November 21, 2013
By MARTHA MENDOZA
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — From Google to Facebook to Apple, Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe took a whirlwind tour through Silicon Valley’s most elite tech firms, persuading some of the world’s wealthiest and most successful corporate executives to share support and innovation with the poorest country in the Americas.
“Oh cool!” he said Wednesday, slipping on Google Glass — Internet-connected eyeglasses — at Google Inc.’s headquarters before a cruise in the company’s driverless car.
Lamothe joins a growing stream of politicians, celebrities and CEOs taking these popular roadshows where they do a little business, a little schmoozing and quite a bit of questioning about how technology can change lives.
“Even if we do need water, we need the technology to know the areas where we have issues with water supply in order to create a better inventory,” he said. “Technology can help us bridge the development barrier we have today.”
If there was an opposite of the affluent Silicon Valley, where entire municipalities have free Wi-Fi, it could be impoverished Haiti, where fewer than 1 percent of Haitians are regularly online.
But worlds collided in a conference room at Facebook when Lamothe jumped into a question-and-answer session and watched hundreds of Haitians’ questions pour in.
When Jean Amos Bonhomme, a father of two who lost his home in a devastating 2010 earthquake, typed in that he needs a job and included his phone number, Lamothe shocked the man by calling him directly and asking what his skills were. Bonhomme said he’s a teacher and an accountant, and speaks English. Lamothe told an aide to set up an interview.
“These are the enjoyable times for being prime minister,” said Lamothe, “when I can make a direct difference in a person’s life.”
Although Haiti lacks much infrastructure, there are Internet cafes throughout the capital Port au Prince, and cellphone use is leapfrogging landlines. Some of the millions of dollars of earthquake relief and recovery aid has been spent on trying to get the country wired, including a $3.9 million program launched this fall to deploy 65 miles of optical fiber in the country's southern region.
On Wednesday, Lamothe was sharing his vision for an even more wired Haiti, which begins with gathering data, from mapping all of the health clinics to conducting a census-like count of the population. The country has no ZIP codes and would like to replace its mail address system, which includes mentioning proximity to mango trees or intersections, with geolocation.
At Google, executives agreed to Lamothe’s request to get updated satellite images for Google Earth. Last updated after the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of tents are no longer there, and many new buildings have gone up.
Google also committed to sending servers to Haitian Internet providers that will cache information, and the tech giant re-upped its donation of a package of online services that provide email and other services for more than 3,000 government employees, a benefit that usually costs $50 per person.
At Facebook, he tried out a new app designed especially for political leaders to be closer to their constituents; he liked it, and on Monday after it's installed, he plans to be the first head of state to use it.
While this was Lamothe’s first visit to the tech titans, the Prince of Asturias made the rounds just last week and South Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Ahn Ho-young, swung through in August. The campuses are varied and impressive, with unusual features from Google’s bowling alley to a small Wizard of Oz mock-up of Dorothy’s house at Facebook, complete with smashed witch legs.
“These businesses have a very progressive culture, one that understands that investing in the employees will pay great dividends,” Lamothe said. “They take care of everything — free meals and free snacks — and that leads to being able to get maximum productivity.”
November 21, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday accused Egypt's well-organized Muslim Brotherhood of having "stolen" the revolution that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Speaking at the State Department to leaders of multinational U.S. firms, Kerry said the Islamist group had appropriated the revolt against Mubarak from young people who started it in large part through social media in response to what they saw of other mass protests around the Arab world.
"Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology," he said. "They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world, and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future, and not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more. And they tweeted their ways and FaceTimed their ways and talked to each other, and that's what drove that revolution. And then it got stolen by the one single-most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood."
Kerry's comments are likely to raise eyebrows in Egypt where competing claims of credit for Mubarak's ouster are still a source of major division. Mubarak's ouster led to Egypt's first-ever democratically chosen president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular politicians could not get organized enough to provide a credible contest.
The military toppled Morsi in July claiming that he and Muslim Brotherhood allies were not governing democratically.
The United States has been accused by moderate and secular Egyptians of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, an allegation that Washington denies.
Egypt's military-backed government and its supporters will likely look favorably on Kerry's brief remark, while supporters of Morsi will likely be angered by it.
