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Wednesday, June 18

Directionless gov part 573

PSF reports today that LocalDirectGov, primary hate object for local government webbies, is to be revived after a twelve month 'hiatus'.

Like a delicate flower gently awakening from a long dark Winter's slumber, Local Directgov made its return last week – and immediately announced plans for another of its famous national link-gathering exercises (famed mainly for having cost millions and delivered next to nothing), this time involving around 150 councils in England.
Cameroon? Osboon? Millions (and it really was millions), wasted? LibDems? Scandal? Anyone?

Presumably the first job will be to correct all the now broken links after the 'hiatus' ... Only it won't be a Whitehall bureaucrat doing this but a far more expensive so-called method involving people with far better things to do.

Any thoughts Minister Watson? Thought not.
More: in that past post (August 2007) I discussed the DCLG's then new web 2.0 efforts. I just clicked through and there's nothing about localdirectgov in their highly controlled and pretty empty forums and a grand total of one blog.

Another apology - where is Britain? where is Miliband

This brought tears to my eyes.

Canada's conservative PM, Stephen Harper, in the House of Commons, formally apologising on behalf of the government for the federally-run Indian residential school system, which forcibly took 150,000 children from their families and stripped them of their culture and heritage, often subjecting them to physical and sexual abuses. The apology comes after the government agreed to pay out $C billions in compensation payments for survivors.

Earlier this year Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, issued an apology for similar policies in Australia. It came without $ recompense and it did not move me like this does.

Our government, the British government, continues to refuse equality for indigenous peoples in international law and accept Britain's historic role in their condition.

NSFW: He Said It First

BBC "essentially a socialist enterprise"

Ads on local council websites?

Lincolnshire have started running banner adverts today on their website, in what they claim is "a nationwide first for any local authority."

They're not the first actually! I was surprised when researching this to see quite a few other councils are already doing them.

  • Flyde is running Google text ads.
  • Nottingham is selling banners (see their media pack- PDF).
  • Hampshire are doing ad packages which includes web advertising. Their sponsorship policy.
  • Weymouth and Portland will be doing sponsorships.

Others are considering it and there's probably some I don't know of.

One thing Andy Key of Hampshire noticed which also rang true with Lincolnshire was that the public never complained - only the council staff. In fact Lincolnshire has reported public applause for imaginative monetisation.

There are other possible revenue streams as well.
  • Linkage from any address has value
  • Income from amazon or other links - for example where you are already effectively choosing one business over another, e.g. Google over multimap etc.
  • Rent out server space for small business/sole traders
  • Recommending and linking to specific suppliers, insurance agencies for example, or in specific sections local attractions like swimming pools other than the council ones
But there are numerous issues. Andy Key posted at PSF about some of the problems they discovered that are involved with advertising on and they seem to be general, across others thinking about it.
  • They found ads on council sites a hard sell, who uses the site? You need solid stats
  • In general, the web ads market is still relatively small, don't expect riches
  • The ads must be content specific - in which case the business section may be the most lucrative
  • Adverts may be sought to give the appearance of a council endorsement, similarly you may end up with potential competitor advertising (e.g. in arts/leisure)
  • Advertisers must be vetted by trading standards
  • You must have a member agreed policy
Other issues and negatives include:
  • Sponsorship will offer more control than auto-generated ads (Google AdWords) which may be inappropriate (similar to the COI experience on Facebook) i.e. 'get a loan' 'debt advice' etc.
  • There may be some potential for a negative impact on web budgets, or web budgets increasingly forced to 'outsource'
  • Like with staff, some members may be strongly opposed - so a resident survey would be extremely useful for any proposition
  • There aren't any Whitehall guidelines on web ads for local government
It's also worth mentioning that I don't recall ever seeing an advert on a US government website - which says something I think.

MK web (Milton Keynes) doesn't carry ads in the 'council channel', but they do use skyscraper ads for council services in the style of the rest of site. This is probably a mistake because users have learned to tune out ads in general - they probably think this draws more attention to services they're cross-selling when in fact it's probably less.

