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CEO of carpooling service disinvited from interview on Russian state media after producer found out she was a woman

The channel said their audience had “certain stereotypes”

Cardboard cutout of CEO Irina Reyder's photograph in BlaBlaCar's Russian office. Photo Irina Reyder's Facebook page

Irina Reyder, the CEO of the Russian affiliate of carpooling service BlaBlaCar, says she was disinvited from an interview with state-owned Channel One when the program’s editor realized she was a woman.

Reyder wrote on her Facebook page about the incident. She says she was listening in on the call between Channel One’s producer and BlaBlaCar’s PR officer and recorded the exchange between them:

Р (редактор передачи “Доброе утро”): Формат будет такой: корреспондент едет за рулем и берет интервью у вашего эксперта.

PR (PR – менеджер BBC): Да, отлично.

Р : А кто будет спикером?

PR: Наш генеральный директор Ирина Рейдер.

Р : Ой….у вас же был замечательный парень ..

С: Да, у нас был генеральный директор Алексей Лазоренко, а сейчас Ирина Рейдер.

PR : Да, я знаю, что в прошлом году у вас сменился генеральный директор. Но Ирина как спикер не подходит. Понимаете, у зрителя есть стереотипы… Ну, там, хороший юрист – это мужчина. Или автомобильный эксперт – мужчина, но не женщина. Может быть вы, Сергей, сможете дать нам интервью?

E (an editor for Good Morning show): Here’s the format: our reporter is driving a car while interviewing your expert.
PR (PR officer for BlaBlaCar): Yes, great.
E: And who will be the expert?
PR: Our CEO Irina Reyder.
E: Oh… you had a great guy once, didn’t you?
PR: Yes, we had Alexey Lazorenko as CEO, now it’s Irina Reyder.
E: Yes, I know about the changes in your leadership last year. But Irina won’t work as an expert. You see, our audience has certain stereotypes… You know, like when there’s a good lawyer, it’s usually a man. Or someone who knows a lot about cars — a man, but not a woman. Maybe you, Sergey, can give us an interview?

When Reyder’s PR officer Sergey told the editor that there weren’t any male experts in the company, she says, the latter promised to come back later after consulting with their producer. On a call later, they told BlaBlaCar’s representative that the story's format had changed and they would be interviewing the service’s users instead.

“What do you think? Will the new experts be expertly enough?” Reyder asked her followers sarcastically.

In a comment to TJournal, a tech and social media news outlet, Channel One’s own press office didn’t deny the veracity of the exchange, but insisted the approach was not sexist in nature. However, their explanation didn’t offer solid support to that claim:

Два корреспондента — молодой человек и девушка – планируют продемонстрировать мужской и женский подход к экономии. При этом девушка советуется с мужчинами-экспертами, а молодой человек — с экспертами-женщинами. Поскольку девушка планирует экономить на поездках, ей предстоит разговаривать с представителем сервиса поиска попутчиков (да, по задумке этого сюжета, а не из-за гендерного неравенства, он должен быть мужчиной).

Two reporters, a young man and a woman, intend to demonstrate the difference between male and female approach to savings. The young woman reporter will be interviewing male experts, while the young man will be interviewing women. Because the woman reporter’s goal is to save on car rides, she will be speaking to a representative of a carpooling service (yes, because of the show’s structure, not gender inequality, that has to be a man.)

How a woman’s approach to savings is different from that of a man, Channel One didn’t elaborate. But the public wasn’t convinced either way, and the TV network's approach was met with criticism.

Генеральный директор BlaBlaCar Ирина Рейдер рассказала, что редактор программы «Доброе утро» на Первом канале отказался брать у нее комментарий для передачи, потому что она – женщина. Довольно неожиданно, что у Первого канала есть такие грани безумия, о которых мы ещё не знали

— Л. Баттерс Стотч (@L_Stotch) 25 апреля 2019 г.

BlaBlaCar’s CEO Irina Reyder said she was disinvited from the Good Morning show on Channel One by the editor when they found out she was a woman. It’s quite surprising that there are still aspects to Channel One’s madness we haven’t known about.

Despite the significant backlash that Channel One faced online, Russia still has a long way to go in terms of gender equality. Russia ranks 75th among 149 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum's 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, scoring good points for equal access to healthcare and education for women, but lacking in legislation protecting their rights. Russian feminists and their supporters often use social media and satire to shine a light on sexist customs and practices.

Written by RuNet Echo · comments (0)
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Malaysian activist under police probe after LGBT speech at the United Nations

Malaysian activist Numan Afifi spoke at the UN Human Rights Universal Periodic Review process about the human rights situation in Malaysia. Source: Facebook

LGBT activist Numan Afifi was summoned by the Malaysian police a month after he delivered a statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Numan was part of a delegation which participated in the Universal Periodic Review on Malaysia's human rights situation, focusing on issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression and sex characteristics.

Numan lauded the government’s anti-bullying program but also noted that there is continuing ‘state-sponsored’ LGBT discrimination in Malaysia. He cited the ‘rehabilitation and conversion practices’ targeting the LGBT community. He also mentioned the sedition probe made by authorities against Women’s Day organizers after LGBT banners were seen in the rally.

