendamenti presentati prevedono perciò la riduzione del numero di senatori e deputati e la differenziazione delle funzioni delle due Camere, elette entrambe a suffragio universale diretto. Il ddl in esame, invece, ispirato a un decisionismo privo di progettualità e associato ad una legge elettorale ipermaggioritaria, accentra potere nelle mani dell’Esecutivo, svilisce gli istituti di democrazia diretta, taglia sulla rappresentatività del Senato anziché sui costi. Il Gruppo ha richiamato infine le pressioni indebitamente esercitate dal Presidente della Repubblica sul Parlamento e le minacce del premier, che sembra cercare un pretesto per andare alle urne.

La sen. De Petris (Misto-SEL) ha chiesto di conoscere la valutazione del Presidente in ordine alle richieste di scrutinio segreto, prima che inizi la votazione degli emendamenti. Alla richiesta si sono associati i sen. Minzolini (FI-PdL) e Candiani (LN-Aut).

La Presidente di turno Lanzillotta ha assicurato che la valutazione del Presidente Grasso sarà comunicata dopo l’espressione dei pareri, prima della votazione degli emendamenti.

In sede di espressione dei pareri, i relatori e il Ministro per le riforme Boschi hanno proposto una riformulazione degli emendamenti sulla parità di genere: le leggi che stabiliscono le modalità di elezione delle Camere promuovono la parità tra uomini e donne. Hanno proposto una riformulazione anche dell’emendamento 1.1991, a prima firma del sen. Russo (PD), che attribuisce al Senato la funzione di valutare anche l’impatto di atti normativi e politiche europee. Hanno espresso parere contrario su tutti i restanti emendamenti all’articolo 1, compreso l’emendamento 1.1926 del sen. Azzollini (NCD) in relazione al quale hanno però preannunciato la presentazione di una specifica proposta.

Su due emendamenti del sen. Candiani (LN-Aut), che attribuiscono al Senato la competenza legislativa paritaria in materia di famiglia e trattamenti sanitari e prevedono un numero minimo di rappresentanti delle minoranze linguistiche alla Camera, il relatore Calderoli ha espresso parere favorevole mentre la relatrice Finocchiaro (PD) e il Ministro Boschi hanno espresso parere contrario.

La Presidente di turno ha sospeso la seduta fino alle 12,30.

Tratto da senato.it

Seduta n. 269 Martedì 22

23-lug-14

Discussione della relazione della

Giunta per le autorizzazioni sulla domanda di

autorizzazione ad eseguire la misura cautelare della

custodia in carcere nei confronti del deputato Galan (Doc.

IV, n. 8-A) (Esame; dichiarazioni di voto;

votazione). Seguito della discussione del disegno di

legge di conversione del decreto-legge n. 92 del 2014:

Disposizioni urgenti in materia di rimedi risarcitori in

favore dei detenuti e degli internati, nonché di

modifiche al codice di procedura penale e alle

disposizioni  di attuazione, all’ordinamento del

Corpo di polizia penitenziaria e all’ordinamento

penitenziario, anche minorile (A.C. 2496-A) (Esame

articolo unico).
Tratto da: camera.it

Parlamento in seduta comune

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Mercoledì 23 7 2014

Il Parlamento in seduta comune si riunisce mercoledì 23 luglio alle ore 19 per l’elezione di due giudici della Corte Costituzionale e l’elezione di otto componenti del Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura.

Sito del Parlamento in seduta comune »

Tratto da senato.it

Calendario dei lavori fino all’8 agosto

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Mercoledì 23 7 2014

La Conferenza dei Capigruppo riunitasi il 22 luglio, ha approvato a maggioranza il nuovo calendario dei lavori del Senato fino all’8 agosto 2014.

E’ stato confermato il calendario della settimana corrente, salvo l’orario di chiusura della seduta pomeridiana di mercoledì 23, che si concluderà alle ore 18,45 per consentire la riunione del Parlamento in seduta comune, convocato per le ore 19.

Per quanto riguarda i lavori delle prossime settimane, fino a venerdì 8 agosto, la Conferenza dei Capigruppo a maggioranza ha ridefinito l’articolazione e gli orari del calendario e confermato gli argomenti già previsti, cioè il seguito del disegno di legge di riforma costituzionale e i decreti-legge in scadenza (pubblica amministrazione e materia carceraria).

Pertanto, i lavori della prossima settimana riprenderanno lunedì 28 luglio con l’esame del decreto-legge in materia di cultura e turismo. A parte l’orario di inizio di tale seduta, confermato per le ore 11, tutte le sedute inizieranno alle ore 9,30 e si concluderanno alle ore 24, dal lunedì alla domenica, con un’unica sospensione quotidiana dalle ore 13,30 alle ore 15 per consentire i lavori delle Commissioni.
Per quanto riguarda i decreti-legge in seconda lettura, la Presidenza è autorizzata ad inserirli all’ordine del giorno e a stabilire il termine per la presentazione degli emendamenti, tenuto conto dei tempi di trasmissione dalla Camera dei deputati; in relazione all’andamento dei lavori, la discussione in Assemblea potrà avvenire anche ove non sia concluso l’esame da parte delle Commissioni competenti.