I'd also have a similar issue for the method chosen in Lincolnshire. They're animated, rather than static, banner ads which I think does detract from the content. Thank god for AdBlock.

Tuesday, June 17

McCain: a left-field thought

BBC play? Ya think.

Any UK Press?

When McCain Drops Out

I think there is every reason to believe John McCain won't be the nominee. Ok, let me say that again. McCain will not be the Republican candidate in November.

The reasons are simple. He can't win. Now that Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee -- the polls all show that McCain's pro-war stance and Bush endorsement make him a lost cause in November. That combined with soft stand on litmus test conservative issues make him an unpopular candidate among the base. I know some Democrats that think the Republicans are planning to let McCain lose and 'sit this one out' so that they can hang the democrats with a bad economy and a war that is a morass. But that just isn't how they play. They play to win every hand -- think about 2000 with a popular Democratic president and good economy and a solid VP running for president. Why did they put up Bush? And why did they fight so hard? Because, you don't ever throw a game. And they're not going to throw this one.

McCain won't be the nominee.
Olbermann on the numbers.

Barack has ladyparts!

Panicking politicians and caustic censorship

HT: Nick Booth

I was having issues posting this response to Nick's request [Is the British Government planning a new department of Digital Cleaners?] for 'more detail' on how Culture Secretary Andy Burnham's call for censorship a la TV of YouTube etc. (mainly YouTube) gives me the deja vus.

I lived through the Australian conservative government's equally knee-jerk reaction to a moral panic around these issues in the late nineties.

They, similarly, proposed that the Aussie equivalent of Ofcom become involved and, unlike here, the equivalent of Ofcom salivated at the thought (the power! the power!).

What they ended up instituting was a national filtering system with opt-outs which mirrored what Saudi Arabia and China do. Is this what Andy wants? Or maybe he'd like something like the Thais insisted on, upset as they were at 'derogatory' portrayals of their King on - guess what - YouTube!?

Anyway, if you want to read up on the history of this in Australia, the activists on this in Oz are EFA and the Censorware Project.

How the Victorians do it (and how the dicks in charge here do it)

Following up on a previous post about ICELE, the multi-million pound funded Centre for e-democracy, it's officially dead.

On the 13 June 2008, the Minister for local e-democracy, Parmjit Dhanda M.P. [MP for Gloucester for the next two years, pictured right], announced in a letter to the International Centre of Excellence for Local eDemocracy (ICELE) Chair, Cllr. Matthew Ellis, that ICELE as a sponsored entity of CLG, would no longer receive any further funding beyond the agreed life-span of the programme.
He's ordered it closed by the end of the month and, in d***khead move #9,786 from yet another Minister responsible for some arm of egov, only then will they work out what to do with the good bits.
ICELE, as a sponsored entity of CLG, should cease operations on the 30 June 2008 [other than core staffing support activities related to the Review]. I have instructed officials to conduct a further review in partnership with ICELE on the tools and products produced or managed by the Centre. This review will also seek to establish how best any successful elements of ICELE's work might be taken forward and how sustainability might be achieved.
As I commented before, despite the stuff which many thought rubbish or unnecesary duplication, ICELE had done great stuff, not the least of which was produce basic guidance for people like councillors on blogging and other such 'e-dem' issues. More than any other wing of this incompetent administration around egov.

How many millions has been wasted? On this and countless other now dead and buried 'resources'?

As I have commented ad nauseum, it's not like there aren't numerous overseas models ready to copy.

Many countries have central portals which link into guidance, both basic and complex, and so - say - a councillor wondering where to start isn't lost in a process of 'projects' both new and defunded or a webteam can both get up-to-date guidance as well as useful news instead of a deluge of rubbish and hard-sells.

The US has resources like and

Many east Asian countries manage it. The Australian state of Victoria (pop. 5,25m) has a great portal with regular edited updates (I publish their RSS news feed). There's a great Australian federal resource too.