Numan vowed to continue fighting for human rights. He wrote on Facebook:

I will not bow down to these acts to harass or intimidate me as a human rights defender in Malaysia. I fight for all human rights and will continue doing so. Stand in solidarity with us as we enlarge civic space in Malaysia and condemn those who attempt to shrink it.

Malaysia’s constitution guarantees the protection of minorities, including those who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community. But in recent years, hardline groups have become more aggressive in demanding the strict enforcement of Islamic teachings in governance. Malaysia has a Muslim-dominated population.

The Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the UPR Process (MACSA) said Numan “has relied on no credible evidence to back the incredulous claim” against the ‘rehabilitation’ program Mukhayyam. MACSA clarified that the Mukhayyam program referenced by Numan seeks to “address the escalation of new HIV/AIDS cases amongst transgender persons and men who have sex with men.” It added that:

Participation in the Mukhayyam programme is also completely voluntary with no elements of coercion involved and is far indeed from conversion therapy practised by other countries which involve an element of forced participation.

MACSA is asking Numan to apologize to LGBT members who are part of the program.

But Numan’s statement about ‘state-sponsored violence’ against the LGBT community was backed by 41 civil society organizations:

These state-sponsored activities are harmful by design as they employ rehabilitation and conversion practices which aim to curb and suppress the actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of LGBT persons. They also encourage others to intervene in the private and public lives of LGBT persons.

Another set of civil society organizations deplored the police probe against Numan:

The police investigation into Numan’s statement merely serves to highlight the harassment, bullying and discrimination faced by LGBT persons in Malaysia. There is absolutely nothing in Numan’s statement that could warrant any investigation by the authorities.

The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in The UPR Process or COMANGO described the ‘baseless investigation’ against Numan as ‘a new low in terms of state reprisal against human rights defenders in Malaysia.’

The probe does not mention the complaint against Numan and the charge he is being accused of. Numan was ordered by the police to appear and give a statement on 26 April 2019.

Written by Mong Palatino · comments (0)
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A look at United Arab Emirate’s renewable energy goals

UAE wants to get 30% of energy from clean energy by 2030

A parabolic trough which collects solar heat in Abu Dhabi called “Shams 1″. Image credit: Masdar via Flickr

In January, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a report outlining the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) market trends and analysis on the renewable energy sector. The United Arab Emirates, the report said, hosts up to 79 percent of the installed solar Photovoltaic capacity in the GCC. The country also “managed to attract some low-cost solar Photovoltaic projects without offering subsidies.”

So what is the UAE doing to increase energy from renewable sources and how is it meeting the goals it set for itself?

Solar energy

As of 2016, the UAE produces this many gigawatts of electricity through solar and biogas energy:

And this is how many megawatts of electricity the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is producing through solar energy as of 2016:

Dubai, however, opened its first solar park in 2013, so until then, no electricity was produced from solar energy in the Emirate:

The UAE has installed capacity for both Photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power.

As part of Dubai Clean Energy Strategy to generate 75 percent of Dubai’s power from clean energy by 2050, Dubai will build the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project on a single site in the world, which is expected to begin power generation within the next five years.

Meanwhile, Sharjah, the third largest emirate in the country, is aiming to build a solar-powered ‘sustainable city’ some 11 kilometers away from the Sharjah International Airport. The government of Umm Al Quwain, another emirate of the UAE, is also pursuing a plan to build a 200-megawatt solar park in Falaj al Mu’alla are of the emirate.

Meeting climate change goals

In September 2016, the UAE signed and ratified the Paris Climate Agreement which aims to mitigate and limit climate change. However, the goals set by the UAE are being deemed as “highly insufficient” by some organizations. For example, Climate Action Tracker says that the UAE’s climate commitment for 2021 is “is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement.”

Besides, the UAE also subsidizes prices for crude oil and natural gas even though petrol and diesel are subject to a 5% VAT. Yet, the UAE’s petrol and diesel prices are well below the global average. As of April 2019, the global petrol price was USD 1.14 per liter while UAE’s price stood at a mere USD 0.57 per liter.

This is clearly not enough to significantly and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels in the country.

Other renewable energy options in the UAE

In 2017, as per IRENA, the UAE already had 0.85 megawatts of installed capacity for wind energy.

The UAE is also investing more in bioenergy. For example, Masdar (a renewable energy company)  signed a development agreement in 2017 with environmental management company Bee'ah to develop the UAE’s first waste-to-energy power plant. This plant will be located at the Waste Management Center in Sharjah.

Priscilla Joseph, part of BactoWatt, a startup which aims to recover bioenergy from wastewater told Global Voices that:

Apart from solar energy, there is also growing demand for bioenergy, especially for technology that converts waste to energy in the UAE. Right now it is only in its initial stages, but we hope to soon turn bioenergy technology into a commercially viable product.

The UAE aims to meet 30 percent of its energy needs from clean energy by 2030. Currently, the UAE claims to have 0.54 percent of its clean energy share, and this includes both renewable and nuclear energy.

Worldwide, IRENA set a target of meeting 65 percent of energy via renewable sources by 2050. However, IRENA also predicted that at current trends, the world can only meet 25 percent of that goal.

A worried Joseph also said, “We really need to figure out a way to bridge that 40 percent gap.”

