A Question of Personhood

Published on Jun 7, 2014

In this corner, you and I… we, the fed up people, we “Natural Persons”. In that corner, the national/multi-national corporations, aka, “the Corporate Person”, claiming the Constitutional rights our nation’s founders only intended for we humans… not for business’s, not for corporate entities.
Will Democracy prevail… or will the fictional “Corporate Person” become the sovereign all powerful entity it legislates to become?
It comes down to a “Question of Personhood”, it comes down to you and I actively participating and putting the corporate entity back in it’s bottle, under the control of we, the real people.

The CO and I had a heart to heart later in the day. He was predictably patronizing as he dressed me down and I dutifully groveled smoothing his ego. Guard ego management is the number one skill all inmates learn.

Allan Lummus, My Mind As My Teacher, Between the Bars.

Lummus is an inmate who writes for Between the Bars, a weblog platform for people in prison. It’s an incredible project by the MIT Center for Civic Media. Some background:

Between the Bars is a weblog platform for people in prison, through which the 1% of America which is behind bars can tell their stories. Since people in prison are routinely denied access to the Internet, we enable them to blog by scanning letters. We aim to provide a positive outlet for creativity, a tool to assist in the maintenance of social safety nets, an opportunity to forge connections between people inside and outside of prison, and a means to promote non-criminal identities and personal expression. We hope to improve prisoner’s lives, and help to reduce recidivism.


Citizen Eco-Drive Proximity review: a different kind of smartwatch

Unlike the Pebble, which is essentially the modern equivalent of a calculator watch — useful, but not exactly what you’d call “classy” — Citizen already has cool cornered, and now it wants to quietly slip a gadget underneath. Can it pull it off? And, perhaps more importantly, are Tom Ford, Rolex, Manolo Blahnik, and Tiffany’s about to become the electronics manufacturers to watch? 

The top 19 Rising Voices Microgrants 2013 finalists from Sub-Saharan Africa aim to preserve local culture and empower neglected groups.

The list of finalists from Sub-Saharan Africa:


  • Conn@cting People – will connect rural people (with no electricity neither internet access at all) from a war-displaced camp to the rest of the world


  • Questioning Public Authorities Through Citizen Media – seeks to empower survivors of the 1986 Lake Nyos Gas disaster to bring their voices to the global community
  • Voicing Out To Release Post Conflict Trauma – will use different media to enable victims of the recurrent inter-tribal land use resources conflicts between the villages of Oku and Mbessa in the North West Region of Cameroon to expose their never considered grievances in solving the conflict
  • We know. Let the World Know Too – plans to mobilize, train and equip 25 youths with skills and materials for grassroots social media utilization for blogging in Bangem Subdivision


  • Girls Community Digital Desk Project – aimed at promoting the voices of young girls born with HIV through online media
  • The Maasai Woman Diary – Maasai women need to be educated on the opportunities and benefits that come with the new Kenyan system of governance
  • WOES-Walking on Egg Shells – seeks to promote progressive re-integration of former prisoners in their communities by blogging their struggles to fit in


  • Popular Memory – is about documenting the oral history of the country and to make it available online


  • Mapping for Niger – will create a volunteer technical community by training and mobilizing Nigerien students to increase inclusive information sharing in crisis preparedness through targeted digital capacity building


South Africa:

  • Crowdmapping Environmental Health – to enable the community Hospital Hills, an informal settlement in Johannesburg, to raise awareness and support to address the diverse environmental health challenges facing them


  • Artists Go Public – will provide local artists with a platform to promote themselves, their work, and their creative process to a greater public


  • #TweepsHelpBududa Experience – proposes a unique program to teach and encourage the youth from Bugisu who were affected by the landslides to use social media to call for social change through citizen media training workshops
  • Community Reporters’ Hub & Clinic – where returnees to Acholi Subregion will gather to get free professional hands-on training on how to use digital cameras, the internet, and learn the basics of blogging
  • Female Documentary Film Training on Women Advocacy and Women’s Rights – to enlighten and awaken women to acquire skills on how to support women rights activism in their society
  • Right To Speak Ik – will mobilize, build capacity and create awareness for a handful of remaining Ik speakers in Uganda’s remotest region of Karamoja to use digital technologies


