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Ugandan president on the science of why gay sex must be criminalized: 'you can get worms'


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is trying to please a conservative local faction opposed to homosexuality, but risks alienating Western aid donors. Photo: Reuters, February 22, 2014.

"The mouth is made for eating and kissing, and gay oral sex will give you worms."

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda today gave a detailed explanation of why he believed homosexuals should be jailed for life.

"These mercenary homosexual prostitutes have to be punished," he said. "Just like those who are recruiting them."

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Giving no-strings-attached money to the world's poorest produces remarkably good results

The Economist details outcomes from Give Directly, an organization that analyzes satellite photos to identify the poorest places in the world and then hands over no-strings-attached cash grants to the people who live there. It's a contrast to other programs, where donations are funneled into school construction or funding planned-out businesses. Give Directly has produced remarkably good results: "In randomly selected poor households in 63 villages that have received the windfalls, they say, the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third and livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes have gone up by a quarter and recipients seem less stressed, according to tests of their cortisol levels."

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Crowdfunded mosquito-confusing patch to be sent to Uganda


The Kite Patch is the subject of a very successful Indiegogo fundraiser, and holds the promise of a lasting peace between mosquitoes and humans. It bears a compound designed by UC Riverside entomologist Anandasankar Ray that confuses mosquitoes' ability to track and follow concentration gradients of CO2, which is how they locate humans. However, the product couldn't be marketed in the USA without further testing, hence the crowdfunding campaign, which will send thousands of patches to Uganda, where they will be used as part of a wider trial in fighting malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. The actual nature of the compound is confusing: the Wired article describes it as both "toxic" and "nontoxic" and the crowdfunding FAQ calls it "nontoxic."

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Hackers for Charity


One more for the Charity Guide: Hackers for Charity:

We’re about proving that hackers have amazing skills that can transform charitable organizations. We’re about stepping into the gap to feed and educate the world’s most vulnerable citizens. We are virtual, geographically diverse and different. We are Hackers for Charity.

We employ volunteer hackers (no questions asked) and engage their skills in short “microprojects” designed to help charities that can not afford traditional technical resources. Our industry experts vet all the work to guarantee a high-quality product, and volunteers are rewarded with glowing references from our industry-recognized subject matter experts. With each project, our volunteers move one step closer to that dream job, and a charity is brought one step closer to its technical goals. We’ve designed and built web sites, set up blogs, programmed custom web applications, conducted code reviews, performed security assessments and more, all through our volunteer’s efforts. In addition, thanks to one donor, we provide hosting, bandwidth and support for the final product free of charge.

We’re also working on the ground in Uganda, East Africa to support aid organizations working to help some of the world’s poorest citizens. We provide free computer training in our computer training center, and we provide technical support in the form of computer repair, networking services and more. We have supported many local schools with the addition of computers and training software.

We also provide food to children in East Africa through our food program. All the profits from sales of my No-Tech Hacking book go into this program along with the income from our (now-defunct) Informer subscription program.

Hackers For Charity

Hidden links between #Kony2012, "The Family," and Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill

Bruce Wilson has been looking deeper into ties between Invisible Children, the group behind "Kony 2012," and a secretive fundamentalist Christian organization known variously as The Family and The Fellowship—which, as it turns out, is said to be a force behind Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill. For a primer on The Family, by the way, there's no better place to start than Jeff Sharlet's book.

What Wilson dug up is now detailed in an extensive blog post. There's a lot to sort through, but it's exhaustively-researched stuff.

At least two of Invisible Children's programs have involved collaboration with The Fellowship and and its members, and by 2007 -- according to accounts from both Invisible Children and Fellowship members -- Invisible Children had partially merged its developing school and mentoring programs in Uganda with The Fellowship's Ugandan educational and leadership training system, which works to raise up a cadre of elite Jesus-centered leaders who will transform their nation along "Biblical" lines - with one apparent objective being the categorical elimination of homosexuality.

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Teju Cole on "The White Savior Industrial Complex"

In The Atlantic today, a must-read piece by Teju Cole on some of the cultural issues raised by Kony 2012, and reactions to it in the media-blog-Twitter-opinion-sphere.

I disagree with the approach taken by Invisible Children in particular, and by the White Savior Industrial Complex in general, because there is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.

