Category: Malta

Reference Library – European Union – Malta

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Protesters, seeking migrant camp closure, block Calais roads

Truckers, farmers, dock workers and merchants angry at the disruption caused by thousands of migrants in their midst in the northern French city of Calais blocked the main access route to Britain on Monday to press authorities to set the date to raze an overcrowded makeshift camp. The action appeared to pay off and, despite tensions among protesters, blockades were being lifted 12 hours later after the region’s top state official reassured ADVERTISEMENT the huge, makeshift camp would be dismantled and funds made available for struggling businesses. The action with several hundred big rigs and tractors on a main access route was the first major protest of its kind in the city, for decades a magnet for migrants trying to cross the English Channel, hopping Britain-bound trucks and trains to get across. Authorities have poured in police – about 2,000 – to guard roadways, and built high barbed-wire fences to protect the Eurotunnel freight trains, the port and highway, but desperate migrants are using increasingly dangerous tactics to slow trucks and hitch a ride. The state says some 7,000 migrants are living in the camp, known as “the jungle,” while aid groups have put the number at more than 9,000. All are living in a drastically downsized camp after half was razed in March. For the protesters, the migrants – from Africa, the Middle East and beyond – are an economic drain on Calais and a stain on its image. “We are truckers, not migrant traffickers. Let’s liberate Calais together,” read a sign on the front of some big rigs. “They damage the trucks, they break the windshield, they cut the truck sides, they climb in the truck and destroy the merchandise,” said Bertrand Wyfolscki, a trucker from St. Omer, near Calais. His list of complaints did not include the heavy fines truckers must pay if migrants are caught inside their vehicles. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced Friday that the government would dismantle the camp “in a controlled operation” as soon as possible, but did not say when. He also promised financial compensation for businesses losing money due to migrants, but gave no details. Representatives of farmers, truckers and merchants came away from a meeting with the state representative of the region, Fabienne Buccio, with a new commitment – but no date – that the camp would be completely dismantled “in a single step.” Buccio also said a special fund to help businesses in need would be activated and more than 230 extra members of security forces brought in, bringing the total to more than 2,000. Christian Salome, head of the aid group Auberge des Migrants, which has long worked with migrants arriving in Calais, said camp dwellers were also victims. “Refugees are the first victims of the blockading of the border,” he said, a reference to a 2003 French-British accord that effectively puts the British border in Calais, where they are stopped from entering Britain, and puts the onus of the migrant plight on France. Salome noted that 11 migrants have died this year – seven on the highways – “and the goal of the refugees is exactly the same as the goal of the truckers: put an end to this situation.” Hundreds of big rigs, tractors and dockers and merchants on foot blocked the main highway to the Eurotunnel and port. “We are fed up with the migrant situation in Calais. They are increasingly aggressive,” said French trucker Blaise Paccou. “We leave in the morning. We don’t know how we’re going to return in the evening because of the rocks and metal bars being thrown at us.” Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart, holding an “I love Calais” T-shirt as she walked with merchants, criticized the Socialist government for failing to provide a global plan to end the crisis. Aid groups warn that a hasty shutdown of the camp would scatter the migrants, aggravate the city’s troubles and worsen the humanitarian drama. While the camp conditions are dismal, migrants have access to food distribution and showers. Cazeneuve refused again Monday to provide a date for closing the camp because of “the need for a method.” “We need to provide shelters,” he said. The Calais region has drawn migrants for some two decades, with refugees from the war in Kosovo streaming in in the late 1990s, followed by Afghans fleeing war. A huge Red Cross camp in nearby Sangatte was leveled in 2002 and the migrants pushed into Calais. “We should not be misunderstood. We have nothing against migrants,” said Frederic Van Gansbeke, who helped organize the protest. Anger, he said, was directed at the government.