  • Lekeni Nsose (Let Me Speak Out) – will train the disabled and those serving them in citizen journalism and give them a platform to speak out to the wider community


She was abducted at gunpoint and taken blindfolded to a deserted area. She was then ordered to undress partially as several men threatened to rape and kill her. Afterwards, she was told this was all a joke.

Nazira Aytbekova, a prominent television presenter in Kyrgyzstan, has brought criminal charges against tabloid journalists who abducted and threatened to kill her as a ‘practical joke’ for their newspaper.

The ‘mock abduction’ triggered a flurry of angry comments on news forum and in social media.

The most absurd thing is that had Aytbekova not raised a fuss [over the incident], the readers would have simply giggled when reading the ‘practical joke’ published in the newspaper. 

Read more Kyrgyz reactions  on Global Voices.


Daily Kos: The traditional media’s shoddy reporting on the Keystone XL pipeline is no surprise
April 21, 2013

It’s no secret that the traditional media have done a horrendous job on climate change, ignoring it or misreporting it, even in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus, and even as the real world impacts continue and accelerate. In 2012, coverage of climate change dropped to a four year low on the Sunday talk shows, with not one person quoted being an actual scientist. Of course, when the science is so convincing, it’s difficult for the traditional media to play their usual game of creating false debates where there aren’t any real ones. On broadcast television, overall, coverage of climate change has plummeted, while newspaper coverage was no better, with climate deniers receiving more attention in the United States and the United Kingdom than in other countries, regardless of the ideological leanings of the specific papers. Which is to be expected, particularly given that the climate change deniers are so well-funded.

So, with President Obama soon to make a decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it is no surprise to learn that the traditional media once again are living up to their horrendous standards. Media Matters has the story:

Television outlets overlooked the threat of Keystone XL to the sensitive ecosystems along the pipeline route, mentioning the risk of a spill in just 20 percent of coverage since Election Day, November 6, 2012. Meanwhile, 43 percent of television coverage promoted the jobs benefits of the pipeline, and 27 percent incorrectly suggested it would reduce our dependence on Middle East oil.

And making it even worse is that the supposed jobs benefits themselves are wildly overstated. As I wrote last month, regarding the State Department’s shamefully dishonest Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline:

The earlier Environmental Impact Statement estimated no more than 500 to 900 local jobs would be created throughout the entire construction throughout the entire region, and the new SEIS estimates no more than a few dozen permanent jobs, once the pipeline has been built. A 2011 study by the Cornell Global Labor Institute found that Keystone may actually destroy more jobs than it creates, and of course neither the fossil fuels industries, nor apparently the State Department that outsourced the SEIS to the fossil fuels industry, seems to care that the pipeline will damage the economy, overall.

So, of course the traditional media coverage would focus their coverage on what the dishonest supporters of Keystone want them to focus on, despite of its dishonesty. And as the Media Matters report explains, even though a tar sands pipeline recently ruptured in Arkansas, dumping thousands of gallons of oil into a residential neighborhood and wilderness area, the media coverage of Keystone did not then increase its discussion of spill risks, and the coverage by ABC, CBS and Fox didn’t even bother to mention that Keystone would carry the same type of heavy crude. And of course, both Murdoch-owned Fox and the Wall Street Journal minimized the pipeline’s climate impact, hardly ever mentioning it, and at times flat out dismissing it. On Fox, 76 percent of those quoted support the pipeline, and only 13 percent oppose it, and not one of the politicians quoted or hosted by Fox— only one of whom, other than the president, is a Democrat—opposed it.

