Snowden and Assange – Heroes or Criminals?

Edward Snowden – Wikipedia
Edward Snowden

Norsk PEN til stede under rettssaken mot Julian Assange - Norsk PEN
Julian Assange


What do these men have in common?

Julian Assange is the head of WikiLeaks and faces a harsh prison sentence in the USA if he were to be extradited from Britain. He released over 750,000 documents which showed corruption and human rights abuse at the hands of the American government in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as at the prison camp on Guantánamo. The documents were given to him by private Chelsea Manning, who was arrested in 2010 and served 7 years in prison. Just yesterday, a British court decided against extraditing Assange, on the grounds of his mental health.
Edward Snowden is a former contractor for the National Security Agency who in 2013 transmitted to journalists 1.7 million classified documents detailing NSA online surveillance of American citizens. He was charged under the Espionage Act, but gained asylum in Russia.

So, are these people heroes or criminals? How crucial is it for a democracy to have whistleblowers? And where is the line between warning the public and exposing wrongs on the one side and breaking the law and putting your country at risk on the other? What is more important, freedom of speech and the right to privacy, or loyalty to your employer and country? And what costs does this come with for the individual who has to make that choice?

A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.

A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/04/uk/julian-assange-extradition-wikileaks-us-gbr-intl/index.html

Group project: Foreign media

Press freedom and journalistic independence are values that democratic societies cherish. Unfortunately, too many countries do not respect these values.  Today we will look at press freedom in the world. Each group will be allotted a country. Spend the rest of the lesson doing research on this country’s treatment of the media, and condition and status of free press.

In the groups make a Prezi or Google presentation of media usage in the country you have been researching. Use the websites Reporters Without Borders (https://rsf.org/en and https://rsf.org/en/ranking) and Committee to Protect Journalists (https://cpj.org/). You may use other sources as well. If you come across specific stories about journalists/bloggers/ others who have somehow been punished for their involvement in and use of media, tell us! Be ready to present your findings at 14:00 today.  

Group Erika: Hong Kong

Group William: Brazil

Group Victoria: Russia

Group Verner: Egypt

Group Dejen: India

Group Øystein: South Africa

Find out:

  • do they have a free press or any kind of censorship? Why/why not?
  • do they have state media or not? What could be the importance of this?
  • What are the biggest newsproviding media in this country?
  • Who owns these media?
  • How many use these?
  • Are they politically minded – liberal, conservative etc? If so, how is this seen?
  • Find at least two of the biggest newsproviding media in this country and look at their frontpages: compare headlines, choice of causes, focus, read a story from each and comment on the journalism. Also, find them on social media; check out their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram account. How are they on social media? Many followers? What kind of profile do they have here? What kind of cases are their fronting on their social media?

Hanna

One story, many truths?

How has president Trump met the Covid-19 pandemic? Fox reports that his vice president could not have been more proud, Alternet repeats allegations of him being a mass murderer, while the New York Times asks questions. How can the same issue cause so different “truths?” And what is true?

Keeping the five C’s in mind (context, credibility, corroboration, construction and compare) – visit the three links above and read/watch how the different news outlets respond to how Trump has handled the pandemic.

Then, use the post-its you have been given to answer the questions below. One post it per answer, and then put up your post its around the classroom.

  1. how do the different articles portray Trump’s reaction to the pandemic?
  2. What adjectives/loaded words are used in the different articles?
  3. Can you tell which article is more liberal and which is more conservative? How
  4. Which of the articles were easiest to read? Why?
  5. Which of the articles do you find most believable? Why?
  • Hanna

The Election in the USA and Global Issues

As Election Day in the USA is approaching, what does it matter to the rest of the world who becomes the next American president? Here’s a look at how global issues will be affected: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/10/22/926692628/trump-and-biden-on-global-issues-from-reproductive-rights-to-refugees

In the news: Protests in Nigeria

During the last few weeks, protests against police violence and the treatment of certain groups have developed in Nigeria. Find out more here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54666368

Social media has played a big role in the protests and spreading information. However, there have also been fake or false news stories circulating: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54628292

What do you think about social media’s role in spreading awareness about such issues and protests, and in what ways can it be damaging when false accounts of such protests are spread in the media?

What does this cartoon tell you about the government’s response to the protests?

