Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fiji floods disaster - message from Rotary

FIJI needs all the support it can get after the devastating floods that have hit the western parts of the main island of Viti Levu. The country declared a state of emergency today as the death toll rose to six. Here is a message from Alan Eyes, Rotary's district governor 2011-12 (and incidentally brother-in-law of Café Pacific's publisher) about the flooding. The pictures in the Nadi area are thanks to the Rotary team in Fiji:
You will be aware of the flooding currently being experienced in Fiji. It seems the worst has passed for the north, with Nadi experiencing many problems, and the worst yet to come for the Ba area.

Information from Bob Niranjan, our Fiji liaison on the district leadership team, is the Fiji people and support agencies are better prepared than in the past. Unfortunately, there have been two deaths [now six] and 1000 people [now more than 3500] in evacuation centres. Five towns have been closed now for two days with no road access.

Rick Eyre, president of the Lautoka Club, has been visiting evacuation centres and notes people in high spirits and again well prepared. He has not had to hand out any emergency response kits at this stage. He tells me that so far the flood levels are less than the last occasion and mercifully there are not the high winds which in the past have caused much of the damage.

Bob Niranjan, Warwick Pleass, AGs Shaheen Asgar and Ian Curtis are liaising with the Fiji Rotary club presidents. The role at this stage seems to be one of assessment and preparation for Rotarians to act as may be required.

PDG Stuart Batty, of Rotary NZ World Community Service, is liaising with the D9920 team in Fiji and MFAT officials and stands ready to travel to Fiji. Good supplies of Emergency Response Kits are in storage in Lautoka and Suva ready for deployment as may be required.

The Fiji team will keep me informed of happenings and any ways we in other parts of District 9920 may be able to assist. I know you will all join with me in wishing well our Rotarian friends and the people of Fiji.

Alan Eyes
District Governor 2011-12
District 9920, Rotary International
Many thanks for your efforts, Alan and the Rotary team.

As money is urgently needed, donations would be appreciated to the Rotary New Zealand 2012 Fiji Flood Appeal via:

Rotary New Zealand World Community Service where there is a PayPal credit card facility, or

• Internet banking telegraphic transfer to Westpac Banking Corporation, Wellington, NZ account number 03 1702 0192208 02 (international donors will also require Swift Code WPACNZ2W, IBAN Code 031702) for account name RNZWCS Limited (Rotary New Zealand), and include reference Fiji Flood , and/or donor name and club.

• Cheque made payable to RNZWCS Limited posted to PO Box 20309, Christchurch 8543, New Zealand

Donations are tax deductible within NZ.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Online campaign stops US anti-piracy censorship in its tracks - for now

SO Reuters reports that US lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation in its tracks this week, "delivering a stunning win for internet companies that staged an unprecedented online protest". Previously the fast-moving bills had appeared on target to become a draconian new curb on freedom of expression and information on the internet. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would postpone a critical vote that had been scheduled next week on January 24 "in light of recent events". (See the Hindustani version of a Reuters report). But Jillian C. York of Global Voices gives a pithy account of the world protest blackout this week - January 18. She writes:

Global online community protests US anti-piracy bills

Today, January 18, is an important day for the Internet. Corporate websites, from Google to Twitpic, along with civil society groups and individuals, have all joined together in a common cause: to protest two American bills that could have grave effects for global online free expression.

As Global Voices' executive director Ivan Sigal has written, “there are powerful corporate and government forces who would prefer to see the openness and accessibility of the web restricted". The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) would both force websites to proactively censor potentially copyrighted information, and could, as Sigal wrote, “inflict broad damage on the work of digital activists living under repressive regimes, as well as restrict basic speech freedoms around the world.”

Because these bills have the potential to affect internet users worldwide, members of the global community have joined Americans in protest. From German digital rights group Netzpolitik to Open Media Canada to individual bloggers and social media users, the sentiment is the same: Stop these bills.

Blacking out

French site goes dark against #SOPA

Many sites have chosen to express their opposition by blacking out their sites, either entirely or with an interstitial page. Danica Radovanovic (@DanicaR), writing for Australian blog network DejanSEO, discusses Wikipedia's decision to join the blackout, a decision that affects the site's diverse global community:

Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a “blackout” of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.

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