(pro)testing power

'Six activists have been detained near the Kremlin in Moscow for holding "invisible posters" and calling for the release of other protesters detained earlier, it appears. The group was detained on Sunday in Manezhnaya Square and were holding out their hands as if they were carrying invisible signs.’

- Russia: Activists held over ‘invisible posters’

blocking the medium is the message

'The Associated Press has a bombshell: The US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is responsible for administering American foreign aid and development funds, spent years covertly establishing an SMS-only social network in Cuba, in the hopes that it might develop into a “Cuban Twitter” that would undermine the island’s communist government.

The mobile social network, called ZunZuneo after the Cuban slang word for a hummingbird’s tweet, allowed people to follow each others’ updates and join groups to discuss mostly innocuous subjects like sports, music, and weather. However, the USAID contractors running the network were also harvesting information about users and categorizing them by their “political tendencies,” according to the AP.’

- Quartz

a difficult karma

'On a visit that was supposed to be nonpolitical, Michelle Obama delivered an unmistakable message to the Chinese on Saturday, saying in a speech here that freedom of speech, particularly on the Internet and in the news media, provided the foundation for a vibrant society.

The United States, she said, respected the “uniqueness” of other cultures and societies. “But when it comes to expressing yourself freely, and worshiping as you choose, and having open access to information — we believe those are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet.”’

- In Beijing, Michelle Obama Speaks Out for Free Speech

gotta love the NYT for not pointing out the double standards

today’s critic is tomorrow’s client

'The co-founder of the Occupy Wall Street movement has called for the US government to be run by the country's technology industry. Justine Tunney, now a software engineer at Google, has posted a petition on the official White House website proposing that Barack Obama resigns and appoints Eric Schmidt as the “CEO of America”.'

- The Telegraph


Twitter / Bill_Gross: Edward Snowden - now with a badge - wanders the halls & runs into Sergey Brin at

off the record

'Reuters is now asking their interns (parents) to pay for the pleasure of working for free. Starting with a minimum bid of $750, one of the oldest, most respected news organisations in the world, is auctioning off a week of unpaid work experience to the “son or daughter” of the highest bidder at this years ASX Charity Foundation dinner.'

- Reuters starts bidding for unpaid internship

unsettled and unsettling

Ilham Tohti, 45, an economics professor, founder of Uighur Online website and an outspoken critic of Beijing’s policies on Uighurs, is currently held in a detention centre in Urumqi, provincial capital of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). He was taken away from his home in Beijing by public security officers on 25 January 2014. His lawyer Li Fangping has not been allowed to visit him. His wife received the arrest warrant on 25 February informing her that he was being charged with “separatism”. This charge has often been used against Uighurs who speak out against human rights violations.

The detention of Ilham Tohti came shortly after the Communist Party of China launched a new “grand strategic plan” for the XUAR on 19 December 2013. This new plan pledged to make “maintaining social stability” the primary strategic goal within the XUAR.’

- Amnesty International

love lover over

'Every year before Valentine's Day, a mischievous online group known as the “Damn Lovers” has mobilized its members to buy odd-numbered movie tickets in a bid to ruin the romance for couples who want to sit together.This year, they finally succeeded in occupying every other seat in at least one cinema in Shanghai during the Valentine's Day primetime movie screening.'

- GlobalVoices

defining ‘evil’

my heart’s been polluted

'Yesterday evening the Beijing municipal government sent texts to city residents, urging them to 'set off fewer fireworks or none at all,' fearing record-breaking PM2.5 levels during this year's celebrations.'

- Shanghaiist

on a mission to demystify

When it comes to China stories, people will believe almost anything. Take, for instance, the reports about pollution being so severe in Beijing that residents now watch radiant sunrises broadcast on a huge screen in Tiananmen Square. So, that never happened. As Tech in Asia flags, the sunrise is a clip from a tourism ad for Shandong province, in China’s northeast; it’s on screen for maybe 10 seconds or so per loop.’

- Quartz

p.s.: when you tell a chinese person you’re going to tiananmen, they break out in uncontrollable laughter. also, there are checkpoints around the square and going there is extremely suspicious if you’re not a tourist.

chinese takeaway

The Pentagon repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013, even as U.S. officials were voicing concern about China’s espionage and military buildup.

- U.S. waived laws to keep F-35 on track with China-made parts