The Caretaker

This is the story of Evelyn Milan (more here), a former drug user who lost her brother after he became infected while sharing needles. Evelyn is now running a needles exchange program in Brooklyn.

I filmed and produced this video for the class I took at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism with Melanie Burford and Eleonore Hamelin in 2014.

Special thanks to Evelyn Milan and Vocal-NY.

UN Report Confirms Diversion of Belgian Weapons to and from Libya

The United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya just released its latest report. 

It contains many interesting points. In investigating the arms flows to and from Libya, the experts have gone further than in their previous reports in 2013 and 2012.

The report points out that “Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons.” Some of those weapons are Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems, or MANPADS.

From Libya to Tunisia:

From Libya to Mali:

From Libya to Chad:

From Libya to the Central African Republic:

The report confirmed previous information that Qatar has made illicit transfers of Belgian rifles to the Libyan rebels. One of the illicit weapons has been intercepted on its way to Syria. 

The rifle documented in the Letfallah II also confirms our tracing methodology.

image

The rifle’s serial number is 1531415. According to the table we are using in the research note published by the Small Arms Survey, the weapon should have been produced somewhere in late 1979. The UN experts write that the rifle was part of an order dated 21 December 1979 and exported from Belgium to Qatar.

Diversions to Mali

The report documents a transfer we worked on last year, regarding the diversion of Belgian PRB NR 160 106 mm projectiles from Libya to Mali. Unfortunately, the lack of records in Belgium does not permit a thorough research.

The Panel also documented transfers of Belgian PRB 60 mm illuminating mortars:

And of FN FAL rifle and FN MAG machine gun:

Here again, our methodology is confirmed. The FAL serial number is 1252901, which indicates a production somewhere in late 1974 (with an order made the year after, in 1975, as indicated in the UN report.)

Diversion to Syria

The Panel also confirmed another story we have been helping on, regarding the diversion of Belgian PRB NR 160 106 mm projectiles from Libya to Syria.

Thanks to this report, we can confirm the tracing methodology further with FN FAL rifles found onboard the Letfallah II and exported by Belgium to Libya in the 70s.

Serial number               Our methodology                    UN Panel

  • 995754                            Made in 1972                Ordered in 1973
  • 1004805                          Made in 1972                Ordered in 1973
  • 1232064                          Made in 1974                Ordered in 1975
  • 1240363                          Made in 1974                Ordered in 1975
  • 1243069                          Made in 1974                Ordered in 1975
  • 1271182                          Made in 1975                Ordered in 1975
I just launched a new student project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
"Tracking C.A.R." is a student observatory of the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic. It gives a digests of the situation on a daily/weekly basis, aggregate the latest news from both French- and English-speaking sources, offers a map, a timeline of major events, links to in-depth documentations, and background on the major players. Comments are more than welcome! 

I just launched a new student project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

"Tracking C.A.R." is a student observatory of the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic. It gives a digests of the situation on a daily/weekly basis, aggregate the latest news from both French- and English-speaking sources, offers a map, a timeline of major events, links to in-depth documentations, and background on the major players. Comments are more than welcome! 

"And Confidential For Government’s Attention Only"

The Belgian Walloon Region has to strike those six words from its most recent arms export law, adopted in June 2012, after today’s Constitutional Court decision (below.)

Arrêt de la Cours Constitutionnelle belge du 19 décembre 2013.

Another part of the law, in which the Government wanted arms export licenses not to be subject to Freedom of Information Law requests, has to be deleted altogether.

The lawsuit was brought by La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, the Belgian human rights organization that already attacked the last export licenses delivered by the Region for a shipment of small arms shipped to Gaddafi in 2009.

More in French in La Libre Belgique tomorrow today.

First live broadcast with Glass



My first 2 minutes of live broadcasting with the Google Glass tonight.

