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Stories from and

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.

Video Animation Explains How Principle of “Free Prior and Informed Consent” Can Empower Indigenous Peoples

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact has uploaded a video animation explaining the principle of “Free prior and informed consent” or how communities should have the right to decide for the development of their lands.

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.

Chinese Outbound Foreign Direct Investment in Europe

This five-minute video created by ESADE business school shows where Chinese capital is invested in Europe and examines the various motivations Chinese companies have for investing overseas (via the China Observer).

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