All posts by Oksana Cobb

A film producer, director, screenwriter, human rights activist, and mother of two great daughters.

Antonio Banderas 55th Birthday / Starlite Gala 2015

Antonio Banderas 55th Birthday / Starlite Gala 2015.

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Antonio Banderas 55th Birthday / Starlite Gala 2015

The Roksolana Productions owner/director Oksana Cobb was proud to be a part of the Starlite Marbella Gala 2015.

Antonio Banderas with Oksana Cobb
Antonio Banderas with Oksana Cobb

Video Highlights of the Starlite Marbella Gala 2015.

Antonio Banderas celebrates his birthday each year by philanthropy and making the world a better place.  He hosts Starlite Marbella Gala, one of the most famous charity events in Europe.    Antonio Banderas heads charitable organizations aimed at improving education, health and living conditions of communities, families and children without resources.  The Children’s Joy Foundation started in 2003, aims at improving the educational conditions of children in the Mexican state of Guerrero, an area with high rates of poverty.  In addition to making a significant difference in lives of thousands of Mexican children, Antonio Banderas founded “Tears and Favors” charity to support the University of Malaga students without resources and those suffering from cancer.

Some of the most famous film and music artists of Europe donate their time and talent during the Starlite Marbella Gala.   Among 2015 performers were Italian pop star, songwriter and record producer Laura Pausini, the world’s most renowned Flamenco dancer Sara Baras,  and many other famous singers, actors, TV hosts, and public figures.

Auctioned items such as Santana’s guitar, autographed automobiles, designer jewelry, exotic travel packages, even the suit of the best bullfighter in Spain benefited Antonio Banderas’ causes.

It was an evening of joy, appreciation, giving, love and friendship.   Happy Birthday Antonio Banderas!   Warmest wishes for your continuous success in directing, acting and producing.   Many Thanks for the wonderful humanity work you do!

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Final Speech of the Evening
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Oksana Cobb at Starlite Gala 2015
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Paolo Carta, Laura Pausini, Nicole Kimpel, Antonio Banderas, Barbara Kimpel
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Laura Pausini
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Antonio’s Birthday Cake
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Antonio Banderas with girlfriend Nicole Kimpel and her twin sister Barbara Kimpel

It is Up to Us!

One of the main ideas of the “Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age” by Virginia Eubanks is the acknowledgement of danger of the society’s focusing solely on science and technology without giving adequate attention to promoting democratic values, protecting human rights and nurturing the citizens’ fundamental freedoms and activism.   Per V. Eubanks, “Massive investment in science and technology without simultaneous investment in a more just society is an investment in increasing political and economic equality”.   The authors’ major concern is the “digital divide” that technology creates by enabling the enrichment by the rich and privileged and leaving disadvantaged lower class people feeling powerless, exploited and in deeper economic and social crisis.  Technology can be both a tool of liberation and a means of oppression. 

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To develop Eubanks’ ideas of exploitation further and to connect it with the concerns voiced by Vannevar Bush back in her 1945 article As We May Think – The Atlantic , the ethical questions should be at the forefront of any new technological and scientific development.   No matter how much we want to believe in magic of technology, it does not always create a more prosperous, just and democratic society.  Technological knowledge and information get often usurped by tyrants who use it to form dictatorships and suppress human rights around the world.  

Eubanks starts and ends her book with drawing attention to President Obama’s speech on redemptive power of science and technology.    It is our responsibility as citizens of the “global village” to ensure that technology in the 21st century does not spin out of control, without any moral boundaries, does not get to serve only those who want to pull us back in time and take away liberties that were earned by lost lives and human struggle in the past centuries.    

When in 1945 science was exploiting nuclear power for the first time in history and being on the verge of space exploration, some of the first ethical concerns of using technology for the best of humanity were voiced.   Today we are dealing with more complex information and communication technology and scientific achievements in the areas of reproductive health, gene engineering, genomic testing for cancer treatment etc.   Now it is more topical than ever to direct our scientific knowledge and energy towards the great causes of humanity and build a better world rather than for the destruction or damage to the people and our planet. 

Dictators and those in power are always eager to embrace science and technology and to appropriate it for the purpose of domination and retaining control over population and personal profits.  

