Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Week's Top News Stories on YouTube--Tragedy in Norway, History in New York, and the loss of music great Amy Winehouse.

Everyday on the CitizenTube Channel (and @CitizenTube on Twitter), along with our curation partners @storyful, we look at how the top news stories are covered on YouTube. Every week we'll post a weekly recap of the top news stories of the week:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The UpTake’s Northside Project: Documenting Dire Needs and Innovative Solutions

The Uptake, a citizen-fueled news organization, strives to find innovative solutions to the long-standing poverty, lack of jobs, and housing crisis in North Minneapolis. UpTake’s new Northside Project, a program supported by the Bush Foundation, is seeking out the individuals and organizations making positive changes in the area impacted by North Minneapolis’ May 22nd tornado. Below is one man’s “Story of Need.” The clip illustrates the organization’s goal to fully understand the wide range of needs in the area before finding answers to the problems swept up by the recent storm.

To support the Northside Project visit here to make a donation.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Homeless to Housing: An Inspiring Success Story

This past March, Mark Horvath, who profiles homeless people across North America on his YouTube Channel, was invited by the Calgary Homeless Foundation to speak in Calgary, a large province in Alberta, Canada. During his trip, Horvath recorded this video of Don “Donny” Bixby--a man who had been homeless for over twenty years and endured the harsh Canadian winters with nothing but a blanket and the heating vent from a local business to keep him warm.

After seeing the video of Donny on YouTube, CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, Tim Richter, tracked him down and put him up in an apartment. The move was part of Calgary’s “housing first” plan, which makes permanent housing a priority in addressing homelessness. The policy, launched in 2008, has provided over 2,300 homeless people with homes.

Once he moved into his new apartment, Donny decided to change his life. In the video below, Horvath interviews Donny who is sober, taking on part-time work, and even adopted a cat to share his new home with. 

To learn more about Mark Horvath’s mission to empower homeless people to tell their own story, visit his blog at

Proud to be Republican Women

In the clip below, GOP women discuss their identity, values, and collective vision for the future. The compilation of speeches sheds a female perspective on economic growth and job creation, highlighting  the importance of women-owned businesses (the fastest growing segment in the US economy) and the need to put the government on track to living within its means. Speaking on behalf of wives, mothers, grandmothers, and small-business owners, the female House Republicans express their desire to leave their grandchildren with a more prosperous and secure nation.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Week's Top News Stories on YouTube--Famine in Somalia, Huge haboob in Arizona, and the end of an era for NASA's Space Shuttle program.

Everyday on the CitizenTube Channel (and @CitizenTube on Twitter), along with our curation partners @storyful, we look at how the top news stories are covered on YouTube. Every week we'll post a weekly recap of the top news stories of the week:

Devastating Famine in Somalia

The “F” word is not one taken lightly by the U.N. But on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, the United Nations officially declared two regions in southern Somalia as being in the midst of a famine after months of a horrible drought in East Africa. In order for the U.N. to declare famine, two adults or four children out of every 10,000 people must be dying of hunger each day.

The short clip below opens a small window into the devastating hardship in Somalia as David Orr, a World Food Program employee, provides a firsthand account of the suffering families are enduring. Everyday 1,000 refugees are arriving in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya, where the WFP is working to provide exhausted and hungry people with life saving meals.

Click here to help support the WFP’s mission and the 3.5 million people who have been affected across the country.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One Million Voices for Shane and Josh

In the video below, Grammy-Award winning guitarist, Tom Morello, voices his support for the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, two American hikers who were arrested along an unmarked stretch of the Iranian-Iraqi border in 2009. The two men are falsely accused of espionage and could face many more years in prison if convicted. Shane and Josh are expected to face trial on July 31st, 2011, the two year anniversary of their detention.

Next week, leading up to their trial in Tehran, the Bay Area Supporters of Josh and Shane invite you to join the cause by adding your own voice to an international week of action to free the two American Hikers. “One Million Voices for Shane and Josh” is an international effort to remind the Iranian government that the whole world is watching and wants Bauer and Fattal released to their families immediately.  

