brad brace contemporary culture scrapbook

August 30, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:41 am

Beijing Police Launch Virtual Web Patrol

Filed under: General,media,police — admin @ 4:40 am

BEIJING — Police in China’s capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.

Starting Sept. 1, the cartoon alerts will appear every half hour on 13 of China’s top portals, including Sohu and Sina, and by the end of the year will appear on all Web sites registered with Beijing servers, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said in a statement.

China stringently polices the Internet for material and content that the ruling Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening. Despite the controls, nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film have proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.

The animated police appeared designed to startle Web surfers and remind them that authorities closely monitor Web activity. However, the statement did not say whether there were plans to boost monitoring further.

The male and female cartoon officers, designed for the ministry by Sohu, will offer a text warning to surfers to abide by the law and tips on Internet security as they move across the screen in a virtual car, motorcycle or on foot, it said.

If Internet users need police help they can click on the cartoon images and will be redirected to the authority’s Web site, it said.

“We will continue to promote new images of the virtual police and update our Internet security tips in an effort to make the image of the virtual police more user friendly and more in tune with how web surfers use the Internet,” it said.

China has the world’s second-largest population of Internet users, with 137 million people online, and is on track to surpass the United States as the largest online population in two years.

The government routinely blocks surfers from accessing overseas sites and closes down domestic Web sites deemed obscene or subversive.

August 28, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:59 am

WordPress Blocked in Thailand, Turkey

Filed under: General,media,thailand — admin @ 4:48 am

According to the watchdog website Don’t Block This Blog (, the nations of Thailand and Turkey just recently blocked the entire domain for all Internet users.

In Thailand, visitors to the blocked websites will see a message in Thai which translates as follows.

“Sorry. TOT Plc., as an organization of Thai people, has restrained the access to this website as it contains content, text, and/or picture that is unappropriated which affects the mind of Thai people all over the country and cannot be accepted.”

Therefore, the government has determined that the “mind of Thai people” is affected by “unappropriated” material at It’s not clear what “unappropriated” means.

Regarding WordPress being blocked in Turkey, it appears that one blog owned by a proponent of creationism prompted a court order to block the entire WordPress domain. However, an effort has been launched to collect signature on a petition to unblock blogs in Turkey.

Meanwhile, it appears that all Blogspot blogs are still banned in Pakistan. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority initially instituted the ban in March 2006 on Blogspot as a result of one blog carrying the infamous cartoons of Muhammad. However, a savvy blogger block workaround for determined bloggers has been developed using Google Docs.

August 24, 2007

Filed under: Film,General,nicaragua — admin @ 10:40 am

Nica Turtles

Filed under: General,global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 10:29 am

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Each year between July and December, hundreds of thousands of rare sea turtles visit Nicaragua to lay millions of eggs along the country’s coasts. Nicaragua, a country abundant in nature and adventure, is one of only four countries believed to experience turtle hatchings of such large proportions.

Nicaragua’s majestic turtle migrations occur in waves referred to as “arribadas”, or arrivals in Spanish. There is usually one “arribada” per month, but the exact date is influenced by a variety of factors, including the weather and moon. During each migration, several thousand turtles come ashore almost simultaneously and lay more than 100 ping-pong ball-sized eggs each. Remarkably, the turtles return to the exact same beach on which they were born, a phenomenon yet to be understood by scientists.

Both of Nicaragua’s coasts are popular sites for nesting turtles. The country’s less-developed Caribbean coast, specifically the Pearl Cays, is the nesting area of choice for thousands of rare Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead, and Leatherback turtles. The warm water, inviting grass beds, and protective mangroves of these remote, white-sand beaches are also home to what is believed to be the world’s largest remaining population of Green Sea Turtles.

More than a haven for surfers, Nicaragua’s Pacific coast also welcomes millions of turtle hatchlings every year. Between one and two million baby turtles emerge from the sands of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast to begin their perilous journey out to sea. One of the largest turtle groups can be found at the La Flor Wildlife Reserve, a crescent of white sand beach lined by lush tropical rainforest and rocky cliffs. Just south of San Juan del Sur, this natural refuge covers only a mile and a half of beach, yet attracts an extraordinary number of turtles each year, including more than 200,000 Olive Ridleys, one of the world’s smallest species. Mother turtles literally crawl over each other to compete for a spot in the warm sand. Between the months of July and January, La Flor is also visited by an average of 3,000 Paslama Turtles as well as several Parrot Turtles, the largest and most threatened of all marine turtles. Visitors interested in witnessing this exciting phenomenon can reach La Flor from Managua in less than 45 minutes, enter the park for a small fee and enjoy plenty of beach. La Flor is currently being managed by Fundacion Cocibolca, a local NGO that is attempting to educate local communities.

Turtle migrations become increasingly rare with each year due to the endangered status of the sea turtle. Though poaching remains a constant threat for turtles around the world, the Nicaraguan government is working with agencies such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help educate communities about the importance of protecting these turtles for future generations.

