Category Archives: Tech

State of Emergency in Neskantaga

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/04/20134257497175861.html

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Of typewriters and masking tape

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/04/2013415112152991530.html

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“It cannot happen here”: Pipeline pushback attends Exxon Valdez anniversary

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/201332911552936394.html

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Mexico: Netizens put death of Osama bin Laden in context

Below is my most recent post for Global Voices.  It appears as part of their special coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden.

 

As news of U.S. Special Forces’ targeted killing of Osama Bin Laden was broadcast around the world, netizens in Mexico tweeted and blogged their responses to this signal event in the “war on terror.”  Tellingly, in the vast majority of cases their language invoked the “war on drugs” that has been imposed on them by their own government since 2006. With the tactical deployment of analysis, analogies, irony and hashtags, Mexicans put their own indelible stamp on an event with global ramifications.

On Twitter, users based in Mexico telegraphed the relevance of Bin Laden and the U.S.-led “war on terror” to their own troubled circumstances.  Abraham SC (@abraham_360), for example, drew a crisp analogy with  Joaquín Guzmán Loera, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

#OsamaBinLaden es para USA lo que para #Mexico lo es el #ChapoGuzman

#OsamaBinLaden is for the USA what #ChapoGuzman is for #Mexico

Speculating on the temporal horizons involved, Victor Girón (@victor_giron) posed an open question.

Si #EUA se tardo 10 anos en capturar a #OsamabinLaden, Cuanto tiempo tardara #Mexico en capturar a los mas buscados traficantes de #mx

If it took the USA 10 years to capture #OsamaBinLaden, how long will it take #Mexico to capture the most wanted traffickers of #mx
 
Pilar Munoz (@mari3_1416) struck a tone both wistful and ironic:

Es oficial, #osamabinladen esta muerto!  Ojala y en #Mexico tuvieramos un objetivo tan claro.

It’s official, #osamabinladen is dead!  I wish that we in #Mexico had such a clear objective.

 A lawyer from Campeche, Victor Valencia (@ViCoValEnCiA), [http://twitter.com/#!/ViCoValEnCiA] wrote skeptically – and with some apprehension – about the timing of the U.S. strike on Abbottabad.

Que coincidencia que matan a #OsamaBinLaden cuando #Obama inicia su campana de reeleccion y en #Mexico a quien matarian!!!????

What a coincidence that they kill #OsamaBinLaden just as #Obama begins his re-election campaign and in #Mexico who are they going to kill!!!????

A tweet by Alex Alan (@alan_weasley), saturated in black humor, made tacit reference to the mass graves recently unearthed in Tamaulipas state.

A #OsamaBinLaden lo encontraron descuartizado en una fosa en San Fernando, eso de la mansion en Pakistan es puro pedo!  😉  #mexico  #tampico

They found #OsamaBinLaden dismembered in a grave in San Fernando, the stuff about the mansion in Pakistan is pure crap!  😉  #mexico  #tampico
 
With more characters at their disposal, bloggers were in a position to expand on the complex sentiments briefly signaled on Twitter. Writing for The Mex Files, Richard Grabman (a U.S.-born resident of Mazatlan) posted under the title “‘We are the champions’…and now? On Osama Bin Ladin and Mexico.”

The government here, at the behest of the United States, targeted – and killed – any number of supposedly indispensable men in generic evil-doing business. While there’s a tendency to give these groups inappropriate names like “cartels,” or ridiculously inflated bureaucratic terms like “Transnational Criminal Organizations,” the Mexican fight has been against a known – and not all that complicated – an enemy:  gangsters.

Every time some “drug king-pin” has been blown away we’re told it’s an incredible victory for the government and the “war on drugs”… and the result is more violence, more mayhem.[…]

The U.S. has supposedly been waging not a war on Al Qaida, but a “war on terror” – the abstract noun that may have on[c]e referred specifically to Bin Laden’s organization, and by extension similar armed ideological movements, but has proven elastic enough to cover nearly any organized violent resistance to the status quo.[…]

What frankly scares quite a number of people here is not that the criminals might “win,” but that the state will lose legitimacy. Or, that in its infinite expansion of the “war on terror,” the United States will drop the pretense of “cooperation” and simply intervene directly in this country. Which, of course, would lead to resistance, which would be labeled “terrorism,” which would require more intervention….

