Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Stories from and

More than 200 Academics Sign Statement Supporting Anti-Junta Professor in Thailand

Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Photo from Prachatai website.

Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Photo from Prachatai website.

More than 200 academics from all over the world have signed a statement expressing support to historian and college professor Dr Somsak Jeamteerasakul who was recently fired by Thammasat University. The Thai scholar, who has been teaching for two decades, is critical of the junta government which grabbed power last May 2014.

The statement urged Thammasat University and other higher education institutions to uphold academic freedom and free speech:

To think differently is not a crime. If one cannot do so within the walls of the university, spaces of learning and the pursuit of truth, then the space to do so outside those walls will dwindle as well.

Documenting the Struggles of Papuans in Indonesia

Papuan Voices is a video advocacy initiative that highlights the struggles of the people of West Papua, a province of Indonesia. West Papua has been struggling to be an independent state although this conflict from Indonesia is not widely reported in the media.

papuan_voices

VIDEO: How Palm Oil is Causing Environmental Destruction in Indonesia

The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

South Korea: Game Mocking the Airplane Nuts Fiasco

Korean Air Lines vice president has made numerous headlines, both locally and internationally, for her arrogant behavior on a recent flight out. She randomly accused a crew member of serving macadamia nuts ‘incorrectly’ and even she ordered a plane back to the gate to remove the crew member out of the plane. No wonder this sensational story has become one of the trending topics in social media. Among numerous internet jokes, parody photos and even a cartoon by Japanese users, one stood out most would be a game mocking the Airplane nuts fiasco. A Korean web developer, Tai-hwan Hah (@duecorda) made a simple game entitlted ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon’ [ko]. However you play, you get the same result of the crew member being yelled at and hearing the sentence ‘You! Get out of the plane!’ — the very word the vice president allegedly said to the crew.

Image the 'Crew Members' Tycoon', Image tweeted by the maker of the game

Image the ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon’, Image tweeted by the maker of the game

Adorably Ugly Cats Take Over Tokyo Train

"Ultimate Relaxation," the winner of

“Ultimate Relaxation,” the grand prize winner of Japan's recent busukawa neko “adorably ugly cat” contest. Image source: Canon Japan

The winners of a popular contest to find Japan's most “adorably ugly” cats (busukawa neko) have taken over select trains on Tokyo's Yamanote Line. 

The Yamanote Line is full of “adorably ugly” (busukawa) cats!

Many train lines in Japan are already plastered with print advertising. Now, for two weeks in November and early December, the Yamonote Line, the loop line that travels around central Tokyo, is decked out in photos of the winning cats. A YouTube video titled “Canon's Adorably Ugly Cat Campaign Hijacks Tokyo Trains to Promote New PIXUS Printer” offers a glimpse:

The campaign is sponsored by PIXUS, a line of Canon desktop printers, and offers a grand prize of 100,000 yen (US$10,000). Out of nearly 6,000 submissions, 288 finalists and prizewinners ended up displayed on the train.

One lucky cat won the top prize:

And here is the grand prize winner! The photo's title: “Ultimate Relaxation.”

 There were a variety of runners-up. This cat won second place in the contest:

And here is the second-place prize. The title: “No f-ing way, man.” The golden color of this cat's coat perfectly balances the fine silver fur of our grand prize winner.

As the purpose of the contest was to promote Canon's new printer, many of the cats were awarded prizes according to how well their ugly mugs might accessorize a variety of personal belongings.

And the winner for “would look best printed on a handbag” is “May I eat a sticky bun?”

Here is the winner of “would look best printed on a T-shirt”!!! This cat has tickled the fancy of T-shirt designers everywhere!

The cacophony of ugly cat images has become quite popular with Japanese commuters, who have posted photos of the decked-out trains on social media.

This is so cute!  #スマフォトレイン (smartphone photo train) #山手線 (Yamanote Line) #ブサかわ猫ちゃんグランプリ (Adorably Ugly Grand Prix)

The Yamonote Line is CRAZY! It's turned into a total advertisement for PIXUS. The carriage is absolutely plastered with adorably ugly cat pictures. Now I totally want to make a calendar! \(^o^)/

The full list of adorably ugly cat contest finalists can be seen here. To keep on top of Japan's adorably ugly cats, follow @busakawaleon

Why Obama is Wrong About Myanmar

Young Burmese activists displayed banners during a forum attended by United States President Barack Obama in Myanmar. The activists reminded Obama that the so-called democratic reforms implemented by the military-backed government are either fake or illusory.

