Author: Friends of The Fifth Column

Broadband to the Wilderness: SpaceX to Provide Global Gigabit Speed Internet

SpaceX has announced plans to launch over four thousand satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide the world with super-fast internet, according to a recent regulatory filing.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company outlined plans to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create global broadband network by launching 4,425 satellites into space. The first deployment will entail 800 satellites, intended only for connectivity in the US. The global remainder will be launched at a later date. Currently, some 1,400 satellites orbit the Earth, in varying stages of usefulness and repair.

Forward the Commons! A unifying political vision for Europe

The idea of the commons offers the possibility to fundamentally change something without a revolution. This is what we will put forward at the European Commons Assembly in Brussels, November 15-17.

From November 15 to 17 the European Commons Assembly will meet in Brussels. It will be the first meeting of a dynamic coalition that has come together over the space of just a few months since its incipient meeting in Paris.

The assembly of ‘commoners’: of citizen initiatives, of activists and social innovators will be hosted in the European Parliament by the multi party Intergroup on Common Goods & Public Services chaired by the Portuguese MEP, Marisa Mattias.

Bahrain: Critic of UK Royals’ Visit Faces Charges

Leading Activist Said Trip Could ‘Whitewash’ Government Abuses

Bahraini authorities have charged a prominent political activist with “inciting hatred of the political system” after he criticized Bahrain’s government and the November 8 to 11, 2016, visit to Bahrain by Britain’s Prince Charles. The charge against Ebrahim Sharif, former leader of the National Democratic Action Society, carries a prison term of up to three years and is a clear violation of his right to free expression.

On November 11, an Associated Press article reported that the Prince of Wales had made a state visit to Bahrain, part of a seven-day tour of the Gulf undertaken at the request of the British government. The article quotes Sharif expressing concerns that the visit could “whitewash” Bahrain’s human rights situation and the government’s “absolute power.” The Bahrain News Agency said in a November 13 statement that Sharif, had “defamed Bahrain’s constitutional system,” even though Bahrain’s 2002 constitution states that “everyone has the right to express his opinion and publish it by word of mouth.”

COP22: why climate justice must also be a struggle for sovereignty

‘What would you die for?’ The question isn’t heard often at the UN Climate Negotiations, but it did break into the halls of power on Thursday 17 November. It was posed by indigenous youth delegate Niria Alicia Garcia Torres.’Tell me, what is it you would die for? And what do you stand for?’

These same questions are guiding the hearts of protestors on the treaty lands of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, USA. Members of over 200 tribes and thousands of allies have gathered over the past seven months to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline, facing off militarized police, sound cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray and attack dogs to defend their lives, land and water from a 1,172-mile oil pipeline, which they call the ‘black snake’.

R380,000 grant for community food gardens spent on hotel bills

National Development Agency to file complaint with police against Khayelitsha Development Forum

The National Development Agency (NDA) is to open a case with the police against the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) over the alleged misuse of funds.

The agency will open a case with SAPS after efforts to get cooperation from the KDF failed, NDA Chief Operating Officer Dr Anthony Bouwer told GroundUp this week.

U.K. WOMAN WHO WAS RAPED IN DUBAI CHARGED WITH ‘EXTRAMARITAL SEX’

A British woman reported her alleged gang rape in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only to end up being charged with ‘extramarital sex’ as her attackers were released on bail.

The victim works as an IT consultant in the united gulf kingdoms, which is primarily populated by people not originally from the Islamic theocracy. Despite the fact that Emirates only make up around 11% of the population, the country is still governed under strict Islamic law similar to that of their neighbor, Saudi Arabia.

The unnamed woman was allegedly raped by two other U.K. expats. She reported the incident to the authorities in Dubai but then was later served with the charge of extramarital sex and has to be bailed out of police custody. Her passport was seized as she tried to board a flight for Australia, so she can’t leave the country while awaiting trial.

CUBA, Sí

It is still naive to think that the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba are now on a nice glideslope with respect to trade and tourism between the two countries. Similar naive assumptions were made regarding Russia, thinking that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia would naturally take its place in the community of nations. Things did not really pan out that way.

While Cuba is opening its door to the free world, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. Cuba refused humanitarian assistance from the Archdiocese of Miami to aid victims of Hurricane Matthew rebuilding in Eastern Cuba, while accepting aid from Japan. Flights to Cuba on American carriers are half full. And American businesses report they are still preparing to do business with Cuba, not actually doing business. Cuba’s economic growth remains slow, with Venezuelan subsidies decreasing and the “peace dividend” from improved relations with the U.S. hasn’t happened yet. The U.S. – Cuba relationship is not a full blown one yet in the economic, diplomatic, or cultural sense, the lifting of the limit on Cuban cigars notwithstanding.

Crimea: freedom of speech turns to freedom of silence

Crimea has had no independent media for two and a half years now — a Crimean journalist speaks about the situation on condition of anonymity.