To participate in the effort to release Shane and Josh:
1. Beginning Monday, July 25th, 8 AM EST through Friday July 29th, 5pm EST, call the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington DC everyday at 202-965-4990 with the following message: “I am a supporter of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. I know that the two are not spies and urge you to release them and allow them to travel home to their families tomorrow.”
2. Encourage your friends, family, and contacts to become a part of the campaign.
3. Help keep track of how many voices are being heard by emailing to let them know you have participated.

Check out the video below to see Tom Morello pick up the phone and make his own plea to free Shane and Josh. And for more info on the cause visit: and

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Loaded Footage: A Citizen View from an Arab Town

The short clip below, recorded by a B’Tselem volunteer, documents the unmistakable tension pervading the streets of the Middle East. The video shows a First Lieutenant who came to a petrol station at the entrance to the West Bank village of Beit ‘Ummar on June 18, 2011. The military commander arrested a young male who worked at the station for allegedly throwing stones. When the cousin of the arrested youth tried to intervene, the officer pushed him back and held a gun to his face.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cairo: Alive with Activism

Earlier this month, The Nation and, two organizations which aim to bring a critical, engaged spirit to discussion on political and social questions, organized a roundtable for young Egyptian activists to debate some of the country’s most pressing issues. Moderated by author Stephen Glain, the conversations ranged from the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and the power of social media in sparking reform to Egypt's ailing economy and the military’s overwhelming control of politics.

Check out the playlist below to a get a firsthand glimpse of the heated debate discussions which suggest that, after thirty years under President Hosni Mubarak’s iron grip on power, Cairo is springing alive with a palpable spirit of activism.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"My Fellow American:" A New, Creative Attempt at Productive Activism

In an effort to counter Islamophobia, Unity Productions has launched their latest project called “My Fellow American.” With accounts like these, the program provides a storytelling platform for non-Muslims to share stories about their Muslim friends and neighbors. In the short film below, hateful voices are juxtaposed with everyday Muslim Americans. The project teaser serves as a call-to-action for people of all faiths and backgrounds to stand up against the climate of offensive speech and fear of Muslims or Islam.

To learn more about the project, sign a pledge, and share the mission to affirm American Muslims as fellow American’s visit:

Friday, July 15, 2011

With a Combo of Laughs and Inspirational Messaging, Amnesty TV Launches its First TV Episode

Fifty years ago, Amnesty International was founded with the mission to protect people wherever justice, fairness, freedom, and truth are denied. Today--Friday, July 15th, 2011-- the NGO launched its first online TV episode to celebrate its 50th anniversary and human rights campaigning.

Amnesty TV mixes satirical comedy and short documentaries with outspoken opinion and real news. The TV episodes, which are created by a team of filmmakers, creative writers, and digital artists, will run every two weeks and each will focus on a different theme. The first episode, shown below, features an ironic attempt to obtain birthday signatures from international embassies, Jimmy Wales’ (the founder of Wikipedia) perspective on Internet freedom, and string of world news highlights--plus an instructional video on how to perform the perfect “Carpet Karaoke.” The result is a combination of laughs alongside a more serious message about human activism.

The Amnesty TV channel, hosted online and on YouTube, will fuse techniques from popular entertainment with documentary features, campaign stunts, and satirical comedy. Check out the first episode below for a taste of what the series promises to offer in the future:

This Week's Top News Stories on YouTube--Mumbai bombings, Tech-savvy US candidates, and a couple of starry-eyed Marine YouTubers.

Everyday on the CitizenTube Channel (and @CitizenTube on Twitter), along with our curation partners @storyful, we look at how the top news stories are covered on YouTube. Every week we'll post a weekly recap of the top news stories of the week:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brown Bag Lunches on YouTube

Just over three months ago, Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker posted his first clip in a series of YouTube videos he calls “Brown Bag Lunches.” The series speaks to Governor Walker’s core value: doing more with less. Walker, who grew up in a family that often struggled to make ends meet, packs the same brown bag lunch each day before heading to the office (two ham and cheese sandwiches on wheat). The governor believes people should not spend more than they have and he urges government to do the same.

