Blogger and SEO expert Mani Karthik takes a trip down the memory lane and lists 100 things an average Indian cherished during the 1990s.
Latest stories from Quick Reads + Citizen Media
South Korea's state-owned railway operator, Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL), has laid off an unprecedented number of more than 7,600 workers [ko] within a week as it decided to set up a subsidiary for new high-speed train operations, which critics call ‘a prelude to privatization of the nation's rail system'. Inspired by a student at Korea University in Seoul who posted on his school's offline bulletin board a message– a longtime symbol/traditional way of voicing students’ dissent– criticizing the government's such decision, many universities have started posting similar messages on their respective school bulletin boards. A Facebook page entitled ‘안녕들하십니까?‘ [ko] (formal way of saying ‘how are you?’ in Korean) was set up to share images of messages posted across various universities’ bulletin boards. In less than two days, the page has already received more than 41 thousand likes.
The discussion of sex is a taboo in Haitian society. But the discussion of abortion is even more so. Haitian law outlaws the practice in all its forms.
Haiti Grassroots Watch explains.
Overjoyed after reading the news, Japanese twitter user Komachi jokingly commented that her regular habit is now part of renowned heritage:
私、3日にいっぺんくらいは無形文化遺産作ってる！と言えるわけですね。 「和食」無形文化遺産に登録決定…ユネスコ（読売新聞） – Y!ニュース http://t.co/Fxvh0uoCNO
— komachi (@komatchr) 2013, 12月 4
That means I can say that I am cooking intangible cultural heritage [washoku] once every three days!
Subrata Shuvo at Banglablogging platform Amra Bondhu (We are friends) shares the fear and plights of Non-Muslims as racial attacks on them are on the rise, especially during the political disturbances. He shares a story from Chittagong:
পঞ্চাশ টাকা দিয়ে এক মাতালকে বলেছিল মসজিদে ঢিল মারতে। মাতাল কথামতন তাই করল। পরে মাইকে গুজব ছড়ানো হল যে; হিন্দুরা মসজিদে আক্রমন করেছে, মসজিদ ভেঙে ফেলছে। বাঙালির রক্ত গু+, গুজবী জাতি মুহূর্তের মধ্যে হিন্দুদের বাড়ি ঘর দোকান লুট করা শুরু করে দিল। লুট করাই এসব হামলার মূল রহস্য। যদি উচ্ছেদ করা সম্ভব হয় তাহলে ভূমি দখল। যদি গুজব ছড়ানো সম্ভব হয় তাহলে লুট করা যায়। এসব সাম্প্রদায়িক হামলার মূল উদ্দেশ্য-ই হল লুট। ঘটনারগুলো বিস্তারিত ভাবে খেয়াল করলে লুটের বিষয়টি স্পষ্ট হবে। লুটের পর দেখা যায় মন্দিরের ক্যাশ বাক্স ভাঙা, সোনার পতিমা গায়েব, মূলবান সামগ্রি হাওয়া।
One drunken vagabond was paid Tk. 50 ($0.63) to throw bricks on a Mosque. The drunk just did that. Then rumors were spread via mosque loudspeaker that Hindus started attacking the mosque and damaged it. It in the blood of the Bengalis. They bought the rumor started vandalizing Hindu homes and shops. The main focus of these attacks was looting. If they can evict Hindus then land-grabbing. The beauty of spreading the rumors is that you get the license to loot. That's the main agenda. If you get more information about these attacks you will know. You will see that the cash boxes of Hindu temple were emptied, idols of precious metal missing, or loss of other valuable items.
Haiti Chery reports that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) preliminary findings basically state that the “Dominican Constitutional Court Ruling TC168.13 is discriminatory and violates the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent.”
Negreo Inc. [es] is a Tumblr blog dedicated to compiling the harsh working conditions and low wages which Argentine companies currently offer potential employees.
This ad [es], for example, is looking for “an ambitious salesman who wants to work 12 hours a day” for an income “based on results.”
You can help expose demeaning job offers by sending an email to email@example.com.
China Digital Times translated a censored infographics that tells the history, characteristics and public opinions on China Central Television's flagship news program, Xinwen Lianbo (News Simulcast).