We already know about the photo and video quality of the device. But the weakness of Glass here is counterbalanced by the fact that it becomes a virtually handsfree live broadcasting tool. I still have to test it outside of the wifi range and with a cellular connection.

Glass can record video, but it was not made to broadcast them live. The platform is quite flexible and I explained how I could install some Android applications on it four days ago, here. So I first installed something called Launchy, in order to launch the applications I would put on Glass. Then I installed Settings, in order to control the Bluetooth pairing process.

Applications like Ustream require users to prompt their login and password, but Glass doesn’t come with any way to type anything. So the only solution so far is to pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard. I first tried with an Apple keyboard, then with a Logitech keyboard, but it didn’t work. So, as Dan McLaughlin recommended, I bought a small Favi BT keyboard, which just arrived today in the mail.

image

The pairing process did not work at first but it did after a few attempts. Login and passwords were typed with the keyboard and the “record” button was clicked with the mouse.

Now I can upload and use other applications. Stay tuned for the next developments, and send your ideas here. How would you use Glass in a journalistic perspective?

Exploring new ways of sharing stories
After the Ask Syria project, here’s another little experiment I launched in my exploration of audience and engagement dynamics (also an experiment in business, sort of): The Offer a Story project.
The idea is very simple. You read the lede of a story (here, the story I worked on for Prof. Shapiro’s class) and in order to know what happens next, either you pay one dollar in bitcoins, or you tweet the story to your followers. A buck or a tweet. That simple.
The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.
The story itself is hosted on marquee. A platform showcased during the Tow Center conference on the future of digital long form journalism a few days ago.
Want to give it a try? Why not offer a story for the holidays? It’s only a dollar, or a tweet.
Feedback? Here.

Exploring new ways of sharing stories

After the Ask Syria project, here’s another little experiment I launched in my exploration of audience and engagement dynamics (also an experiment in business, sort of): The Offer a Story project.

The idea is very simple. You read the lede of a story (here, the story I worked on for Prof. Shapiro’s class) and in order to know what happens next, either you pay one dollar in bitcoins, or you tweet the story to your followers. A buck or a tweet. That simple.

The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.

The story itself is hosted on marquee. A platform showcased during the Tow Center conference on the future of digital long form journalism a few days ago.

Want to give it a try? Why not offer a story for the holidays? It’s only a dollar, or a tweet.

Feedback? Here.

Glass, First Sortie

First sortie for the Glass today. Testing the video (above).

  • The quality is far from HD, especially in low light. But it’s quite alright. 
  • The default length is 10 sec., but can be extended by pressing a button.
  • The sound taking might be an issue. Glass doesn’t pick up so well what’s beyond its immediate environment, and it looks like the wind could be a problem, too. 

Taking a few pictures (below.) Good quality. Framing a picture with Glass is not so easy.

cjchivers
cjchivers:

Tribute to a Slain Cameraman.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf on the passing of her friend, Yasser Faisal,  who was killed last week by masked gunmebn in Syria’s Idlib Governorate. An Iraqi with deep experience, he had gone to Syria to cover foreign jihadists, and was hosted in Ildib by one Jabhat al Nusra’s fighting groups, according to a friend who traveled with him inside.
Ms. Arraf wrote:

He’d left Baghdad at the end of November on a flight to Turkey with a new camera, new clothes and boundless confidence. If he’d told his family or friends he was crossing over into Syria they would have tried to stop him.
Once across the Turkish border, a Syrian journalist took him into Idlib province and warned him not to go any further.
"I told him this is not like Iraq – this is a whole other story," says Muhanad Dhugeim who took the photos of Yasser before they parted ways. "He said he could handle it."

She added:

"At their home in Fallujah on Monday, Yasser’s family was still trying to understand why he died. His eldest daughter, Sara, is ten. His youngest children, just four and two, will know him only through stories about him and the legacy of his stories that showed Iraq to the world. 
"I’m glad he died a hero," said Afrah, one of his four sisters.
Yasser was buried in Fallujah, the city he loved, next to Shiekh Khalid al-Jumaily, a leader of the protest movement who was assassinated in Fallujah two weeks ago. A sign at the cemetery reads that 1,200 bodies from the battles of Fallujah in 2004, still unidentified, are buried there.  Yasser survived those battles and all the ones that followed. They believe in fate here. Yasser travelled to meet his in a battle still unfolding.