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“Hitler’s dictatorship differed in one fundamental point from all its predecessors in history. It was the first dictatorship in the present period of modern technical development, a dictatorship which made complete use of all technical means for the domination of its own country. Through technical devices like the radio and the loud-speaker, eighty million people were deprived of independent thought. It was thereby possible to subject them to the will of one man”, said Albert Speer.  Hitler, one of the most horrendous dictators of the 20th century embraced technology and heavily invested in scientific experiments.   He also knew that shaping the mind of the people and controlling information was the key to his rise to power.   Hitler wrote in his infamous “Mein Kampf” book: “Industry, technology, and commerce can thrive only as long as an idealistic national community offers the necessary preconditions. And these do not lie in material egoism, but in a spirit of sacrifice and joyful renunciation.”  

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One of the worst dictators of the 21st century Vladimir Putin takes after Hitler today in attempting to hypnotize his 150 million people nation by using technology in broadcasting, Internet surveillance, spying on high ranking government officials around the world and using the uncovered secrets to blackmail and or bribe them to promote Kremlin’s agenda.   

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Is Snowden a human rights fighter or a servant of a dictatorship?  Here is a point of view…

With cheaper and more accessible technological tools, major changes in the society are inevitable.   We become more connected and empowered, yet paradoxically disconnected, feeling like “just a number in the system”, like a matrix cell “living in public”.   It is responsibility of every one of us to become aware, educated and active in making sure that scientific achievement today is directed to promote peace and advancement of humanity. 

 

 

 

Research Project Proposal – EMAC6300

The proposed topic for my research project is “The Role of the Internet and Citizen Journalism in Ukraine’s Revolutions”.  Ukraine presents a very interesting case study on the effects of the ICTs on democracy and political movements.  The famous Orange Revolution of 2004 which marked a historical transformation of geopolitics in Eurasia, is considered by many scholars the first in history that was organized online.  How was it possible to overturn authoritarian regime without a single act of violence and utilize Internet 10 years ago when it was getting a very slow start in the early 2000s? How was it possible to organize and lead half a million people to remain on the streets of Kiev in 2004 day and night, to passionately endure frozen weather outside for 11 days straight and have one of the most impressive peaceful public protests in history with only 4% of population online at the time?   Were the Internet and technology the only determining factors that brought success to the revolutionary struggle of the people or were there other important factors?    What was the role of social media in the current political struggle for freedom and democracy in Ukraine, allowing the will of Ukrainian people to prevail despite harsh obstacles by Kremlin and massive FSB disinformation campaign all over the world.    

Despite the Internet getting a very slow start in the early 2000s, Ukraine demonstrated very strong citizen journalism and highly trained online political activism from the very beginning to ensure the success of Orange Revolution and continuing strong resistance to the corrupted government installed and financed by Putin’s Russia.   What is noteworthy about this accomplishment is that all the mainstream media was aggregated in the hands of the authoritarian government and the pro-Russian oligarchs (billionaires with fortunes tied to Russian oil and gas industries) and existed under harsh conditions of far-reaching censorship.  While the government certainly saw the Internet as a threat, it had not come to legal consensus regarding silencing online journalists, which allowed citizen journalism in Ukraine to blossom and avoid the threat of defamation charges and prosecution that mainstream journalists faced. 

Since that time, Internet usage has increased dramatically in Ukraine from 4% in the 2004 to 34% saturation in 2010.   Today, Ukraine is ranked 9th in the “Top 10 Internet Countries in Europe” by International Telecommunication Union, United Nations’ ICTs specialized agency.  Combined with the rapid political changes, open networks have become a very potent force for democratic process development in Ukraine.  

Thanks to the ICTs widely accessible in Ukraine today, full utilization of social media by protesters, activists and politicians, and highly developed citizen journalism / political blogging culture, it was also possible for the Ukrainian people to overturn the corrupt and criminal pro-Putin’s regime in February, 2014 after 3 months of massive unprecedented protests in downtown Kiev. 