Srananart's Blog celebrates Trinidadian artist Christopher Cozier's winning of the 2013 Prince Claus Award, which “honors individuals and organizations reflecting a progressive and contemporary approach to the themes of culture and development.”
A banner paying homage to Nelson Mandela takes on the unanimous popularity of the South-African leader in Brazil to call those who admire his legacy to support human rights. The message was spread by the non-governmental organization Conectas Human Rights in the International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2013.
“Do more than being moved” is the appeal of the organization in a country where conservatism and a negative vision about human rights seems to be growing. As some recent opinion polls show, 90% of Brazilians support the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility, and 61% believe that criminality is caused by people's bad character.
The Cuban Interest Section, the country's diplomatic mission in Washington, has temporarily reestablished its consular services until 17 February 2014. The decision comes after M&T Bank Corporation indicated they would postpone closing the Cuban diplomatic mission's accounts in the United States.
The official announcement by the Cuban Interest Section is an indication that the country “will continue efforts to identify a new bank to take over the operation of its accounts and, to the extent that this is achieved, will be capable of permanently normalizing consular services.”
According to the website Café Fuerte, “it is estimated that some 80,000 people travel to Cuba from the United States during the December holiday period.”
Last July 12, M&T Bank Corporation informed the Cuban Interest Section in Washington that it would no longer offer banking services to foreign diplomatic misions. As a result, the Cuban Interest Section and the Cuban Permanent Mission to the United Nations found themselves, in short order, having to terminate the relationship and initiate the search for a new financial institution with which to conduct their banking activities.
This situation had prompted the Cuban Interest Section to suspend its consular services until further notice.
What most media and people following the recent developments in Ukraine know as “pro-EU” or “anti-Russian” protests after the Ukrainian government backed out of a historical agreement with the European Union that was to bring Ukrainians one step closer to Western Europe, are in fact protests that seem to have been in the making for the past several years.
In terms of corruption, Ukraine ranks 144th out of 177 countries, tying with Nigeria, Iran and the Central African Republic on that list. Dissatisfaction and outrage runs deep among Ukrainian citizens, many of whom were, according to a recent study, ready to leave the country to improve their living standards. Sophia Opatska, CEO of the Lviv Business School, explains in detail on the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) Knowledge@Wharton website why the people of Ukraine are taking action and demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and his government:
In the last couple of years, Ukraine has been in a recession. Although the current government outlined plans to make improvements and reforms, only a small number of people close to the president’s family has experienced any benefits.[...]
Meanwhile, small- and medium-sized businesses have constantly felt intense pressure from tax departments, while reports have surfaced about corruption in state administrations and the courts. The country suffers from low levels of investment, a small number of new business projects and an out-of-date economic structure.[...]
At the same time, the system of social justice in Ukraine is in tatters. On the night of November 30, Ukrainian authorities used brutal violence against a group of students and young people who had been peacefully demonstrating against the government’s U-turn decision. This shows how Ukrainians’ personal security is not assured and citizens can easily be humiliated by the authorities. During the last 22 years of Ukrainian independence, there have been many political games, agreements and trade-offs between parties and politicians, but these social boundaries were not crossed.
On November 30, Ukrainians woke up in a new country. Social media and smartphones allowed us to see the cruelty and violence perpetrated by the authorities, and civil society reacted immediately, with nearly half a million people staging a peaceful demonstration in Kiev the next day. This enormous support came as a surprise to the authorities and opposition leaders.
Volunteer translators following the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine have organized on Facebook, setting up pages like Maidan Needs Translators and Euromaidan Translators where urgent news from the protests that require translation to reach a wider international audience are shared and Euro-Maidan As It Is, where translated content is published.
The translators also provide content for counterpart English-language pages Euromaidan in English, Euromaidan Updates in English and Euromaidan News and Analysis [uk, en]. The process is very decentralized with volunteers not only carrying out translations but also suggesting fresh content.
Description on Maidan Needs Translators page reads:
Looking for those who are willing to translate for us and native speakers to proof-read. All help will be appreciated!
The pages that coordinate translations gathered hundreds of likes in just the first two days. Throughout the mass Euromaidan rally of December 8, Facebook volunteers played an important role, offering real-time translations of important news and developments.