Written by Sania Aziz Rahman · comments (0)
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A conversation with the creator of FindyourB, a podcast for soul-searching Kazakh millennials

The home page of FindyourB's web site.

An oil engineer by day, at night Kazakhstan native Kairzhan Albazarov turns into a podcaster.

Kairzhan, who is in his 30s and based in Denmark, launched his show, FindyourB, three years ago. Most of his guests are Kazakh millennials experiencing an early mid-life crisis, who are questioning their life path as well as the values imposed on them by Kazakh society and traditions. Some of them have made unusual U-turns in their careers. All have one thing in common: they value their individual freedom highly, and dream of an alternative model for Kazakh society. Recently FindyourB has welcomed guests from nearby Kyrgyzstan, and produced episodes in the Kazakh language.

The following is an abridged transcript of an audio interview I did with Kairzhan in Russian in February 2019.

Filip Noubel: Through your podcast, FindyourB, you have become what seems to me a sort of ‘doctor of the Kazakhstani soul’. One should add that podcasts are a rather new phenomenon in Kazakhstani culture. How did you switch from the oil industry to podcast production? People in Kazakhstan usually consider that if you work in the oil industry you have really made it.

Kairzhan Albazarov: I still work in the oil industry, in fact. It started when I moved to Denmark in 2016, and went through a period of adjustment which was far from easy. I understood that I needed a hobby, even though I was very successful in my profession as an engineer of international standard. There was a larger part of myself I still couldn’t express. For introverts like me, podcasts represent much more than content—they’re like friends, and I understood I wanted to produce podcasts for people who live in Kazakhstan, and who have many problems. We have many social issues that are not discussed. I started podcasting first inviting friends, and then more well-known people on the show.

You’re right, people who work in the oil industry in Kazakhstan make good money, and tend to be upwardly mobile. My parents didn’t understand at first. My grandmother to this day believes this is a waste of time. But in reality, podcasting saved me from depression, from losing my moral grounding. Now my life feels quite balanced.

FN: Can you explain the specifics of your podcast, and where the name, ‘FindyourB’, comes from?

KA: Two or three years ago, the only thing people talked about in Kazakhstan was success, how to be strong, beautiful, but this [discourse] doesn’t reflect at all the level of suicides there are, the tension in society. On the podcast, we discuss real-life issues: depression, failure. We talk honestly about family, corruption, pain, and we heal as we let emotions come out.

Regarding the name, I wanted to call the podcast Open Yourself Up, or Authentic Self, since the main idea is about discovering the true self. In all courses about how to make a podcast you are told that, before you name your podcast, you should find a free domain. But the names I had in mind were taken, and I decided to give it a name with local characteristics. The letter ‘B’ comes from the Kazakh name Batyr, which recurs in many Turkic eposes: he is a hero, a superhero, but not necessarily a male fighter. Rather, Batyr describes a human being, regardless of gender or ethnicity, who tries to find out who they are to get rid of stereotypes, of peer pressure imposed by society, culture and family.

FN: How do find your guests, and convince them to take part in your show? 

KA: I started with people from the industry I work in. Then I thought of the people I know personally and who could serve as prototypes for Batyr. I found a woman who had studied with me very successfully to become an oil engineer, who started a Master’s in Europe, and then, to everyone’s surprise, decided to take up dance and to teach dance in Italy. I am lucky to know people like this, who were following a very predictable and stable path but who suddenly did a U-turn and moved to something different, and yet became successful in their new pastime.

It was very difficult to reach out to media celebrities. I would send ten invitations a day, but no one knew me, they didn't even know what podcasting was. My breakthrough happened in February 2018 when I spoke with an expert in political science, a local influencer, and since then I have no problem — people accept readily because I am not politically affiliated.

Graphic from a FindyourB episode featuring one of the very few out member of Kazakhstan's LGBTQ+ community.

FN:  Who listens to your show?

KA: My audience is quite unique: it is made of people who like to think, to develop their critical thinking. My guests agree to come to the show because they liked one of the previous interviews, thanks to word of mouth. There are also Instagrammers seeking to reach out to a new audience. The main thing is honesty, without any hype or aggressive behavior. I don't have a specific agenda, quality content is what matters the most. I create an intimate atmosphere so that people can share stories about their own life.

On average, I have five to six thousand listeners per show. This figure represents a rather diverse audience because my guests vary: politicians, political science experts, musicians. I do this on purpose to present a representative slice of Kazakhstani society, so that certain groups can learn to listen and understand what might be unknown or alien to them. The first listeners were friends, then came habitual podcast listeners, then people who are more religious, conservative, ethnic Kazakhs and Kazakh-speakers, and people trying to unite the Kazakh and the Western world. These are people aged 14 to 45, usually.

The feedback I get from my audience is my main motivation. One university professor told me she asks her students to listen to the podcasts and then write essays. People with emotional challenges find new prospects, as they identify with some of the ‘heroes’ of the shows they do what is needed to find their own ‘Batyr’. I also have some haters who insult me, particularly since two shows, one with a political science expert and another with a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

One of my listeners also became a guest: an ethnic Kazakh who moved from Mongolia back to Kazakhstan—an ‘Oralman’ as we call them—wrote his story in the show’s Telegram channel, and it touched me. He had dreamt for decades of returning to Kazakhstan and he did, but had to face our reality.

