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Goolag

google censors

Thnaks to DMP for this and to The Cult of the Dead Cow folks who have given permission to you to use this on any medium you choose.

Asia,cartoons,Censorship,China Business,China Cartoons,China Humor,China web 2.0,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Human Rights,Humor,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Internet marketing China,Seo China,The Great Firewall,The Internet,Top Blogs,中国

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Heartsongs: The Library Project

“Children’s books are a luxury to have in Asia, and a rarity in an orphanage.”

–from The Library Project

Guest Post by David DeGeest

Thomas Stader has a vision to build libraries for children living in orphanages and rural areas around Asia.

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Stader, is one of those rare people who come to China with big plans and a bigger heart. He came to help and began to put his plan into action in 1993. To accompany Stader’s big heart, is a well organized plan rife with several clever ideas. Instead of trying to organize all of the complex processes that would be required to build libraries, Stader uses pre-existing supply chains and forms cooperative agreements with local NGOs and corporationg for funding and logistics. These tactics, combined with the lower overhead costs in Asia, allow him to build libraries for $150-$300 USD each–without comprimising the structural quality or integrity of the libraries. Welcome to an age when quality NGO work combined with smart marketing and good business sense can transform a philanthropic daydream into a sound reality.

building a library in China

The Project has made remarkable progress. In 2006, Stader was able to create two libraries for approximately $300 USD and some help from Aston Education, JinaLive, and the Dalian Charity Federation. In 2007, The Library Project will expand to do work in Xian and Jinan. By the end of the year, the project plans to create 15 new libraries to schools and orphanages with a total project cost under $15,000 USD.

Here’s a list of the typical costs from one of the recent library projects:

Hard cover book, 100 pages: $3
Soft cover book, 100 pages: $2
Harry Potte Series: $15
Color comic book: $1
Black and white comic book: .5
Book shelf: $25
Table and chairs: $50
Plants, posters, mats: $25

children in a newly built chinese library

The Library Project plans to have 80 libraries running in China, Cambodia, and Vietnam by 2009. You can help by clicking here.

Note: all pictures featured here come from The Library Project’s site.

There will be follow-up articles on this worthy endeavor soon…..

Asia,Charity in China,China Business,China Editorials,China Humor,Heartsongs,Human Rights,Humor,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Personal Notes,Photos,Teaching in China,Vietnam,中国

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The trouble with Oiwan

censored in china

When the Oiwan Lam controversy began I predicted four things:

  1. Support for her cause would be hard to muster because people might feel as though Oiwan invited trouble by publishing a picture that she knew might provoke the ire of Hong Kong Censors. Civil disobedience is not as cherished as it was in the past;
  2. Support would quickly wane as the matter did not seem as urgent or foreboding as the Hao Wu case. Oiwan is facing 12 months in jail, a costly defense and a hefty fine, but she is not incarcerated at the moment;
  3. Bloggers might not pass the torch, or the hat, because the issues are complicated and Hong Kong specific;
  4. People would find it hard to empathize with Oiwan: Hong Kong is part of China and censorship is expected here.

EastSouthWestNorth, Rebecca McKinnon Boing Boing, Lost Laowai, Image Thief and a handful of others have done their best to explain the issues while rightfully advocating for one of their own. An advocacy group on Facebook has collected 69 members, but few calls for action have subsequently originated from western computers.

Oiwan did not invite this kind of response. She put her journalistic foot in the water and was dragged below the surface by the well-mapped but unpredictable undertow that is the Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Authority (TELA) and the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT). These are the same forces that roiled against a Hong Kong University student newspaper for a ridiculously benign sex survey, Michelangelo’s David in a 1995 magazine ad and Cupid and Psyche on a book cover at the most recent Hong Kong Book Fair.

The charges against Oiwan created a tremor in the blogsphere , but the aftershocks are so imperceptible that we have gone about life as usual. Some Hong Kong bloggers are taking up the cause by posting other classic art works as an act of protest and solidarity. The rest of us should also act on her behalf.

I met with John Kennedy of Global Voices Online today and he spoke again to the issues involved in Oiwan’s case that affect all of us:

  • He thinks, and public opinion in Hong Kong backs him up, that the Tribunal and the TELA are antiques in need of dry storage and replacement (my sorry metaphor, not his). He thinks the Tribunal, which operates independently without reliable standards and accountability, should be elected officials that have to answer to the public.
  • He feels, and again is far from alone in his opinion, that a legal and reliably quantifiable definition of “obscene” or “indecent” should be adopted.

The latter is important to all of us as it would prevent dissidents from being punished at the whim of judges with personal or political agendas.

IF blogger’s rights can be upheld in Hong Kong it can instruct and inform governments and lawmakers everywhere about the need for free speech legislation and reform. Oiwan, who has no desire to be a martyr, is every man and woman who wants to speak their mind or read another’s in cyberspace. And, as Rebecca McKinnon has said so well in her blog, Oiwan is a writer who has devoted herself to the non-profit sector most of her adult life, so she has few financial resources to assist with what will be a costly and important court battle.

Help Oiwan and help yourself with a little link love to her cause blog (Banned in Mainland China), a posting of the banner below (feel free to use my bandwidth) and by, please, donating a few dollars to her legal campaign by clicking here:

Free Oiwan Lam

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Yahoo!!!!

Yahoo! is getting sued in two separate cases: The wife of a jailed dissident writer and by a human rights/anti-torture group.