Proposed Bibliography:

 

Morozov, E. (2011) The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom New York, NY: Public Affairs

 

Papacharissi, Z. (2012) A Private Sphere: Democracy in the Digital Age  Maiden, MA: Polity Press

 

Rosanvallon, P.  (2012) Counter-Democracy: Politics in the Age of Distrust  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

 

Howard, P. (2010) The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam New York, NY: Oxford University Press

 

Boler, M. (2008) Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press

 

Gerbaudo, P. (2012) Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism London, UK: Pluto Press

 

McFaul, M. (2005) Transitions from Postcommunism.  Journal of Democracy, 16, no.3: pg. 12

 

Goldstein, J. (2007) The Role of Digital Networked Technologies in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution.  Harvard Law School The Berkman Center For Internet and Society  Research Publication No. 2007-14

Marson, J. (2010) In Ukraine The Death of the Orange Revolution  Time Magazine February 3, 2010

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Intellectual Property Issues – When Healing Becomes a Crime

Intellectual property (IP) refers to patents, copyrights, and trademarks. IP rights make commodities of knowledge goods so that they can be bought, sold, withheld, utilized, or licensed. Once an arcane and technical topic, intellectual property has become an important focus of contesting in international relations and a subject of heated scholarly discourse.    Technological change, including the digital revolution, economic globalization, and the emergence of a knowledge- and services-based economy, has led rights holders to press for greater regulatory harmonization and higher standards of protection worldwide.  

While the majority of people regard intellectual property as beneficial for protection of inventors and necessary for promoting further research, Peter Drahos  in his book “Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy” argues that patents are being used to lock up vital information in elite ownership.   “Information feudalism is a regime of property rights that is not economically efficient, and does not get the balance right between rewarding innovation and diffusing it. Like feudalism, it rewards guilds instead of inventive individual citizens. It makes democratic citizens trespassers on knowledge that should be the common heritage of humankind, their educational birthright. Ironically, information feudalism, by dismantling the publicness of knowledge, will eventually rob the knowledge economy of much of its productivity (p. 219).”

Drahos and Braithwaite emphasize that the title Information Feudalism is not intended to be taken at face value by literal-minded readers, and crudely equated with medieval feudalism. Rather, the title serves as a suggestive metaphor. It designates the transfer of knowledge from the intellectual commons to private corporation under the regime of intellectual property.

What are the consequences for the ownership and secreting of important findings in genetic engineering science, biotechnology, cancer / AIDS research etc.?   When watching a video on YouTube “Cancer- The Forbidden Cures”, one might wonder why despite billions of dollars spent on finding cancer cure in the last century, cancer research is still in the same position as it was at the beginning of the 20th century.   It is still the most vicious killer of human race with the only treatment legally approved for cancer in the western world being surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.   While Rene Cassie had proven to cure thousands of cancer patients in the 1940s and 1950s, and the President Kennedy’s personal doctor appealing to the FDA to approve her formula for the nationwide cure, big pharma companies blocked the FDA from passing that regulation.  They are still selling ineffective chemotherapy drugs at as much as $7000 a bottle and making trillions on “curing” cancer patients.

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Even though the treatment under the same name that R. Cassie invented (Essiac) is currently available for sale, it is very doubtful that the formula she used to treat and cure her cancer patients for free is the same formula that they use to make Essiac today. 

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The most tragic part is that the government influenced by giant corporations and the world banks is used to fully regulate education system and medical care.  The conventional cancer treatment therapy (the only treatment legally approved to practice in the US) consisting of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are invasive, often ineffective and in fact carcinogenic! 

Manuel Castells echoes Peter Drahos in stating that true power is in the hands of those who own and control information.   When important research achievements in the areas of agriculture, public health, climate change, energy, space exploration and digital technology are held in the hands of the ruling elite, we as human race are facing “information feudalism” or the state of serfdom and slavery to those who choose to withhold this information from public knowledge and to stall the progress in improving public health and well-being. 

Case Study on Digital Identity: Teen Girl Identity on Facebook

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My Power Point Presentation Slide Deck on Google Docs – Digital Identity PP Presentation. 

Digital identity discussions have gained much popularity in the last 20 years or so.  It is a very broad topic that involves the matters of privacy, digital divide, and the impact of the Information and Communication Technology on the way we function as the society. 