November 21, 2013
By The Associated Press
President Barack Obama honored 16 prominent Americans Wednesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award the U.S. gives a civilian. The ceremony at the White House opened a day of tributes to former President John F. Kennedy, who established the modern version of the medal but was assassinated 50 years ago this week as the first award ceremony neared.
A look at the individuals receiving the medal:
— Bill Clinton, the 42nd president and former Arkansas governor, who was also recognized for his post-presidency humanitarian work.
—Oprah Winfrey, broadcaster, actress, activist and philanthropist, who was an early supporter of Obama's first presidential campaign.
—Daniel Inouye, former senator from Hawaii, World War II veteran and the first Japanese American in Congress. Inouye received the award posthumously.
—Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post who oversaw the newspaper's coverage of Watergate.
—Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. Ride received the award posthumously.
—Richard Lugar, former senator from Indiana who worked to reduce the global nuclear threat.
—Gloria Steinem, writer and prominent women's rights activist.
—Ernie Banks, baseball player who hit more than 500 home runs and played 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
—Bayard Rustin, civil and gay rights activist and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin received the award posthumously.
—Daniel Kahneman, psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
—Loretta Lynn, country music singer.
—Maria Molina, chemist and environmental scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
—Arturo Sandoval, Grammy-winning jazz musician who was born in Cuba and defected to the U.S.
—Dean Smith, head coach of University of North Carolina's basketball team for 36 years.
—Patricia Wald, first woman appointed to U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and became the court's chief judge.
—C.T. Vivian, civil rights leader and minister.
November 21, 2013
By Cyril Josh Barker
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
As the city moves forward with its fight against the ruling that would put the breaks on the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) pledges to move forward with a lawsuit to throw out the ruling as the city changes mayors.
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg enters the final days of his 12-year reign, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is starting his transition of taking the city into a more progressive direction. With that comes his promise to halt the city’s appeal against the Floyd v. City of New York ruling that would bring sweeping changes to stop-and-frisk.
Also in the mix is U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who made the August ruling. Finally speaking out since the city announced it would file an appeal and removed her from the case, the judge said that press interviews she did portrayed her as one-sided.
“All the interviews identified by the 2nd Circuit were conducted under the express condition that I would not comment on the Floyd case,” she said. “And I did not. Some of the reporters used quotes from written opinions in Floyd that gave the appearance that I had commented on the case.”
Scheindlin added that after reading each interview, no such comments were made.
De Blasio plans to follow through on his word during the campaign to cut out any detours in the path to stopping stop-and-frisk, which gives Bloomberg a month-long window to try and keep the practice going.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for reforms that both keep our communities safe and obey the Constitution. We have to end the overuse of stop-and-frisk, and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect,” de Blasio said.
While time is running out for Bloomberg to follow through with the appeal of the stop-and-frisk ruling, the four police unions, including the PBA, filed a motion last week with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 2nd Circuit to intervene in the case.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said that the potential withdrawal of the city’s challenge will leave police officers and the public without a means to challenge a decision that will have a significant impact on both police operations and public safety.
“These unions, representing the vast majority of the sworn members of the NYPD, previously filed a motion to intervene in the district court, whose decision has since been stayed until the conclusion of this appeal,” he said. “However, the outcome of this appeal will directly affect the reputation of all New York City police officers and the daily activities and collective bargaining rights of 29,000 sworn members of the Police Department, including their training, discipline and their very safety.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Beldock Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling asked the entire 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider their decision by a three-judge 2nd Circuit panel to remove Scheindlin from the Floyd v. City of New York case and their federal class action challenge to the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices.
“The removal of Judge Scheindlin was done by a perfect storm of procedural irregularity. The appellate panel cast aspersions upon the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary—and thus inappropriately cast doubt on her legal rulings—while itself taking an unprecedented step that no party requested, of which no party was notified and without providing the parties an opportunity to be heard,” said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy. “The facts conclusively show that the district judge engaged in no unethical conduct whatsoever and that her decision finding the city liable for widespread constitutional violations and racial profiling is based on overwhelming evidence presented at trial.”