The Poetry and Brief Life of a Foxconn Worker

Foxconn, a Taiwanese company and Apple company's subcontractor in China, has been criticized for its labour management policy, which has resulted in high number of workplace suicides. Nao, a pro-grassroots group, translated poems of Xu Lizhi, a Foxconn worker who committed suicide on 30 September 2014, at the age of 24, in Shenzhen, China. Below is one of the poems:

《谶言一种》
“A Kind of Prophecy”

村里的老人都说
Village elders say

我跟我爷爷年轻时很像
I resemble my grandfather in his youth

刚开始我不以为然
I didn’t recognize it

后来经他们一再提起
But listening to them time and again

我就深信不疑了
Won me over

我跟我爷爷
My grandfather and I share

不仅外貌越看越像
Facial expressions

就连脾性和爱好
Temperaments, hobbies

也像同一个娘胎里出来的
Almost as if we came from the same womb

比如我爷爷外号竹竿
They nicknamed him “bamboo pole”

我外号衣架
And me, “clothes hanger”

我爷爷经常忍气吞声
He often swallowed his feelings

我经常唯唯诺诺
I'm often obsequious

我爷爷喜欢猜谜
He liked guessing riddles

我喜欢预言
I like premonitions

1943年秋,鬼子进
In the autumn of 1943, the Japanese devils invaded

我爷爷被活活烧死
and burned my grandfather alive

享年23岁
at the age of 23.

我今年23岁
This year I turn 23.

– 18 June 2013

VIDEO: International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

The Public Liberties and Human Rights department at Aljazeera, in co-operation with several international organizations have produced a video about the campaign to end impunity for crimes against journalists:

The video supports the UN resolution on the “Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity”:

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’. The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

5 Muslim Countries Where Gays Are Not Prosecuted by the Law

The LGBT Muslims blog identified 5 Muslim nations where the legal system does not outlaw homosexuality. The 5 countries are : Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. While the law in these countries does not criminalize gay lifestyles, the LGBT Muslims blog points out that LGBT communities still suffer from discrimination and non-negligible pressure to remain discreet regarding their lifestyles. Still, the main take away lesson is that gay rights may be more advanced than most would believe in the aforementioned countries. 

Hong Kong Lion Rock Occupied

A group of mountain climbers hang a huge banner, "I want genuine universal suffrage" in Lion Rock, one of the most well-known landscape in Hong Kong.  The group explained their action to local media: “We were shock[ed] by CY Leung’s viewpoint that the poor should not have equality in election[s] and hope this action would be able to call public attention on the importance of universal suffrage.” Image from Hong Wrong.

A group of rock climbers hang a huge banner, “I want genuine universal suffrage” in Lion Rock, one of the most well-known landscape in Hong Kong. The group explained their action to local media: “We were shock[ed] by CY Leung’s viewpoint that the poor should not have equality in election[s] and hope this action would be able to call public attention on the importance of universal suffrage.” Image from Hong Wrong.

The Translation Detail Everyone Missed in the China Internet’s Incredibly Surreal Anthem

Below is an edited version of “The Translation Detail Everyone Missed in the China Internet's Incredibly Surreal Anthem“ by Jason Li, originally published on the blog 88 Bar and republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

In case you missed it, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Guardian and the Atlantic all wrote about this incredibly surreal but voted best of event anthem celebrating China’s glorious Internet. Thanks to ProPublica, we have a subtitled YouTube video above.

As James Fallows at the Atlantic pointed out, one of the most stirring phrases in the song that is repeated eight times during the chorus is 网络强国. The New York Times and ProPublica both translated this as “Internet power,” while Fallows points out that:

English speakers might think of “Internet power” as comparable to “soft power” or “girl power” or “people power.” But to my amateur eye there is a more explicit connotation of China’s becoming a national power in cyberspace. I’m sure Chinese speakers will tell me if I’m wrong to read 强国 as meaning a powerful country, as in “rise and fall of the great powers” etc. Thus the refrain would emphasize “a powerful Internet country.” The impression I got from this was of a strongly nationalistic message about a supposedly borderless medium.

