Neil Gaiman will read the Cheesecake Factory menu if we raise $500K for the UN High Commission on Refugees

The campaign to raise $500K for the UN High Commission on Refugees started with author/comedian Sara Benincasa daring Neil Gaiman to do a dramatic reading of the Cheesecake Factory menu; Gaiman responded that if she raised the half-mil, he'd not only read the Cheesecake Factory's (notoriously florid) menu, he'd follow up with a reading of Dr Seuss's Fox in Socks if the funds hit $1m (I hasten to point out that this activity involves some risk to Gaiman, given the Seuss estate's penchant for bullying acts of copyfraud). Read the rest

Richard Mosse's striking Heat Maps, thermal images of refugees

Richard Mosse uses military-grade surveillance equipment intended for detecting enemy movement for an unintended use: to document the plight of refugees, an extension of an earlier project titled Incoming. Read the rest

Trump threatens to publicly release private data of immigrants and foreign visitors, ACLU responds

President Trump wants to dox all the brown people.

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Tibetan free library opens doors to readers in India, with help from Boing Boing readers

Editor's note: Here's an inspiring update on a cool project some friends of ours are doing in India. About a year ago, Boing Boing readers began contributing to help the Tibetan exile community in Mundgod, India build the region's first free Tibetan public library, with the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Shiwatso Library is now open for reading! “We have visitors checking out books from the Library and also coming to read,” says Phuntsok Dorjee, who is one of the organizers, and was raised in one of the refugee settlements there.

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City of Paris deploys "anti-refugee boulders" to prevent camping while waiting for space at a humanitarian center

The city of Paris has installed "anti-refugee boulders" beneath a highway overpass in Porte de La Chapelle in a bid to stop Syrian refugees from sleeping in the flyover's shelter while they wait for space to open up at a nearby humanitarian relief center operated by Emmaus solidarité. Read the rest

The Humble Freedom Bundle: pay $30 or more, benefit charities fighting the #muslimban, get a preview of Wil Wheaton reading WALKAWAY

The Humble Freedom Bundle will take $30 or more and in return give you more than 50 games, ebooks audiobooks and comics, including two never-before-heard audiobook titles from me: a newly mastered edition of the audiobook of my book on copyright, the internet and artistic integrity, Information Doesn't Want to be Free, featuring both Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer reading their introductions; and, the first 18 minutes of the forthcoming audiobook of my novel Walkaway, read by Wil Wheaton (the full book also features many other fine readers, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Amber Benson and Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls). Read the rest

Filmmaker threatened with arrest at JFK #MuslimBan protest for making this short film

“I was threatened with arrest for filming this 3 minute short documentary film about @nobanjfk lawyers at NYC JFK airport on Sunday,” says filmmaker Aaron Stewart-Ahn.

Aaron wasn't the only one to report harassment, intimidation, and threat of arrest for photographing, filming or recording audio of the massive protests at this airport and others, as travelers officials scrambled to come to grips with Trump's sneak attack executive order.

[Vimeo]

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Australia's Goldman-Sachs Prime Minister quietly donated $1.75M to himself to secure his narrow win

Malcolm Turnbull, the Goldman-Sachs investment banker turned Australian Prime Minister, secretly donated AUD1.75m to his own 2016 re-election campaign, giving it the funds it needed to squeak into victory. Read the rest

What Trump's treatment of refugees tells you about his plans for Americans

Tony Benn was a Minister of Parliament for 47 years and one of the greats of the UK Labour party until his death in 2014. He's a reservoir of excellent quotes, but today his thoughts on refugees seem most apt. Read the rest

Canadians: tell your MP to change the law so Canada can welcome Trump-stranded refugees

Under the 2004 Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, refugees that are turned away from the US are not allowed to seek entry into Canada. Read the rest

Name your price for Gaiman rarities and support UN Refugee Agency, Comic Book Legal Defense fund and others

