Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Midnight All Over The World

There's more going on in this world around you than Climate Change. There is upheaval on many fronts in many lands; an acute awareness of people in other places, of longing to know and experience what they are doing, and how ideas are evolving.

  • In the United States, government is teaching citizens to fear #ISIS but open their arms to immigrants, as racial tensions mount.
  •  In Russia, government is teaching citizens to fear homosexuals, as it copes with monetary issues involving #Ukraine and oil.
  •  In Iran, leadership seems to be loosening its grip on freedom-fighters.
  •  In Hong Kong, students are testing the boundaries of freedom as Beijing adjusts to shepherding a democracy whose control it regained from Great Britain in the late 1990s. 

You can add your own country and conditions here. Point is, what was is history - leaders are cooking up new recipes for governance, law and order - as customs and mores flex.

Let's take a look at what's happening in Russia. During the Summer of 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed a measure limiting the adoption of Russian children by couples from nations which have legalized same-sex marriage. The law also prohibits adoption by single people or unmarried couples from those same countries. A Kremlin statement said the bill was intended to protect children in the interest of guaranteeing them a "harmonious" upbringing, free from "complexes, emotional suffering and stress." Gays are fleeing the old Soviet Union. Fast-forward to Autumn 2014:

Kevin Rothrock reports via Global Voices that Russia's controversial monument to Steve Jobs is back in the news. Shaped like an iPhone and more than six-feet tall, the statue belongs to the West European Financial Union (ZEFS), which installed it in the courtyard of the St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies in 2013, only to remove it last month, as a way of condemning Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he is gay. News about the apparently homophobic reason for the monument's removal caused a global uproar. The St. Petersburg university, however, soon claimed that the statue would return after ZEFS completed some necessary repairs.

It now seems clear that Russia's giant iPhone monument isn't coming back. Earlier on December 1, ZEFS announced it will auction the statue to anyone who promises to take it abroad. The starting price is set at 5 million rubles (about $95,000). “Based on an internal vote, the company has decided to hold an auction. Roughly half of those who voted were against the idea of returning the monument to its place in St. Petersburg,” ZEFS explained in a press release.
Screen capture from ZEFS's website, where it advertises the auction for its Steve Jobs monument.

Screen capture from ZEFS's website, 
promoting  the auction for its Steve 
Jobs monument.

Technically, the auction is already underway, though ZEFS reports that it has not yet received an eligible bid. The company appears to be receiving bids on the splash page of its main website, rather awkwardly through its general “feedback” interface.

After the removal of the Jobs monument, Vkontakte launched “Save Steve,” offering publicly to cover all repair costs and reassemble the statue at its own headquarters, which is also in St. Petersburg. Following ZEFS's announcement today that the statue costs 5 million rubles and requires a promise to remove it from Russia, Vkontakte Press Secretary Georgy Lobushkin said his company won't be participating in such a “farce.” Without making any concrete promises, Lobushkin said Vkontakte will consider building its own monument to Jobs.
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