I wanted to add to the translation and confirm Fallows’ viewpoint by examining one of the lines from the chorus:

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华

Both the New York Times (Paul Mozur) and ProPublica (Sisi Wei and Yue Qiu) translate this to some variant of: “An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.” (Emphasis mine.)

Actually, the line in Chinese does not end with the phrase “China” (中国) but “the greater Chinese” (大中华). Not only does “the greater Chinese” sometimes mean Greater China, but it also hints at overseas Chinese people (华人 or 华侨) and, as Fallows put it, the “borderless” greater Chinese culture/civilization.

Malaysia Launches New Logo as Chair of ASEAN 2015

Malaysia is the new chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the year 2015. This year is crucial for ASEAN as the region takes steps to achieve full integration as a united community. The new logo represents “harmony, close partnership and aspiration of the people from the ten ASEAN countries aimed at achieving the shared vision” of the community.

asean logo

What is Sinology?

Sinology is still unknown to many people, as Isma Ruiz writes after attending the I International Congress of Sinology in Spanish, last June at the University of Tamkang – Tamsui, Taiwan.

Although the focus was translation and interpretation of classic Chinese books, the necessity of learning a new language when studying a culture or being able to use the language in politics were also addressed. Two lecturers caught the interest of Ruiz, Alicia Relinque and Eduardo Daniel Oviedo. About their talks, Ruiz notes:

Relinque, nos explicó muy brevemente su experiencia personal como traductora y cómo a lo largo del tiempo ha ido cambiando su metodología en función de la obra a traducir e incluso a veces por los requisitos impuestos desde la editorial. Seguidamente expuso varios ejemplos de traducciones de otros autores

[…]

(Oviedo) trataba del papel que juega actualmente el chino como elemento integrador de la sociedad china, así como la lucha que tiene con otros idiomas para ser la lengua hegemónica a medida que crece el poder político y económico de la República Popular China, mientras expande su influencia a otras regiones del mundo de cara a la formación de una lengua global.

Relinque briefly explained us her personal experience as translator and how as time went by she has been changing her methodology according to the text to be translated and sometimes even according to the requirements by the publisher. She then talked about several translations by other authors

[…]

(Oviedo) addressed the role currently played by Chinese language as unifying element in Chinese society, as well as the struggle it has with other languages to be the hegemonic language as Popular Republic of China's political and economic power grows, as it expands its influence to other regions of the world in regards to the formation of a global language.

Now it's time to wait for the second edition on 2016 and the possibility for the Autonomous University of Barcelona to organize it. That hasn't been decided yet.

You can follow Isma Ruiz on Twitter and Facebook.

This post was part of the twenty-eighth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

Tokyo Marches in Solidarity With US Protesters #TOKYO4FERGUSON

Two recent court decisions in the US exonerating police officers who killed two black men — 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York — has sparked demonstrations across the country. The African American Youth Travel Program (AAYTP) organised a protest against police brutality, racism and injustice on December 6 in solidarity with the protests in the US and around the world. 

One protest occurred in Tokyo.

Is the ‘Sky Cycle’ Japan's Weirdest Theme-Park Ride?

seto ohashi

The Great Seto Bridge, looking south towards Takamatsu on Shikoku. Image: Nevin Thompson.

If you're looking for a breathtaking view and aren't afraid of heights, the “Sky Cycle” in Okayama Prefecture's Brazilian Washuzan Highland park is definitely worth a ride.

Photos of the Sky Cycle have been appearing on Twitter recently, thanks likely to the striking image found below of a tandem bicycle overlooking the park from an elevated railway.

Washuzan is located at the northern end of the Great Seto Bridge, a massive structure that spans Japan's Inland Sea to connect the island of Honshu to the north with the island of Shikoku to the south. The bridge is a true marvel of engineering, stretching more than 13 kilometers (8 miles) over the ocean.

The bridge is also a beautiful site, which of course is why an amusement park was built at its base.

