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PHOTO: Crowds Outside a Cairo Liquor Store

A photograph showing crowds outside a popular Cairo liquor store is making the rounds online. On Twitter, Tom Gara shares it with his 27.9K followers:

Egypt, with a liberal alcohol policy compared to other Muslim countries, bans the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended yesterday. This explains the scene Gara tweets.

Victory Speech of Indonesia's New President

Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo or Jokowi delivered a victory speech recognizing the spirit of voluntarism among citizens:

This presidential election has sparked new optimism for us, for this nation. Free souls and political responsibilities blossom within the souls of the new generation. The long-lost voluntarism is now back with a new spirit.

And in the spirit of promoting “volunteer participation”, Jokowi asked Facebook users to vote and choose the 34 Cabinet ministers he should include in his government.

What Owen Arthur's Resignation Says About Barbados’ Politics

Owen Arthur has resigned from the political party he led for 14 years – a move which Barbados Underground thinks should give Barbadians pause:

The incapacity of a former Prime Minister…to carve out an effective role to serve his political party in the twilight of his career leaves a sour taste. If our leaders are unable to find ways to resolve conflict to the greater good of country what message does it send to the general population?

Venezuela Suspends -and Brings Back- Flights to Netherlands Antilles

On Friday June 25, 2015, Venezuela government announced the suspension of all flights between Venezuela and the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Curazao, Bonaire, Saint Marteen and other islands).

According to Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, the action would be a consequence of the detention of Venezuelan Army general Hugo Carvajal –former director of intelligence between 2004 and 2009– by request of the American government, due to Carvajal's alleged ties with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as FARC) and with drug trafficking. Carvajal was appointed as consul in Aruba, but he didn't have the blessing of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, that is in charge of Aruba's foreign affairs.

Note: later, the decision was revoked, and flights between the two countries were resumed.

Trinidad & Tobago Minister Passes the Buck with Failed LifeSport Programme

Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister has shut down the controversial Life Sport programme following the results of an audit, which uncovered the ministry's inability to account for millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money. The programme was originally intended to provide disenfranchised youth with options to a life a crime through sport, but ironically, the Minister of National Security alleged that funds from the programme were being paid to criminals. In a satirical post about the issue, Wired868 says:

Persad-Bissessar [the Prime Minister] said the contents of the Auditor General’s report into Life Sport would be forwarded to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] and Integrity Commission, which do not have their own investigators, and the Police Service that, based on its record, could not find sand at the beach.

Roberts [the Minister of Sport] followed the Prime Minister’s lead by suggesting that the criminal activity was done by his employees and the buck stops with them, which…is arguably the equivalent of a motorist pleading innocent to a fatal accident because he closed his eyes just before impact.

Colombian Sentenced to Prision and Fined for Comments Online

On a judicial ruling that sets a dangerous precedent in Colombia, the Supreme Court of Justice refused to reconsider an appeal taken on the verdict that orders 18 months of imprisonment and a 9,5 milon pesos fine (about US$5,1000) for netizen Gonzalo López for comments published on El País newspaper website, in the Colombian city of Cali.

On 2008, López called Gloria Lucía Escalante, former officer at a public utilities company, a “rat”.

Newspaper El Espectador wonders if this is not a threat against the freedom of expression and shares opinions by lawyers who consider there is a confunsion between information and opinion.

One and a half years without cassation by Gonzalo López to dismiss verdict for slander.

What abot his right of free expression? Supreme Court condemns Gonzalo Hernán López for telling Gloria Escalante what he thinks. Wrong!

Some netizens have sarcastic opinions that the decision should be for former president Alvaro Uribe:

(Former president Alvaro) Uribe accused (former president Juan Manuel) Santos without producing evidence, he is free. Gonzalo Lopez accuses Gloria Escalante on the internet and he serves 18 months. Equality?

Photo: Watching Rockets Fly Over Gaza from Space

From outer space, astronaut Alexander Gerst watches as Gaza erupts in flames. He tweets:

This photograph has been retweeted 33K times so far.

