(TMU) — The recent death of Wuhan doctor turned whistleblower Li Wenliang sparked outrage across China and the rest of the world. Activists and independent journalists trapped in the quarantine zones say that Li could have prevented the current outbreak if the government had listened to him instead of attempting to cover it up.
In the days after his death, Chinese social media platforms were filled will demands for freedom of speech as well as suggestions that the government cover-up allowed the illness to spread. Evidence of crackdowns have also spread online, with footage of Chinese police in medical gear forcibly removing people from their homes appearing on social media.
In the chaos of the past week, lawyer and citizen journalist Chen Qiushi, who was doing very dangerous reporting from the quarantine zone in Wuhan, has gone missing, and many of his loved ones say that he was captured by the Chinese government. Chen was active on social media and was keeping in regular contact with his friends until Thursday when he went silent and could no longer be reached.
After he disappeared a close friend posted a video to Twitter of Chen’s mother pleading for help to find her son.
— 陈秋实（陳秋實） (@chenqiushi404) February 6, 2020
Xu Xiaodong, a well-known martial artist and friend of Chen, later posted a video saying that police admitted to detaining Chen in a quarantine, according to CNN.
“In the last few hours the Qingdao public security officers and state security officers … notified Qiushi’s parents that Qiushi has already been detained in the name of quarantine. Qiushi’s mother immediately asked them where and when he was taken away, they declined to say,” said Xu.
Xu also said that Chen was in good health the last time that anyone had heard from him.
However, when CNN contacted the Wuhan and Qingdao city police, both insisted that they had no information about Chen.
Chen has a long history of activism and has had previous penalties from Chinese authorities for his efforts in independent journalism. During last year’s protests in Hong Kong, Chen was reporting to 740,000 followers on Weibo about the demonstrations, often contradicting the Chinese government’s version of events.
Following the protests, Chen’s social media accounts were deleted by authorities and all of his footage was wiped from the internet. Chen was also regularly called in for questioning and harassed by police, but continued to persist in his activism and journalism on Twitter and YouTube, both of which are blocked in China unless accessed using a VPN/
During the Chinese Lunar New Year, when many people were fleeing the city as the quarantine was being imposed, Chen rushed into the city of Wuhan to report on the situation.
In his first video from Wuhan, Chen explained:
“I’ve said before that I’m a citizen journalist. What kind of journalist am I if I don’t rush to the front line when there is a disaster? I will use my camera to witness and document what is really happening under Wuhan’s efforts to contain the outbreak. And I’m willing to help spread the voice of Wuhan people to the outside world. While I’m here, I promise I won’t start or spread rumors. I won’t create fear or panic, nor would I cover up the truth.”
Chen was among numerous citizen journalists contradicting the official narrative that was coming from Bejing while reporting independently from Wuhan. Chen’s reporting showed that the virus appeared to be much worse than was being suggested by official sources. Chen showed the world the overcrowded hospitals and heavy-handed tactics being used by police.
“I’m scared, I have the virus in front of me and behind me China’s law enforcement,” Chen said in one of his last videos that was recorded in a hotel room on January 30. In the same video he revealed that his parents back home in Qingdao were already being harassed by authorities.
Another citizen journalist, Fang Bin, was also detained over his reporting from Wuhan. According to the LA Times, Fang was visited by police in hazmat suits in the middle of the night and taken into custody after he showed videos of full body bags strewn about a hospital and piled up in an ambulance outside.
The police reportedly asked him, “You went to such a dangerous place, couldn’t you have been infected? What if your sickness spreads to others?”
Fang Bin asked that the police come back with a warrant, but instead they stormed into his house, seized all of his electronics, and took him to a police station where he was accused of rumormongering and accepting bribes from foreign entities to spread misinformation.
Fang was later released and published another impassioned video online where he called for a full-blown revolution.
Fang, Chen, and Li are among 300 Chinese citizens who have been detained, fined, or otherwise punished by authorities for “spreading rumors” about the outbreak, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Akon Finally Breaks Ground On His Futuristic $10 Billion Solar Powered “Crypto City”
The rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon has been making significant progress on his development plans in Africa, which involve the creation of a futuristic city that runs on clean energy and cryptocurrency.
In January of last year, Akon revealed that his agreements with Senegal President Macky Sall were going forward, and a few months later it was announced that the engineering and consulting firm KE International was awarded a $6 billion contract to build the city. The company previously said it had already received $4 billion from investors for the first two phases of Akon City’s construction, giving the project a price tag of at least $10 billion.
The project goes much further than just this one city and it has already begun to make an impact across the continent. In the short time since the deal was finalized last year, a large number of solar street lights, and solar home lighting units, have been installed across 14 African countries, according to Akon Lighting Africa.
The effort was made possible by a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC, and NARI.
Phase 1 of construction on the city is expected to be completed in 2023, and will include roads, a hospital, residences, hotels, a police station, a waste facility, a school, and a solar power plant. The entire city is expected to be finished around 2029. The city’s economy will be facilitated by Akon’s cryptocurrency “Akoin,” which runs on the Stellar blockchain. Stellar is a crypto ecosystem that includes its own cryptocurrency XLM, and also allows for the development of other projects, such as decentralized exchanges and additional currencies like Akoin. Banks around the world have also been considering using the Stellar blockchain for stablecoin deployment.
