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Stories from and

Municipal Referendum to Preserve Skopje Shopping Centre Scheduled

The local council of the Municipality of Centar, part of the Skopje downtown area, approved a proposal to hold a referendum to preserve the authentic look of the iconic Skopje Shopping Center. As Meta.mk reports, the referendum will take place on April 26. For the referendum to be successful, it needs a turnout of 50 percent plus one of the registered voters in the Municipality of Centar to vote in favor of preserving the original edifice.

The decision is the result of a two-year-long campaign to save the landmark from a faux-baroque reconstruction plan. The Skopje City Shopping Center is known by the local acronym GTC.

“GTC requires nurturing, renovation, reconstruction, while not losing the concept and function. Project for changing the look of GTC means distorting the essence of the object. The investor who will reconstruct the facility has to know the essence and what does GTC means to the citizens. We have nothing against the reconstruction of the GTC, its authenticity as a heritage must be kept,” said Danica Pavlovska from the Association of Architects.

She added that the referendum is the most democratic way to solve the problems of citizens and is something that allows the citizens to be aware of their power.

The activist campaign continues, with an aim to ensure high voter turnout at the referendum, using the hashtags ‘I love GTC’ (#ГоСакамГТЦ) and ‘GTC’ (#ГТЦ).

Centar decided! On April 26, we go to referendum to save GTC.
The voice of the citizens will be heard. Municipality of Centar voted to allow a referendum on GTC.

Paddington Bear Gets His Peruvian ID

The National Registry of Identification and Civil Status (known as RENIEC) handed over a National Identity Document (DNI) to Paddington Bear, the popular British literary character whose biography says he is of Peruvian origin.

The identification card, which was given during a symbolic ceremony, is yellow, as it is with underage ID cards.

Paddington Beat got his DNI at Reniec.

Not everybody is happy, however, with the character's presence on Peruvian soil:

When the hell does he leave? Paddington Bear got his yellow ID card at Reniec headquarters.

The popular literary character is visiting Peru, as part of a campaign to promote tourism in the South American country.

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

Poetry Project Bridges Language and Cultural Barriers between Arabic and Hebrew Speakers in Israel

The Two Project promotes Arabic and Hebrew arts and culture through the language of poetry.

The Two Project promotes Arabic and Hebrew arts and culture through the language of poetry.

The Two Project has just launched, a collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs to connect their cultures through the language of poetry. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages of Israel. Six years in the making, the project is an offshoot of a recently published book, Two: A Bilingual Anthology (link is in Hebrew).

On their website, the Two Project's creators Almog Behar, Tamer Massalha, and Tamar Weiss write [Heb/Ar]:

This site is a part of the Two Project: a bilingual cultural project focusing on the literature and poetry of youth. Its aim is to create a convergence of dialogue between the two vibrant cultures of Israel, in Arabic and Hebrew. [The project presents] a new generation of writers and readers, who because of language barriers, culture, politics, and physical boundaries are not familiar with what goes on in the modern literary scene of their neighbors.

Anat Niv, editor-in-chief of Keter Publishing, who is responsible for the anthology, remarks:

The very fact that you are holding a book and reading it in Hebrew, with a text in Arabic script on the facing page, or vice versa, is a very powerful experience. Even if you don’t read Arabic, when reading this book you can no longer remain oblivious to the fact that this is a place where people live and create in two languages.

Follow the project on their website or on Facebook in Hebrew and Arabic. Two new authors, an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew, will be featured monthly.

#ThrowAwayYourGum, Recycling Initiative in Argentina

In some streets of the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, pink boxes have appeared specially for bubble gum to keep public spaces clean. The gum collected can be recycled in items such as rubber boots and sandals, among other things.

On Twitter, some users thought the initiative was a good idea, while others were skeptical:

Each day we throw away 650,000 pieces of gum on the ground in Buenos Aires. Now you have the bins to throw them in there!

A very good idea. #sustainable #recycling #BuenosAires #ThrowAwayYourGum #IHadToTweetIt

#Throwawayyourgum and put it in! Will they last? I doubt it. We'll see, we'll see.

Höség: Water and Windproof Solidarity

Mirador de los Andes. Imagen en Flickr del usuario Boris G (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Viewpoint of the Andes. Image on Flickr by usser Boris G (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Höség is a Hungarian word that means heat, and that's what supportive people are giving children in the highest zones of Peruvian Andes, where temperatures are so low that “it's winter every day after five in the afternoon”.

Warm and functional. Thought on the needs of children who live over 9800 f.a.s.l. Waterproof and windproof. With fiberfill and fleece lining to keep warm but also comfortable. Hood, elastic cuffs and high collar neck to keep the cold out.
Coral color inspired by cochinilla, a natural dye from the Peruvian Andes, making it visible from a distance.
A happy jacket for kids between 0 and 16 years.
A jacket designed with love.

The idea of Hösėg is simple: when you buy a jacket, you give another one to a child in the Peruvian highlands, according to Juan Carlos Sznak, one of the promotors of the iniitiative:

Nuestro mensaje a los niños cuando le entregamos las casacas va más allá del simple hecho de abrigar, es darles calor humano.

Our message to children when we hand them the jackets goes beyond the simple fact of getting them warm, it's to bring them love and affection.

The jackets are personally delivered by Sznak and his brothers, the brains and hearts behind Höség.

Bicycling 2,930 Kilometers for a Selfie With Uruguay's President José Mujica

After bicycling for 35 days accompanied only by his bike, 28-year old Brazilian Carlos Eduardo Lemos de Oliveira achieved his goal: he took a selfie with Uruguay's President José Mujica.

Brazilian guys takes a ‘selfie’ with Mujica after pedaling almost 3,000 km to Uruguay.