The soaring, slightly scary Sky Cycle ride, with its magnificent view, is perfect fodder for Japanese prime time television:

Caption: The fearsome Sky Cycle of Washuzan

While Brazil's connection to the area (and hence the name) remains unclear, it is worth nothing that many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry were recruited to work in nearby industrial areas.

Japan's countryside is dotted with large amusement parks, many bearing ethnic themes, that date back to the affluent years of the Bubble era. International travel was still a novelty for many Japanese people then, and ethnically named theme parks provided a glimpse of foreign cultures without the expense of traveling abroad.

The remote area of Niigata, for example, was once home to the Kashiwazaki Turkish Culture Village. Meanwhile, visitors to Nagasaki in Japan's far west could visit a theme park filled with life-size replicas of Dutch heritage buildings.

It's also customary in Japan to include an amusement part at prominent national landmarks like the Great Seto Bridge. Even Mount Fuji has its own park, Fuji-Q Highland. There, thrill-seekers can gaze upon Mount Fuji's slopes as they endure punishing g-forces aboard the park's famed roller coasters.

We made it to Fuji-Q!

@tamiho_29

Okayama Prefecture's Brazilian Washuzan Highland seems to take the cake, however. Japanese Internet users are dubbing it the world's weirdest theme park.

Japan's Internet Runs on Cats and Dogs

It's said that the Internet runs on cats. Japan is no different, although cute dogs can quickly become the subject of massively popular memes too.

One of the most popular omoshiro neta (cool internet memes) in Japan at the moment is a dog with an unusual coat:

While I thought for the longest time this was a Husky with an unusual markings, it turns out this doggy is actually a breed called a Yakutian Laika. I think I'm in love!

In just two days, @LoupGarou12's post about the Yakutian Laika has been re-tweeted 8,500 times and has been marked as a favorite 12,000 times on Twitter.

Another popular Twitter meme is this cat:

Cat being sucked face-first into car.

So far the image has been re-tweeted 26,000 times since the beginning of the week and has 36,000 favorites.

Meanwhile, this cat has also become Internet-famous in Japan:

Looks more similar than I had ever imagined.

Dogs that behave like cats are also popular on the Japanese internet.

For two years our Husky has acted just like a cat. (`・ω・´) Too cute! (p`・ω・´) q 

VIDEO: How a Laos Dam Project Could Endanger Communities in Cambodia

EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.

Comic Explains the ‘Cold War’ Between Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Protesters and Their Parents

Jason Li has translated a letter written by a web user named Cherish to her parents, which was published on citizen media website inmediahk.net, and turned it into a comic. The letter addresses the generational conflict triggered by the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong.

Most of the pro-democracy protesters are under the age of 45 and grew up in a politicized Hong Kong society following the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. On the other hand, those older than 45 are mainly migrants from mainland China who settled in Hong Kong with a hope of improving their family's living conditions.

Take a look at what Cherish said to her parents:

UMHKComicEnglish

Hirotan Forest, an Increasingly Rare ‘Satoyama’ School Connecting Rural Japanese Kids to Nature

生まれて初めてのこぎりで竹を切り、手作りした装置や食器を使って流しそうめん体験。外で食べるそうめんの味は最高! 撮影は2014年8月2日、SanoRieによる。使用許可済み。

Children are being taught how to make use of an abundent satoyama resource, bamboo. Bamboo can be used for tools, food, or in this case, a sluice for slurping noodles in the summertime (eating noodles outside in summer is always fun). Photo taken in August 2014. Image credit: SanoRie.

A satoyama school in rural Toyama Prefecture Japan's Hokuriku “north lands” that was closed down earlier this spring has been given new life.

Satoyama is a term rich with meaning in Japan, and broadly refers to an intensively cultivated land that blends in with the surrounding environment. Much of rural Japan was once such satoyama, where wet rice cultivation not only depended on clean water flowing from the surrounding hills, but the rice fields played a keystone role in supporting a rich, vibrant ecosystem.

A satoyama school, then, resided at the heart of a community, serving as a method for transferring important lessons about land stewardship to future generations who would continue to live in and help sustain the satoyama. As Japan's rural population declines, over the past two decades these schools have continued to shut down.

In the case of the Toyama school, a group of local parents, caregivers and other volunteers have resurrected the school and have called it Hirotan No Mori, or Hirotan Forest. The repurposed school, now a community NGO, posts photos and information about classes and events on their Facebook page.