Read "The White Savior Industrial Complex" at the Atlantic.

Revealed! Kony 2012's sinister Musical Comedy roots

From the first time I watched "Kony 2012," I always sensed a link with the storyline of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Book of Mormon musical. But sweet fancy Moses, I did not know how closely linked the two truly were.

Aaron Stewart-Ahn tells us about the video above (which has been taken down by Invisible Children, but mirrored elsewhere):

Here's where the money has been going to: Invisible Children founder Jason Russell's vanity dance musical numbers which start off with exploitative footage of suffering children. How did no one else catch this? It makes the Kony 2012 video look subtle and sane. He's basically using this to fund his desire to make Glee.

This is where the millions are being spent: vanity musicals. Did Trey Parker write this??!! Russell has mentioned repeatedly how his ambitions were to make musicals. He intimated that he was going to make the musical popular again á la Glee, but this didn't work out—so he ended up in advocacy. It was that chat at the evangelical conference. So, here's a direct youtube link to 9m 10secs in the video where he talks about making musicals, and casually talks about his dream of documenting genocide.

That bit with the t-shirt with the African child on it is just... I'm speechless. Wonder why they've removed it from their YouTube channel, since it looks so damn expensive? It's insane, isn't it? I mean, seriously: it makes Scientology videos look charmingly naive.

UK funnyman Charlie Brooker has a bit of fun with Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 viral phenomenon, in the video embedded below.

Bonus round, below. Brooker asks, "Can ANYONE explain how this EPIC visual embarrassment helps Africa? OH GOD THERE'S MORE. Also: how much did this cost, did donations fund it, and what the TWIRLING FUCK does it mean?"

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Kony 2012 screening in Uganda results in anger, rocks thrown at screen

[Video Link to Al Jazeera report]

Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" video has been viewed by millions online around the world. By view counts alone, it is now the most viral video in history. It is now the first ever YouTube hit publicly screened in the northern Ugandan town of Lira—and it didn't go so well.

The screening was hosted by African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), an NGO founded by Victor Ochen (LRA abductee turned peacekeeper) mentioned in this previous Boing Boing post. Ochen and AYINET thought Ugandans who had been personally affected by the LRA and Kony deserved an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire attended the AYINET screening of Kony 2012 last night, and tweeted that local radio stations heavily publicized the event in advance. "There were 5000+ people at the screening," she says, "Many rode bicycles from villages to see the #kony2012 video in Lira."

Malcolm Webb attended the event in the Mayor’s Gardens in the city center, and he reports for Al Jazeera:

Having heard so many great things about the film, the crowd’s expectations were high. People I spoke to anticipated seeing a video that showed the world the terrible atrocities that they had suffered during the conflict, and the ongoing struggles they still face trying to rebuild their lives after two lost decades.

The audience was at first puzzled to see the narrative lead by an American man – Jason Russell – and his young son. Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.

One woman I spoke to made the comparison of selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11 – likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, however well intentioned the campaign behind it. The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled.

Kagumire adds this morning that AYINET has suspended further screenings, "not to further harm victims or provoke any violent response."

AYINET has published a statement on the screening here.

Invisible Children's bracelets and t-shirts aren't likely to receive a warm welcome in Uganda, either. Kagumire says "The Northern Ugandan people want the government to stop Kony 2012 tshirts from entering the country; the video sparked heated talks on 5 radio stations in Lira... one caller said #kony2012 t-shirts cannot cross Karuma. It would be too provocative."

Read more of Al Jazeera's report here, and follow Al Jazeera's reporting on the Kony 2012 phenomenon here.

(via @somebadideas)

Kony 2012's Visible Funding: Invisible Children's anti-gay, creationist, Christian right donors


(Photo: The Kony 2012/Invisible Children guys posing with SPLA soldiers on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Photograph by Glenna Gordon.)


Over at Alternet, Bruce Wilson digs in to the sources of funding for the group behind "Kony 2012," and discovers 990 IRS tax forms and yearly financial disclosure reports from the nonprofit and its major donors "tell a story that’s jarringly at odds with the secular, airbrushed, feelgood image" it has cultivated.

The documents show that Invisible Children, Inc. received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the biggest financial backers of California’s anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8, with links to James Dobson, The Family (see Jeff Sharlet's excellent book on the subject), and ideologically similar Christian Right entities.