Akon believes that cryptocurrency is the solution to the corruption problems that create widespread inequality in Africa because the blockchain provides a record that would make corruption extremely obvious if it were to take place. With an independent cryptocurrency, governments are unable to print money and devalue the currency, and the control of the money is decentralized.
In an interview with TMZ last year, Akon compared the vision that he has for the city with the fictional “Wakanda” from the movie Black Panther.
“This movie literally made an idea of what Africa could really be. It’s just ironic that I was already working on this before the movie came out, but it’s something that helped me a lot when I was trying to explain to explain to people what I was trying to do,” Akon said.
The city’s crypto-economic system will also solve many problems specific to the developing world, like instantly calculating conversation rates for currencies, which is often an obstacle because there are so many different regional currencies and methods of trade. In some cases, people even use prepaid cellphone minutes as a currency because it is easier to use and exchange than traditional currencies. Akon says that the Akoin wallet will allow users to trade between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, and cellphone minutes instantly without having to go through a major exchange using Atomic Swap technology. The app will also teach users to become more familiar with the technology in general.
Florida Man Uses Stimulus Check to Start Thriving Home Garden to Feed His Community
When millions of people across the United States received their federal stimulus checks to help them cope with the devastating economic repercussions of the novel coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown, most people spent their checks on basic necessities like food, rent, mortgage, utilities, and other basic necessities
However, one man from East Tampa, Florida, decided to use his funds to invest in a much more long-term project: building his own garden at home and using it to help provide food for himself. He’s now teaching his community about the massive benefits of food independence.
Michael Chaney, who goes by the nickname “Spirit Mike,” has long been interested in gardening. It wasn’t until the pandemic struck and local supermarkets were struck by the crisis that he was able to muster the self-motivation and time to fully pursue what began as a hobby and now has turned into his passion.
When he received his first stimulus check, he immediately used the funds to purchase some pots and start growing his first tomato plant. He also spoke to seasoned gardeners at the nearby A Land of Delight Natural Farm to pick up some materials and advice that would enable him to begin growing his own food, he told local radio station WMNF.
Now, Chaney is growing not only tomatoes but also collard greens, ghost peppers, mustard greens, strawberry guava, eggplants, onions, papaya, cashew apples, sugar cane, lemon, yucca, and lettuce, among other plants on his .3 acres of land.
“I do biointensive gardening, which means planting as much as you can in a small space,” Chaney told Atlanta Black Star. “I specifically picked these types of fruits [dwarf plants] because they grow fruit fast.”
Chaney derives the most pride from his moringa trees, which he values for its high viamin C content and celebrated medicinal properties as well as its antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant qualities.
“That is the Michael Jordan and the Kobe Bryant together,” Chaney told WMNF with pride.
“If you were stranded somewhere and all you have his this and water you would not only survive, you would thrive,” Chaney added. “I don’t work out. All I did was add this to my diet and add flax seed fiber and I lost 65 lbs.”
Chaney also has nine chickens that he purchased for only $3 per chick.
“My aim is to make my food cost zero,” he explained. “So, my food scraps go into the soldier fly larvae bin, they eat that and produce more larvae. Those larvae get fed to the chickens. The chicken produces eggs, I sell the eggs and eat the eggs; life is good.”
Chaney made sure to meticulously plan his garden so that actually managing it and ensuring its success would be much easier.
“It’s very important that you plan your garden. Do your research before you put a dollar down because you want your dollar to go as far as it can,” Chaney said.
He is now upholding the garden – which he has named New World Growers – as an example of community self-determination and food independence at a time when food insecurity is sharply on the rise.
Edward Snowden Applies For Russian Citizenship As He Announces He’s About To Be A Dad
U.S. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has announced that he is going to be a dad and that he has applied for Russian citizenship due to the coming change in his life. Snowden said the move is to prevent separation from his unborn son.
Snowden and his wife are applying for Russian citizenship in order not to be separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders, he said on Monday. Snowden’s wife, Lindsay, is expecting a child in late December, the RIA news agency said, citing his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, Reuters reported.
Snowden fled the U.S. and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency where he was a contractor. Snowden exposed various capabilities by the NSA by revealing various extensive privacy violations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently found one such program was unlawful and that the U.S. intelligence directors who publicly defended it had lied to the public. The court determined that the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden to return to the U.S. to face criminal charges on espionage brought against him in 2013.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love, including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.”
Russia has already granted Snowden permanent residency rights, his lawyer said last month, a requisite step towards Russian citizenship.
Snowden’s wife recently publicly announced her pregnancy last week in a photograph posted to Instagram. “A long time in the making,” she wrote. “Our greatest collaboration coming soon.” Snowden said; despite applying for Russian citizenship, he hopes to one day return to the U.S. to reunite his family.