A day after news of Bin Laden’s death was broadcast, Blog El 5antuario [es] published the post “En Mexico se le presta mas atencion al asesinato de osama bin laden que a cualquier asesinato en mexico”  (”In Mexico more attention is paid to the murder of Osama Bin Laden than to any murder in Mexico”). Writing anonymously, the blogger began with an anecdote, and wound up with an argument for the singularity of the Mexican instance.

Hoy paso la peor estupidez en la television mexicana, en Televisa transmitian el programa pequenos gigantes todo iba bien era una transmision normal cuando interrumpen transmisiones (me imagino que todas las televisoras paso lo mismo) para decir “Osama Bin Ladin ha muerto.”  OK ustedes diran, “bueno pues es Bin Laden.”  pero sinceramente, cuantas personas mueren a diario en Mexico?  sinceramente yo quisiera que cada vez que asesinan a un mexicano, ya sea sicario, narco, violador, soldado, policia federal, policia municipal, o simplemente una persona que simplemente iba pasando por la calle y le toco fuego cruzado (ya ven como pasan las cosas aqui en Mexico) quisiera que cada vez que muere un mexicano interrumpieran la programacion de Televisa, TV azteca y dijeran “hoy asesinaron a 10 mexicanos” y dedicaran por lo menos 1 minuto de atencion en los noticieros, pero lamentablemente todos sabemos que eso nunca va a pasar, gracias a iniciativa [Merida] es mas importante la muerte de una persona que la muerte de 10, 20, 30 o hasta 100 Mexicanos, lamentablemente esto pasa solo en Mexico.  Por eso es mas recomendable buscar la verdadera informacion en Internet.

Today the worst stupidity happened on Mexican television. Televisa was broadcasting the program “Small Giants”, all was well, it was a normal transmission, when they interrupted the broadcast (I imagine all the networks showed the same thing) to say “Osama Bin Laden is dead.” OK, you will say, “well, it is Bin Laden.” But honestly, how many people die every day in Mexico? Honestly, I wish that every time they murder a Mexican, whether it is a hit-man, a drug dealer, a rapist, a soldier, a federal police officer, a municipal police officer, or simply a person who just stepped into the street and got caught in the crossfire (you see how things happen here in Mexico), I wish that every time a Mexican is murdered they would interrupt the programming on Televisa, TV Azteca and say “Today 10 Mexicans were murdered” and dedicate at least 1 minute of attention to them on the news, but sadly everyone knows this will never happen, thanks to the [Merida] initiative the death of 1 person is more important than the deaths of 10, 20, 30 or even 100 Mexicans. Sadly this happens only in Mexico. So it is more advisable to look for true information on the Internet.
 

This post is part of our special coverage The Death of Osama Bin Laden.

 

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Felipe Calderon’s Cabinet on Twitter

@GGalvanG (Guillermo Galvan G.), Secretary of National Defence, Mexico

My latest post for Global Voices, just published on their website and reproduced below.

Mexico: Felipe Calderon’s Cabinet on Twitter

Posted 19 April 2011 14:58 GMT
 
Written byDeborah Esch
 
In mid-April, the government headed by Felipe Calderon announced with much fanfare that every member of the cabinet was now registered on Twitter, and prepared to deal with the public more directly via social media.

Two reports in the Mexican mainstream media set the story in motion. Writing for CNNMexico [es] under the title “Mexico busca eficacia del gobierno electronico pese a la poca conectividad” (”Mexico looks for efficient government despite limited connectivity”), Hiroshi Takahashi reported on the presentation of the draft communique from the President, which features new language on the use of social networks including Twitter and Facebook, as well as a redesign of the website [es] associated with his office that now comprises nineteen blogs.

Alejandra Sota, the President’s Co-ordinator of Social Communication, pointed out [es] that Mexico leads Latin America in the use of Facebook, and occupies eighth place [es] in the region in its total of Twitter users. Ms. Sota elaborates on her blog [es], located on the revamped website:

El nuevo modelo de comunicacion digital de la Presidencia es un proyecto basado en el compromise con la innovacion pero, principalmente, con la transparencia; con el derecho de los mexicanos a saber, y con su obligacion de preguntar, de informarse, de debater y proponer….  A partir de hoy el gavbnete mexicano sera el primero completo en twitter en el mundo.

The new model of digital communication from the Presidency is a project based on a commitment to innovation, but mainly to transparency, to the right of Mexicans to know, and their obligation to ask, inquire, discuss and propose…. The Mexican cabinet will be the first in the world to be fully on Twitter.

