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EU "three-strikes" rule set to pass this Weds -- call your MEP now!

French copyfighter Jérémie Zimmermann sez,
The negotiations on the Telecoms Package may come to a close this Wednesday. The Council of the European Union is still pushing for 'three strikes"' policies in Europe but is also attempting to allow private corporations to restrict citizens' Internet access. Will the European Parliament continue to hide behind a disputable legal argumentation provided by the rapporteur Catherine Trautmann, and accept the unacceptable for the future of Internet access in Europe?

A campaign page has been set up to allow everyone to contact Members of the European Parliament and urge them to refuse any proposal from the Council allowing "three strikes" policies in Europe, and to explicitly protect EU citizens' freedom to access the Net.

The new version of the compromise amendment presented by the Council of the EU still allows for restrictions of Internet access such as "three strikes" policies in Europe. Moreover, contrarily to the Parliament's version, the Council's proposal also permits private corporations to restrict Internet access, notably enabling entertainment industries to pressure Internet service providers in order to police the Net.

(Thanks, Jérémie!)

After the Game: What Happens to the Losing Team's Swag?

Somebody is going to lose the World Series. It's true. I have heard this is how these things work. But, when the inevitable happens, where do all their commemorative hats, T-shirts, shoelaces, giant foam hands, etc. go? After all, nobody knows which team will win. To meet the instant, post-game demand, manufacturers have all that championship memorabilia--for both teams--made up and sitting in a warehouse before the final game is even a twinkle in an announcer's eye.

If you guessed that it ends up in a dump, you'd be wrong. Mental_floss investigated and found the World Vision, an international Christian charity, gets the losing gear from baseball, football and basketball.

The merchandise doesn't go to waste, people living in poverty receive new, clean clothes, and the clothing makers recoup some of their losses--they get tax credits for the charitable donations. Why don't the clothes go to needy families in the United States? Overseas donation is part of the agreement between World Vision and the leagues. The farther away the clothing is, the less likely it is to offend a losing player (or heartbroken Buffalo Bills fan).

In fact, fear of fan alienation used to keep the MLB from donating. Up until two years ago, they required all inaccurate championship clothing be destroyed.

A Doctor's Advice On How To Read Health News (And Know Whether It's Full of Crap)

Building a bit off the "conflusion" (Bravo, btw, insert) post from yesterday, I'm going to launch right into something near and dear to my heart: The way biased and badly done health journalism can really mess up the people who read it.


Biased and badly done are two very different things. I don't have data on this, but I think it's fair to say that, when the main-stream media (which, BoingBoing aside, includes me) gets a health story wrong, it usually isn't trying to be intentionally wack. Trouble is, whatever the intent, it leaves you--the reader--in the same place. Conflused.

Luckily, there are people working to help you. Like, for instance, the good folks at Behind the Headlines, a project of the British National Health System that does Q&A, myth busting and in-depth explanations on the science behind top health news. I first found out about this from Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog, which is, in itself, a great site everybody ought to be reading.

Dr. Alicia White, one of the aforementioned "folks" behind Behind the Headlines, has a wonderful primer on the questions you should be asking yourself every time you read health news. Until we police ourselves into doing a consistently better job, sorting the wheat from the chaff is (unfortunately) up to you. This will help. Plus, it's a fun read:

If you've just read a health-related headline that's caused you to spit out your morning coffee ("Coffee causes cancer" usually does the trick) it's always best to follow the Blitz slogan: "Keep Calm and Carry On". On reading further you'll often find the headline has left out something important, like "Injecting five rats with really highly concentrated coffee solution caused some changes in cells that might lead to tumours eventually. (Study funded by The Association of Tea Marketing)".

Evocative image courtesy Flickr user bdjsb7, under CC.

Typhoon, Floods in the Philippines: first-person BB report from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

Photos, above and after the jump, shared with Boing Boing by Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star. Her first-person account from the ongoing disaster follows, and includes recommendations on how you can help the victims. She shot the photos in this post two days after the typhoon, on a relief drive in a town called Tumana. Link to Flickr set.

