Author Archives: Jon Custer

Help Us Choose the Winners of the 2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition

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Cartoons can speak across languages and cultures, and provide personal insight into universal challenges facing citizens around the world. In honor of International Day of Democracy, CIPE is pleased to announce that public voting is now open for the 2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition.

Cartoonists from 67 countries who submitted more than 350 entries to this year’s Global Editorial Cartoon Competition. CIPE’s panel of judges selected three finalists in each of the three categories: Democracy, Transparency, and Corruption. These nine finalists hail from Russia, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, El Salvador, Indonesia, and Myanmar.

Your votes will help us determine the final winners in each category! Submit your votes here.

Public voting will close at 5:00 PM EST on Friday, September 26, 2014.

Open Government, Open Data, and the Meaning of Transparency

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“Open” has become one of the biggest buzzwords in governance. But what does openness really mean? And does it mean the same thing to governments, civil society groups, the media, and the private sector?

As part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) — Deputy Director Andrew Wilson serves as co-chair of the Council for Engaging the Private Sector — CIPE is also interested in the answer to this question. OGP is a multinational partnership, currently made up of 63 countries and a number of civil society organizations, that aims to make government more transparent, more accountable, and more responsive to citizens.

One way that governments have tried to become more open is through open data — making data about government operations such as budgets, spending, and voting freely available for anyone to use.

But simply releasing some data does not necessarily make a government more transparent or accountable. “So if open data doesn’t produce benefits by itself, how does it work?” asked Emily Shaw in a recent post on the Sunlight Foundation’s blog.

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Celebrating 30 Years as a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Affiliate

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Since its inception, CIPE has been an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A large part of CIPE’s mission revolves around strengthening chambers of commerce and business associations in developing countries so that they can act as the voice of the private sector. As perhaps the most influential chamber in the world, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has served as a model and an inspiration for many CIPE initiatives.

The National Business Agenda process, for example, has been a successful tool for articulating private sector concerns into concrete policy recommendations. Likewise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute for Organization Management has helped CIPE staff train partners around the world in the latest best practices for running an effective association.

Recently U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue wrote about CIPE’s 30-year history of supporting free enterprise and democracy around the world.

2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition Open!

2012-2013 1st Place Winner, Democratic Governance category. By Seyedbehzad Ghafarizadeh (Iran/Canada).

2012-2013 1st Place Winner, Democratic Governance category. By Seyedbehzad Ghafarizadeh (Iran/Canada).

Can you create a picture that’s worth a thousand words?

Cartoons have an unparalleled ability to communicate universal ideas across cultures and language barriers. Cartoonists have long played a key role in the development of democracy — from the American and French revolutions through to defending media freedom and critiquing corruption in countries like Ecuador today.

CIPE’s Editorial Cartoon Competition is open to amateur and professional cartoonists of all ages from any country. First place winners in each category are eligible for a cash prize of $1,000.

Do you have something to say about Democracy, Transparency, or Corruption? Draw attention — enter your cartoons before June 2, 2014!

Jon Custer is the Social Media / Communications Coordinator at CIPE.

World Press Freedom on the Decline

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Saturday, May 3 was World Press Freedom Day, when we celebrate the vital contributions of free media around the world. Unfortunately, journalists, independent media outlets, and the legal and constitutional freedoms they depend on to do their jobs are all under attack in many parts of the world.

Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of democracy — without a free media to provide citizens with the information they need to hold elected leaders accountable, the institutions of democracy simply cannot function.

The latest edition of Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press index, released on Friday, shows that the proportion of the global population living in countries with a free press has declined to its lowest level in over a decade — just 14 percent. The growth of new online and social media outlets in particular has triggered an authoritarian backlash as countries from Russia to Turkey to Venezuela to Thailand crack down on these new forms of communication.

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The Future of Crowdfunding Around the World

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This Saturday, April 5, marked the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup Act (JOBS Act), which paved the way for “equity crowdfunding” in the United States.

This year, the crowdfunding community celebrated that anniversary as Global Crowdfunding Day. While rules are still being drafted to make equity crowdfunding a reality in U.S., the broader crowdfunding world has already grown by leaps and bounds since that act was signed into law.

Simply put, crowdfunding allows anyone to invest in making an idea a reality — whether it’s a new product, a business, a book, movie, album, or video game, or a charitable project. By harnessing the power of the Internet and social media, crowdfunding platforms let people with innovative ideas harness donations as small as $1 from thousands or tens of thousands of people around the world who share their enthusiasm.

Someday, equity crowdfunding will allow these contributors to earn a return on their investment when they invest in a project like Oculus Rift, which was recently bought by Facebook for $2 billion. In the meantime, however, there is no shortage of creative ideas and potential in the crowdfunding community.

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Oculus Rift and the Potential of Crowdfund Investing

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Facebook made headlines on Tuesday when it announced it would acquire Oculus Rift, a maker of virtual reality headsets, for $2 billion. Such acquisitions are not unusual in Silicon Valley — just last month, Facebook  bought chat service WhatsApp for $19 billion. What’s unique about Oculus Rift is that it started as a project on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Under the Kickstarter model, backers contribute to projects because they want to see them made. The most they can expect to receive is a copy of the finished product and a token of appreciation. The more than 2,000 backers who gave less than $275 to the Oculus project received only items like T-shirts and posters, along with the hope of one day being able to buy the VR headset in stores.

Some backers were outraged at the sale. If those who received a headset had instead received a share of the company, a $300 investment would result in a $20,000 payout (after accounting for subsequent venture capital funding.)

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