A report by Maria del Carmen Cortes for El Universal [es] entitled “Timidos, muchos secretarios para expresarse en Twitter” (”Many secretaries are timid about expressing themselves on Twitter”), distinguished between the handful of secretaries who already had active accounts and significant followings on Twitter, and another group of users entirely new to the platform.

Pero lo cierto es que muchos de ellos prefieren pasar inadvertidos, mantanerse en silencio, sin emitir comentarios en esta plataforma instantanea….

La initiativa forma parte de una nueva forma de comunicacion del gabinete presidencial, cuyo objetivo es mantener comunicacion directo con los ciudadenos.

But the truth is that many of them prefer to go unnoticed, to keep quiet, not to comment on this instantaneous platform….

The initiative is part of a new form of communication on the part of the presidential cabinet, whose objective is to maintain direct communication with citizens.

Javier Lozano, the secretary of Labour and Social Welfare (who has declared his own presidential aspirations), is thus far the most popular and prolific of the ministers on Twitter, with more than 37,000 followers and over 11,700 tweets to his credit (at the time of writing this post). The timeline for his Twitter account, @JLozanoA, yields the following tweet, indicative of a certain level of comfort with the medium.

Ya me voy a dormir, no sin antes reconocer que Chivas perdio bien con un golazo de ultimo segundo contra Santos (en Guadalajara). Saludos.

Now I’m going to sleep, but not before acknowledging that Chivas lost even with a goal in the last second against Santos (in Guadalajara). Best wishes.

On the other end of the spectrum is the minister of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, with 1,408 followers and, to date, a single, somewhat redundant, tweet at @GenaroGarciaL.

La cuenta de twitter del Secretario de Seguridad Publica es @GenaroGarciaL

The twitter account of the Secretary of Public Security is @GenaroGarciaL

The secretary is, however, already on the receiving end of a number of tweets from his followers, including Ale (@aaleog), who directed the following messages to him:

@GenaroGarciaL el silencio informativo es la peor strategia

@GenaroGarciaL la mejor consigna es explicar en todo momento lo que se hace

@GenaroGarciaL informative silence is the worst strategy

@GenaroGarciaL the best slogan is to explain at every moment what is being done

The Secretary of Public Education, Alonso Lujambio, who can be reached @LujambioAlonso, is drawing a sometimes enthusiastic response from his followers. From Aguascalientes, Manuel Cortina (@manuelcortina) tweeted approvingly, appending the link to a twitpic of the minister:

Desayunando con @lujambioalonso  #AgsMx  http://twitpic.com/4m2379 Buen ejercicio democratico

Having breakfast with @lujambioalonso  #AgsMx  http://twitpic.com/4m2379 Good democratic exercise

The Attorney General, Marisela Morales, issued her first tweet from her account @MMoralesI, which took the form of a call for collective responsibility:

Solo con la participacion activa de la sociedad vamos a someter a la delincuencia

Only with the active participation of society will we subdue delinquency

Her followers appear to be of mixed minds about Mexico’s prospects. Guillermo Lozano A. D. (@glazanoad) wrote encouragingly from Leon, Guanajuato:

Marisela, cuenta con todo nuestro apoyo como sociedad, confiamos en tu capacidad y conviccion para acabar con la delincuencia

Marisela, count on all our support as a society, we trust in your capacity and conviction to put an end to delinquency.

Irma Zvelasco (@unpieenelcielo) was more equivocal:

@MMoralesI Esperamos que eso sea cierto, por q vamos muy mal

@MMoralesI We hope that is true, because we are going very badly.

It is worth noting that in the same week that the Calderon government trumpeted its full-fledged entry into social media, the World Economic Forum issued its Report on Global Information Technology 2009-2010. According to the study, Mexico ranks 78 out of 133 in the use of information technology –the same as the previous year. The report measures how likely countries are to take advantage of opportunities afforded by technology with regard to governance, business and public policy.

With the question of access to a range of technologies underlying the results of the WEF report, one user’s response to the announcement that Mexican ministers are now on Twitter takes on a particular resonance. Ivan Trejo Molina (@ivan_trejom) admonishes,

http://on.cnn.com/gqQSIHJ #Mexico / Sin embargo olvidan ke no todo Mexico esta en TW

http://on.cnn.com/gqQSIHJ #Mexico / However they are forgetting that not all of Mexico is on TW[itter]
 

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#estadofallido: Mexican netizens deploy the “failed state” meme

In my most recent post for Global Voices, reproduced below, I look at an example of the ways in which Mexicans are taking to citizen media to redeploy the language used by governments, the military and the mainstream media for their own critical purposes.  On Twitter, Mexican tweeps are savvy in their exploitation of the user-generated convention of the hashtag:  in this example, #estadofallido, which signals a range of responses to the idea, or topos, of Mexico as an actual or potential “failed state.”