Walker’s brown bag lunches invite citizens to engage in a discussion with him over their lunch breaks about the best ways to protect Wisconsin jobs and family budgets. Last week, Governor Walker posted his 31st video in the series. His latest video answers questions on the upcoming recall elections in Wisconsin and marks another exciting stepping stone in the program that was launched back in April with this video.

The series demonstrates how politicians continue to leverage YouTube as a vital tool in promoting a brighter, more democratic future. Check out the 31st Brown Paper Bag video below and visit Governor Walker's YouTube channel to find out more.

South Sudan Becomes 193rd Member of the United Nations

The UN General Assembly approved the Security Council's recommendation for South Sudan's UN membership this morning, making it the 193rd member state.

This is the latest development in a string of celebrations for the world's newest nation. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with other foreign diplomats, was on hand last Saturday in the capital city of Juba to usher in the festivities, including their first national soccer game. In the clip below, we see the South Sudanese proudly singing their national anthem right before the game. The South Sudanese spirit showed no signs of defeat despite a loss of 3-1 in the friendly match against Kenya's Tusker FC. After all, there is so much more to celebrate: freedom.

This is an undeniably joyous moment for South Sudan, but now the focus turns to creating a stable government alongside Sudan. The two countries must come to agreement regarding borders, citizenship issues, and disputes over the oil-rich Abyei region. In her remarks at a Security Council debate on July 13th, Susan Rice, the United States representative to the United Nations, emphasized that the founding of South Sudan is a crucial turning point in bringing peace to the region. She described the challenges as "great, but by no means insurmountable" and offered reassurance that "The Security Council has done its utmost to support this process, and this council and my government will remain deeply engaged in supporting the Republic of South Sudan at this critical junction and into the future."

Ferris Salameh, YouTube Policy team, recently watched Ambassador Rice Delivers Remarks at South Sudan Independence Ceremony

Google Supports The Citizen Media Global Innovation Competition

Media is an integral part of how people understand, access, and share information about the world around them. Communication channels including newspapers, television, blogs, and online videos have tremendous potential to empower and influence individuals across the globe. Yet, millions of people still face barriers that limit them from tapping into these resources. They are marginalized by political and economic situations and other limitations that deprive them of the full citizenship made possible by access to news, information, and connections to people outside of their immediate environments. That’s why we’re working with Ashoka to find and support the best, most innovative ideas out there that will help people around the world unlock the power of media and participate more fully in society.

Today marks the beginning of a new initiative run by Ashoka’s Changemakers, with support from Google, to source innovations that will boost media access and participation globally: Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition. What do we mean by this? Well, we’re waiting for you to tell us, but here are some initial ideas for what strong entries might hope to achieve:
  • Give voice to underserved, vulnerable populations, introducing them to media creation and distribution, and showcasing their messages
  • Equip journalists and publishers with tools or channels to report important news that otherwise gets missed
  • Advance free speech and privacy protections
  • Address the financial sustainability of quality news
  • Help people better navigate information and ascertain content reliability and authenticity
Nominate your idea or suggest another innovation starting today! Submissions are due on September 14th, and finalists will be selected by a panel of expert judges including Michael Maness, VP of Journalism and Media Innovation at the Knight Foundation, Esther Wojcicki, Vice Chair for Creative Commons, and Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas. Then, Ashoka will invite the public to vote on four winners who will receive cash prizes of US $5,000. Top qualifying entrants will also be considered for an Ashoka Fellowship — complete with a living stipend, international recognition, and access to a network of systems-changing social entrepreneurs. To encourage a breadth of global applications, the competition is being launched in nine languages: Arabic, Mandarin, English, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.