In 2018 I organized two face-to-face meetings with my listeners in Almaty. It was very moving, a gathering of like-minded people. One guy said this: “I thought I was the only such freak. Now I understand there are many of us.” Another guy wrote me to say that he’d met his wife via FindyourB, and that they are now expecting a baby.The meetings were small-scale, about 20 to 30 people. It was nice to be in such a safe environment. Having lived abroad and adopted different values I have lost many friends, but also found new ones, and some of them help to produce the podcast.

FN: In one show you paraphrase the Russian media star Vladimir Posner, saying that while there are journalists in Kazakhstan, there is no journalism to talk about. Can you explain what you mean?

KA: I am not a journalist, but after I launched my podcast in 2016, I found an online course on Coursera, a journalism class from the University of Pennsylvania. The course taught basic rules of journalism, such as objectivity. When one looks at the state of journalism in Kazakhstan there is indeed little objectivity: competent journalists cannot speak their minds because media are affiliated with the government or to businesses affiliated with the government. People who practise journalism as a hobby, such as bloggers, do it on Facebook. This shows that social media are much more influential than [traditional] media in Kazakhstan.

FN: Do you consider FindyourB a form of journalism? Can a podcast become an alternative media space in Kazakhstan?

KA: I don’t know. FindyourB is my hobby. I do it after my full-time job, after I take care of my family, and cannot produce episodes very regularly. I want to understand what is happening in my country. I still want to return to Kazakhstan, to raise my child there, so I cannot be indifferent to the situation in which he will live. But I consider journalism something on a large scale with more resources

FN: In your show the idea of “tradition” features quite often. One of your guests said: “We are nomads, and ideally, should be free, yet we are all indebted”. Why this feeling?

KA: It is very difficult to be Kazakh today in Kazakhstan. The country is at the crossroads of cultures: there’s the attractive Western culture that promotes freedom, democracy and individualism; then we have our Kazakh traditions that emphasize collective thinking and respect for the elderly, which is often abuse. And then there is also the heritage of the Soviet period. This creates tremendous contradictions: you want to be modern, to study abroad, but you are also required to stay with your parents.

After I left to go abroad, people accused me of abandoning my country and betraying my people. A lot of my friends, who are around the same age, cannot find a wife, because according to traditional family mores, the wife should be under the control of the husband’s parents. I will say something that is not popular: those traditions eat up a lot of energy, all those weddings, reunions, and celebrations. It is only because I am away, in Denmark, that I can find time to do my podcasts.

FN: How do you see your podcast evolving? What is the future of podcasting in Kazakhstan and in the Kazakh language?

KA: People are making podcasts now as they understand this is the future and will grow big in the next 3 to 5 years. There is one podcast in Kazakh done by a female podcaster, about self-development. It is essential to conduct interviews in Kazakh, because there are more problems and less information within the Kazakh-speaking community. Podcasting is what will democratize journalism.You can save time, and grow even without reading books. It’s very difficult to ban podcasting. This is the future.

Written by Filip Noubel · comments (0)
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Meet Adebayo Adegbembo, the host of the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account for April 24-30

Photo provided by Adebayo Adegbembo.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Adebayo Adegbembo (@technobayo) and what he plans to discuss during his week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

I'm Adebayo Adegbembo, from Lagos, Nigeria. I'm the lead developer at Genii Games. I love the process that goes into making ideas come alive, hence my work with Genii Games among other things I'm involved in.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

I would say the current status of my native Yoruba language is being revitalised considering the growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry, growing number of software to learn and type in Yoruba, books among others. Offline, I think the Yoruba language is undergoing a form of urbanization especially when you consider the manner it's being spoken in cities like Lagos.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

I'll be focusing on general subjects affecting indigenous languages from the point of view of my works. This'll include fun facts.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language?

I'm motivated by a need to preserve and share the richness of our native language. When you consider the variations of a tonal language like Yoruba, you tend to appreciate its beauty.

What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

To present our indigenous languages in ways that make them fun and appealing to a global audience.

Written by Eddie Avila · comments (0)
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Leica’s promo video referencing Tiananmen Square massacre went viral on Chinese social media. Then, it disappeared.

The massacre is the most censored topic online in China.

June 4 Tank man reflected on camera lens. Screen capture from Youtube, Leica: – the Hunt

A new video promoting the German camera company Leica has caused an uproar on the Chinese internet, resulting in a ban on the video and its derivatives.

Produced by Leica’s ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, five-minute video was launched in Brazil on April 16 to celebrate 100 years of the brand.

The video, titled “The Hunt”, features a collage of photographers documenting violence and hardship in different parts of the world. It is book-ended with scenes from inside a Beijing hotel in 1989, where a photographer is harassed by Chinese military officers but then left alone. Gunfire can be heard in the background as the photographer walks to the window, and raises his camera. Reflected in the lens, we see the infamous image of military tanks moving through Tiananmen Square towards a single protester standing before them.

Viewers familiar with this history will know the reference to the infamous “Tank Man” photo, originally shot by Jeff Widener at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. On that day, the Chinese military carried out a brutal crackdown on student-led demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. At the time, the Chinese Red Cross estimated that 2,700 civilians were killed, but more recent estimates from US and UK government agencies put the number above 10,000.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have shown that the Tiananmen Square massacre, often referred to simply as “June 4″, is the most heavily censored topic on the Chinese internet.