The eGovernment Resource Centre provides access to the Victorian Government body of knowledge on eGovernment, information and communications technology (ICT) and government website best practices, with Australian and international examples.

Resources include:

* eGovernment case studies,
* Government ICT policies, trends and issues
* Victorian Government ICT Procurement Policy Standard and Guidelines, and Investment Management Standard,
* Victoria Online Thesaurus
* Victoria's eGovernment strategies and reports,
* Victoria's Website Management Framework including website standards and guidelines, and the
* website manuals and toolkits including the Accessibility and Web analytics toolkits


Each week, the site publishes a news roundup of what's new in eGovernment and government website practice from around the world. You can subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the weekly updates.

News Feeds

Please also subscribe to our news feeds to receive regular updates on additions to the site. These include:

* the eGov Daily Digest - all the eGovernment resources as they are published on the site,
* the Government Website Digest - resources useful for those managing government websites, and
* the What's New newsletter – a newsfeed version of the weekly newsletter.

eGovernment Toolbar

You can download the eGovRC browser toolbar which provides you with ready access to news feeds, the weekly newsletter, toolkits, website management framework and website standards and guidelines. The toolbar also provides a search facility for the site and access to the State of Victoria's portal – Victoria Online.

The toolbar is available for both the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.

Management of the Site

This site was previously managed by Mutlimedia Victoria, however, following machinery of government changes in late 2006 the Citizen Access and Transformation Group, was set up within the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) and assumed responsibility for its management. The Citizen Access and Transformation Group has been set up to work on transforming the contact and experience people have interacting with government. As of 8 November 2007, this Group has now moved to the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development.

Further information about the Citizen Access and Transformation Division is available by contacting us. An A-Z list of Victorian Government websites is also available on the Victoria Online portal.
Go look and weep.

More: I've been called me on content. Hands up! He says it's not "millions' but £380kish over two years".

Here's my point.
Seriously, no-ones adding it all up (to my knowledge). So gawd knows how much the waste amounts to.

Getty and copyright and threats

HT: Dom Latter

Some people on my local list are all of a tizz because they were getting threatening letters with £800 bills attached from Getty Images - Corbis also does this. Dom Latter reminded people that, no, Getty cannot 'name their price' (my precis of his points follows).

Because it's copyright infringement, all they can do is sue (for loss of earnings). To his knowledge - and feel free to correct me - this process has now been going on for many years without anyone actually being taken to court during this period.

As a layman, I don't see how an invoice for an abitrary amount can be made to stick in the absence of a contract; Getty are of course free to claim damages for the infringement of their copyright, but it would appear that they don't,

makes it clear that they cannot sue for "additional" damages, in the case of *unwitting* infringement.

In addition, Dom provides links to cases of people who "got caught and got out of it".

Monday, June 16

Associated Press backs down

That was quick.

On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was “heavy-handed” and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.

The quick about-face came, he said, because a number of well-known bloggers started criticizing its policy, claiming it would undercut the active discussion of the news that rages on sites, big and small, across the Internet.
Apparently they will ...
attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.
Must be something to do with blogosphere's reaction. Oh, and this:
Timothy Wu, a professor at the Columbia Law School. Mr. Wu said that the case is not clear-cut, but he believes that The A.P. is likely to lose a court case to assert a claim on that issue.

More: Jeff Jarvis has a couple of good lines in a piece that sounds like a Family Guy script:
The AP is still trying to preserve its way. But, as I often say, protection is no strategy for the future. In the story - which, note, I’m only summarizing here, without the quotes from the AP that might better state its stance (ahem)


Where’s my Reuters T-shirt?

Sunday, June 15

Bad day at the office, dear?

Man gets fired .. man goes nuts ...

Actually, it's a (very) viral promo for a new Timur Bekmambetov movie. Genius.

Scrapbook clips catch up

Quickie job this week ;]

Will highlight a comment left with Off with the pixies from Dan McQuillan.

As the guy with the job of delivering the UK Catalyst Awards, I'd of course prefer to take more optimistic view.