Typhoon Ondoy by Audrey Carpio

Typhoon Ondoy, aka Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped 40 cm of rain on the Philippines last Saturday before he/she left to wreak watery havoc upon Vietnam and Cambodia. But Manila and its surrounding environs are still in various states of calamity, with many parts of the city still submerged under dirty brown water and others, while drying out, caked in leptospirosis-inducing mud. The government and its presidentiables have been slow to act upon what could've been their Hurricane Katrina-hero moment but quick to seize upon relief efforts for electioneering. Instead, it is thanks to the generosity and ingenuity of the Filipino people who mobilized themselves through Twitter and Facebook that hundreds of thousands of victims have been fed, clothed and sheltered.

As early as Saturday evening, when people began to realize that floods have flashed rather quickly and videos of drowning trucks emerged on YouTube, relief plans grew almost organically on the networks. Tweets encouraging people to gather food, blankets, and clothing for donations were some of the earliest; by the next day there was an updatable and sharable Google spreadsheet on all the drop-off and volunteer centers; by Monday, almost all status updates and tweets had to do with emergency hotline numbers, relatives of friends who were stranded on a rooftop, and traffic advisories warning which roads were impassable. A Google map of people in need of rescuing was uploaded, although its usefulness is questionable, considering the general low-techness of the National Disaster Coordinating Council's rescue squads they only had 13 rubber boats with which to deploy to the affected barangays †or villages (to put it into perspective, 1.9 million people were inundated with flood water, nearly 380,000 have been evacuated into schools, churches and other emergency shelters, and 246 people have died.

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

Read the rest

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind -- fantastic new book about a how a Malawian teenager harnessed the power of the wind



I reviewed The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for Good. I think it's one of the best books I've ever read. Here's an excerpt of my review:

William Kamkwamba's parents couldn't afford the $80 yearly tuition for their son's school. The boy sneaked into the classroom anyway, dodging administrators for a few weeks until they caught him. Still emaciated from the recent deadly famine that had killed friends and neighbors, he went back to work on his family’s corn and tobacco farm in rural Malawi, Africa.

With no hope of getting the funds to go back to school, William continued his education by teaching himself, borrowing books from the small library at the elementary school in his village. One day, when William was 14, he went to the library searching for an English-Chichewa dictionary to find out what the English word "grapes" meant, and came across a fifth-grade science book called Using Energy. Describing this moment in his autobiography, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (co-written with Bryan Mealer), William wrote, "The book has since changed my life."

Using Energy described how windmills could be used to generate electricity. Only two percent of Malawians have electricity, and the service is notoriously unreliable. William decided an electric windmill was something he wanted to make. Illuminating his house and the other houses in his village would mean that people could read at night after work. A windmill to pump water would mean that they could grow two crops a year rather than one, grow vegetable gardens, and not have to spend two hours a day hauling water. "A windmill meant more than just power," he wrote, "it was freedom."

For an educated adult living in a developed nation, designing and building a wind turbine that generates electricity is something to be proud of. For a half-starved, uneducated boy living in a country plagued with drought, famine, poverty, disease, a cruelly corrupt government, crippling superstitions, and low expectations, it's another thing altogether. It's nothing short of monumental.

Read the rest of my review at GOOD.

(It was very exciting to read that William's favorite magazine is Make!)

Radio Free Africa

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"Freedom of expression and of thought was not invented by the West. It has existed in traditional societies -- even primitive ones -- for centuries. Human progress would not have been possible without it. I'm saying this as a black African from Ghana because today around the world, we have 'educated' barbarians who want to suppress this freedom by arresting and jailing dissidents, writers, journalists and those they disagree with."
-- George Ayittey on the BBC, September 20, 2009.

Ayittey, whose famed "cheetahs vs. hippos" TED speech I've blogged before, is co-founder of an inspired new project called Radio Free Africa. (thanks, Emeka Okafor)

Attention artists, inventors, and small biz entrepreneurs: apply for a GO Ingenuity Fellowship

Diana Alexander, director of operations for the GO Campaign says:
Gia LogoGO Campaign is a US nonprofit dedicated to bettering the lives of orphans and vulnerable children throughout the world. We believe education and vocational training can be inspiring and life-changing. The GO Ingenuity Award has been established to encourage the sharing of innovation and invention with marginalized youth eager for a better future.