We’re excited to see the ideas submitted to this competition and to help social entrepreneurs advance their innovations.

This competition is run by Ashoka with sponsorship from Google. Submit your idea on:

Posted by Mimi Kravetz, Team

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Video Activism in Egypt

If social media was the fire which ignited the revolution in Egypt, online video seems to be the fuel that propels it. The Tahrir Diaries project provides a compelling example of a group of filmmakers who use online video as an important tool in fighting to stop torture. The group, composed of activists who have directly experienced every day of the political movement since the January 25 protests in Tahrir square, hope to spread the word about military abuse. Leaders of the project condemn the violation of civilian rights and call for the immediate release of youth who were arrested for peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins.

First hand accounts such as these demonstrate the importance of taking the necessary measures to preserve the integrity of citizens and salute the martyrs and everyday heroes who fight to save the country from total rule and corruption. To learn more about Tahrir Diaries and see more of their efforts check out their channel playlist below:

Monday, July 11, 2011

On the Scene Footage: Protests in Malaysia

Cross-posted from YouTube Trends

A reported 1,600 protesters were arrested over the weekend by riot police in the crackdown of an electoral reform protest in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. A number of videos were posted of the protest, which depict events from the street and from the buildings above.

The clip below is said to show tear gas being used in to control protesters rushing forward:

The collection of videos from CitizenTube provides a broader perspective on the size and scope of the weekend protest.

(Use the arrows to navigate between videos or watch them all here.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

This Week's Top News Stories on YouTube--Arizona Dust storms, Bono's Unforgettable Duet, and a Squirrel's Miraculous Escape

Everyday on the CitizenTube Channel (and @CitizenTube on Twitter) we look at how the top news stories are covered on YouTube. Every week we'll post a weekly recap of the top news stories of the week:
  • We watched in awe as Phoenix, Arizona, was engulfed by an epic dust storm which produced some truly spectacular videos.
  • We saw saw social media history being made by Barack Obama this week with his debut tweet at the first Presidential Twitter Town Hall.
  • We glimpsed the first tragic images of an unfolding humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa where up to 10 million people are affected by the worst drought in generations. 
  • We saw Britain's News of the World newspaper closed down after scandalous revelations of phone hacking, coming from - among many others - actor Hugh Grant.
  • We had a tear in our eye as U2's Bono plucked blind guitarist Andy Bevell from the crowd at a concert in Nashville and performed an unforgettable duet. 
  • And finally, we cheered on a little squirrel who had a miraculous escape from the wheels of a speeding Lamborghini. 

Economic Freedom & Quality of Life

With cool and innovative usage of data visualization, this short, informative video explains the link between economic freedom and a society’s well-being. The video illustrates how economic freedom--environments defined by free markets, private properties, and individual choice-can define the quality of life in a country. The video illustrates how economically free countries benefit from higher salaries, better protected civil rights, cleaner environments, and longer life expectancies; they also have less corruption, infant mortality, child labor, and unemployment rates. As a result, economic freedom appears as a major component in explaining why some societies continue to thrive while others fall behind.

In recent years, the US, once a world leader on the issue, has drastically fallen amongst the rankings of economically free countries. Will the American quality of life fall with it? Watch the video below to learn more about economic freedom in a visually engaging way, and check out this link to see another interesting use of data visualization.

A Small Window into Nairobi

Over the past several years, the World Food Programme, has sent numerous cameras across the globe in an effort to call attention to the hunger and poverty in the world’s neediest countries. The video below tells the story of Molly, a 12 year old girl who lives in the slums of Nairobi. Molly’s footage reveals life through the eyes of a little girl living in one of the poorest places in the planet.

The World Food Programme initiative aims to give the hungry a chance to share their lives with the rest of the world in an intimate way. The compilation of Molly’s footage below marks an important step in their ambition:

Explore America’s diplomatic efforts around the world

Throughout the past year American embassies, consulates, and ambassadors around the world have uploaded hundreds of videos to YouTube across a wide array of topics. Some are informative, like U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos updating American citizens following the devastating tsunami; some are inspirational, like First Lady Michelle Obama’s message to a school in Santiago; and others are instructional, like this video on what to expect at a visa interview at the US Consulate in Juarez, Mexico.