But I agree that the critical thing is to move from excited blah blah to real impact. I'm trying to bring to catalyst as much grit as I can from my experience in co-founding social innovation camp.

We'll have to wait and see whether catalyst phase two can produce the kind of mentoring, incubating and financing that will deliver dynamic social startups.
Gerry McGovern, always worth reading, has started a series on What is the role of government on the Web?
For the government to truly serve its customers on the Web it needs to address the following issues:
1. Get away from a technology obsession
2. Manage customer top tasks, not government websites
3. Get politicians off government websites
4. Stop government vanity publishing
5. Develop a government archive
Federal Times has a very interesting piece on Gov’t. 2.0: Wikis, blogs and more - use in the US government.
The blog is a bold move for TSA [Transportation Security Administration | U.S. Department of Homeland Security] because it fully embraces public comments on what the agency is doing wrong, said Stephen Goldsmith, director of Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government program.

“They’re going to insult you whether you have a blog or not,” Goldsmith said. “You might as well learn from what they’re saying.”

Using discussion boards and e-mails, [Environment Protection Agency] EPA’s new social Web site, called National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information, has pulled comments from across government and the country to help [EPA’s chief information officer, Molly] O’Neill as she fashions a new information-sharing policy.

Since O’Neill came on board last year, EPA has embarked on four such projects that integrate blogs, wikis, discussion boards and other social networking Web tools, which are collectively referred to as Web 2.0, into EPA’s business.

“The technology is not complicated, it’s just a different way of doing business. And getting people to do business in a different way is culture change and that’s a challenge,” O’Neill said.
New Canadian survey on the public's attitudes to use of web 2.0 in government.
When asked to consider specific ways that government might use social media, the respondents showed strongest support for:

1. Websites where government scientists or experts could answer the public’s questions
2. Websites that would allow Canadians to express their views on different issues
3. Audio tours or pod casts of historical and natural sites across Canada that could be downloaded.
Jakob Nielsen updates his guidance on Writing Style for Print vs. Web
Summary: Linear vs. non-linear. Author-driven vs. reader-driven. Storytelling vs. ruthless pursuit of actionable content. Anecdotal examples vs. comprehensive data. Sentences vs. fragments.

We should accept that the Web is too fast-paced for big-picture learning. No problem; we have other media, and each has its strengths. At the same time, the Web is perfect for narrow, just-in-time learning of information nuggets — so long as the learner already has the conceptual framework in place to make sense of the facts.

For example, I dated "learning around the campfire" to 32,000 years ago to coincide with the emergence of high culture and the Cro-Magnons. Not that the Neanderthals didn't have campfires — they simply didn't have the cultural depth of modern humans, so I don't think their storytelling was equal to my seminars. So, did I actually remember that Cro-Magnon culture started 32,000 years ago with the Lascaux cave paintings? No, I looked that little fact up online.
Now where do you think this clip is from?

More than 10 new e-Government services will be launched in the next six months, while more than 15 e-Government services will come online within two years, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Frederick Ma says.

He told the Legislative Council today the e-Government services include the transport information system and the electronic health record system.

The bureau will also launch a geographical user interface to help users locate information and implement a unified identity management framework to verify their identity and safeguard their personal data.

A pilot scheme in forming district cyber centres will be conducted to provide hardware and technical support for children in low-income families and needy residents to access online resources.

Mr Ma added all Government bureaux and departments have revamped their websites to comply with Internet accessibility standards stated in the internal guidelines for information dissemination since 2003.

An inter-departmental committee regularly reviews the guidelines and released the latest version early this year.

Guessed? Hong Kong.

Facebook over? Only in Islington says Rory Cellan-Jones on BBC/
The social networking scene is settling down into separate camps. The very young are with Bebo. The music crowd are still on MySpace. The obsessive technophiles are on Twitter - latest Tweet from one sad West Coast blogger: "I have 3,500 unanswered direct messages. Please do not send more." But the mass of students and young professionals seem to be gravitating towards Facebook.
Is the Daily Mail editing the government too?
"In the same way that there are standards that are essential to broadcasting, in this converging world I believe there should be a set of standards online".
That's culture secretary, Andy Burnham. Sweetheart, talk to some Aussies about the 'issues' of going down this road. Pa-leaze!