#

 A feature article by political historian David Rieff , published in the online edition of The New Republic on March 17, 2011, provides a rich yet succinct context for the genesis of the idea or topos of Mexico as an actual and certainly a potential “failed state.” Its epic title, “The Struggle for Mexico,” is followed by an interrogative subtitle that raises a question that has been pending since late 2008:  “Its present is grim, its future uncertain – but is it a failed state?”

From a diplomatic point of view, the U.S. military’s Joint Forces Command did the incoming Obama administration no favors with the stark warning it issued in November 2008. In its annual evaluation of the threats America’s armed forces were likely to face in the future, it declared that, “[i]n terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.”

[….]

Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with the Mexican government of Felipe Calderón. And so, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose references to U.S.-Mexico relations during her Senate confirmation hearings had been so perfunctory as to be nonexistent in political terms, was obliged to make a trip to Mexico City in March 2009 to smooth relations between the two governments. This was followed the next month with a visit to Mexico City by President Obama himself. Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, quipped at the time that Calderón “wants to hear [Obama] say that Mexico was never a failed state, is not a failed state today, and even in their deepest, darkest fears will never, ever be a failed state.”

Flash-forward two years. “Buggs,” a founder of the popular blog Borderland Beat, which reports on drug violence from both sides of the border, picks up the thread and posts an article from the EFE news agency dated March 27, 2011.

President Felipe Calderon said in an interview published Sunday by the Spanish daily El Pais that Mexico was not a failed state and blamed the United States for the illegal flow of arms into his country. Calderon said he regretted the fact that the matter of referring to Mexico as a failed state appeared in a U.S. government report.

In Mexico, the meme has been adopted as the title of the blog Estado Fallido [es] (Failed State), whose mission statement reads:

Este blog nace por la necessidad de ofrecer una cronica periodistica de la ingobernabilidad, la desbordada crisis de seguridad nacional y la Guerra que vive Mexico.

Intelectuales, academicos y columnistas aun debaten si Mexico es o no es Estado Fallido. Lo cierto es que algunas regiones del pais han caido en la ingobernabilidad absoluta.

This blog was born from the need to offer a journalistic chronicle of the lawlessness, the spiraling national security crisis and the War that Mexico is experiencing.

Intellectuals, academics and columnists are still debating whether Mexico is or is not a Failed State. What is certain is that some regions of the country have fallen into absolute lawlessness.

On Revoluciones Mexico – RMX, blogger Gregorio Ortega Molina posted on April 4, 2011, under the title “Mexico va que vuela para Estado fallido” (”Mexico is well on its way to become a failed state”).

La decomposicion social, la anomia de los gobiernos, la debilidad de las instituciones, el desorden y la impossibilidad de dar seguridad juridica y publica porque la violencia y la desconfianza desborden a las autoridades, son sintomas que permiten establecer un diagnostico:  el modelo politico y economico de Mexico dio de si, y intentar la restauracion equivale a llamar a gritos la implosion de las fallas sistemicas y estructurales que afectan al Estado mexicano, para convertirlo en uno fallido.

Social decay, the anomie of governments, weakened  institutions, disorder and the impossibility of providing juridical security and public safety because violence and mistrust are overwhelming the authorities, are symptoms which can lead to a diagnosis: the political and economic model of Mexico gave rise to this, and attempting restoration is equivalent to crying out at the implosion of the systemic and structural flaws that affect the Mexican state, converting it into a failure.

Some commentators make the case that Mexico is emphatically not an #estadofallido (#failedstate). A post on the blog Burro Hall takes a pragmatic view:

While we continuously hear people refer to Mexico as a failed – or failing – state, no one here went to bed last night wondering if the government would still be functioning in the morning. (On the other hand, if that ever happened, 99% of the government workforce could easily be deemed nonessential.)

And writing under the title “En corto…sin cortes” [es] (”In short…without cuts”), columnist Jose Ortiz Medina provides a global framework for his argument against the “failed state” premise.

Veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Egipto, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en todo el Norte de Africa, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Asia, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Africa, veo lo que esta ocurriendo hace mucho tiempo en Somalia, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en algunos de nuestros paises en America Latina.  En este pais todos los dias van a la escuela 36 millones de alumnus, puntualmente.  El pais functiona.  Tenemos poderes muy fuertes separados, independientes:  el Ejecutivo, el Legislativo, el Judicial.  Es un pais que tiene elecciones regulares.  Se gana y se pierde; se debate muy fuerte, no se persigue la prensa.  Hay absoluta libertad de publicar, de presenter todos los temas en un ambiente de libertad sin precedents en Mexico. […] La verdad es que Mexico esta realmente muy, muy lejos de ello.

I see what’s happening in Egypt, what’s happening in all of North Africa. I see what’s happening in Asia, in Africa, I see what’s been happening for a long time in Somalia. I see what’s happening in some of our countries in Latin America. In this country, 36 million students go to school every day, on time. The country functions. We have strong, separate, independent powers: the Executive, the Legislative, the Judicial. In this country we have regular elections. They are won and lost; they are hotly debated, and the press is not muzzled. There is absolute freedom to publish, to present ideas in an atmosphere of freedom that is without precedent in Mexico.[…]  The reality is that Mexico is very, very far from [being a failed state].

On Twitter, the ubiquitous hashtag #estadofallido (#failedstate) conjoins a range of analysis and opinion. Materia FECAL (@kklderon) tweeted a link to a Facebook page bearing a powerful photo of starkly anti-Calderon graffiti.

Carlos Campos (@CarolvsCampi) used the hashtag to point to a relevant report in La Jornada [es] which quotes former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva saying that violence in Mexico stems in part from a history of not paying attention to the poor.

Writing from the city Reynosa in the state of Tamaulipas in the aftermath of the latest discovery of mass graves in the region, Pablo Navarro (@DELREYII) took to Twitter to address his country’s president directly, signaling one among countless impacts of criminal violence on daily life in Mexico:

“Autobuses de pasajeros prefieron no cruzar por Tamaulipas y cancelan sus rutas” // @FelipeCalderon  Sr. Presidente ke sigue  #estadofallido

“Passenger buses prefer not to cross into Tamaulipas and are canceling their routes”// @FelipeCalderon  Mr. President, what next? #failedstate
 
 

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Respect for Mohammed Al Nabbous

Twitter yielded the terrible news today:  Mohammed Al Nabbous, brave and tireless founder of the Benghazi rebels’ widely-followed webcast “Libya Alhurra TV,” was killed by a sniper hours before the arrival of coalition-sponsored forces aiming to minimize civilian casualties in the eastern city.  The following report appeared in Boing Boing later in the day at http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/19/libya-mohammed-mo-al.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=fee  Be sure to click on the links.

Libya: Mohammed “Mo” Al Nabbous, founder of Benghazi webcast “Libya Alhurra TV,” killed in firefight

Screen-shot-2011-03-19-at-8.14.jpg

Via LibyaFeb17.com and via the Twitter updates from NPR’s Andy Carvin, terrible news that the brave citizen journalist Mohammed Al-Nabbous, known to fans as “Mo,” was killed last night.

From currently available information, it appears Mo was killed in a firefight, while recording.

Mo created and operated the widely-viewed live video channel Al Hurra TV on Livestream, broadcasting raw footage and commentary from Benghazi, Libya.

Andy Carvin writes:

Mohammad Nabbous was my primary contact in Libya, and the face of Libyan citizen journalism. And now he’s dead, killed in a firefight. A few hours ago he went out to record some more audio and was caught in a firefight. [Link]. Audio stops 6:30 into it. For several hours we heard rumors that he had been shot but we didn’t want to say anything until we knew for sure. And now I can’t stop thinking, what if those French planes began to arrive 12 hours ago. Would Mo be alive now? I just don’t know.

 Nabbous’ wife, speaking on his Livestream channel earlier:

I need everyone to do as much as they can for this cause. They are still shooting. More people will die. Don’t let Mo’s life go in vain.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/UyIyz44oKQQ?fs=1&hl=en_US

Here was one of Mo’s early reports.

Here was his last.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/Ecu_iWLn-rg?fs=1&hl=en_USThose last two links via Bilal at Al Jazeera, who writes: “Remember Mohammed Nabbous, known to all as Mo. His mission: to get the news about what’s happening in #Libya out to the world.” Bilal created a tribute to Mo here.

A heartbreaking and, it may be, irreplaceable loss. RIP.

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