In an effort to continue offering easy access to this information, we’ve launched the YouTube State Hub, a place to find all of the U.S. Department of State’s various YouTube channels in one place.

This site follows the model of two similar YouTube channels, the House Hub and Senate Hub, which also help users easily find videos posted by government officials. Just click on the pin in each country, and you can find content from that embassy.

Throughout the coming year we’ll showcase some of the most creative videos from embassies, consulates and ambassadors around the globe on our CitizenTube blog and via our twitter account, @CitizenTube.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

GOP says “Change Direction”

Gearing up for the 2012 General Election, the Republican National Committee warns America that it has taken turn after turn the wrong way. With $14 trillion in debt, $500 billion in higher taxes, and the worst long term unemployment in generations, they urge voters to change direction. Check out the video below to see their message:

YouTube in the Palestinian Territories

There are few areas in the world where the ubiquity of the web means more than in the Palestinian territories. In a place where conflict is a part of daily life, and land disputes prevent the kind of geographical freedom most of us take for granted, it’s platforms like YouTube that are allowing people to broadcast their ideas to the rest of the world—and to tell stories that aren’t being told by other media outlets.

A few weeks ago, as part of our efforts to broaden YouTube’s news content partnerships, I spent a week with some other Googlers in Gaza and the West Bank. I met with news organizations, bloggers, local officials, and young people—all of whom were eager to tell their stories on video. In the last month, over 16,000 videos have been uploaded to YouTube from the Palestinian territories, despite low access to 3G networks and broadband Internet. And of the more than 75,000 videos uploaded from the territories this year, 5,000+ were tagged as news and politics videos:

Sleepless in Gaza is an innovative 90-part (!) reality show on YouTube featuring six women who travel in the Palestinian territories and document their experiences. It drew such a following on YouTube that it’s now being optioned for TV series in the U.S.

  • The Maan News Agency, the top online Palestinian news site, has begun uploading its video reports to YouTube to share with the world.
  • Videos covering the March 15 demonstrations (which were held to demand unity between competing Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fatah) saw many views on YouTube as conflict broke out between demonstrators and Hamas.
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has a YouTube channel they use to tell the stories of Gazans they work with in schools and other projects.
  • The Global Citizen Corps, a group of young bloggers organized by the international NGO Mercy Corps to do community service and media training, has a robust YouTube channel with videos made by young people telling the story of Gaza through their eyes.
  • The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, once the state media outlet of President Abbas’ Fatah, has recently decided to hire an independent board of directors and produce content outside the influence of the government (on a model that might end up quite like PBS).

Meeting with bloggers in Ramallah

Meeting with bloggers in Gaza

It’s in Gaza (the part of the Palestinian territories that are run by Hamas) where media freedoms have a ways to go. Journalists told us they’d been jailed for writing articles critical of Hamas, and one news organization had their office broken into and computers stolen when their pages held criticism of the government. And, after growing to 1,200 members, the Global Citizen Corps caught the attention of the government and was disbanded by the organizers for a while to protect members.

But the people of the Palestinian territories want desperately to tell a story of the region that gets beyond stereotypes. The images we see in Western media, of a place fraught with conflict and despair, doesn’t tell the real story of the territories, they told us. Some Palestinian entrepreneurs even created a new travel website, highlighting the best there is to see in the region.

It’s been said before, but it’s true: it’s the young people in the Middle East who will make change. Seventy percent of the people in Gaza are under 30. In Israel, 30 percent of the population is under 14. Several bloggers told us they had relationships with Israeli youth on the Internet; their hope is that YouTube and other platforms will help them communicate beyond the seemingly intractable political battles between their leaders and start conversations that will lead to new opportunities for peace.