As for the overall reporting on Keystone’s impact on climate change? Media Matters:

Scientists accounted for less than 1 percent of those hosted or quoted by TV outlets and less than 4 percent of those quoted by the major papers. CNN was the only television outlet to quote a scientist about the pipeline, and it was Patrick Michaels – a prominent climate contrarian who receives funding from the oil industry. The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal did not quote a single scientist.

That might just be because so many prominent climate scientists oppose the pipeline, including John Abraham, David Archer, Jason Box, Ken Caldeira, James Hansen, John Harte, Ralph Keeling, Michael MacCracken, Michael Mann, James McCarthy, Michael Oppenheimer, Mauri Pelto, Raymond Pierrehumbert, Alan Robock, Terry Root, Ted Scambos, Richard Somerville and George Woodwell. As usual, the problem with traditional media coverage of anything related to climate change is that science is subjugated to the false political narrative that creates debates and controversies where there aren’t any.

If the traditional media were professional and honorable, they would research and report facts, as accurately as possible. On questions of science, they would talk to scientists. When talking to scientists, they would not give equal or even more time to those whose opinions are in a teeny tiny minority. But on climate issues, the traditional media are not professional and honorable, they almost never talk to scientists, and when they do talk to scientists they give wildly disproportionate coverage to the opinions of those who are so marginal and discredited as to be no better than flat-Earthers.

Appropriately and with great timing, this year’s Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting went not to any traditional media outlet, but to the online site InsideClimate News, “for their rigorous reports on flawed regulation of the nation’s oil pipelines, focusing on potential ecological dangers posed by diluted bitumen (or ‘dilbit’), a controversial form of oil.” InsideClimate has an entire page dedicated to Keystone, tar sands, and oil sands. The information is plentiful, even if the traditional media choose to ignore or distort it.

What should be good news is that the decision on Keystone lies in the hands of one man, and he is smart enough and diligent enough to be able to learn and act on the facts. It is up to him. There are no excuses. He can and must do the right thing, even when so many of the usual won’t.


This Week in Social Entrepreneurship

In our “This Week in Social Entrepreneurship” series, each Friday we will feature the top stories in Social Entrepreneurship for the week that we find to be noteworthy, novel, and thought-provoking.  What are your favorite stories this week in Social Entrepreneurship?  Let’s start a discussion!

  • Looking for some great SocEnt events to attend?  On Tuesday, November 15 in Manhattan, the Social Innovators Collective is hosting a workshop that will be useful to any budding social entrepreneur–Generating Revenue: Funding Your Social Enterprise or Nonprofit.  Get inspired with Ashoka–over in Minneapolis on November 16, Ashoka Solutions Forum will conduct a one-hour live interview with Ashoka fellows Molly Barker, Thorkil Sonne and Jim Thompson.  If you live in the Chicago area, don’t miss Founders Night, hosted by The Impact Engine.  If you have an idea you want to transform into a social venture, this event could help you find the team members you are looking to start your journey with.  Aussies, feeling left out from all these great events?  No need to fret–we’ve got something for you too!  Check out the Tools For Change Workshop in New South Wales on December 1.  This workshop will show you new tools you can use to organize and scale your work.
  • Some of the most impact-rich social innovations come from the most unexpected places.  Zoe Fox over at Mashable has uncovered and reported on 6 Philanthropic Innovations From the Most Unexpected Sources.  A twelve-year old named Cassandra Lin started a recycling program called Turn Grease into Fuel.  She found a way to take the food grease from restaurants and use it to heat the homes of community members that can’t typically afford this expense.  MIT students started a program called A Liter of Light. It uses soda bottles–pushed through metal roofing–to light homes, either providing people with access to light or reducing the electricity bills to those with access.  Waste2Watts has embarked upon its flagship program called ENZI Interface.  It uses recycled e-waste (old laptop power supplies, batteries, etc.) to provide an uninterrupted power source to people living in parts of the world that experience frequent blackouts.  The Embrace infant warmer can replace ultra-expensive incubators.  The Embrace infant warmer, unlike an incubator, is affordable and keeps babies warm without any electricity.  The Paradigm Project has discovered a safer and more sanitary way to cook for people living in rural Africa.  Rather than cook over an open fire, they are encouraged to use the Rocket Stove.  The Rocket Stove is not only safer, but it also reduces deforestation because it doesn’t require wood to cook.  NCR Corp. is making banking more accessible by creating a low-text ATM machine that can be used without confusion by people who are illiterate or by people who live in countries where many dialects are used.  All six of these ideas have the potential to impact large populations of underserved people around the world. 
  • Now is your chance to Vote for Your Favorite Finalist in Citizen Media.  Finalists for Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition, represent some of the most promising ideas for increasing media access and global participation.  To help you decide, you can read about the finalists’ work with the Citizen Media Toolkit (coming soon) or watch their videos.  Voting closes on November 23 and winners are announced on November 28.  Who will get your vote?
  • The Huffington Post has a new section–Huff Post Water–bringing light to clean water issues faced around the world.  News from this section will be covered by–a very well-known non-profit that provides safe drinking water and sanitation to residents in developing countries.