The purpose of Hirotan Forest is to provide local children of all ages the opportunity to experience nature. The school is located about 30 minutes by car from the small rural city of Takaoka in Toyama, quite close to the Japan Sea coast.

Hirotan Forest gives kids a chance to experience the traditional pursuits of rural kids: digging up bamboo shoots, gathering to watch fireflies in June, and making traditional crafts out of bamboo. In November there are plans to give children the opportunity to build a treehouse in the forest.

The idea is to teach children about rural traditions while allowing them to experience a deeper connection with the natural world. The hope is to pass on methods of living within and protect their satoyama and at the same time learn how to enjoy both working and passing time in the surrounding forest.

Ultimately, the satoyama school and Hirotan Forest are also all about preserving a way of life that is vanishing in the rest of Japan as the population ages.

Fashion Week Turns World's Gaze on Tokyo

The six-day Mercedes Fashion Week kicked off in Tokyo on October 13 and culminated on October 19. Fashion Week is all about launching hot new 2015 fashions from the planet's biggest brands, with daily runway events and fashion exhibitions.

For nearly 20 years Mercedes Benz has sponsored “fashion weeks” all over the world in fashion centers such as New York, Paris and Milan. The Tokyo show marks the start of a series of events all over the world this fall taking place in 20 cities all over the world.

As one of the “top 5 cities,” Tokyo was for one week the center of attention in the global fashion scene.

It's a party atmosphere filled with celebrities, events, and plenty of high fashion.

Kicking off the festival on October 13th was “MORI HANAE designed by Yu Amatsu”, an exhibit showcasing a new collection by Hanae Mori, a young designer with a bright future, while introducing a new brand by Mori Hanae.

Fashion journalist, stylist, and blogger Misha Janette writes in Japanese and English about her impressions as a newcomer to Tokyo Fashion week:

*時間厳守。海外では”ショーのスタート時間にホテルを出ても余裕で間に合う”よね?でもここは東京。数分の遅れでも車掌さんが丁寧に謝罪してくるような街。ちょっと早めに到着するべし。せめてスタート時間には着いてないと見逃すよ!

*…電車を活用すべし!東京の交通網は他のファッションシティとは比べ物にならないくらい優秀。[…] それに、タクシーに乗るのも他の国より簡単。でも[…]電車がおすすめ。だって、東京のタクシーは高い!!!初乗り2キロで710円って。。[…]電車に乗るのってちょっとした冒険みたいでいいじゃない?

*指定席ではないよ!基本的には早い者勝ち。優先順位はちょっと海外より難しいかも。第一優先:ビジネスパートナーと古くからの友人。第二:ブランドを取り上げてくれるメディア(年功序列)。第三:ニューフェイスのメディア。…バイヤーはあまり大切に扱われないハプニングが多いという噂だが…汗。

* BE. ON. TIME. I cannot iterate this enough. I know that the rule of thumb for overseas shows is “Leave your hotel the same time the show is scheduled to start and still be on time.” But this is Tokyo, where train conductors will get on hands and knees to apologize for being a minute late. Get to the show a few minutes early, or at least *right* on time, or you WILL miss it.

* ….take the train. It’s true that traffic in Tokyo is not nearly as terrible as it is in every other fashion city (um, an HOUR to get from SOHO to midtown?? And in Paris I had to run from the taxi to the metro or I would have missed the Chanel show). And yes, it’s easier to get a cab than any other city, too. But most shows are conveniently held at the Hikarie shopping complex connected to Shibuya station and taking the train is not seen as so bourgeois as it is in other world cities. Taxis in Tokyo are some of the most expensive in the world (starting 710yen=USD$7 for 2km) so honestly, if you’re taking cabs every where you’re just being stupid and unadventurous.

* Seats don’t have name reservations. Seats come on a first come first serve-ish basis, and the heirarchy is a bit different than overseas. TOP: Business partners, long-time friends. NEXT: Media, in age from oldest people to youngest, despite who they write for. LAST: Media, who are new to the brand, despite who they write for. NOSEBLEED: Buyers.

To keep on top of events at Tokyo Fashion Week, follow the Facebook page.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site