Migration and Refugees

  1. Take a look at what the refugee situation is like in the world today: https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html?fbclid=IwAR2v8SbIQQMRbPf66tUb8O60mcZm2ERhqGm9A5aqu7bguZY7at0Tcl263X4

2. Work in pairs. One person reads up on migration, the other on refugees. Take turns telling each other what you found out:

https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/migration/index.html

https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/refugees/

You should also check out The International Organization on Migration:: https://www.iom.int/

3. Read the two texts below:

Warsan Shire: “Home”: https://medium.com/poem-of-the-day/warsan-shire-home-46630fcc90ab

Discuss what they tell you about the issues of migration and refugees. What thoughts do these texts provoke in you?

Warshan Shire has said it is important to her to “tell the stories of those people, especially refugees and immigrants, that otherwise wouldn’t be told, or told inaccurately.” What do you think she means by this? Does she succeed in doing so with her poem? Give examples from the text. Can you find similar examples from the other text you read?

4. Immigrant Posters: Discuss these posters and the message they send:

Erin Wright - Posters Without Borders - International Immigration Poster  Exhibition
https://posterswithoutborders.com/Erin-Wright Immigration Posters | Redbubble

No human being is illegal Poster
Australian government's anti-immigrant poster shocks planet (VIDEO) |  IrishCentral.com
Australia government poster from 2014

5. The situation in Moria

Read this article to find out more about the situation in Moria after the fire: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/09/12/greeces-moria-camp-fire-whats-next

Watch this video:

  • Why are women and girls especially at risk?
  • What do you think Europe should do about the situation in this and other refugee camps? Discuss in your groups.

6. The artist Banksy has donated a lot of art and even a ship to the cause of helping refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.

https://www.myartbroker.com/blog/banksy-the-benevolent-10-times-banksy-has-done-something-for-charity/

What do you think about this kind of activism, combining art, creation of awareness and collecting money for a cause?

In the news: US says it won’t join WHO-linked effort to develop and distribute corona vaccine

Discussion questions:

  • What is the WHO, and why has the Trump administration withdrawn its support for this organization?
  • What implications do you think it will have if the US does not cooperate with the WHO on developing a vaccine?

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/coronavirus-vaccine-trump/2020/09/01/b44b42be-e965-11ea-bf44-0d31c85838a5_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2Ngev7feziafMX3l7UKmZxbeloZ06VAlv1BNpBblN8nZLTG8UvLxnaZNE

Climate changes affect indigenous cultures

Watch this 15-minute video produced by the Guardian and read this article from the same news source detailing how some indigenous peoples experience changes to their culture due to effects of climate changes.

What challenges and benefits do the people on Greenland experience because of climate changes? And while Aboriginal Australians may have the same core problem, given their vastly different physiography the effects are even more devastating. Add governmental obstructions, for instance when it comes to infrastructure, into the equation, and it is hard to see any benefits from climate changes like the Greenlanders do. So what challenges do the people of Australia’s Northern Territory face because of climate changes?

Hilde

Sources:

In the news:  New species, some under threat even before they were discovered

Kew scientists have officially given 110 new species scientific names in the course of 2019, this Guardian article reveals. Among these 102 plants and eight fungi are species that can change medicine. One has the ability to trick our taste buds. Another has been used for centuries to treat arthritis. It has only this year been given a formal scientific name, and seems also to have abilities to combat cancer.

According to the article, “[t]here are almost 400,000 known species of plant, and about 2,000 new species are named every year”. Yet with their habitats being under threat due to a variety of dangers, the world is at risk of losing them before the species are even discovered, registered, named, or measures being taken to protect them.

Reflecting on all the undiscovered species still out there and all the potential they hold, particularly within medicine, should we not do more to protect them from becoming extinct? Should we not rage against the forest fires raging in several parts of the world, whether or not the destruction is deliberate? Should we not protest dam projects that could potentially wipe out an entire species? Should we not reflect around our own and our governments’ values and actions (or inaction), in the hopes of preserving nature?

In the news: Time Person of the Year 2019

Time Person of the Year is annually awarded to the person who “for better or worse […] has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Could there be a more deserving winner for 2019 than Greta Thunberg? Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in his announcement: “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.”Time magazine cover with Greta Thunberg

Congratulations!