Sara Elizabeth Williams' long, beautifully written profile of the merchants who established illegal storefronts on the Champs-Élysées, a stretch of road in Jordan's Za’atari refugee camp -- home to 93,000 Syrian refugees -- is a lens on the crisis created by decades of western complicity in the brutal Assad regime, followed by a global proxy war fought on Syrian soil, with no compassion or regard by any of the belligerents for the civilian costs.
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James Bridle (previously) is the latest contributor to The Atlantic's excellent series on the future of cities (Bruce Sterling, Molly Sauter, Adam Greenfield); in a new piece, Greenfield discusses the phenomenon of "virtual citizenship," and how it affects cities that are either turned into dumping-grounds for inconvenient poor people, or rootless, tax-dodging one-percenters.
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Rojinessa labored through the night and gave birth to a baby boy around dawn. Her mother delivered the baby. No doctors were present. No midwives. No beeping machines. Rojinessa became a mother in a tent with a bare concrete floor, a plastic sheet roof, and no running water. She is a Rohingya refugee, living in Ukhia, Bangladesh, with more than 650,000 other refugees who have fled the grotesque and incomprehensible genocide ravaging her people in Burma.
Shoaib Ahmed is a Bangladeshi asylum seeker whom ICE has imprisoned in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, a private prison run by CoreCivic (formerly the notorious Corrections Corporation of America, where he has been placed in solitary confinement -- a form of torture -- for refusing "voluntary" labor.
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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 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
President Trump wants to dox all the brown people. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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 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
“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.
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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
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
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
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
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:
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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.
"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