GO Campaign announced they will award a maximum of five GO Ingenuity Awards (GIA) to artists, inventors, and small business entrepreneurs to stimulate the next generation of "makers" and turn makers into role models and sources of inspiration for children in their community.

Up to five GIAs will be awarded in amounts ranging from $500 to $2,500 each to selected applicants who are eager to share their skills with marginalized youth in developing countries in ways that educate and inspire youth to harness their own ingenuity.

The one-year, one-time fellowship grants emphasize the sharing of innovative artistry and technology in informal, hands-on learning workshops with youth. Complete Guidelines and Application available at www.gocampaign.org/gia. Application deadline: December 1, 2009

Boston's amazing Papercut Zine Library needs a home


Aaron sez, "papercutzinelibrary.org is 'a free lending library that specializes in independently published media, particularly zines.' They have been kicked out of their space in Cambridge, MA and are desperately looking for a new home. Their needs are relatively small, but it can be tough getting the word out. I encourage anyone in the Boston/Cambridge, MA area to check out their site and see if you can help. It would be a shame to let all the wonderful zines become unavailable!"

I dropped in on this place a few years ago and was absolutely charmed and delighted. This is a very worthy cause indeed.

Papercut needs new space for August 15 (Thanks, Aaron

Spider and Jeanne Robinson need help

Beloved Hugo-award-winning writer, dancer and choreographer Jeanne Robinson (wife of Spider Robinson) has cancer, and it has taken a turn for the worse. Spider Robinson describes their financial situation as dire ("running on fumes") and so he's asking for cash to help them get through this. There's lots of ways to give, from bidding in a charity auction to attending a benefit concert to buying Spider's books. I've just sent them what I could spare -- Jeanne and Spider have given me so much pleasure and wisdom over the years, it was an honor. I hope that some of you who've been touched by them will do the same.

As some of you know, I've been dealing with a rare biliary cancer for many months. It has already taken my gall bladder, bile duct and most of my liver...and it's not done yet. It looks like in a matter of weeks I'll be facing chemotherapy, in an attempt to at least slow its progress...

There are many things I need as I prepare for my third act--supplements, prescription drugs, counseling, expensive alternative therapies, etc--and they all cost money...money I don't have. So, after all these months of being silent and private about my illness, I recently said yes to my close friend Michelle Meyrink when she asked if she could organize a benefit concert for me. http://www.spiderrobinson.com/images/Dream%20for%20jeanne.pdf

Others have since jumped in, including my Vancouver Buddhist sangha, Mountain Rain Zen Community, and a dear friend in Florida, Jan Schroeder, who has been auctioning donated items (such as rare Babylon 5 scripts and other SF memorabilia) on eBay for me. Goods or services can be donated for the auction by contacting Jan at dreamforjeanne@aol.com. Several other methods of helping out, including a straightforward PayPal donation account, can be found at http://wedreamforjeanne.blogspot.com/.

Another way to help would be to buy our books from Amazon by clicking-through from Spider's site, so we can get the affiliate commission. We've spent decades holding up visions of humankind's highest evolutionary potential while entertaining you enough to keep you turning pages.

The Third Act

$25 baby incubator for premature newborns in poor places

From FORA TV, this video of a presentation by George Kembel, co-founder of the Stanford d.school, about the "Embrace," an extremely low-cost incubator for premature newborns. The challenge: design better technology to help keep premature newborns alive. The reality: the most at-risk newborns are in rural areas, far away from hospitals where $25,000 incubators are housed. The solution: a $25 "incubator" with materials that can be heated up in a pot of boiling water.