Reacting to the video, some social media users said it was “insulting China”, while others began questioning the business partnership between Leica and Huawei, China’s largest mobile phone manufacturer and 5G network developer. Huawei has been promoting Leica’s lenses in some of their phones.

Though the video was not targeted at a Chinese audience, it swiftly circulated on Chinese social media and went viral overnight.

Chinese censors reacted quickly and issued the following instruction, which were leaked on April 18 (via China Digital Times):

As quickly as possible, all video websites find and delete video and images from the Leica advertisement. (April 18, 2019)

For the next few days, users were forbidden from writing the words “Leica” in English and “徕卡” in Chinese on Weibo.

Twitter user @woilgoo posted a screenshot of the censorship notice that users received when trying to publish these words on Weibo. The notice cites “a violation of relevant laws and regulations or the Weibo Community Convention”.

#leica #莱卡 关键词被微博weibo封杀屏蔽。 pic.twitter.com/B7yRUdG9jN

— SYECOR (@woilgoo) April 18, 2019

Nevertheless, conversations about the video continue to emerge on Weibo. Users who are active on mainland Chinese platforms and Twitter have been documenting some of the conversations on Twitter, which is blocked in China, but still accessible via VPN.

Twitter user @cheriechancy captured one comment thread under Leica's official account on Weibo:

Although #TheHunt video cannot be found on #Leica’s Weibo account, Chinese social media users still managed to comment on an earlier post, subtly referring to the controversial ad and expressing appreciation and surprise that the account is still up and running #徕卡 pic.twitter.com/El2nE6nPmt

— Cherie Chan 陳卓妍 (@cheriechancy) April 19, 2019

After the censorship machine stepped in, the incident cooled off quickly and all traces of the video were removed from major Chinese social media platforms.

Now, social media users can publish posts about Leica, so long as the term is not connected to other sensitive content.

Outside China, the video continues to circulate. On Facebook, many overseas Chinese users shared the video to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the June 4 massacre. On YouTube, the majority of the feedback has been very positive:

Good job Leica. Salute to all the brave journalists in the world!
You earned my respect Leica, dare to tell the truth…but may god bless your business at mainland China…
a great video, why people of china dislike it who knows… Maybe they cant face the truth of about there [sic] government …

Written by Oiwan Lam · · View original post [en] · comments (0)
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Leica’s promo video referencing Tiananmen Square massacre went viral on Chinese social media. Then, it disappeared.

The massacre is the most censored topic online in China.

June 4 Tank man reflected on camera lens. Screen capture from Youtube, Leica: – the Hunt

A new video promoting the German camera company Leica has caused an uproar on the Chinese internet, resulting in a ban on the video and its derivatives.

Produced by Leica’s ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, five-minute video was launched in Brazil on April 16 to celebrate 100 years of the brand.

The video, titled “The Hunt”, features a collage of photographers documenting violence and hardship in different parts of the world. It is book-ended with scenes from inside a Beijing hotel in 1989, where a photographer is harassed by Chinese military officers but then left alone. Gunfire can be heard in the background as the photographer walks to the window, and raises his camera. Reflected in the lens, we see the infamous image of military tanks moving through Tiananmen Square towards a single protester standing before them.

Viewers familiar with this history will know the reference to the infamous “Tank Man” photo, originally shot by Jeff Widener at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. On that day, the Chinese military carried out a brutal crackdown on student-led demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. At the time, the Chinese Red Cross estimated that 2,700 civilians were killed, but more recent estimates from US and UK government agencies put the number above 10,000.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have shown that the Tiananmen Square massacre, often referred to simply as “June 4″, is the most heavily censored topic on the Chinese internet.

Reacting to the video, some social media users said it was “insulting China”, while others began questioning the business partnership between Leica and Huawei, China’s largest mobile phone manufacturer and 5G network developer. Huawei has been promoting Leica’s lenses in some of their phones.

Though the video was not targeted at a Chinese audience, it swiftly circulated on Chinese social media and went viral overnight.

Chinese censors reacted quickly and issued the following instruction, which were leaked on April 18 (via China Digital Times):

As quickly as possible, all video websites find and delete video and images from the Leica advertisement. (April 18, 2019)

For the next few days, users were forbidden from writing the words “Leica” in English and “徕卡” in Chinese on Weibo.

Twitter user @woilgoo posted a screenshot of the censorship notice that users received when trying to publish these words on Weibo. The notice cites “a violation of relevant laws and regulations or the Weibo Community Convention”.

#leica #莱卡 关键词被微博weibo封杀屏蔽。 pic.twitter.com/B7yRUdG9jN

— SYECOR (@woilgoo) April 18, 2019

Nevertheless, conversations about the video continue to emerge on Weibo. Users who are active on mainland Chinese platforms and Twitter have been documenting some of the conversations on Twitter, which is blocked in China, but still accessible via VPN.