Publicly platformed: what it’s like to be called out by a celebrity on Twitter 0

Publicly platformed: what it’s like to be called out by a celebrity on Twitter

When you tweet to JK Rowling, you never imagine that she ll actually see it. Despite the ostensible accessibility of celebrities on Twitter, their overcrowded mentions and busy schedules mean they don t read most of the 140-character messages directed towards them. Yet sometimes, of course, they do. And sometimes they retweet these messages for their own followers to see and share. Immediately after she retweeted my original tweet my notifications blew up, says Isobel Sweeney, an 18-year-old English literature student from Merseyside who tweeted at Rowling [1] to Fuck off after the author shared her opinions on Jeremy Corbyn yesterday. I think I got somewhere in the region of about fifty replies, most were just fans of Rowling who were offended that I’d disagreed with her. A quick glance through the other tweets JK Rowling retweeted yesterday shows that their authors also received online hate. One was called a foul, loathsome evil little cockroach , another labelled a commie twat and an embarrassment . When Rowling shared a tweet [2] saying Corbyn was like Dumbledore, the tweeter deleted their message and set their account to private. Rowling has 8.07 million Twitter followers. The tweeter in question has 78. It must be exhausting to be JK Rowling on Twitter and receive vitriol and threats merely for having an opinion. But when Rowling retweets people who send her hate, or worse, people who just disagree with her, she opens them up to an army of fans ready to dish out vitriol in return. The author herself is aware of this, as yesterday she blocked out the name and picture of a person who sent her a positive tweet before sharing it, writing: I feel I have to remove this person’s avi because I know the hate she’ll get. Think that through for a moment. I feel I have to remove this person’s avi because I know the hate she’ll get. Think that through for a moment. pic.twitter.com/WOACwm0Hm9 [3] J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 31, 2016 [4] Rowling also blocked out Sweeney s name when she shared a second tweet [5] from her account, so she is again presumably aware of the impact she can and did have. Yet yesterday and today she has continued to share people s tweets with their names clearly visible. But so what, right? If you tweet at JK Rowling, especially hatefully, don t you open yourself up to this, 78 followers or not? If you’re scared the door might open, try not hurling abuse through the letterbox. https://t.co/3Z4n0LvJrN [6] J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 1, 2016 [7] Perhaps, but not all celebrities just call out people who @ them. Some actually search for their own names and retweet or quote tweet (that is, share the tweet and add their own message to it) people who have criticised them. Emily Reynolds, a 24-year-old freelance writer and author, has experienced this twice. In 2014, Reynolds tweeted criticism of Ricky Gervais [8] for his stance on the iCloud hack of celebrity nudes. Although she didn t directly tag Gervais in the tweet by @ing him, the comedian shared her tweet after it gained traction. Because of his retweet, Reynolds began to receive hateful messages and death threats from his fans. It was genuinely awful, she says. Someone sent me a Facebook message with my address and the manner they were going to kill me with in it. I had to call the police, who eventually failed to investigate it, even though I had his name and workplace, because it had happened online . The whole experience was awful. Recently, it happened again. Last month, Reynolds shared her opinion of Gervais latest movie [9] and although she didn t @ the star, or even mention him by name, he retweeted her message to his 11.4 million followers. Fortunately, after she tweeted him to say she had previously received death threats, Gervais quickly undid the retweet, although he didn t apologise. there is a song on the david brent album called ‘please don’t make fun of the disableds’ and i strongly recommend you do not listen to it Emily Reynolds (@rey_z) August 22, 2016 [10] I figured he was too busy to name search so I didn t think he d see it, says Reynolds. Also, he didn t even search Ricky Gervais , my tweet mentioned David Brent , who is literally his fictional character. What I said wasn’t abusive or cruel, I didn’t directly share my tweet with him, I just said that I didn’t like a song he’d written. If you work in a creative industry I think you should probably be more thick-skinned than that. And thick skin is the crux of the issue. Although it is terrible that Gervais and Rowling receive an abundance of hateful tweets, it is something that unfortunately comes with being a celebrity. When they expose average people to their fans, they open them up to a world of fame and hate that they may not be prepared for. Thankfully, Sweeney admits that she wasn t really bothered by the tweets she received, though does believe that Rowling retweets people simply so that her army of Twitter followers will come after them and give them hate . That seems like unlikely behaviour from a woman who fell off the Forbes billionaires list due to the sheer amount of her charitable donations, but it does leave you wondering what celebrities hope to achieve by exposing hateful tweeters. You could argue they simply want the right to argue back, but quote-tweeting someone s message is an active decision to showcase what they said to your followers, as if you merely send a direct reply it doesn t show up on your followers timelines. Perhaps celebrities quote-tweet and retweet to reveal the truth about celebrity life. Due to her own large number of followers, Reynolds herself feels it would be irresponsible to retweet criticism, but she does have her own rules. I feel like it’s different if someone @s you directly, and I feel like it’s different when I receive actively misogynistic hate speech or threats, because I think it’s important that those accounts are deleted and people are aware of how it is to be a woman day to day online. Despite the reasoning behind the retweets, however, it doesn t seem unfair to argue that celebrities should be more careful, especially when they don t know who the tweeter they re exposing really is. In 2015, an 11-year-old girl had her picture shared online and received hundreds of hateful tweets [11] after YouTuber Gabriella Lindley called her out for posting Moo under her Instagram pictures. According to the girl s sister, the incident left her hysterical . Ultimately, both Reynolds and Sweeney do believe celebrities should be more responsible. You can’t be responsible for what other people say on Twitter, and obviously I don’t think Ricky Gervais actually condones the kind of vile and abusive language towards women some of his fans deployed, says Reynolds. But you absolutely have to be aware of the power you have when you use particular platforms and be really careful how you wield that power. References ^ tweeted at Rowling (twitter.com) ^ Rowling shared a tweet (twitter.com) ^ pic.twitter.com/WOACwm0Hm9 (t.co) ^ August 31, 2016 (twitter.com) ^ shared a second tweet (twitter.com) ^ https://t.co/3Z4n0LvJrN (t.co) ^ September 1, 2016 (twitter.com) ^ tweeted criticism of Ricky Gervais (twitter.com) ^ shared her opinion of Gervais latest movie (twitter.com) ^ August 22, 2016 (twitter.com) ^ received hundreds of hateful tweets (superfame.com)