Yahoo’s lame excuse to-date has been that Yahoo its own employees in China would be endangered if it did not follow Chinese law (“Ve vas just following ze orders”). If THIS were the most visited website in the world, as is Yahoo!, I doubt I would be shaking in my corporate wingtips. If mean, if a hack like Drudge can bring about the impeachment of the president of the world’s biggest economy….

yahoo censorship

cartoons,Censorship,China Cartoons,China Editorials,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Human Rights,In the news,Personal Notes,The Great Firewall,The Internet,中国

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Google’s New Motto: Do a Little Evil…

google

“Those passing familiar with Jesus’ teachings know He taught that the path to the Father led through the ordinary. Those who prefer other metaphors may wish to think of a heterogeneous universe, where meaning and love imperishable exist side by side with cruelty, horror and absurdity. And we must choose whether to try and understand it all or create and defend a bubble in which love and meaning truly do exist.

For these somewhat fanciful reasons I hope that the blogosphere will become less a cockpit of argument and ideas — though it will always be that — and more a forum for action: a place to facilitate meetings between real people, develop actual applications and accomplish physical tasks. There never was a flower, a glass of beer or a child’s laugh that was ever truly futile. Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.” The Belmont Club

This blog has always endeavored, albeit circuitously at times, to be a forum for aid and action. And I endlessly question the efficacy of anything I write toward those ends. Despite attention-getting attacks I am nurtured by comments of encouragement, links to posts that are calls for compassion and email reports back to me that something good came of this hobby cum-obsession.

Today, one of the charities featured in recent weeks received a small donation that will further their work and the combat soldier in Iraq who had to take out loan to pay for his father’s funeral is now a bit nearer to paying back his debt.

Net Neutrality is essential to the propagation of charitable and humanitarian ideas. Should a handful of companies ever control access to information, mediate content, mandate who gets paid for what politic and then how their site will rank in search engine findings because of what values they espouse, then cyber-facism will rule. China’s attempts to roadblock lanes on the information super-highway will look like child’s play.

By the time this article is posted I will have removed all Google ads on the site. I will wage my one-man boycott of all things Google for all they have done in recent months to warrant suspicion, fear and anger in anyone living as I am in the midst of repression and a growing concern that the waves of censorship do not begin here, but instead are washing inland in increasing magnitude. I am no Internet Robin Hood: I don’t believe ill-gotten gain, even through some imaginative alchemy, becomes anything than ill-gotten by giving it away–even to the most worthy of causes.

Google has gone public thus making its well-known mantra “Do no Evil” a laughably outdated jingle. Said better by OhGenki: “This is what happens when good companies go public: the principles that made them good, even necessary, to the point of inspiring a romantic loyalty among their customers, are whittled away at until only those principles which are profitable remain.” Google told investors at their IPO filing: ”

Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served as shareholders and in all other ways by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.

That sound to me like a High School Debate question: Do the ends justify the means? Google took a Machiavellian affirmative on that one.

Google recently acquired the well-known and despicable browser hijacking, malware giant Doubleclick for $3.1 billion dollars. The deal incidentally was challenged by The Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, and U.S. Public Interest Research Groups who petitioning the FTC to block the merger until concerns over Google’s data collection and storage were addressed. Google was accused of unfair and deceptive trade practices, and failing to follow the standards set by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the watchdog of consumer privacy standards . And all of this was on the heels of the YouTube purchase that had them employing an army of lawyers to fend off Intellectual Property suits.

Google is an active participant in the censorship that is so often associated with China’s repression of the Internet so often vilified by bloggers, and other media and at the core of much sinophobic rhetoric:

censorship

Note: Going to Google.cn from a U.S. computer will NOT yield you the same results that a mainland Chinese user will get. I live here, I know. So, any great finds you think you see from your side of the ocean are probably illusory.

In addition to homophobic threats, Google has now said they will penalize sites that sell ad links on their site. It seems nobody is supposed to make a buck except Google. Google’s Matt Cutts even has a guide on how to rat out offenders. And while Google no longer recognizes links coming from powerful Wikipedia they let Matt’s high-flying blog dominate the top of the search engines rankings in thousands of keywords, pushing out long-suffering and deserving experts, in many a field.

Now, Feedburner.com, who is sleeping with Typepad and just acquired Blogbeat, is looking at a merger with Google. That would give them huge advantages in advertising and RSS. It would enable them to dump adwords/adsense into RSS feeds on hundreds of thousand of blog posts. Thread Watch.Org says it perfectly: Being a near Monopoly is expensive and since Google doesn’t do ads all that well control of the competition is the best short-term answer to their problems. In future post I will try to facilitate exchange and help on new “Open Source” ad networks that save advertisers money and help support citizen journalists, webmasters and bloggers.

If you can read the Google blog’s explanation for their yield to censorship without laughing, gagging or punching your screen I need the name of your pharamacist. “Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world’s population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced”

What good is a search that doesn’t really search? China has Baidu and others for that and it seems that the Chinese prefer their own search engine anyway because Google keeps losing market share here.

So, like being a little bit pregnant, Google is trying to convince us that being a little bit evil is OK.

No.

The Apprentice is off the air now in the U.S. or so I hear. But, they reworked two words that will remain permanently inscribed in the American lexicon. And it pleases me to use them here for Google: “You’re Fired”

Check out Asia Sentinel and Rebecca McKinnon on this issue as well….

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