Many questions surround his killing, which happened after four gunmen stopped the car he was riding in and, in what appears to have been a targeted killing, shot him repeatedly at close range. Who killed him? Why? On whose orders? How did they know precisely where he would be? Why did they kill him and let others in the car live?
Violence against journalists in Syria is worse than in any other recent conflict, according to CPJ.  Many foreign and Syrian journalists have been abducted. A few have been missing more than a year. Others have died on the battlefield, sometimes in suspicious circumstances.
There is no end in sight.
Read the full tribute here, where the photograph, at top, appeared.

cjchivers:

Tribute to a Slain Cameraman.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf on the passing of her friend, Yasser Faisal,  who was killed last week by masked gunmebn in Syria’s Idlib Governorate. An Iraqi with deep experience, he had gone to Syria to cover foreign jihadists, and was hosted in Ildib by one Jabhat al Nusra’s fighting groups, according to a friend who traveled with him inside.

Ms. Arraf wrote:

He’d left Baghdad at the end of November on a flight to Turkey with a new camera, new clothes and boundless confidence. If he’d told his family or friends he was crossing over into Syria they would have tried to stop him.

Once across the Turkish border, a Syrian journalist took him into Idlib province and warned him not to go any further.

"I told him this is not like Iraq – this is a whole other story," says Muhanad Dhugeim who took the photos of Yasser before they parted ways. "He said he could handle it."

She added:

"At their home in Fallujah on Monday, Yasser’s family was still trying to understand why he died. His eldest daughter, Sara, is ten. His youngest children, just four and two, will know him only through stories about him and the legacy of his stories that showed Iraq to the world. 

"I’m glad he died a hero," said Afrah, one of his four sisters.

Yasser was buried in Fallujah, the city he loved, next to Shiekh Khalid al-Jumaily, a leader of the protest movement who was assassinated in Fallujah two weeks ago. A sign at the cemetery reads that 1,200 bodies from the battles of Fallujah in 2004, still unidentified, are buried there.  Yasser survived those battles and all the ones that followed. They believe in fate here. Yasser travelled to meet his in a battle still unfolding.

Many questions surround his killing, which happened after four gunmen stopped the car he was riding in and, in what appears to have been a targeted killing, shot him repeatedly at close range. Who killed him? Why? On whose orders? How did they know precisely where he would be? Why did they kill him and let others in the car live?

Violence against journalists in Syria is worse than in any other recent conflict, according to CPJ.  Many foreign and Syrian journalists have been abducted. A few have been missing more than a year. Others have died on the battlefield, sometimes in suspicious circumstances.

There is no end in sight.

Read the full tribute here, where the photograph, at top, appeared.

GlassLog Day 1
So I just bought the Google Glass. I will try to keep a log of my progress with it, as I’m trying to use it as a reporting tool. I will share my ideas and the ideas of my colleagues here. I’m a beginner, so feel free to send any tips, ideas, or help, my way.

I have the Glass XE11. And as I’m now a Glass “Explorer”, I’ll try to explore what the device can do for journalists.
The picture you see on top of this post was taken with the Glass. The device responds to voice command, or to a couple of taps on the side of it. You can also take a picture by pressing a button on top of it.
Same thing to record videos.