From 10-16th December Jurrat (courage), a campaign on violence against women, is marking the anniversary of the heinous Delhi gang rape. One year ago a 23-year old medical student was gang-raped in a Delhi bus.
A mobile music concert by Swaang (a Mumbai based theatre and protest music group) and Majma (a Delhi based cultural group) will be performed on a moving trailer through the streets of Delhi on 16th Dec 2013. According to the organizer Swara Bhaskar, “we want to reclaim the streets of Delhi and make them safer for all women.”
Swang made a song about Delhi incident, ‘Maa Nee Meri'.
‘Maa Nee Meri’
Mixed in every morsel,
What was that chant you kept repeating?
In the garb of concern and worry,
Why was fear the only virtue I learnt of your teaching?
Mother, I will not fear
Mother, I will not become you.
Jurrat invites peoples on the streets of Delhi on 16th December and part of their campaign.
To get out on the streets of Delhi on 16th December 2013, to fight, to resist, to protest and to pledge against gender based and sexual violence.
Valéry Moise, a Haitian physician and activist, reflects upon the dire situation of street children [fr] in Port-au-Prince :
Moi, quand je regarde un enfant des rues briser une vitre, je vois une promesse électorale non tenue, quand je regarde un enfant sans idéal, je vois un gouvernement sans vision, quand je regarde un enfant manquer de respect à une loi établie, je vois de policiers et officiels circuler en sens inverse, quand je regarde un enfant essuyer une voiture aux heures de classe, je vois une société touchant le fond de l’abîme. Rendez-moi fou ou sage, je verrai toujours à travers les enfants l’image des adultes.
When I witness a child breaking a window, what it tells me is that another promise by a politician went unfulfilled. When I see a child without a dream, it tells me that the government is lacking a vision for the country. When a child does not respect the law, what I see are police forces going the other way. When I see a child cleaning cars when he should be at school, I see a society that has reached the bottom of the ocean. Color me crazy or wise, but I will always see the characters of the adults through the behavior of their children.
As anti-government Euromaidan protests enter their forth week in Ukraine, representatives of Ukrainian civil society are calling on leaders of the European Union, the US and their law enforcement agencies and financial institutions to investigate alleged incidences of corruption and money laundering by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son, Oleksandr Yanukovych.
The data collected by activists has been presented in infographics published recently on http://www.yanukovich.info/.
Their open appeal on the website reads [en, uk]:
We believe that authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych has been fueled by proceeds of corruption laundered via the international financial system through the network of shell-companies and professional intermediaries. We reckon as unacceptable the usage of the international financial system to support the Yanukovych regime, which violently disperses peaceful demonstrations, organizes bloody beating of armless people, and kangaroo courts, that throw them later in jail.
Reforms to the educational system were suspended [fr] in Gabon after teachers and students marched together in protests. In the proposed reform, the final exam to obtain the high school diploma will be done in one round instead of two and the entry into high school will be subjected to a final exam instead of a passing grade at the end of the final year of middle high school. Charlie M. explains what was at stake :
By acting spontaneously without waiting for a go ahead word from anyone, young students demonstrated that they were capable on their own, to realize that to deal with the situation, it was necessary for them to intervene and mobilize. Nobody would do it in their place; especially not their elders who are not capable of that. The youth, unlike their seniors, understand better that democrats, regardless of their views, cannot accept that their rights be violated, and therefore cannot yield when it comes to these fundamental issues such as the right to a quality education
Bhutan has been blessed with a sustained, rich cultural heritage and the Bhutanese people take pride in upholding a number of essential values including harmony, compassion and patriotism. Blogger Dorji Wangchuk has been working with the recovering addicts and alcoholics and looks for a long-term solution of the problem among the Bhutanese youth. He asserts that educating own children is not enough, there is a need to work extra hard towards fostering the children of fellow citizens to inspire them to become good human beings.