Worth a read on cyber-censorship is Seth Finkelsten.

Also worth pointing out that repeated testing has shown the failures of censorware (filters), including one done earlier this year for San Jose libraries, plus, of course, that anyone can find out how to Bypass Internet Censorship.

House of Lords two-up now on the Commons as they launch a YouTube Channel.
The five videos aim to explain the "role, impact and relevance" of the House of Lords and "reach out to young people and other audiences who may not be involved in politics or well informed about the role of parliament".
Wired's Thomas Goetz makes a great point about Obama's
By putting their own website out there front-and-center, and then getting everybody to link to it (starting with all the media covering the launch of the site), the result will be to drive towards the top of a Google search on, say, "obama muslim" or "michelle obama whitey". Ideally, if enough of the pro-Obama network links to, it'll drive the sites that peddle in the rumor-mongering, which are now the first results on said searches, off the top of the results list. Ideal long term result: any curious low-information voter who eventually bothers to google these pesky rumors will immediately be led to the debunking rather than the rumor.
And this is coming over here too. The disgusting Melanie Philips repeats the dirt for The Spectator.

Eric Schmidt thinks Google should extend a helping hand to 'old media'. He "hopes its recently acquired advertising service DoubleClick will aid newspapers as they struggle to corral more online revenue".

Bob Ostertag has some warnings about Obama's Internet Money Machine and the Future.
Yes, this is a wonderful thing that the Internet has democratized political financing in an unprecedented way. What is even better, the fact that the progressive guy figured out the new money regime first may catapult him from freshman senator to the White House, opening one of the most exciting chapters in American political history.

But it is not insignificant that in the process, vast sums of money are flooding into the political arena.
Worth something in twenty years will be ... McCain condoms! (Barack ones too).

Christopher Ciccone, brother to Madonna Ritchie (nee Ciccone), is writing a book. Met them both (if by meet you can count 'hello, this is ...' 'hello, goodbye') in my gossip column days. Some daft queen thought she'd enjoy a tacky drag troupe and being showered by glitter at a not-that-glamorous 'do' and birthday bash for Chris by the harbour in Sydney. As I recall, they didn't enjoy Oz very much .. wonder if that'll make his book ... ?

Quote of the week from GC Weekly:
Earls Court, location of this week's GC 2008 Expo, was replete with [sic] beautiful people and futuristic technology.

The fact that the venue was also hosting Graduate Fashion Week and a Doctor Who exhibition may have contributed in some small way to these qualities. But you could not beat Kable's conference when it came to threatening behaviour from chairpeople.

Brian Derry of Assist said he would expel people from the session he chaired if they violated the no-mobile policy - dancing to the tunes of their ringtones. Alternatively, they could pay £10 to the charity of his choice.

Mark Logsdon of Barclays, speaking at a session on security, revealed that his organisation charges £50 for rogue mobile vocalisations. But after adjusting for banking salaries, that works out around a hafpenny.

It might not have been appropriate for Dave Mitchell of BT, chairing a session on the NHS National Programme for IT, to have punished the use of telephones. But he did threaten a collective punishment for the audience, if it failed to show suitable interest: a video nasty on the auditorium's big screen.

Luckily, Mitchell decided it was necessary to deploy a video of former National Programme guvnor Richard Granger on his holidays. The threat was enough.

gayasylumuk wants more to sign petition to Gordon Brown

15TH June


gayasylumuk wants more to sign petition to Gordon Brown

The campaigning group gayaylumuk today called on all those moved by the plight of the 19-yo Iranian Mehdi Kazemi to support other lesbian and gay asylum seekers at risk of return to torture and possible death.

The group is calling on all British people outraged by government policy to sign the petition to Gordon Brown (at

This petition, established by Durham Methodist minister Walter Attwood, says: 'we the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality'.