Snip:

(...) What does Invisible Children share in common with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council (pegged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”), or the Fellowship Foundation — one of the nonprofit entities of the Washington-based evangelical organization also known as “The Family” (covered in two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet) whose leader Doug Coe has been captured on video celebrating the dedication inspired by Hitler, Lenin, and Mao ?

What does IC have in common with the ministry of California evangelist Ed Silvoso, who works directly with leading Ugandan author and promoter of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (also called the “kill the gays bill”) Julius Oyet — who claims that “even animals are wiser than homosexuals”?

The answer? — all of these ministries – the Discovery Institute, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, The Fellowship Foundation, The Call, Ed Silvoso’s Harvest Evangelism, and Invisible Children – received at least $100,000 in 2008 from what has emerged in the last decade as the biggest funder of the hard, antigay, creationist Christian right: the National Christian Foundation.

Wilson's post is cross-published here with additional links at Talk2Action, his site on religion and politics. I've been blogging about the viral phenomenon here at Boing Boing, with perspective from aid workers, and a round-up of voices from Africa here (just updated with new additions).

A related digging-through-the financials post at Demand Nothing argues that the group works in a manner similar in style to "evangelical modes of operation" because they are effectively "a continuation of the same tactics used by more explicitly christian charities that operate in Africa and internationally." Snip:

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African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign

(Updated with additions, March 10, 2012. Here's a Twitter list, so you can follow all of the African writers mentioned in this post who are on Twitter.)


The internets are all a-flutter with reactions to Kony 2012, a high-velocity viral fundraising campaign created by the "rebel soul dream evangelists" at Invisible Children to "raise awareness" about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and child soldiers. As noted in my previous post here on Boing Boing, the project has many critics. There is a drinking game, there are epic lolpictorials, and a chorus of idiots on Facebook.

There are indications the project may be about stealth-evangelizing Christianity. The Invisible Children filmmakers have responded to some of the criticism. Media personalities and celebrities are duking it out as the campaign (and now, backlash) spreads.

But in that flood of attention, one set of voices has gone largely ignored: Africans themselves. Writers, journalists, activists; people of African descent who live and work and think about life on the continent. In this post, we'll round up some of their replies to #Kony2012.

Above, a video by Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia journalist who works on "media, women, peace and conflict issues." She writes, "This is me talking about the danger of portraying people with one single story and using old footage to cause hysteria when it could have been possible to get to DRC and other affected countries get a fresh perspective and also include other actors."

Ethiopian writer and activist Solome Lemma writes that she is disturbed by the "dis-empowering and reductive narrative" evidenced in Invisible Children's promotional videos: "[It] paints the people as victims, lacking agency, voice, will, or power. It calls upon an external cadre of American students to liberate them by removing the bad guy who is causing their suffering. Well, this is a misrepresentation of the reality on the ground. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of child and youth advocates who have been fighting to address the very issues at the heart of IC’s work." Update: Here's another from Lemma on "Seven steps for critical reflection." She urges those concerned about human rights in Africa to "think before you give."

Musa Okwonga, a " football writer, poet and musician of Ugandan descent," writes in an Independent op-ed: “I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots... Watching the video, though, I was concerned at the simplicity of the approach that Invisible Children seemed to have taken."

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Kony 2012: a viral mess


(Photo: The Kony 2012/Invisible Children guys posing with SPLA soldiers on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Photograph by Glenna Gordon.)


UPDATE: African voices respond.


Mark Kersten at Justice in Conflict writes about the Kony 2012/Invisible Children video everyone's going crazy over today:

It is hard to respect any documentary on northern Uganda where a five year-old white boy features more prominently than any northern Ugandan victim or survivor.

Harder still when the documentary Godwins itself just minutes in with a Hitler namecheck. There's another good post at Foreign Policy which attempts to parse why this dubious fundraising/attention-getting campaign has spread so wide so quickly, and the many things it seems to get wrong:

[L]et's get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn't been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.

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Ugandan police firing pink-dyed water at protestors

On MSN's photoblog, striking photos of Ugandan police attacking demonstrators with water-canon that fire pink-dyed streams of water. Presumably, the pink dye helped the police track down protestors after the fact.

Ugandan police disperse protesters with water cannon

(Image: James Akena / Reuters)