When South African leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison in the 90s, Spanish-Peruvian musician Miki Gonzáles [es] wrote the song “Liberaron a Mandela” [Mandela was released]. Peruvian Twitter users remembered the song when they learned about Mandela's passing:
Temón de Miki Gonzales cuando liberaron a Mandela, allá x los 90s https://t.co/OWrzCd4ZmR recordaba la tonadita pero no la letra
— CésarPonce (@cesarponcec) diciembre 6, 2013
What a hit by Miki Gonzales when Mandela was released, back in the 90s. I remembered the melody but not the lyrics.
— luis jaime cisneros (@ljcisneros) diciembre 6, 2013
Tribute by a Peruvian musician to a liberty icon: Miki González, “Mandela was released”
The European Commission will stop financing Presseurop, the largest news website on European affairs on December 22. The website curates the top international news and translate it in 10 different languages. Readers can share and comment the news in the language of their choice thanks to its multilingual platform [fr]. The blog Décrypter la communication européenne worries [fr] that this decision is symptomatic of the increasing isolation of European affairs in the media. An online petition to support Presseurop can be found here.
Hirokazu Tanaka [ja] was 25 years old when he stumbled upon a news clipping that another Hirokazu Tanaka was drafted as a professional baseball player in 1994. This announcement, in which a prominent baseball manager read the shared name aloud, made the long-time baseball fan feel like a dream had come true.
Since then, he embarked on a journey to find other people named Hirokazu Tanaka, learning about the different lives of people sharing the same name. The coincidence continues to fascinate him and bother him. Once, he almost failed to have a loan application approved because the bank was not able to distinguish him from another Hirokazu Tanaka who had bad credit history and the same birthday.
Through the Internet, Hirokazu Tanaka continued to meet other Hirokazu Tanakas. After 20 years, there are 104 Hirokazu Tanakas recorded by the organizer of this Hirokazu Tanaka movement [ja]. Fourteen Hirokazu Tanakas with completely different job titles ranging from apple farmer, graphic designer, composer, and engineer, appear in the book titled “Mr. Hirokazu Tanaka” [ja], literally, a compilation of Hirokazu Tanakas.
Organizer Hirokazu Tanaka continues to meet more Hirokazu Tanakas, hoping one day to beat the number of people named “Jim Smith“, one of the most common name in English speaking countries.
3 December 2013 is International Day of People with Disability. Award winning blogger Carly Findlay writes about her experiences as a person with the skin condition ichthyosis in Disability has meant finding my tribe:
Disability is showing them – the underestimators. It's a sense of community. It's friendship and a strong sense of empathy with a big dose of laughing at the ignorance of others’ reactions. Disability is a place to belong. It's finding my tribe.
Being a street vendor is not an easy job, especially in Senegal. Yet this is the choice that Sebastian Prothmann, a native of Germany, made after he arrived in Dakar, Senegal a few months ago. The following video shows Prothmann at work [fr]:
Prothmann explains in an interview for the Dakaroiseries blog how he came to this unusual job [fr] in a western African country :
Au début de mon séjour j’ai rencontré un jeune homme qui a lors de notre premier contact manifesté son désir ardent de quitter le Sénégal. J’étais curieux de comprendre son ‘’monde vécu’’ pour aboutir à des interprétations socio-culturelles sur son envie d’émigrer. Il était marchand ambulant. Donc, un jour je lui ai demandé si je pouvais l’accompagner dans sa routine quotidienne. Ce qu’il a accepté. Il m’a donc fait faire un premier tour, soi-disant pour mon apprentissage. Il en était réjoui, car on a fait de bons bénéfices [..] Avec cet engagement, j’ai eu plus des prises de conscience dans le secteur informel, communément appelé aussi « Dóor waar », qui joue un rôle fondamental pour la jeunesse sénégalaise. [..] j’étais souvent confronté à une incrédulité frappante quant à mes origines. La plupart des personnes n’ont pas cru qu’un homme blanc peut s’investir dans un tel travail. Plusieurs fois j’étais aussi confronté à une confiance plus élaboré á mon égard. Il y avait des considérations selon lesquels moi en tant que Blanc devait vendre des produits de bonne qualité.