Twitter user @cheriechancy captured one comment thread under Leica's official account on Weibo:

Although #TheHunt video cannot be found on #Leica’s Weibo account, Chinese social media users still managed to comment on an earlier post, subtly referring to the controversial ad and expressing appreciation and surprise that the account is still up and running #徕卡 pic.twitter.com/El2nE6nPmt

— Cherie Chan 陳卓妍 (@cheriechancy) April 19, 2019

After the censorship machine stepped in, the incident cooled off quickly and all traces of the video were removed from major Chinese social media platforms.

Now, social media users can publish posts about Leica, so long as the term is not connected to other sensitive content.

Outside China, the video continues to circulate. On Facebook, many overseas Chinese users shared the video to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the June 4 massacre. On YouTube, the majority of the feedback has been very positive:

Good job Leica. Salute to all the brave journalists in the world!
You earned my respect Leica, dare to tell the truth…but may god bless your business at mainland China…
a great video, why people of china dislike it who knows… Maybe they cant face the truth of about there [sic] government …

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“We can’t just sit back and wait…”

Indigenous, black, and campesino communities in Colombia meet their own communications needs with community networks

apc ColombiaThe following post was originally published on APC News and is republished here as part of a partnership between the Association for Progressive Communications and Rising Voices.

The “digital divide” in Colombia is particularly wide in rural communities, since service coverage, especially cellular mobile service, is concentrated in urban centres. In September 2017, communities in the municipality of Buenos Aires, located in the department of Cauca, decided to confront this situation by planning and developing their own communications network. After years of suffering the violence of armed conflict and with the arrival of the peace agreements, “the time had come for indigenous, black and campesino communities to work towards having our own infrastructure,” they stated.

“It's the 21st century and we are just barely becoming familiar with new technology in our community, because of the neglect of the state, and that is a very sad situation,” said community leader José Robinson Ordóñez. For his part, former FARC combatant Boris Guevara stressed: “The most difficult thing has been gaining the trust of the communities, because of so many years of broken promises. We can't just sit back and wait for the government to do these things for us. We have to take the initiative on our own, working on the ground with the communities, and that's what we are doing.”

The project has been carried out with support from the Internet Society and from APC member organisations Colnodo and Rhizomatica. The involvement of the latter two has been fostered through the APC member grant programme (with financial support provided in 2017 and 2018) and the work of the Local Access Networks project.

A gender perspective was strongly emphasised in the creation of the community networks, with women from the communities actively involved from the very beginning, explained Colnodo project leader Lilian Chamorro.

“We met with the neighbouring communities to think about the communications needs in the area and we learned from them about the lack of cellular network coverage in the communities,” she added.

This video demonstrates how the community wireless networks collectively built and maintained by th communities themselves have improved the quality of life for everyone.

This post was crossposted by Suzanne Lehn

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As a comedian wins Ukraine’s presidency by a landslide, Russians watched with awe and envy

Russians were more interested in their neighbor's politics than their own

Olga Skabeyeva and Yevgeny Popov, Russian state TV's power couple, hosted a 6-hour long live commentary show about the Ukrainian presidential debates on April 19. Photo by Rossiya 24, screencapped by Runet Echo.

Ukraine's presidential runoff wrapped up with a crushing defeat to incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who lost by a 50-point margin to the 41-year-old comic actor with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Zelenskiy seems to have embodied a widespread dissatisfaction with Poroshenko's government, particularly with the war against a Russia-backed insurgency in the eastern regions that has claimed 13,000 lives on both sides over the past five years.

While it's too early to say how a political novice will fare as a head of state, the elections that brought him to victory were attentively followed by an audience of millions across the contested border with Russia.

Russians have been glued to their screens as they watched a rare show: a genuinely unpredictable elections campaign where an incumbent can hold debates with an outsider, lose the vote, and concede peacefully.

When the two presidential candidates debated on a half-full stadium in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 19, both government-owned TV networks and several independent outlets from Russia ran simultaneous live broadcasts and online video streams.

Meduza, an independent news website, noted that TV debates in Russia’s own presidential elections in 2018 barely got any airtime—with the frontrunner, Vladimir Putin, not even participating—in comparison to the wall-to-wall coverage of Ukraine’s stadium debates:

Да, российскому ТВ украинские выборы интереснее российских.https://t.co/RedyixXBpw

— Meduza (@meduzaproject) 18 апреля 2019 г.

Yes, Russian TV is more interested in Ukrainian elections than in Russia’s own.

The Bell, another independent news website, counted six million views of the Friday debate on the largest Russian YouTube channels.

In addition to watching the debates online or on TV, or reading one of the many live blogs, Russians also took to Twitter en masse to comment and express a whole range of emotions. Sure, Russia’s state television—which is extremely hostile to Ukraine—mocked and derided the debates, casting the elections as a circus, a sign of Ukraine’s imminent collapse.

Not sure this is the lesson most Russians will take. TV broadcast the “debate” because the execs view it as a circus and cautionary tale. Anecdotal evidence goes both ways, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t drop the confetti for Ukraine’s “info success” just yet. https://t.co/UranKu5kGX

— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Russian state TV hosts spend an hour trying to convince viewers that today’s debate in Kiev was a pointless and cynical farce, naturally without mentioning last time Putin took part in such a debate as a candidate. Which was, uh, when again? https://t.co/gcewHcf1YP

— Joshua Yaffa (@yaffaesque) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Many Russians, however, watched the debates with envy:

Ukrainian debates were watched by almost half a million people on Nabalny Live YouTube channel alone. Many more watched it on Dozhd, RBC and many online outlets with audiences sympathetic to Ukraine. Don’t think it was for the circus.