The petition has almost 3000 signatures but needs many more to achieve significance in the Number Ten petitions system, established by Downing Street to affect and inform policy.

The group has also established an international petition to support Prossy Kakooza, a 26-year-old lesbian woman seeking asylum in the UK. She fled Uganda after suffering vicious sexual, physical and verbal attacks due to her sexual orientation. Her application has been refused with Prossy being told she can return and 'be discrete' when this is not an option in Uganda.

International petition for Prossy

We are also highlighting the cases of:

* Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian threatened by the British government with deportation to torture and possible death by stoning.
* Gay Syrian refugee JoJo Jako Yakob, who fled his homeland two years ago after being arrested, shot and beaten.
* Babakhan 'Babi' Badalov, a target of repression and persecution as an openly gay radical artist and poet in Azerbaijan.

Their claims for asylum has all been dismissed.

Spokesperson Paul Canning said, "LGBT refugees fleeing torture and possible murder are routinely being refused asylum because of UK government policy. This is at the same time as British embassy's abroad are flying the rainbow flag — it's hypocritical."

"Many other countries, such as Holland, the United States and Sweden do not treat LGBT asylum seekers this way and the evidence shows that there is no 'flood' if you adopt humane policies. The government needs to change its shameful attitude and we are calling on British people to tell them it is, indeed, shaming."

gayasylumuk is a campaign group established by Omar Kuddas. It has supporters in the UK, USA, Europe and around the world.

Further information about Prossy, Pegah, JoJo and Babi can be found on 'LGBT asylum news (formally Save Mehdi Kazemi)', the campaign's website

Further information on Rev. Walter Attwood

Track Zimbabwe Human Rights using the Interweb

Matt Wardman has followed up on my post, Mugabe, al-Qaida links alleged and very helpfully reviewed Zimbabwean information sources from my list. NB: these are all 'civil society' sources, there's also a host of expat media sources. Here's the media sources which Robb Ellis (aka 'the bearded man') uses:

: Matt Wardman

The BBC has published evidence that abuses, beatings, intimidation and undermining of the democratic process are being co-ordinated in Zimbabwe by the police and army (via Paul Canning).

It is possible to keep track of what is happening on the ground via Net Feeds provided by various civil liberties bodies. This is an updated version of a Wardman Wire post “Scrutinise the Zimbabwe Elections using Twitter and Flickr: Sokwanele” from a few days ago.

The situation appears to be getting worse, so please do what you can to keep the spotlight on it.

Key Points

There are a number of organisations and resources listed here. This is a summary.

Map of Incidents

Sokwanele (”Enough is enough”) have a map of all the incidents they have reported here. Worth a look. More about Sokwanele below.


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

This one is on a Zimbwbabwe internet domain, and is “suspended”. I wonder why?

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights website - currently suspended.


Eyes on Zimbabwe: Soros Open Society Institute

Eyes on Zimbabwe publishes video of the situation inside Zimbabwe.

Eyes on Zimbabwe Website.

WOZA: Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise

200807615-woza-headerWOZA, the acronym of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, is an Ndebele word meaning ‘Come forward’. Now with a countrywide membership of over 35,000 women and men, WOZA was formed in 2003 as a women’s civic movement to:

  • Provide women, from all walks of life, with a united voice to speak out on issues affecting their day-to-day lives.

  • Empower female leadership that will lead community involvement in pressing for solutions to the current crisis.

  • Encourage women to stand up for their rights and freedoms.

  • Lobby and advocate on those issues affecting women and their families.

Blog Link: Women of Zimbabwe Arise (RSS Feed)

Solidarity Peace Trust

The Solidarity Peace Trust is a non-governmental organisation, registered in South Africa. The Trustees of the Solidarity Peace Trust are church leaders of Southern Africa, who are all committed to human rights, freedom and democracy in their region.