The default length is 10 seconds. But you can extend it. I haven’t been able to share anything directly on Facebook, despite having paired my account with the Glass. Google+ and Twitter work perfectly to publish content, however.

showing the Google glass to Professor of mark hansen #throughglass pic.twitter.com/9BPoHSytfZ
— Damien Spleeters (@damspleet)
8 Décembre 2013



I can also send small email messages, dictated. Search the web, get directions, call (Google Hangout or regular cellular calls,) and take notes.
I receive New York Times highlights, can interact with my emails, and with my mentions on Twitter. I have access to my Google calendar, and to the weather.
This is Day 1. I first tried to experiment with (Android) automation, because I wanted to see what was possible for me to do without actually writing any line of code yet. On Tasker, I tried to set up the News app to launch when my alarm goes off in the morning. But it didn’t work so far. I still have to figure out why.
On the same note, I installed IFTTT, which is a “native” Glassware, and created a recipe that linked my Feedly World News RSS feed into the Glass. But the format is not agreeable, and I was overwhelmed with the feed. I try to keep the Glass timeline clean, brief, and efficient. The New York Times app works well, and I prefer checking the news on my phone. So far, I tend to think that Glass is better at creating content than at consuming content.
With Columbia Journalism School Professor Mark Hansen, we’ll try to hack the Glass a little bit, and see what it can bring to a reporter. So we’ll start writing some code (in Python.) But before that, I wanted to see whether I could improve the device a little bit with a minimum of code.
Doing some research last week while waiting for my appointment at the Google Glass office in New York, I stumbled across the Pete’s GlassLog and this post was particularly interesting to me. Inspired by what Vice’s Tim Pool has been doing with Glass, I wanted to see how I would be able to broadcast what I would see live on my UStream channel. 

The Pete linked to another interesting website around Glass, which gave more instructions on how to install Android apps (like UStream,) and run them on Glass. 
So, after entering the debug mode on Glass, I installed a standalone ADB platform and, with a couple of lines of code in the Mac Terminal, I was able to install an Android APK file — an app, directly on the Glass.
First and foremost, I installed something called Launchy. This would allow my to launch the other APK files that I would subsequently install in Glass.
I tried Launcher, too, but found Launchy easier to navigate with the Glass swipe. GlassBridge, an app that comes with a QR code reader, completely messed up my Glass camera, so I abandoned it and sticked to Launchy.
The real trouble came after I had installed UStream. Naturally, to start broadcasting, I needed to prompt my login and password. But there is no way to do that in Glass, other than by pairing a Bluetooth keyboard to the device.
Again, the Pete website was a useful reference. I installed another APK file that would allow me to manipulate the Bluetooth settings in Glass, something that the device doesn’t allow “naturally.”
Now I just needed to pair a keyboard. I first tried with the Logitech bluetooth keyboard I use with my iPad 2. Most of the time, Glass was telling me that it could not communicate with the keyboard, and when it did, I had an error message on the screen before I could prompt any pairing password. I also tried with an Apple BT keyboard. The pairing was successful, but it would not write anything once in the UStream app, and I saw that the keyboard actually unpaired after just a few seconds. 
Following the advice on the Pete website, I tried to turn my Nexus 5 into a Bluetooth keyboard for Glass with an app called BlueputDroid, only to find out that the app needed my Nexus to be rooted, and required a different ROM. 
So I ended up going through the rooting process, by following YouTube video tutorials, I installed a couple different ROMs, including the one advised by the app, to no avail. The app would not work. So I just decided to follow the instructions set by Dan McLaughlin, another Glass Explorer. I ordered a Favi BT keyboard on Amazon. If it works for him, it should work for me.
So, Day 1: I didn’t want to code at all, but I ended up with some UNIX lines in the Terminal, launching ATK files into the Glass, rooting an Android phone and changing its ROM. But I was not able to pair the Glass with a keyboard…
A suivre.

GlassLog Day 1

So I just bought the Google Glass. I will try to keep a log of my progress with it, as I’m trying to use it as a reporting tool. I will share my ideas and the ideas of my colleagues here. I’m a beginner, so feel free to send any tips, ideas, or help, my way.

I have the Glass XE11. And as I’m now a Glass “Explorer”, I’ll try to explore what the device can do for journalists.