Awakening Creativity / FORA (thanks, Blaise Zerega)

Flooded Louisville Free Public Library needs your help

Joshua sez, "Steve Lawson and the Library Society of the World are trying to raise money to help the Louisville Free Public Library, which was hit by horrible flash floods last week. Could you help us help the library out?"
So a lot of those books we sent them in the spring are now covered in water and sewage. And so are the bookmobiles. And the mechanical equipment for HVAC. And the data center. And $50,000 worth of new computers. The initial estimate is $1 million in damage, but they must just be guessing at this point.
Louisville Free Public Library needs your help (Thanks, Joshua!)

Digital Open tech innovation expo for global youth: 10 more days to submit projects!

Boing Boing and Boing Boing Video are partnering with Institute for the Future and Sun to support the Digital Open, in which youth around the world are invited to submit technology projects "that will change the world--or even just make life a little easier or more fun."

The final deadline for submissions is August 15, 2009, but projects posted before the deadline will benefit significantly from feedback from the Digital Open community. We are giving away more than $15,000 worth of very cool prizes including laptops, video cameras, recycled billboard backpacks, solar-powered gear and more. We've already received 49 projects from eight countries: Argentina, Canada, India, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, the UK and the US!
More online: digitalopen.org

Afghanistan mass grave coverup: update on evidence.

Following up on last week's post about our government's attempts to block investigation into mass killings in Afghanistan by a US-backed warlord (see this NYT article by James Risen):

There is an update to the story today from Mark Benjamin at Salon, where you can also read through the archive of related FBI documents in PDF form.

And Ben Greenberg writes in from Physicians for Human Rights, the organization that discovered the mass grave where the victims were buried. They've been investigating the case and advocating for appropriate action since 2001. Ben says:

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We've produced a 10 minute documentary video about the massacre and the three federal investigations that were impeded by the Bush Administration. It's called War Crimes and the White House: The Bush Administration's Cover-Up of the Dasht-e-Leili Massacre.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has also produced a report based on high resolution satellite imagery that shows evidence of when and how the mass grave site was subsequently dug up. A blog post on the satellite imagery report is here and the main images from the report are available here, along with a .kml file that can be used with Google Earth.

Read the rest

Iran: More on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan

neda-agha-soltan_47642233.jpg

An amazing piece by Borzou Daragahi, in Tehran, from today's LA Times on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan (shown above in a family photo). Her death, documented on cellphone video and spread online, has become a potent spiritual emblem for the popular uprising in Iran.
The first word came from abroad. An aunt in the United States called her Saturday in a panic. "Don't go out into the streets, Golshad," she told her. "They're killing people."

The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, "Neda! Neda!"

A dark premonition swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home number of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends, but Neda didn't answer.

At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the eastern Tehran Pars section of the capital. As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true. "Neda! Neda!" the 25-year-old cried out. "What will I do?"

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators who allege rampant vote-count fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The jittery cellphone video footage of her bleeding on the street has turned "Neda" into an international symbol of the protest movement that ignited in the aftermath of the June 12 voting. To those who knew and loved Neda, she was far more than an icon. She was a daughter, sister and friend, a music and travel lover, a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life.

Family, friends mourn Iranian woman whose death was caught on video (via @eecue)

Adopt a Classroom, help kids and teachers, get a tax-break

Patricia sez,
I am fortunate enough to teach children who have a variety of disabilities, ranging from Autism, Mild Mental Retardation, to Specific Learning Disabilities. Many of my students come from low income households where even items as simple as crayons are not easily attainable. It is rare that special education students get what they truly need in a system where budget cuts take away the most basic tools for these wonderful children.

Last year Cory adopted my class through Adopt a Classroom and I'd like to make Boing Boing Readers aware of this wonderful website.

Whether you choose my class or another, 100% of your tax deductible donation (as little as $25) goes directly to the teacher and you are informed of every item purchased. The budget cuts are worse than ever this year, but I know there are people out there willing to help.

I hope this doesn't sound like an advertisement. I am a teacher, with 2 California Teaching Credentials and a Master's Degree. I work for LAUSD, one of the largest school districts in the country. Yet, if I don't get donations or use my own money, my class doesn't get things as simple as printer ink and crayons.

I also always make sure to thank my donors personally from all the kids!

Patty's class

Adopt a Classroom (Thank, Patricia!)