At the beginning of my stay (in Senegal), I met a young man who at our first meeting expressed his longing to leave Senegal. I wanted to understand why he wanted to leave and how his everyday life was so I could comprehend the socio-cultural interpretations of his desire to leave. He was a peddler. So one day I asked if I could accompany him in his daily routine hhich he accepted. After he made me do a round as a vendor, supposedly for my training. He was glad because he made some good profits [ ..] With this new work, I had a better understanding of the informal sector here, commonly known as “door waar ” which plays a fundamental role in the lives of Senegalese youth . [ ..] I was often faced with disbelief when it came to my origins. Most people did not believe that a white man can get involved in such work here. Several times I was also granted more trust about my products than the other street vendors. There was a prevailing line of thinking that suggested that a white person must be selling good quality products .
“Arabic is the seventh most spoken language by Internet users but only three per cent of digital content on the web comprises of Arabic material,” estimate experts. Among the most frequent web usages is sharing text, through Pastebin and similar services. Yet these do not properly support Arabic text. Developed by Egyptian Mostafa Hussein (@moftasa), Nota aims at bridging this gap:
Nota has a single purpose and that is to help people share any amount of Arabic text quickly and easily. Text is presented in a clear, distraction free and beautiful way and is highly accessible. There is no need to sign up or register. It will also remain ad free, free of charge and open source.
Nota's source code is on GitHub.
Spain's Regional Minister of Education for the Balearic Islands, Joana Maria Camps (@joanamariacamps), has proven herself not very familiar with one of the most important studies on education: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In a parliamentary session on November 21, she talked [ca] for some minutes about some important study called “trepitja”, the Catalan translation for the Spanish word “pisa”, a conjugation of the verb meaning “to step”. The mistake, probably the result of her advisers using an automatic translator to translate her Spanish text into Catalan, shows she did not know very well what she was talking about.
A YouTube video offers the audio of Camps’ speech, which ended with the conclusion that a reform in the education system is needed. On Twitter, netizens used the hashtag #InformeTrepitja (Trepitja Report) to post outraged comments and jokes on the tragicomic scene.
Camps is the same minister that dealt with the massive teachers’ strike and protests that took place in the region in September and October 2013.
The Legislative Yuan in Taiwan passed the first reading of the “marriage equality“ bill [zh] on Oct 25, 2013. On Nov 30, more than 300000 people protested against this bill, in particular against the proposal on same-sex marriage. J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based freelance journalist, described what he observed in this protest in his blog.
Blogger Atanu Dey argues that to keep the locally produced garbage out of Indian streets you have got to make it culturally unacceptable to throw trash everywhere. Combined with efforts like assigning places to deposit garbage, ensuring regular garbage collection and some punitive actions for littering, the authorities can make sure that the Indian streets will remain clean.
There has been a series of cyber attacks on Ukrainian government websites after police brutally dispersed peaceful Euromaidan protests in Kyiv in support of Ukraine's European integration on November 30. On December 1, many of the government websites in Ukraine were hacked and blocked [uk], including the official website of the President of Ukraine, Ministry of Interior of Ukraine and the official Government portal. As of 10:00 am CET, December 1, the Presidential website and the website of the Ministry of Interior's were still down, while the Government portal is accessible again.
As Global Voices reported, this is not the first time tech-savvy Ukrainian citizens have demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the Ukrainian government by disabling its websites or leaking government information.
Sociologist, poet, and blogger Guillermo Rebollo-Gil wrote an open letter on his blog to U.S. President Barack Obama in which he calls for the release of Oscar López Rivera, one of the longest-held political prisoners ever. The letter has quickly gone viral over the past two days.
Oscar López Rivera has been in prison for 32 years already, convicted of “seditious conspiracy”, even though it was never proven that he was involved in any violent activity, nor was he convicted of crimes that resulted in death or injury to anyone. After expressing great disillusionment with President Obama's administration, Rebollo-Gil writes:
Over the last three plus decades, five different Presidents have been sworn into office. I wonder if it would be possible for you to consider standing out amongst them. I wonder if you would be interested in imbuing your presidency with historical significance in the form of a direct action to assuage this injustice perpetrated by the American government. I wonder if you would be interested in affirming the fundamental American principle of freedom and grant a pardon to Mr. López Rivera. I really hope so. At all times.
Guillermo Rebollo-Gil's letter has been widely shared on social media and was republished on the online journal 80 grados [es].