 Let’s define Digital Identity.   It is a data that uniquely describes a person and contains information about the subject’s relationships.   The social identity that an internet user establishes in cyberspace is referred to as online identity.

 Those generations that grew up without internet had a chance to establish their physical identity before their online identity.  Children growing up with Internet today develop their physical identity simultaneously with the digital. How does that impact younger generations?   

 The narrow focus of today’s presentation is the Teen Girl Identity on Facebook.   The cyber culture promotes relentless display of self via images and sound bites before the self has had a chance to fully form.  The digital identity of teens is influenced by many external factors.   

 In the Margaret Cooper and Kristina Dzara essay: The Facebook Revolution: LGBT Identity and Activism, authors analyze several stages of public identity development: 1) identity construction, 2) identity management and negotiation; 3) collective identity, activism and the construction of issues as social problems. 

 Social networking sites and Facebook in particular gives our online persona a sense of uniqueness.   We are a center of the universe as everything on our profile is centered around us, our lives, our views and our perceptions of ourselves. 

In 1995, Buhrmester and Prager developed a model of self-disclosure in which adolescents can achieve “identity development” and “intimacy development” both through the process of revealing their thoughts and feelings to their peers. 

What is interesting about self-revelation on social networks?   The question comes up how genuine is this self-revelation.  Do we always speak what we really feel or do we hold back?  Do we alter our revelation based on the perceived acceptance or unacceptance? 

Here lies the major difference between speaking your mind on Facebook versus the diary.  When you are writing in a diary no one else will ever see, you can write whatever you want at whatever length you want.  You can explore your own thoughts and feelings through your writing. 

When tweens and teenagers write and post photos online, they are seeking to please, entertain, impress or amuse their friends or opposite sex.  One danger of online blogs and social networking sites is that a teenager may not be expressing what she really feels.  

She might not even be aware of the difference.   She may not realize that what she says she is feeling isn’t what she actually is feeling.  She subtly adjusts what she is writing to suit what she thinks her friends want to read.  After a while, she may gradually become a girl she is pretending to be. 

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Many girls are well aware that the persona they are presenting on their Facebook page is not genuine.   Authenticity is not valued on Facebook.  It’s not about being authentic, say teens, it is about being cool.  Girls list favorite movies, music, books not based on their own preferences but on what they consider would get approval. 

Girls know that if they want their social networking site to be popular, then the site needs to include lots of photos.  Funny photos are good; sexy and suggestive photos are better, as long as the photos aren’t skanky.  It is all about projecting the right image: cool, hip, ironic. 

She is creating a mask, she is marketing a brand, she is performing: putting on a show to amuse others.  Girls that pretend to be obsessed with Clary and Jace because it is cute and amusing to portray such a persona may find themselves turning into girls they pretend to be. 

According to Bauerlein, “Instead of opening adolescents and young adults to worldly realities, acquainting them with the global village, digital communications have opened them to one another – which is to say have enclosed them in a parochial cosmos of youth matters and concerns”.

While working so hard on creating online identity across multiple social networking sites and blogs, teen girls adjusting their views to please others.  Staying hip, on top of the latest whim of adolescent fashion, requires constant vigilance and tremendous time investment.  But it achieves nothing lasting. 

“We have entered the stage of micro-celebrity” according to Clive Thompson.  When real celebrities go to a party, they know that somebody may take their photo.  And that photo may appear within minutes in the blogosphere.  They know they must always be on guard about how they look and what they say. 

The girls today are like real celebrities and politicians.  In essence, every young person in the cyberbubble has become, in the literal sense, a public figure.  And so they are adopting the skills that celebrities learn in order not to go crazy and use caution in developing their online persona. 

Watch what you say.  Be witty – but don’t offend your friends.  Be cute – but not skanky. Be spontaneous – but not stupid.  And if you make a single mistake, it could go online and haunt you forever.  The strain of living in front of the crowd constantly is what causes real celebrities to fall apart. 

Teenage girls not only learn to make-sure they are always dressed and made-up for close-up pictures, they have to manage their online presence without having a professional PR expert to design their logos, fonts, and photoshop images.  Protecting their digital identity becomes another time-consuming task.    

While corporatizing their image and making their brand slick and cool, many teens are confused about who they really are.