Turning carbon dioxide into rocks   a new hope in the fight against climate change 0

Turning carbon dioxide into rocks a new hope in the fight against climate change

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to democratise the internet , speaking this morning at the launch of his eight-point digital manifesto 1 at Newspeak House in east London. Labour under my leadership will utilise the advances of digital technology to mobilise the most visible general election campaign ever, said Corbyn, in a clip you might have watched via a livestream on his Facebook page, before it crashed. His manifesto sets out how Labour hopes to democratise the internet so that no one and no community is left behind .

Unfortunately, some of the terminology used isn t so universal. In a bid to leave no one behind, we thought we d decode the manifesto here. The good Universal Service Network It s hard to argue with Corbyn s first and largest proposal that high speed broadband should be accessible across the country.

According to the Labour leader, this would cost 25bn to implement and would be funded by his proposed National Investment Bank, at minimal cost to the taxpayer . Although this is good idea, it isn t a new one. The Conservatives already announced plans for a similar Universal Service Obligation 2 (USO) in March, whereby everyone has a legal right to request download speeds of at least 10Mbps.

A report published by Ofcom 3 last week shows the government faces resistance from internet service providers who don t want to pick up the extra costs. The People s Charter of Digital Liberties Corbyn s second most eye-catching suggestion, a digital bill of rights, is a win for anyone wary of Theresa May s Snoopers Charter. He promises to protect personal privacy and enhance the on-line rights of every individual .

Platform Cooperatives Corbyn hopes to foster the cooperative ownership of digital platforms for distributing labour and selling services , which essentially means he wants services like Airbnb, Deliveroo, and Uber to be community-run (or, if you want to go there, nationalised). The National Investment Bank would fund these websites and apps, which in turn would allow greater regulations of employment contracts. It s quite a utopian vision and it’s easy to be cynical about how this could work in practice, but were it to work, it could arguably transform the entire economy.

The bad Digital Citizen Passport We will develop a voluntary scheme that provides British citizens with a secure and portable identity for their on-line activities, claims the manifesto, explaining this can be used to interact with public services like health, welfare, education and housing. Without even considering any potential security or privacy issues, the largest criticism of this proposal is that it already exists, as Gov.uk s Verify 4 . Programming For Everyone By encouraging publicly funded software and hardware to be released under an Open Source License, Corbyn dreams of a world where everyone can share code and learn from one another.

Unfortunately, this opens up multiple privacy and security concerns, and Corbyn’s other suggestions for teaching code also already exist, as the EU s All You Need Is (C