Landmines kill and injure daily

What are landmines?

Antipersonnel landmines are explosive devices designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a person. Landmines can remain dangerous many years after a conflict has ended. They indiscriminately kill or injure civilians, aid workers, peacekeepers and soldiers alike. They pose a threat to the safety of civilians during conflicts and long afterwards. Landmines still daily kill or injure thousands of people every year in some 60 countries around the world.

What is the Ottawa Treaty?

A global movement to prohibit the use of landmines led to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (or simply the Mine Ban Treaty or Ottawa Treaty). Currently, a total of 162 nations are party to the Ottawa treaty.

Which nations have not signed the Ottawa Treaty?

To date, there are 162 states parties to the treaty. One state has signed but not ratified (The Marshall Islands) while 34 UN states including the United States, Russia and China are non-signatories, making a total of 35 United Nations states not party.

What remains to be done?

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) calls on states to destroy their stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines, and report on progress of stockpile destruction, in addition to reporting on planned and actual use of retained mines. Mines need to be cleared and victims need assistance. The ICBL supports individuals who want to hold a landmines conference, lobby decision-makers or organize a public event on landmines.

Sources: New Internationalist, ICBL

Disclaimer: My goal with this assignment on advocacy journalism was to figure out how to demonstrate and visualize the ongoing fatal issues with landmines and to let individuals know what they could do about it. The source I relied on for my animated gif claims that every 20 minutes someone gets killed or injured by a landmine, which is equal to about 500 a week. After creating the animated gif based on these numbers, I found other sources specifying lower numbers. In advocacy journalism, it seems important to avoid becoming the PR department of an NGO, especially if you think what they do is relevant. After finding conflicting numbers, I would—in real life—go back and change the animated gif and use the lower numbers from a seemingly more reliable source. It would still be shocking enough.

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Jay Z admits to plagiarizing

Listen to the first 15 seconds of this music sample from 1978 by Swiss jazz and electronic musician Bruno Spoerri:

Now compare it to famous US rapper Jay Z’s song from 2013:

It makes you wonder what took Jay Z so long to admit to plagiarizing. News broke today that Jay Z finally agrees to pay Bruno Spoerri 50% royalties for using his music without permission. In this BBC interview from 2013 (YouTube, 8:03), Jay Z claims to have composed the song with his fellow musicians.

A musician from Los Angeles is happy about the news and calls Jay Z out on Twitter:

The 79-year-old Swiss musician published a letter on Facebook his record company had sent to Jay Z’s management in 2014 saying that stealing music was not cool, particularly not by a rich musician. The letter concludes “shame on you, Jay Z, we expected more respect from you as a colleague to fellow musicians!” Spoerri says he was never in for the money but thinks that Jay Z should have asked. He added that getting his permission to use his 35 year old music sample would have been very cheap.

The story was widely shared and commented on on Twitter:


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Personality traits predict online behavior

The famous marshmallow test found that self-regulation in childhood can predict future success. The premise of the test is simple: You can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later. The results were astonishing: the preschoolers who were able to wait for two marshmallows, over the course of their lives, have a lower BMI, lower rates of addiction, a lower divorce rate and higher SAT scores.
Similar studies have had success in linking personality traits to online behavior. Introverts disclose more information online than offline, but extroverts generally disclose more about themselves in either situation. Numerous studies have tested the effects of personality traits such as extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness on technology use. The findings show that personality dimensions can predict the way individuals interact with digital technologies.

Recent research has found links between extrovert and narcissistic personalities and Internet use. However, these links are statistical correlations, and do not necessarily show causation. Correlations and causations tend to often get confused despite routine warnings in standard statistical texts. The most common illustration of this mix-up is the positive correlation between the number of storks nesting in a series of springs and the number of human babies born at that time.

storkSurprisingly, the correlation between the number of storks nesting and the number of human babies born does not prove the stork brings babies.

A very common mistake made by news media journalists—one has to believe it is quite often a deliberate mistake—is the interpretation of correlations as causations. I argue it is a deliberate mistake because it makes headlines sound more snappy: “Smartphones encourage narcissism”, “The Internet ‘Narcissism Epidemic’”, “The rise of the selfie and digital narcissism.” Such headlines and entire media reports are reinforcing the myth that technology causes narcissism, even though the studies many news reports rely on have found a correlation only.

Similarly, some journalists use data from long-term studies to claim that the current generation is more narcissistic than the generations before. But how do these studies link to increased use of web-based technologies? The answer is that they do not, but for those who are willing to believe technology is the cause of many downsides in our culture, it is easy to see proof of their suspicions. In reality, there are many other potential causes of higher narcissism levels, such as increases in general individualistic tendencies in Western societies over the last decades.

Indeed, the idea that individuals with personality traits like extraversion, neuroticism, or narcissism are more likely to engage in active use of social media technologies is much more evidence-based than the idea that social media causes these traits. If studies test narcissism levels of social media users and non-users, it is not surprising when they find higher levels among active social media users because previous research on personality traits supports the hypothesis that narcissistic personalities are more active social media users. But no study up to date has been able to prove that the stork (or in this case, technology) brings the babies (narcissism).

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Strengthening the Digital Society

Storytelling experiment using a smartphone only: “Strengthening the Digital Society



  • Getting used to app — about 1 hour
  • Reporting while attending the NetGain event in New York City — about 3 hours including selecting, photo editing (with app Snapseed) and placing photos and videos
  • Post production — about 2 hours including more photo editing, English grammar issues, and trying to embed the Steller story into WordPress and failing (although it should be possible according to this video)
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