— Leonid Ragozin (@leonidragozin) 20 апреля 2019 г.

I got an incredible lift out of the Ukrainian debate. Someday, we Russians will do similar things (with better results, I hope). Zelensky wins this one; does Ukraine win? Well, I don't believe so, but I sang the anthem with them. Hope dies last.

— Leonid Bershidsky (@Bershidsky) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Оказывается, президентов можно на выборах менять. Обалдеть. Вы знали вообще?

— ivan davydov (@ivan_f_davydov) 22 апреля 2019 г.

Turns out, you can actually use elections to change presidents! Mind-blowing. Did you even know?

Many pointed out the irony of so much attention to a political theater by a country where real political debates or elections haven’t happened in years:

Надеюсь российское ТВ продолжит традицию передирания офигенных украинских шоу и зафигачит такие же огненные дебаты на президентских выборах (нет)

— с у л т а н о с (@sult) 19 апреля 2019 г.

I hope Russian TV continues its tradition of ripping off awesome Ukrainian shows and holds similarly fiery debates for the presidential elections (it won’t)

Russian state media all over the presidential debates in Ukraine. Showing live on Rossiya 24 with commentators on stand by.
Worth remembering that Putin has never participated in a debate as a presidential candidate. pic.twitter.com/uaq22gXuxV

— Maria Antonova (@mashant) 19 апреля 2019 г.

A telling scene: I’m @ closed discussion club in Moscow hosted by one biz elite. A guest watching Ukr debates on phone. Speaker discussing Ru Econ policy&prognosis, lamenting unlikelihood of liberalization, growth. Ends w toast “to being able to have such debates here one day”

— Noah Sneider (@NoahSneider) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Я не очень понимаю как на выборах в другой стране можно за кого-то топить всерьез, а не как за любимый клуб нхл, и в этой вот системе сложно не топить за зеленского, конечно. Но для меня это политическое шоу, которого мы лишены уже лет 25, имею право удивляться дебатам и прочему

— P. (@3insy) 19 апреля 2019 г.

I don’t quote understand how you can seriously root for someone in another country’s elections, unlike a favorite NHL club, and in this system it’s hard not to root for Zelensky, of course. But it’s a political show of the kind we haven’t had for 25 years, so I have the right to be amazed at these debates and everything else.

Journalist Oleg Kashin, a prominent journalist, posted a meme with Putin saying to famous Russian comedian Mikhail Galustyan “Don’t even think about it!” — a reference to the fact that a popular TV personality challenged the president and won an election.

pic.twitter.com/JlAd7gB6lh

— Kashin⚓Kashin⚓Kashin (@KSHN) 22 апреля 2019 г.

Others were filled with hope and admiration for Ukraine’s democratic success:

Эх, духоподъемное зрелище. Ну ничего, скоро и в России так будет, вот увидите.

— Roman Dobrokhotov (@Dobrokhotov) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Ah, such a spirit-lifting sight. Not to worry, we’ll have the same in Russia soon, you’ll see.

Блестящая речь Порошенко с признанием поражения и поздравлениями Зеленскому. И революция их называлась Революцией Достоинства и ведут они себя достойно!

— Leonid Gozman (@Leonid_Gozman) 22 апреля 2019 г.

A brilliant speech from Poroshenko where he conceded defeat and congratulated Zelensky. Their revolution was nicknamed the Revolution of Dignity, and they are behaving in a dignified way!

And even though state loyalists were uniformly dismissive—Russian foreign ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the debates a “tent circus” while Vladimir Putin on Monday refrained from calling Zelensky to congratulate him, as other world leaders did—it’s clear that many Russians are more interested in their neighbors’ politics than their own.

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As a comedian wins Ukraine’s presidency by a landslide, Russians watch with awe and envy

Russians were more interested in their neighbor's politics than their own

Olga Skabeyeva and Yevgeny Popov, Russian state TV's power couple, hosted a 6-hour long live commentary show about the Ukrainian presidential debates on April 19. Photo by Rossiya 24, screencapped by Runet Echo.

Ukraine's presidential runoff wrapped up with a crushing defeat to incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who lost by a 50-point margin to the 41-year-old comic actor with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Zelenskiy seems to have embodied a widespread dissatisfaction with Poroshenko's government, particularly with the war against a Russia-backed insurgency in the eastern regions that has claimed 13,000 lives on both sides over the past five years.

While it's too early to say how a political novice will fare as a head of state, the elections that brought him to victory were attentively followed by an audience of millions across the contested border with Russia.

Russians have been glued to their screens as they watched a rare show: a genuinely unpredictable elections campaign where an incumbent can hold debates with an outsider, lose the vote, and concede peacefully.

When the two presidential candidates debated on a half-full stadium in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 19, both government-owned TV networks and several independent outlets from Russia ran simultaneous live broadcasts and online video streams.

