Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

October 1, 2014

Hong Kong Is Ready for Democracy, but China Isn’t Ready for a Free Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Is Ready for Democracy, but China Isn’t Ready for a Free Hong Kong

October 1, 2014

Laos Joins Southeast Asian Neighbors in Imposing Stricter Internet Controls

Advocacy Global Voices

Laos Joins Southeast Asian Neighbors in Imposing Stricter Internet Controls

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2014/09/28/laos-joins-southeast-asian-neighbors-in-imposing-stricter-internet-controls/

Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong has signed a new decree imposing stricter Internet control in the country. Signed last September 16, 2014, the new regulation promotes responsible and “constructive” use of the Internet among Lao netizens.

A few months ago, Lao officials announced that they were studying the experience of other Southeast Asian nations as a guide in drafting an Internet law which they plan to implement this year. They chose the restrictive cyber laws of Myanmar and Vietnam as models in formulating the framework of Laos’ Internet law. Laos officials also reportedly looked at the approach used by China in regulating the Web.

As expected, the result is a law that claims to support the growth of the Internet but actually contains numerous contradictory provisions that undermine free speech and other citizen rights.

Provisions that recognize the privacy rights of Internet users, the protection of intellectual property, and prohibitions on pornography may be less controversial for Laotians. But the law also prohibits sharing photos that “contradict Lao traditions and culture.” The question is this, who will decide whether an obscene image insults Laotian heritage?

The same decree also identified several so-called “cybercrimes” whose definitions are unclear and very broad. They include:

- Disseminating false information against the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party;
– Circulating information that encourages citizens to be involved in terrorism, murder, and social disorder;
– Supporting online campaigns that seek to divide solidarity among ethnic groups and between countries;
– Spreading information that distorts truth or tarnishes the dignity and rights of individuals, sectors, institutions and organizations;
– Sharing of comments whose contents are in line with the abovementioned prohibitions.

Internet service providers are ordered not to provide service to individuals, legal entities or organizations whose movement seeks to undermine the Party and government policies.

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From this week’s top stories: government issues decree to control internet activity http://wp.me/p45NBN-Ur 

Based on these guidelines, it seems that legitimate criticism of government programs and policies can be interpreted as a criminal act if it creates division, confusion, or “disorder” among the public. It is easy to see how authorities could use the law to prosecute journalists, activists, and other critics of the government.

The law also prohibits the creation of anonymous or pseudonymous accounts online, purportedly in an effort “to ease the efforts of authorities in regulating the Internet.” This is a big blow to citizens who seek to expose wrongdoings in the government through the Internet.

The government believes that this kind of Internet regulation is necessary to prevent abuse and misuse of the Internet as a space for communication and connection. While acknowledging the positive contributions of the Internet to the local economy, Lao officials also warned that it can be used to cause panic in society. They cited the spread of inaccurate information about the Lao Airlines crash and a recently online rumor of human organ trafficking in Attapeu province. In both cases, the Laos government was forced to make official statements to clarify the wrong information.

Despite these excesses, however, the Laos government previously vowed not to block the Internet, believing that it is essential to the “modernization and industrialization” of the country. But the new Internet law will undermine the commitment of Laos officials to keep the Internet open and free. It will discourage netizens from maximizing online spaces to engage public officials and challenge public policies.

The law could also impede the growth of the IT sector. In 2011 there were only 60,000 Facebook users in Laos. Today, more than half a million Lao citizens use the popular social networking site. According to news reports, there are now five telecommunications companies, seven Internet service providers and about 900 computer shops in the country. At this time, what Laos needs is a law that will boost this industry and not something that will unfairly penalize critics, activists, and even ordinary Internet users.

It is unfortunate that Laos has aligned itself with its neighbors in the region that are implementing repressive Internet laws to stifle dissent, intimidate the opposition, and even punish critical citizens. Laos should strive to distinguish itself in the region by adopting a human rights-based framework in regulating the Internet.

October 1, 2014

Adverse conditions stop poorer countries reaching development goals, Laos tells UN

Adverse conditions stop poorer countries reaching development goals, Laos tells UN

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48938#.VCyMrRa_6PQ

Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisovlith of Laos addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

29 September 2014 – Armed conflicts, political unrests, pandemics, and environmental degradation have impeded efforts by the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) to reach the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisovlith told the United Nations General Assembly today.

“As a landlocked and least developed country, the Lao [People’s Democratic Republic] remains vulnerable and still faces numerous challenges, especially in achieving some MDG targets, including reducing child malnutrition, ensuring gender equality in education, reducing child and maternal mortality, and minimizing the impacts of unexploded ordnances dropped during the (Vietnam) war, he told the Assembly’s 69th annual high-level meeting.

He also called for the UN to strengthen itself through the reform of its various organs to “fulfil its obligations in a more effective manner.”

Taking to the podium this afternoon, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hor Namhong, said that climate change is having devastating effects on developing countries as they mostly rely on agriculture and also suffer from typhoons, floods and draughts.

Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong of Cambodia addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

For instance, in 2013, heavy monsoon rains caused extensive flooding across Cambodia, claiming 168 lives, causing one billion dollars of damage and affecting 1.8 million people. He underscored the need to further implement the UN principle of “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities”, because industrialized counties emit the largest amount of greenhouse gas, while developing countries become the main victims of climate change.