Il calendario sarà integrato con l’esame del bilancio interno e del rendiconto del Senato.

Calendario dei lavori dell’Assemblea dal 22 luglio all’8 agosto »

Tratto da senato.it

Audizioni in Commissione Antimafia

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Mercoledì 23 7 2014

La Commissione Antimafia, mercoledì 23 luglio, alle ore 14, audirà il Direttore generale della Direzione generale dei detenuti e del trattamento del Dipartimento Amministrazione Penitenziaria (DAP) presso il Ministero della giustizia, Roberto Piscitello. Giovedì 24, alle ore 14, sarà la volta del Direttore della Casa di reclusione di Opera (Milano), Giacinto Siciliano.

Tratto da senato.it

Esame delle norme sui risarcimenti ai detenuti per violazioni della Convenzione europea sui diritti dell’uomo

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Oggi in Aula l’esame del disegno di legge di conversione del decreto-legge 26 giugno 2014, n. 92, recante disposizioni urgenti in materia di rimedi risarcitori in favore dei detenuti e degli internati che hanno subito un trattamento in violazione dell’articolo 3 della convenzione europea per la salvaguardia dei diritti dell’uomo e delle libertà fondamentali, nonché di modifiche al codice di procedura penale e alle disposizioni di attuazione, all’ordinamento del Corpo di polizia penitenziaria e all’ordinamento penitenziario, anche minorile (C. 2496-A).

A seguire l’esame delle mozioni Ginefra, Palese, Leone, Matarrese, Fratoianni, Cera, Pisicchio ed altri n. 1-00134 e De Lorenzis ed altri n. 1-00552 concernenti iniziative per il prolungamento del corridoio Baltico-Adriatico e per l’ammodernamento della linea ferroviaria sulla dorsale adriatica.

Il Parlamento in seduta comune, è convocato alle ore 19 per procedere alla votazione per l’elezione di due giudici della Corte Costituzionale (sesto scrutinio) e di otto componenti il Consiglio superiore della magistratura (terzo scrutinio). I giudici nominati dal Parlamento in seduta comune sono eletti a scrutinio segreto e con la maggioranza di due terzi dei componenti nei primi tre scrutini. Per gli scrutini successivi è sufficiente la maggioranza di tre quinti dei componenti. Per il Consiglio superiore della magistratura necessita la maggioranza dei tre quinti dei componenti il Parlamento in seduta comune nei primi due scrutini. Negli scrutini successivi è sufficiente la maggioranza dei tre quinti dei votanti.

Tratto da: camera.it

The Death and Gloom of Donetsk and Gaza

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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 http://t.co/YIdqbT6H2W

— 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.

And:

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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Tratto da globalvoices.org

Fear, Love and Iran’s Favorite Internet Enemy (it’s Facebook)

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"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

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"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 efficacitic.fr 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 Google.fr search results.

Written by Suzanne Lehn · Translated by Elizabeth Tamblin
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The Apollo 11 Mission: 45 Years Later

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Forty-five years ago today, two American astronauts — Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong — landed on the moon's Sea of Tranquility, and Neil Armstrong planted the first footprint on the surface of the moon. As he made those first steps, Armstrong uttered that simple phrase we still remember today: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Today, President Obama joined all Americans honoring that giant leap forward, by inviting Neil Armstrong's wife, Carol, Michael Collins, the astronaut who piloted the spacecraft that orbited the moon, and Buzz Aldrin, to the White House. Armstrong passed away in 2012.

President Barack Obama meets with Apollo 11 astronauts

President Barack Obama meets with Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, right, Carol Armstrong, widow of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Patricia Falcone, OSTP Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, left, in the Oval Office. This week marked the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

July 22, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the President's statement on today's meeting, he honored the bravery and leadership that these heroes displayed, and acknowledged the influence that their mission has had on mankind:

The United States of America is stronger today thanks to the vision of President Kennedy, who set us on a course for the moon, the courage of Neil, Buzz, and Michael, who made the journey, and the spirit of service of all who’ve worked not only on the Apollo program, but who’ve dared to push the very boundaries of space and scientific discovery for all humankind.

As we commemorate that day, we take a look back at the Apollo 11 mission and the extraordinary influence of the U.S. space program.

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Global Voices Welcomes Juanita Leon to Board of Directors

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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 Lasillavacia.com, 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 Flypmedia.com in New York and editor-in-chief of Semana.com. 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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