Meduza, an independent news website, noted that TV debates in Russia’s own presidential elections in 2018 barely got any airtime—with the frontrunner, Vladimir Putin, not even participating—in comparison to the wall-to-wall coverage of Ukraine’s stadium debates:

Да, российскому ТВ украинские выборы интереснее российских.https://t.co/RedyixXBpw

— Meduza (@meduzaproject) 18 апреля 2019 г.

Yes, Russian TV is more interested in Ukrainian elections than in Russia’s own.

The Bell, another independent news website, counted six million views of the Friday debate on the largest Russian YouTube channels.

In addition to watching the debates online or on TV, or reading one of the many live blogs, Russians also took to Twitter en masse to comment and express a whole range of emotions. Sure, Russia’s state television—which is extremely hostile to Ukraine—mocked and derided the debates, casting the elections as a circus, a sign of Ukraine’s imminent collapse.

Not sure this is the lesson most Russians will take. TV broadcast the “debate” because the execs view it as a circus and cautionary tale. Anecdotal evidence goes both ways, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t drop the confetti for Ukraine’s “info success” just yet. https://t.co/UranKu5kGX

— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Russian state TV hosts spend an hour trying to convince viewers that today’s debate in Kiev was a pointless and cynical farce, naturally without mentioning last time Putin took part in such a debate as a candidate. Which was, uh, when again? https://t.co/gcewHcf1YP

— Joshua Yaffa (@yaffaesque) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Many Russians, however, watched the debates with envy:

Ukrainian debates were watched by almost half a million people on Nabalny Live YouTube channel alone. Many more watched it on Dozhd, RBC and many online outlets with audiences sympathetic to Ukraine. Don’t think it was for the circus.

— Leonid Ragozin (@leonidragozin) 20 апреля 2019 г.

I got an incredible lift out of the Ukrainian debate. Someday, we Russians will do similar things (with better results, I hope). Zelensky wins this one; does Ukraine win? Well, I don't believe so, but I sang the anthem with them. Hope dies last.

— Leonid Bershidsky (@Bershidsky) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Оказывается, президентов можно на выборах менять. Обалдеть. Вы знали вообще?

— ivan davydov (@ivan_f_davydov) 22 апреля 2019 г.

Turns out, you can actually use elections to change presidents! Mind-blowing. Did you even know?

Many pointed out the irony of so much attention to a political theater by a country where real political debates or elections haven’t happened in years:

Надеюсь российское ТВ продолжит традицию передирания офигенных украинских шоу и зафигачит такие же огненные дебаты на президентских выборах (нет)

— с у л т а н о с (@sult) 19 апреля 2019 г.

I hope Russian TV continues its tradition of ripping off awesome Ukrainian shows and holds similarly fiery debates for the presidential elections (it won’t)

Russian state media all over the presidential debates in Ukraine. Showing live on Rossiya 24 with commentators on stand by.
Worth remembering that Putin has never participated in a debate as a presidential candidate. pic.twitter.com/uaq22gXuxV

— Maria Antonova (@mashant) 19 апреля 2019 г.

A telling scene: I’m @ closed discussion club in Moscow hosted by one biz elite. A guest watching Ukr debates on phone. Speaker discussing Ru Econ policy&prognosis, lamenting unlikelihood of liberalization, growth. Ends w toast “to being able to have such debates here one day”

— Noah Sneider (@NoahSneider) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Я не очень понимаю как на выборах в другой стране можно за кого-то топить всерьез, а не как за любимый клуб нхл, и в этой вот системе сложно не топить за зеленского, конечно. Но для меня это политическое шоу, которого мы лишены уже лет 25, имею право удивляться дебатам и прочему

— P. (@3insy) 19 апреля 2019 г.

I don’t quote understand how you can seriously root for someone in another country’s elections, unlike a favorite NHL club, and in this system it’s hard not to root for Zelensky, of course. But it’s a political show of the kind we haven’t had for 25 years, so I have the right to be amazed at these debates and everything else.

Journalist Oleg Kashin, a prominent journalist, posted a meme with Putin saying to famous Russian comedian Mikhail Galustyan “Don’t even think about it!” — a reference to the fact that a popular TV personality challenged the president and won an election.

pic.twitter.com/JlAd7gB6lh

— Kashin⚓Kashin⚓Kashin (@KSHN) 22 апреля 2019 г.

Others were filled with hope and admiration for Ukraine’s democratic success:

Эх, духоподъемное зрелище. Ну ничего, скоро и в России так будет, вот увидите.

— Roman Dobrokhotov (@Dobrokhotov) 19 апреля 2019 г.

Ah, such a spirit-lifting sight. Not to worry, we’ll have the same in Russia soon, you’ll see.

Блестящая речь Порошенко с признанием поражения и поздравлениями Зеленскому. И революция их называлась Революцией Достоинства и ведут они себя достойно!

— Leonid Gozman (@Leonid_Gozman) 22 апреля 2019 г.

A brilliant speech from Poroshenko where he conceded defeat and congratulated Zelensky. Their revolution was nicknamed the Revolution of Dignity, and they are behaving in a dignified way!

And even though state loyalists were uniformly dismissive—Russian foreign ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the debates a “tent circus” while Vladimir Putin on Monday refrained from calling Zelensky to congratulate him, as other world leaders did—it’s clear that many Russians are more interested in their neighbors’ politics than their own.

Written by RuNet Echo · comments (0)
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