The author, a Crimean journalist, has requested that we publish this article anonymously.

In March 2014, after the referendum on Crimea’s “unification” with Russia that was not recognised beyond the latter’s borders, Ukrainian legislation was gradually squeezed out by Russian law. The official transition period was supposed to end on 1 January 2015, but there were exceptions in some areas. Free registration for Crimea’s media companies by Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor was, for example, extended to 1 April of that year. Crimean media could effectively continue to function up until then, but many found their access to government bodies already closed and officials refusing to talk to them.

Kazakhstan Introducing Compulsory Fingerprinting Program

Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry has said it plans to create a national fingerprint database that would include details on all the country’s citizens by 2021. Deputy Interior Minister Rashid Zhakupov said on November 15 that the initiative will cost 36.8 billion tenge ($107 million).

Submitting fingerprints within the coming four years is to be made compulsory, news website Vlast.kz reported.

“Including fingerprints in identification documents will allow for 100 percent certainty in identification. This will facilitate passage through border controls,” said Serik Sayinov, head of the Interior Ministry’s migration department.

Gambia: Three Journalists Arrested as Campaign Begins

Media Freedom Crucial Prior to December 1 Election

Gambian authorities arbitrarily detained three journalists just days before the November 16 start of the two-week presidential election campaign, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should appropriately charge or release the journalists and ensure that Gambian and international media can operate without fear of harassment or arbitrary arrest.

On November 8, officials from Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) arrested the director-general of Gambia’s state television and radio broadcaster, Momodou Sabally, along with his colleague Bakary Fatty. NIA officers arrested Alhagie Manka, an independent photojournalist, on November 10. All three have yet to appear in court, in violation of Gambian law.

Nothing is simple in Palestine

Almost nothing in Palestine is what you expect for the most part. And, this is so true of the negative things you see. No matter how bad you think things are or expect them to be, you are almost always guaranteed that they will be worse (usually much worse) when you actually see them. And if you tell people the truth you may be thought to be making things up. But, this is Palestine and things are this unbelievable and this bad. This was true today for me (to put it mildly). Part of our team was invited by an “inspector” from the United Nations office based here in Al Khalil to go to a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills where a demolition took place yesterda

Hundreds of Haitians stuck in Mexico waiting to cross the border

At this busy border crossing Wilmer Salomon waited with a dozen other Haitian people to put his name on a list for an appointment with U.S. immigration officials.

Mexico has served as a liaison for desperate Haitians trying to reach the U.S. There are at least 4,000 Haitians in San Diego according to humanitarian organizations. In Nogales, more than 160 Haitians have signed up for appointments with U.S. authorities according to a Mexican immigration official.

“I know getting to the United States won’t be easy, but only then I’ll be satisfied,” Salomon said in French. Back in Haiti he worked as an auto mechanic but struggled to provide for his wife and two children. So Salomon left for Brazil in 2015 and planned to send money back to support his family. Brazil offered legal residency to 50,000 Haitians after the 2010 earthquake.

India’s War on Cash

This past Tuesday, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, made an announcement that the existing ₹500 and ₹1000 currency notes would cease to be legal tender. The result was widespread chaos. People rushed to ATMs to withdraw smaller denomination notes, or to banks to get the old notes exchanged. The lines were long (even resulting in scuffles and stampedes). The ATMs quickly ran out of cash, and banks failed to supply enough notes.

People were unable to shop for basic things such as groceries and food. An 8-year old girl died, because her father could not get her to the hospital, since the petrol pump attendant refused to accept a ₹1000 note (which is essentially paper now).

This is just a small fraction of the horror stories from across India. The government has reintroduced these notes with a different design and added a new ₹2000 note. But what was the wisdom behind this whole exercise and making people suffer so much? Here are the excuses given by the government.

China, Iran Ink Military Pact as Tehran Looks at $10 Billion Deal With Moscow

As Iran prepares for a Trump presidency in Washington, Beijing and Tehran signed a cooperation agreement Monday to conduct joint military drills and “create a collective movement to confront” the threat of terrorism, according to Iran state television.

The two nations have been strengthening their military relationship in the last few years, sending naval ships to each other’s ports, helping to set the stage for the pact to be signed by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and his Iranian counterpart General Hossein Dehghan.

Iranian outlet Tasnim News quoted Dehghan describing the collaboration as an “upgrade in long-term military and defense cooperation with China.”

Greek Police Clash with Demonstrators Protesting Obama’s Visit to Athens

Leftist demonstrators protesting against US President Barack Obama’s visit to Athens clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse the crowd as people tried to break through cordons.

Some 7,000 people took to the streets of central Athens on Tuesday to protest Obama’s visit to the Greek capital. The demonstrators initially planned to walk all the way to the US Embassy located in another part of the city, but the procession was disrupted as protesters clashed with police officers.

“We don’t need protectors!” one of the banners carried by the demonstrators read. Some could be heard exclaiming: “Yankees go home!”