Iranian youth get app to dodge morality police

  • 9 February 2016
Ershad graphic Image copyright Gershad
Image caption If Iranians get on the wrong side of an Ershad patrol their evening out can end very fast.

An anonymous team of Iranian app developers have come up with a solution to help young fashion conscious Iranians avoid the country's notorious morality police known in Persian as "Ershad" or guidance.

Ershad's mobile checkpoints which usually consist of a van, a few bearded men and one or two women in black chadors, are deployed in towns across Iran and appear with no notice.

Ershad personnel have a very extensive list of powers ranging from issuing warnings and forcing those they accuse of violating Iran's Islamic code of conduct, to make a written statement pledging to never do so again, to fines or even prosecuting offenders.

The new phone app which is called "Gershad" (probably meaning get around Ershad instead of facing them) however, will alert users to checkpoints and help them to avoid them by choosing a different route.

The data for the app is crowdsourced. It relies on users to point out the location of the Ershad vans on maps and when a sufficient number of users point out the same point, an alert will show up on the map for other users. When the number decreases, the alert will fade gradually from the map.

Image copyright Twitter/@nima
Image caption The app uses data from users to pinpoint where mobile checkpoints have been placed.

Read full article Iranian youth get app to dodge morality police

'We are not criminals' Nigerians tell their president

  • 9 February 2016
President Buhari Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Buhari has made no effort to backtrack on his remarks.

It's the home of the "419" scam - the infamous online swindle named after a Nigerian anti-fraud law - and it's no secret that this country's international reputation has been tainted by allegations of criminality.

But it's not something Nigerians expected to hear from the mouth of their president himself, especially while he was on an official visit to the UK.

Read full article 'We are not criminals' Nigerians tell their president

Leaflets pulled due to boob over Bobby

  • 8 February 2016
Mary Lou McDonald campaign leaflet Image copyright Twitter/@MaiaDunphy
Image caption Mary Lou McDonald's campaign leaflet has been taken out of circulation - but only after being picked up on social media

As unfortunate typos go it could have hardly been worse.

The Republic of Ireland is currently a few days into a general election campaign that is taking place amid the backdrop of the hundredth anniversary of the Easter 1916 rising.

Read full article Leaflets pulled due to boob over Bobby

'Armani Communist' divides China

  • 6 February 2016
Male student with his mother attending a government meeting in China. Image copyright
Image caption Liu Bo's mother said the suit was a gift from the organiser of a concert he performed at.

When Liu Bo attended a regional communist party event as the official ambassador of local students it wasn't his youthful demeanour which made the biggest impression.

Nor was it the remarks which the 14-year-old made to the Shenzhen People's Political Consultative Conference, calling for the greater use of non-exam based assessments in the Chinese education system.

Read full article 'Armani Communist' divides China

Madonna causes a commotion in Taiwan

  • 5 February 2016
Madonna post status on Facebook Image copyright Facebook/Madonna
Image caption For many Taiwanese the star design surrounding the singer is a symbol of historical oppression.

Madonna is no stranger to controversy, but her attempts to endear herself to both Taiwan and China could well be her most misjudged foray into Asia since starring in the movie Shanghai Surprise.

The singer has managed to alienate fans in both of the two rival nations by her use of symbols and flags on the latest stage of her 'Rebel Heart' tour.

Read full article Madonna causes a commotion in Taiwan

PM left red nosed by censorship protest

  • 3 February 2016
PM as clown Image copyright Facebook/GRUPA
Image caption A portrait that probably won't grace the walls of the prime minister's office

When Malaysian police warned activist and graphic designer Fahmi Reza that his Twitter account was under surveillance after he posted an image of the prime minister, Najib Razak, as a clown, they probably hoped such behaviour would stop.

But then members of an art collective, Grupa posted even more clownish images of the premier to express their solidarity with him and to champion the ideal of free speech.

Read full article PM left red nosed by censorship protest

Internet anger after former police brutality victim found dead in her cell

  • 3 February 2016
Security camera photo Image copyright Neumans
Image caption The PC who assaulted Ms Reed in 2012 was later dismissed from the Met

In 2012, Sarah Reed was the victim of an assault by a police officer. Her death in a prison cell last month has prompted a surge of online grief and anger, driven by black British Twitter users.

Sarah Reed, 30, lived a life punctuated by tragic events. Her newborn baby died in 2003, and she suffered from mental health problems and drug addiction. In November 2012, she was arrested, and ultimately convicted, for shoplifting in Regent Street in London. A CCTV video showed her being kicked, punched and being pinned to the ground by Metropolitan Police PC James Kiddie, 46. He was found guilty of common assault, given 150 hours of community service and dismissed from the force.

Image copyright Twitter/@Writersof Colour

Read full article Internet anger after former police brutality victim found dead in her cell

'We are very sorry but Denmark is not such a bad place'

  • 3 February 2016
Image of the Danish Queen smoking Image copyright Facebook/DR3
Image caption 'Our Queen smokes and her husband doesn't work.'

"Hello world, we are very sorry but Denmark is not such a bad place!"

So begins a satirical video created by the Danish state TV Channel DR3 with the aim of doing something about the country's recent "bad reputation". It follows widespread international condemnation of the Danish parliament's decision to pass a controversial bill which allows the government to confiscate some valuables from incoming refugees to cover the cost of housing and feeding them.

Read full article 'We are very sorry but Denmark is not such a bad place'

'Boycott death boats'

  • 1 February 2016
Boy held aloft from sea Image copyright Facebook/Nour Aleman
Image caption This photo was posted on the Facebook page on 25th January with a caption urging people not to attempt sea crossings until Summer

"Please, warn the migrants not to take to the sea between Greece and Turkey, there are swirls in the sea and high waves that can bring ships down and the temperatures are really low too...Those who have decided to migrate, wait for the Summer. Boycott death boats."

This was the message posted in Arabic on a Facebook page set up by Syrians to help other Syrians, who are contemplating making the treacherous sea journey to northern Europe. It accompanied a photo showing men desperately swimming around a perilously overloaded dinghy onboard which a child is being held aloft to keep them safe.

Read full article 'Boycott death boats'

Instagram imams are unlikely online hit

  • 1 February 2016
Photos of clergymen in public Image copyright Instagram/@talabehtoday

They shoot hoops with schoolgirls, pose with Christmas trees to wish seasons greetings to Christians and even make the tea. These are not images of Iranian clerics which the world is so used to seeing.

But an Instagram account that posts pictures of Islamic scholars in everyday situations has become a social media success in Iran and has more than 12,000 followers.

Read full article Instagram imams are unlikely online hit