The loneliness of the journey from the city of Alfenas, in the state of Minas Gerais — in the center of Brazil — all the way to Mujica's home, on the outskirts of Uruguayan capital Montevideo, allowed him to reflect about some aspects of daily life that we usually take for granted, as summed up by G1 website:

Viajar sozinho tem suas vantagens. Você faz seus horários, impõe seu ritmo, decide quando partir e como chegar. Eu sempre digo aos amigos que para viajar assim, sem companhia, é preciso primeiramente estar aberto a fazer novas amizades.
[...]
No começo você desconfia de que as pessoas vão te achar louco por estar falando sozinho nas rodovias. Então você começa a perceber que não existem pessoas naqueles lugares e, num estalar de dedos, você se pega cantando no mais alto tom canções que você tem pavor de ouvir quando está em casa.

Traveling alone has its advantages. You make your schedules, you set the rythm, you decide when to leave and how to arrive. I always tell my friends that for an unaccompanied trip you first need to be open to making new friends.
[...]
At first, you mistrust that people will think you are insane as you talk to yourself on the roads. Then you start to notice there is nobody in those places and just like that, you are singing songs out loud that you would never sing while being at home.

The meeting with Mujica, which was the purpose of the trip, happened on November 21. Carlos Eduardo wrote:

De um lado, uma bicicleta, de outro, um fusquinha azul encardido. Não poderia haver um encontro mais apaixonante do que este que tive com o presidente do Uruguai, José Mujica. Aliás, foi tudo muito despretensioso e quase nada programado. “Pepe”, apelido de Mujica, é um homem de muita simplicidade.

On one side, a bike, on the other, a blue, dirty beetle. There probably won't exist a more passionate encounter than the one I had with Uruguay's President José Mujica. Furthermore, it all was very simple with nothing programmed. “Pepe”, Mujica's nickname, is a man full of simplicity.

Twitter also echoed Carlos Eduardo's journey:

It's good to have dreams, projects, and being able to accomplish them!!

This is a real president.

Paddington Bear Visits the Land of His Peruvian Forefathers

"Por favor, cuiden de este oso. Muchas gracias". Imagen en Flickr del usuario Mark Kenny (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Image on Flickr by user Mark Kenny (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Paddington Bear, the lovable fictional character in children's literature popular in the United Kindgonm, arrived in Peru, the land of his forefathers. According to the character's story, Paddington was found at Paddington Railway Station in London by the Brown family. Because, apparently, “no one understands his Peruvian name”, he becomes known as Paddington after the railway station in which he was found.

In a press release from the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, a campaign by Promperú, which is part of the ministry, was made public:

[...] para promover a nuestro país como uno de los destinos más fascinantes de América del Sur y del mundo, incluye esta visita durante la cual el Oso Paddington pondrá en vitrina nuestras culturas vivas, historia milenaria, biodiversidad, gastronomía y celebraciones.

[...] to promote our country as one of the most fascinating places in South America and the world, during this visit Paddington Bear will highlight our lively cultures, millenary history, biodiversity, cuisine and celebrations.

So, Paddington Bear was seen all around Lima:

Paddington Bear in our capital city Main Square. Go ahead and meet him!

Paddington Bear attends First International Fair President of the Republic Scholarship

I came across Paddington Bear and I can only conclude he must be boiling under that costume.

Today, Paddington Bear visited our newsroom.

Mumbai School Children Have Big Ideas About Technology and Innovation

A screen grab of the video (click the photo to watch)

A screen grab of the video (click the photo to watch)

The author @sutarcv works as a communications co-ordinator with Atma.

Children from a local municipal school in Mumbai voice their opinions on inventions, technology, environment and money in a recent video from Atma, an education non-profit organization whose mission is to support initiatives that help underprivileged children in India. 

This video gives insight into what's going on in the minds of children studying at local municipal schools, many of who face challenging circumstances like living in a bad neighborhood or having to deal with an alcoholic parent, for instance.

One girl wants to invent technology that can help a man to fly at his will. Another wants to invent a wallet in which the money never ends. As far as technology goes, it seems these children at this municipal school are enthusiastic about it. They know about messaging service WhatsApp, email and Google, but it also appears from the conversations of children that their access to Internet is limited.  

Inish Merchant commented on the Atma Facebook post with the video saying:

I wish govt. schools start giving IT lessons as a part of their syllabus.

The most fascinating responses is on an hypothetical question — what would they do if they had lots of money? Some said they will save it for their parents, while others said they will donate it or help people with a disability. There are also a few who said they will build something for themselves first and then make something for others.  

Prateek U Keshari,  a communications specialist with Make A Difference, a non-profit organization that works with street children and orphans, wrote:

This is beautiful! Only if more adults looked for the possibility of ideas through the eyes of a kid! 

World Forum for Democracy Will Discuss “Youth and Democracy” in Strasbourg, France

WFD 2014The third edition of the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy will kick off next week in Strasbourg, France. 
The topic of the debates organized this year from Nov. 3 – 5 at the seat of Coucil of Europe will be: “From participation to influence: can youth revitalise democracy?”. The various labs will be live-tweeted under the hashtag #CoE_WFD. You can also follow the Council of Europe Twitter account @coe, and the dedicated blog. The debates will take various shapes.  Various unconferences during the forum will report their findings on Nov. 4. The insights gathered during the World Forum meetings will be integrated in the future projects of the Council of Europe and its partners in the field of democracy and democratic governance. Furthermore, the Fringe Program will offer numerous events from conference and meetings to film festival and artistic performances, in various venues throughout the city from Nov. 1 to 9. Three Global Voices contributors will attend the forum. 

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