The picture you see on top of this post was taken with the Glass. The device responds to voice command, or to a couple of taps on the side of it. You can also take a picture by pressing a button on top of it.

Same thing to record videos.

The default length is 10 seconds. But you can extend it. I haven’t been able to share anything directly on Facebook, despite having paired my account with the Glass. Google+ and Twitter work perfectly to publish content, however.

I can also send small email messages, dictated. Search the web, get directions, call (Google Hangout or regular cellular calls,) and take notes.

I receive New York Times highlights, can interact with my emails, and with my mentions on Twitter. I have access to my Google calendar, and to the weather.

This is Day 1. I first tried to experiment with (Android) automation, because I wanted to see what was possible for me to do without actually writing any line of code yet. On Tasker, I tried to set up the News app to launch when my alarm goes off in the morning. But it didn’t work so far. I still have to figure out why.

On the same note, I installed IFTTT, which is a “native” Glassware, and created a recipe that linked my Feedly World News RSS feed into the Glass. But the format is not agreeable, and I was overwhelmed with the feed. I try to keep the Glass timeline clean, brief, and efficient. The New York Times app works well, and I prefer checking the news on my phone. So far, I tend to think that Glass is better at creating content than at consuming content.

With Columbia Journalism School Professor Mark Hansen, we’ll try to hack the Glass a little bit, and see what it can bring to a reporter. So we’ll start writing some code (in Python.) But before that, I wanted to see whether I could improve the device a little bit with a minimum of code.

Doing some research last week while waiting for my appointment at the Google Glass office in New York, I stumbled across the Pete’s GlassLog and this post was particularly interesting to me. Inspired by what Vice’s Tim Pool has been doing with Glass, I wanted to see how I would be able to broadcast what I would see live on my UStream channel. 

The Pete linked to another interesting website around Glass, which gave more instructions on how to install Android apps (like UStream,) and run them on Glass. 

So, after entering the debug mode on Glass, I installed a standalone ADB platform and, with a couple of lines of code in the Mac Terminal, I was able to install an Android APK file — an app, directly on the Glass.

First and foremost, I installed something called Launchy. This would allow my to launch the other APK files that I would subsequently install in Glass.

I tried Launcher, too, but found Launchy easier to navigate with the Glass swipe. GlassBridge, an app that comes with a QR code reader, completely messed up my Glass camera, so I abandoned it and sticked to Launchy.

The real trouble came after I had installed UStream. Naturally, to start broadcasting, I needed to prompt my login and password. But there is no way to do that in Glass, other than by pairing a Bluetooth keyboard to the device.

Again, the Pete website was a useful reference. I installed another APK file that would allow me to manipulate the Bluetooth settings in Glass, something that the device doesn’t allow “naturally.”

Now I just needed to pair a keyboard. I first tried with the Logitech bluetooth keyboard I use with my iPad 2. Most of the time, Glass was telling me that it could not communicate with the keyboard, and when it did, I had an error message on the screen before I could prompt any pairing password. I also tried with an Apple BT keyboard. The pairing was successful, but it would not write anything once in the UStream app, and I saw that the keyboard actually unpaired after just a few seconds. 

Following the advice on the Pete website, I tried to turn my Nexus 5 into a Bluetooth keyboard for Glass with an app called BlueputDroid, only to find out that the app needed my Nexus to be rooted, and required a different ROM. 

So I ended up going through the rooting process, by following YouTube video tutorials, I installed a couple different ROMs, including the one advised by the app, to no avail. The app would not work. So I just decided to follow the instructions set by Dan McLaughlin, another Glass Explorer. I ordered a Favi BT keyboard on Amazon. If it works for him, it should work for me.

So, Day 1: I didn’t want to code at all, but I ended up with some UNIX lines in the Terminal, launching ATK files into the Glass, rooting an Android phone and changing its ROM. But I was not able to pair the Glass with a keyboard…

A suivre.