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In Slovakia, a Website Shines the Spotlight on Infamously Corrupt Judiciary

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 31 2013

Screenshot of the Google Translate version of Open Courts

The rampant corruption in Slovakia's judicial system has inspired a documentary called “Disease of the Third Power,” and approximately 70 percent of Slovak people do not trust it. Slovakia also holds the dubious honor of being one of only 20 countries where the judicial system is thought to be more corrupt than political parties or parliament. Enter Otvorené Súdy – or Open Courts – a website that makes information on judges and rulings easily accessible and, hopefully, the entire system more transparent, which went live last week.

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Obeying French Courts, Twitter Hands Over Identities of Users Who Employed Anti-Semitic Hashtag

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 22 2013

Screenshot of a #UnBonJuif tweet by @mafiacorsica

On July 12, Twitter gave the French authorities the necessary data to identify the authors of anti-semitic tweets accompanied by the hashtag #UnBonJuif (#AGoodJew). The decision officially ends a lengthy legal battle with France's Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) and several anti-racism groups. The case pitted hate speech laws against free expression and privacy on the Internet. Hate speech laws triumphed, but the outcome has reignited public debate on the subject of rights and responsibilities of both Internet users and companies.

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From the Courtroom, Russian Activist Defiantly Tweets to the End

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, July 18 2013

On Thursday a Russian court found opposition leader and Moscow mayoral candidate Aleksei Navalny guilty of embezzling money from a state-controlled timber company. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and the conviction will bar him from running in political races. The ruling singlehandedly eliminates Vladimir Putin's most formidable political foe. While the judge read the full sentence, which took more than three hours, Navalny and the rest of the courtroom live-tweeted the proceedings, even after they were ordered to turn off their phones.

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Yemeni Activist Seeks Refuge in Canada After Announcing "I'm Queer" On His Blog

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Tuesday, July 9 2013

Ala'a Jarban (screenshot from YouTube video)

Ala’a Jarban is a 23-year old activist who participated in the 2011 Yemen revolution and created a blog that allowed LGBT Yemenis to post anonymously about their experiences. While in Montreal for a conference on international human-rights training run by human-rights group Equitas, Jarban took to his blog and came out, declaring, “I’m Queer”. Read More

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The Deposing of the Egyptian President, as Seen on Social Media

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Anti-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo (flickr/Zeinab Mohamed)

One year after he became Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi has been booted from power. The army has placed the now-former president under house arrest. The ouster came following four days of mass demonstrations, with protestors shouting many of the same chants that were heard during the 18 days leading up to Mubarak's resignation in February 2011. Two days into the dmeonstrations, the army issued a 48-hour warning to the government: It was ordered to respond to popular concerns. Or else. Read More

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How To Report From Censored Environments

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 24 2013

Iran ranked just below China on the Press Freedom Index this year at spot 174 (of 179), only slightly better than Somalia, Syria and North Korea. Considering the restraints on local journalists and the red tape being put up for foreign reporters covering the presidential election, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) published advice for reporting on censored elections. Turns out the article contains sound advice for any journalist or even traveler venturing into censored environments.

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Czech Prime Minister Resigns Following Corruption and Surveillance Scandal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 17 2013

Prime Minister Petr Necas (David Sedlecky/Wikipedia)

The prime minister of the Czech Republic resigned yesterday, irreparably damaged by a corruption scandal and the possibility of impropriety in his personal life. According to the Czech constitution, his entire government will also have to relinquish office.

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Chinese Netizens Use Digital Initiative to Gain Media Attention for Unsolved Poisoning Case

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 15 2013

Screen shot of the signatures on the Chinese netizens' petition to the Obama administration

Last month a medical science student at a Shanghai university died from poisoning, allegedly murdered by his roommate. The specifics of the crime echoed a case from the mid-1990s, in which a 19-year-old student was poisoned with thallium. That case has once again been thrown into the media spotlight, but after 18 years the media has changed and the spotlight means a trending hashtag on Sina Weibo or an online petition to the U.S. President.

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Russian Anti-Corruption Activist, Blogger Aleksei Navalny on Trial for Corruption

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 22 2013

Aleksei Navalny ( MItya Aleshkovskiy)

In four years Aleksei Navalny went from being an unknown adviser to a provincial governor to “the Kremlin’s public enemy No.1” and the center of an embezzlement trial. Through his LiveJournal blog and Twitter account Navalny exposed evidence of corruption in the United Russia party and became not only a popular activist but a prominent political opposition leader as well. If convicted – and Russia has a 99 percent conviction rate – he faces ten years in prison and, as a convict, he would be prevented from running for office. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Bill Keller called it “the most important political trial in Russian in decades.”

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Japanese Court Orders Google Censor Search Algorithm

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 17 2013

Screengrab of Google autocomplete in action

A Japanese court has ordered Google change autocomplete results that one man complains associate his name with defamatory phrases. When Google users type in the plaintiff's name, the search engine autofills criminal acts the man asserts he never committed. The plaintiff claimed that these search results caused him to lose his job.

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