Neil Gaiman writes: "A little over a year ago I released my rarest, earliest, and hardest to find work -- books and comics -- through Humble Bundle to fund charities that do good work. People were all so generous and enthusiastic that we broke records. More importantly, they made it possible for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and for the charities supported by the Gaiman Foundation, including the CBLDF, to help make things better for people." Read the rest

How a small group of geeks led the Syrian refugee surge

In September 2015, President Obama raised the ceiling of refugees, many of them Syrian, who would be welcomed to the United States in the coming year from 70,000 to 85,000. While a wonderful humanitarian move, it also posed huge problems for the already-overwhelmed, byzantine systems in place to process refugee applications admissions. That's when the White House's crack tech team, the United States Digital Service, stepped in to help. The US Digital Service was born out of the disaster of Healthcare.gov, when the White House called in top-notch geeks from Silicon Valley and elsewhere to fix the disastrous Obamacare website. This year, they focused on how to get more refugees through the door. For a Webby Awards exclusive feature, I commissioned the talented journalist Lauren Smiley to tell the story of the US Digital Service and their sprint to bring in 85,000 refugees. From Lauren's feature:

When the photo of a Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkey beach appeared in his newsfeed, Jason Wu was getting restless. It was September of last year, and he’d just left his job as a product manager at Facebook’s Silicon Valley HQ—in some ways, exactly the kind of job he’d wanted back as a UC Berkeley computer science student. But at 29, having been ensconced in cush startup culture of T-shirt swag and free meals surrounding the challenging technical work, he was starting to mull a new question: “To what end?” Considering the options, he didn’t want to join one of the many mobile app companies proliferating in the valley that solved the problems of the same wealthy young people who make them.

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Refugees, Women in Black and the Serbian police

"You can’t tell who is craziest: the refugees, the police or those women," said a local shopkeeper. He made a cross over his chest, to express his sincere Serbian bewilderment.

He had just witnessed ten shabby Afghan and Syrian refugees walking past, escorted by ten Women in Black from Serbia, Italy and Spain, themselves escorted by ten policemen and a police car.

By the railway station in downtown Belgrade, the temporary citizens-from-nowhere are living their nomad existences in the the rubble of the so-called Belgrade Waterfront construction project. The refugees loiter all day, hoping for something to happen, between the city bus yards and huge trash-cans full of boxed food that the aid workers supply on a regular basis.

Around five pm there is a kind of tea ceremony where about 800 people gather, most of them arriving from the organized camps where they sleep. They arrive to be heard, to be seen. We Women in Black went to join them to show this Belgrade political scene to our international colleagues.

It’ s been now two years since the Syrian refugee crisis seized headlines, but the refugees are not entirely Syrians, but a global peoples’ market of Afghans and Nigerians as well. In the beginning there were many more refugees, and far less aid from the locals and the Serbian state. The migrants were simply collapsing on flat surfaces anywhere in Belgrade, urban nooks, parks and lots where they ate, drank and slept.

Now the bus-station square, a favorite place to cluster for obvious reasons, has been fenced and organized. Read the rest

How Hong Kong's vulnerable, reviled refugee community saved Edward Snowden

When Edward Snowden flew to Hong Kong with thumb-drives full of damning US government documents, he assumed his freedom was forfeit: he didn't even make an escape plan. Read the rest

The Death Way: comic tells the real world story of a 16 year old boy's escape from Syria

Toby Morris (previously) uses animated gifs in his regular cartoon strip for a NZ website; this week, he writes, "I interviewed Hussam, a 16 year old Syrian refugee about how he escaped." Read the rest

Putin orders most Russian troops out of Syria, citing “overall completion” of military goals

Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will begin withdrawing from Syria starting Tuesday, the day which marks 5 years since the start of Syria's bloody civil war. Putin's pledge is a move to help advance U.N.-brokered peace talks that resumed today.

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How the standard, high-quality disaster-relief tarpaulin came to be

Tarpaulins are critical supplies for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, serving as cover, shelter, carpet and all-round utility infielder. Read the rest

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