Last but not least, our featured SocEnt news story this week:

Solved is a new campaign in Australia launched by the Australian Center for Social Innovation that searches the nation for solutions that work.  So… Why Solved?? Let’s hear from a member of the Solved team:

“Sometimes when tackling social challenges, we focus too much on searching for new ideas or solutions, and overlook things that are already working. Maybe you set up a scheme to help local kids eat a healthy breakfast in Broome, and someone in Newcastle is searching for a way to do just that. By sharing what works on the Solved map, we hope these solutions can help more people across Australia.

Big or small, it doesn’t matter. It can be something done by an organization, or one person. My dad did a lot of work to help build a Men’s Shed in Sheffield, Tasmania to create a place for men to get together, and overcome loneliness, social isolation and depression. The work my dad did, and the impact it’s having on people in his town, is what inspired me to create Solved.

Solutions to social problems are worth celebrating and worth sharing. It’s a great opportunity for people or organisations doing good stuff to let people know about it - or to give a shoutout to their favorite local solution.”

Check out Solved, follow Solved on Twitter, and Like Solved on Facebook. Most importantly, if you have seen or done something that is helping–let Solved know!!
Social entrepreneurs, has all this great SocEnt news inspired you to start your own good?  Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off?  Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today.  Still have questions?  We have answers—check out our FAQ section. 


Police in Washington state are asking the public to stop tweeting during shootings and manhunts to avoid accidentally telling the bad guys what officers are doing.

The “TweetSmart” campaign began in late July by a coalition of nine agencies, including the Washington state patrol and the Seattle police, and aims to raise awareness about social media’s potential impact on law enforcement.

Some have called the effort a step that could lead to censorship; others dismissed it as silly. Police, however, say it’s just a reminder at a time when cell phones and social networks can hasten the lightning-quick spread of information.

A social media expert at the International Association of Chiefs of Police said she’s unaware of similar awareness campaigns elsewhere but the problem that prompted the outreach is growing.

“All members of the public may not understand the implications of tweeting out a picture of SWAT team activity,” said Nancy Korb, who oversees the Alexandria, Virginia, organization’s Center for Social Media.

Korb said she is not aware of any social media post that has led to the injury of a police officer, but she said there have been a few close calls. Other times, tweets have interfered with investigations.

In those cases, police tweet back and ask people to back off.

How have social media, digital cameras, and amateur photojournalism altered the way photographs capture the everyday, define current events, and steer social and political movements?

With participants from Instagram, WIRED, Magnum Photos, The New York Times Magazine, and more, Bearing Witness on 3/16 will be a photography symposium you won’t want to miss.

RSVP on Facebook.

UPDATE: this event is currently at capacity, but it will be LIVE STREAMED here! Help us spread the word: #BearingWitness.