The co-chairpersons are:

* Archbishop Pius A Ncube; Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
* Bishop Rubin Phillip; Anglican Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa

Solidarity Peace Trust (Reports, Images, Videos)

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

20080615-hrforumzim-logoThe Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (also known as the “Human Rights Forum”) has been in existence since January 1998. Non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights came together to provide legal and psycho-social assistance to the victims of the Food Riotsof January 1998.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGA Forum. (Press Release Page)

Media Institute of South Africa

20080615-media-institute-of-southern-africa-logoThe Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is a non-governmental organisation with members in 11 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. Officially launched in September 1992, MISA focuses primarily on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media , as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.

MISA seeks ways in which to promote the free flow of information and co-operation between media workers, as a principal means of nurturing democracy and human rights in Africa

The role of MISA is primarily one of a coordinator, facilitator and communicator, and for this reason MISA aims to work together with all like-minded organisations and individuals to achieve a genuinely free and pluralistic media in southern Africa.

Sokwanele: Enough is Enough

20080615-sokwanele-violence-photosI have been running a Flick-R photo feed about abuse and violence meted out by Robert Mugabe’s followers and thugs to those opposing his regime in the elections in Zimbabwe for several weeks, from the Zimbabwe Civic Action Support Group.

There is also a Twitter feed at which is updated from time to time. Here are the entriues since it was launched in late May (read from the bottom). Harrowing. Only a small portion of attacks are fed on Twitter.

Why not carry the Photo feed (if your readers can stomach it) or the Twitter feed on your blog. If you need to know how, drop a comment in the box, and I will do a “Howto” article. The elections in Zimbabwe are on June 27th, so it would be a good boost to scrutiny and awareness if a number of bloggers did this. It is easy in Wordpress.

Sokwanele has a blog here (RSS Feed).

This article may be reproduced with attribution and a link back to here and the Sokwanele This is Zimbabwe blog.

Sokwanele: 3 Days in Zimbabwe via Twitter

20080615-sokwanele-unity-logoNumbers to call for Tsvangira at Shurugwi police station: Officer in charge: +263 (0)52 6545. Also try +263 (0)52 6279 / 6277 / 6278 / 6545 01:29 PM June 14, 2008 from web

Morgan Tsvangirai arrested again. Currently being held at Shurugwi police station. This is the 5th time he has been detained since 4 June. 01:13 PM June 14, 2008 from web

MDC MP Tendai Biti has arrived in court. He has been missing since his arrest two days ago by 10 plainclothes policeman in an unmarked car. 01:06 PM June 14, 2008 from web

Tendai Biti still missing. Lawyers and human rights defenders have gone to every possible police station in Harare in an effort to find him. 02:16 PM June 13, 2008 from web

Morgan Tsvangirai has been released for a second time today: “It’s just harassment, but we will be continuing with our campaign tomorrow”. 11:32 PM June 12, 2008 from web

Morgan Tsvangirai arrested for a 2nd time today. Now in Gweru police station. Call +263 (0)54 227897 / 221393. 07:33 PM June 12, 2008 from web

Tendai Biti missing. “He was forced into an unmarked vehicle and has not been seen since”. Please take action - 06:21 PM June 12, 2008 from web

The BBC are reporting that Zimbabwe’s police plan to charge MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti with treason. 05:11 PM June 12, 2008 from web

Morgan Tsvangirai has been released after 2 hrs. He immediately resumed campaigning, meeting throngs of enthusiastic supporters in Kwekwe. 05:01 PM June 12, 2008 from web

Morgan Tsvangirai arrested with 20 others. Call Kwekwe Police on +263 (0)55 22210 and +263 (0)55 24541 - 6 . See 04:05 PM June 12, 2008 from web

Action Alert for Biti. Arrested by plainclothes police, driven off in car reg AAO 3822; whereabouts unknown. See 02:19 PM June 12, 2008 from web

Get ready for ACTION - MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti has just been arrested in Harare. Waiting for more info: 01:12 PM June 12, 2008 from web

I have not included links. Read the whole thing with links here.

Please ask Matt for permission to reproduce this post.