USA for Africa – Save Paul Salopek

The U.S. media’s attention to the still tender situation in south Lebanon, where UN troops are just now moving into place is waning considerably. Is it finally time to devote concentrated coverage to incomprehensible devastation elsewhere? A proposal to move 20,000 UN troops into Darfur ASAP, amid reports of a new offensive by the Sudanese government.

paul salopekMeantime, Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Paul Salopek is on trial for espionage and related charges in southern Sudan. He is on assignment for National Geographic, and has yet to even PUBLISH a word from his trip, yet he is already in deep.

The Sudanese government has been hard on the media for years, primarily in allowing access to the Darfur crisis, where half a million people have died in a three-year campaign of government-sponsored genocide. But Salopek — winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting (see his award-winning articles from Africa in 2000 and his 1997 reporting on the Human Genome Project), — is not a spy and was not out of bounds for carrying a backup copy of his passport and a publicly available satellite map of Sudan. The Tribune has an article today highlighting Salopek’s accomplishments, sprinkled with high praise from his contacts and associates worldwide here.

Securing Salopek’s immediate release is of utmost urgency, writes Tim Rutten in the L.A. Times.

Salopek was arrested along with his driver and interpreter, both from Chad — which neighbors Sudan to the South. Chad is in the news as well these days and in no small way.

Chad is a big shot with its freshly tapped and abundant oil. Earlier today, they expelled two oil giants — Petronas and Chevron — from the country:

“From tomorrow, the representatives of Chevron and Petronas must leave Chad and close their offices… ChevronTexaco and Petronas must leave Chad because they have refused to pay their taxes,” Chad President Idriss Derby announced.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, is in Kenya encouraging reform and arriving a hometown hero (his father and grandfather are from there). There is plenty I intend to read regarding his trip including Blog coverage from the Sun Times and Tribune and this Time feature. The senator has also been closely tracking the Salopek case, according to this statement captured by the Trib:

“Press freedom is like tending a garden, it’s never done,” Obama said. “It continually has to be nurtured and cultivated and the citizenry has to value it. It’s one of those things that can slip away if we don’t tend to it.”

‘The Hawk of Lebanon’

I finally tracked down the song that I can’t get out of my head. Firkat il-Shamal’s “The Hawk of Lebanon” is catchy as hell, in spite of its lyrics (the translated verse begins: I hail thee, hawk of Lebanon / I welcome thee, Hassan Nasrallah / Here are your men, Hezbollah / Victory, victory with the help of God).

I originally referenced it last week, after hearing it on The World (click here to listen to Aaron Schachter’s piece).

Firkat il-Shamal (Band of the North) consists of The El Haija brothers from Jenin and until this summer was known primarily as a top band on the Palestinian wedding circuit. That is, until they penned the hottest song of the summer in Gaza, and the West Bank. Israeli police are confiscating copies of the song on grounds that it is inflammatory, According to the AP. (The article, published yesterday and written by Sarah El Deeb, carries the bizarro title, “Boy band sings praises of Nasrallah.”)

The World’s Web site has an excellent feature on the song and the El Haija brothers, complete with a translationn of the lyrics and photos. (click here).

Even as the war has let up militarily, it appears that Israeli soldiers continue attacking Palestinians with Nasrallah screen savers on their mobile phones, according to this article by the Palestinian News Network’s Ali Samoudi. Interesting.

One-sided songs of war are nothing new, however, the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East contain many examples, including this, of how technology and the Internet is revolutionizing the way war is fought by states and publics. (See my presentation “The Internet is the Machine Gun of the 21st Century” and Jade Miller’s “Hezbollah, Israel, and the U.S.: A Conflict with Far-Reaching Implications.”

I am posting an MP3 of “The Hawk of Lebanon” for educational purposes and with no intent of making a political/cultural statement of any kind. (thx to BBC/PRI/WGBH)

Protect Your Identity with Stephen Colbert

Colbert, who recently authored a guide to being expert at everything for Wired, backed himself up this week with “Protecting Your Online Identity.”

Cuz you never know who’s watching your Internetron:

WATCH: Part 1 | Part 2

Commenting on Bruce Schneier’s blog, Israel Torres summarizes:

1. Always type with your non-dominant hand – so it’s not typed in your handwriting.
2. Pick the right password – close your eyes and slap the keyboard at random.
3. Get hundreds of credit cards – never use the same one twice.
4. Defrag your hard drive once in a while – overheard a nerd say it somewhere at best buy.
5. For every real search on a search engine do a fake search – make it seem it’s not you doing the search.
6. An infected computer is a vulnerable computer – make sure you wash your computer once a month.

Now go ahead and take the Colbert Green Screen Challenge (or at least watch some of the wacky submissions).

More on Colbert cross-platform multimedia integration in this post at 3i.

Get Ready: LA Weekly’s 1st Annual DETOUR Fest

Prepare yourself for this one — it’s gonna rock! Scroll down for details on ticket presale. The Inaugural DETOUR Fest will take place downtown on three stages, all day, October 7. Here are my personal highlights within the announced guests, and they’re among the best live acts out there today:

Beck
!!!
Queens of the Stone Age
Basement Jaxx
Blackalicious
Of Montreal
Nortec Collective
The Elected
Oh No! Oh My!

DJ sets by: VHS or Beta, Carlos D./Interpol, James Murphy/LCD Soundsystem, Steve Aoki/Kid Millionaire…

more to be announced.

Your tickets are HERE password DETOUR. reg. on sale Saturday. $35 + $9 ticketbastard surcharge still leaves it reasonably under $50. I can’t wait!

OH YEAH – and before I forget… the great Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings hits the Music Box Sept 22… dance partay!

Muni WiFi Censorship in Metro L.A.

Culver City is one of many municipalities in metro Los Angeles offering some form of free wifi network. Culver City’s system has been thought of as the first, city-owned free system and other cities including Burbank, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood followed suit by providing free public wireless access in localized areas, primarily to promote tourism and the business districts.

But it turns out Free wireless access doesn’t exactly mean “free access.”

Culver City, which, incidentally, is home to no fewer than three motion picture studios (including — yup — Sony), has implemented filtering that blocks users on its municipal wifi network from accessing p2p sites, porn, and other “questionable content.” The incriminating “nannyware” in this instance is CopySense.

Mack at LAVoice has a bit more on this here.

And Sacha Meinrath at MuniWireless.com warns:

While the telecommunications battle of 2006 has been all about Network Neutrality, a storm is gathering for 2007-8 to be the war over Digital Rights Management.

Originally published August 24 2006 in the Set-Top Cop blog.