With the deadline for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fast approaching, many developing countries had not attained the Goals primarily due to unfulfilled commitments, lack of resources, and food insecurity. Cambodia has made progress by reducing poverty to 19 per cent and reducing HIV prevalence to 0.6 per cent in 2013. He added that the post-2015 development agenda must be realistic and built upon the lessons learned from the difficulties in the realization of the MDGs.

Also speaking today, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said “corruption is a drag on development,” and an intrinsic source of social instability and fighting it required political will and unceasing vigilance.

Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam of Singapore addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Honest and competent Government is integral to development. Governments need sound and effective institutions. And social capital- the trust that people have in each other, their leaders, and the system- is as necessary to sustainable development as financial capital. Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of sustainable urbanisation.

“To us, a sustainable city means having a competitive economy, environmental sustainability, and a high quality of life for all inhabitants, rich and poor alike,” said Mr. Shanmugam. When pursuing a post-2015 agenda, each society must draw on its own lessons from its own experiences and find solutions according to its national circumstances.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

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September 26, 2014

Laos Criminalizes Internet Criticism of the Government

Laos Criminalizes Internet Criticism of the Government

23 Sep 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/09/23/Laos-Criminalizes-Criticism-of-the-Government-on-the-Internet

 

The communist state of Laos has categorically banned any online criticism of the government in a new set of laws that criminalizes speaking ill of the government on the Internet and any outlet that facilitates the publication of such online criticism.

Reuters reports that the legislation, approved last week by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, punishes “false” information spread online by any individual. “False” is defined as anything that reflects unfavorably on the government. According to state outlet KPL, the law bans “disseminating or circulating untrue information for negative purposes against the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the Lao government, undermining peace, independence, sovereignty, unity and prosperity of the country.” It also holds Internet service providers and websites accountable for having a hand in publishing any illegal opinions.

To better track who is posting what online, the law also provides that use of pseudonyms on the Internet is banned. It also forbids any pornography or “inappropriate” photographs, though what constitutes “inappropriate” is never specified.

Laos has been a communist country since 1975 and has struggled with poverty for decades as a result. While the nation opened a stock market in 2011 in an attempt to attract foreign investment, its economic situation has continued to stagnate due to its relentless adherence to communism and the fostering of less than beneficial diplomatic relationships.

This month, Laos received delegates from the nation of Cuba to foster further bilateral relations, though neither country has managed to help the other’s fledgling economy. Laos’ closest ally is Vietnam, also impoverished; the nation sent delegates to Vietnam the same week it greeted Cuban diplomats and held talks on improving trade between the two countries. Laos has also begun extending a hand towards China, though the last meeting between representatives of the two nations had less to do with trade than security. According to Chinese state outlet Xinhua, Chinese officials announced the nation “hopes to further enhance cooperation on law enforcement and security with Laos in the Mekong River basin so as to turn the cooperation mechanism into a model of regional law enforcement cooperation.” Among the specific security areas discussed were “anti-terror, illegal immigration and cyber crime.” Like Laos, China has extremely tight policies on what citizens can and cannot say publicly.

September 21, 2014

Photo Gallery A Wisconsin tribute to the bravery of Hmong pilots in Laos

Photo Gallery

A Wisconsin tribute to the bravery of Hmong pilots in Laos

Posted: Sept. 19, 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.jsonline.com/multimedia/photos/a-wisconsin-tribute-to-the-bravery-of-hmong-pilots-in-laos-b99354565z1-275857571.html

Hmong pilots flying dangerous missions in north Laos in support of the U.S. effort in the Vietnam War have never had a memorial paying tribute to their bravery — until now. On Saturday a restored T-28 propeller plane like the ones the Hmong flew will be unveiled in tribute at Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin in Sheboygan Falls.

Tim McKeown, a T-28 instructor pilot for the U.S. Air Force who taught Hmong pilots to fly missions in northern Laos in 1973, stands next to one of his students, Ya Lee. – Image credit: Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin
Volunteers Al Schafer (foreground) and Ted Katte get ready to mount a plaque dedicated to the Hmong veteran aviators on a North American T-28 plane used to train Hmong pilots during the Vietnam War. The aircraft acquired by the Sheboygan Falls-based Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin was restored by a local EAA chapter and will be unveiled Saturday in a new exhibit at the Sheboygan County Municipal Airport honoring the unsung sacrifices the Hmong pilots. – Image credit: Mark Hoffman
Jon Helminiak, executive director of the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin, searches for the correct place to mount a plaque dedicated to the Hmong veteran aviators on a North American T-28 plane used to train Hmong pilots during the Vietnam War. – Image credit: Mark Hoffman
A custom-machine prop dome had to be machined from a solid piece of metal for the North American T-28 plane used to train Hmong pilots during the Vietnam War. – Image credit: Mark Hoffman
The insignia of of the Royal Laotian Air Force is shown on the North American T-28 plane used to train Hmong pilots. – Image credit: Mark Hoffman
Volunteer Al Schafer (back) and Jon Helminiak, executive director of the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin, place a plaque dedicated to Hmong veteran aviators next to the insignia of the Royal Laotian Air Force on a T-28 plane used to train Hmong pilots during the Vietnam War. – Image credit: Mark Hoffman
Koua Xiong flew 2,562 combat missions over Laos in a T-28 propeller plane. He later immigrated to America with his family after the Vietnam War and will attend Saturday’s dedication of a memorial to Hmong pilots at the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin in Sheboygan Falls. – Image credit: Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin
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