August 23, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 7:14 am

Survey Says Kenya Corruption As Bad As Ever

Filed under: General,global islands,kenya — admin @ 5:34 am

A new study of corruption in Kenya shows there has been little progress despite repeated promises by President Mwai Kibaki’s government to crack down on graft. Everyday Kenyans can expect to pay bribes at least a couple of times a year.

The report from Transparency International’s Kenya branch says that Kenyans have largely come to accept the petty corruption that is part of their lives. They can expect to pay at least 2.5 bribes each year, double what they paid in 2005.

The trend is a setback, because President Kibaki came to power in part on his pledges to eradicate corruption in Kenya, which ranks 142nd among 163 countries on Transparency International’s global corruption list. Posters have been put up in offices and on billboards to raise public awareness, but to little effect.

Yet the anti-corruption drive has slowed, and many government ministers have been embroiled in allegations of graft.

“Looking at the statistics that we received from this report, the situation is as bad as it was four years ago,” said Richard Leakey, the head of the Kenya branch of Transparency International.

“The Kibaki government seems to have been totally unable to address corruption at the basic level. It’s clear that you can deal with corruption and an awful lot of it has to do with making people more aware and participatory,” he continued.

According to the survey, the biggest bribes were paid when high school students sought to enroll in Kenya’s overcrowded university system. People also reportedly paid large bribes when seeking jobs. And Kenya’s police force was seen as the most corrupt agency in the country, the sixth year in a row it has attained that dubious honor.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, which will soon release its own figures, says the public is partly to blame because people who are stopped by the police will often offer a bribe to avoid long court proceedings.

The Anti-Corruption Commission’s spokesman, Nicholas Simani, says people must learn to say no to paying bribes.

“Majority of the general public, they’re the ones who basically induce this kind of activity. So we need to have a two-way understanding here,” said Simani. “You can say the police are the most corrupt, but they are being corrupted because the public actually are the ones who are also giving it out. So the public also needs to be educated on this. Then we are saying that both of them are guilty. The giver and the taker is guilty of an offense.”

Transparency International did not touch on larger issues of government corruption. For the report, the group asked 2,400 ordinary Kenyans across the country about their perceptions of corruption and whether they thought it had eased.

Arrest Reported in Kenya Beheading Spree

Filed under: General,global islands,kenya — admin @ 5:30 am

NAIROBI, Kenya – Police arrested a suspected leader of an outlawed Kenyan group blamed for a string of beheadings and fatal shootings this year, the man’s family said Wednesday.

Ten officers in a special squad formed to combat the Mungiki gang arrested Njoroge Kamunya, in his mid-40s, at his home in Ongata Rongai, 12 miles from Nairobi, said a cousin, who insisted on speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals from the authorities.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe refused to comment on the report.

The gang has been accused of killing 15 police officers from April through June and 27 civilians during the year, many of them in beheadings.

Kamunya has been on the run since April, when police issued an arrest warrant for him and two other men who have since been arrested.

Mungiki was once a quasi-political sect that drew thousands of unemployed youth from the Kikuyu community, Kenya’s largest tribe. Its name means “multitude” in Kikuyu, and members promote traditional Kikuyu practices, including female genital mutilation.

The government outlawed the group in 2002 after its members beheaded 21 people in a Nairobi slum following a turf war with a rival group called the Taliban, which drew its members from the Luo community.

Kamunya’s younger brother, 36-year-old Maina Njenga, was one of Mungiki’s founders but later publicly denounced it. He was jailed for five years in June for illegal gun possession and drug selling.

At least 112 people have died during a police crackdown on the group over the past three months.

August 22, 2007

Belize Bracing For Dean

Filed under: belize,General,global islands,weather — admin @ 5:20 am

21 August – Belize is beginning to feel the first effects of Category 5 Hurricane Dean as the storm nears landfall just north of Belize’s northernmost town Corozal on the Belize-Mexico border.

Thousands of Belizeans and tourists have been evacuated from the areas most likely to be affected in northern Belize including Corozal town, Orange Walk town and the tourism resort area at Ambergris Caye.

Reporters on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, describe the area as a virtual ghost town. The water on the island is already three feet high in some areas with winds in excess of 60 miles per hour. Several piers and dive shops have been washed away by pounding wave action. Some residents are reporting the start of roof failures as corrugated metal roof sheets are starting to be detached by the high winds.

In Corozal town located 12 miles from the Mexican city of Chetumal, electrical power has gone down in most areas and strong winds and torrential rains have started even though hurricane Dean is yet to make landfall.

Belize’s local Meteorological Service is forecasting a storm surge of up to 14 feet along the northern coast and hurricane force winds from Corozal town down to Belize city. Rainfall of as much as 20 inches along with flash floods are expected in inland Belize.

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