PHOTOS: Typhoon Glenda Left Trail of Destruction in the Philippines

Typhoon Glenda (International name: Rammasun) damaged many structures in Southern Luzon, located south of Manila in the Philippines. Photos shared by Citizens’ Disaster Response Center.

Impact of typhoon Glenda in the Philippines. Photo from Facebook page of Citizens' Disaster Response Center

Impact of typhoon Glenda in the Philippines. Photo from Facebook page of Citizens’ Disaster Response Center

The Hypocrisy of Outrage Against LGBT Rights in Jamaica

An off-colour comment by a Jamaican sports commentator who “dampened the moment of post World Cup celebrations with his shouts of ‘Heil Hitler’ on national television” leads author and blogger Kei Miller to pen a letter to the editor illustrating why his countrymen are living a double standard – outraged by the Hitler reference, most Jamaicans seem to have no problem “liv[ing] comfortably in a period of bigotry” when it comes to LGBT rights.

But wait, some may argue…isn't that like comparing apples and oranges? Perhaps, but Miller argues that the two can be compared:

The point of any comparison is never to make things equal. A thing is only equal to itself. My point really is…that it is interesting a widespread reaction against the historical REMINDER of bigotry, when there are other contemporary expressions of bigotry being tolerated and even celebrated.

2 Journalists Arrested for Alleged Defamation of a Minister in Madagascar

Two journalists from the daily paper Madagascar Matin were placed under arrest at Antanimora's jail, in the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo. Earlier this morning (July 23), both of them were summoned to the Brigade of Fiadanana for a hearing.  Solo Rajaonson, another local journalist,  posted the following update in Malagasy on Facebook :

About the latest news regarding freedom of press in Madagascar: our colleagues, the Publication Manager of the newspaper Madagascar Matin, Jean Luc Rahaga and his Editor-In-Chief, Didier Ramanoelina are placed under arrest at the penitentiary of Antanimora in Antananarivo, Madagascar. This is the result of a complaint of defamation from  Rivo Rakotovao, the Minister of Transport and Industry. So much for breaking away from our recent dark past, I guess

 

Massive Amounts Paid Out in Trinidad & Tobago's LifeSport Programme

As more details come out about the corrupt LifeSport programme in Trinidad and Tobago, Wired868 focuses its satirical energies on Adolphus Daniell, a contractor who was reportedly paid TT$34 million (just under US$5.5 million) for doing nothing – and says he won't pay back the money:

The people now under investigation for corruption were too busy stuffing their own pockets to bother you while you kept your mouth shut and headed for the exit. And you think you should keep the money just because you were able to hold on to it for this long?

It might be ‘a non-issue’ to you Adolph; but we, the taxpayers, still want our money back.

“Shrinking Democratic Space” in Myanmar

The new United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has concluded a visit in the country and issued an initial report about Myanmar's human rights situation:

The opening up of democratic space for people to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to freedom of assembly and association is widely acknowledged as one significant achievement in Myanmar’s continuing reform process. Yet, in recent months many of my interlocutors have seen the shrinking of that space for civil society and the media.

There are also continuing reports of the excessive use of force by the police and the authorities in breaking up protests.

Yanghee Lee also expressed concern about the “spread of hate speech and incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility in the media and on the Internet, which have fuelled and triggered further violence” against minority ethnic groups and Muslims.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that Myanmar “needs further encouragement and understanding in order to address these challenges and to continue on the path of reform.”

PHOTO: Palestinians Teach Life

Palestinian Sayel tweets to his 1,800 plus followers on Twitter the following photograph of Gazans planting flowers in Israeli shells. He notes:

Today is Day 19 of an Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave, which has claimed the lives of at least 1,000 Palestinians and injured 6,000 others.

Being A Black West Indian in Britain

Jamaican author Kei Miller's blog post about “the anxieties of being a black poet in Britain” draws from several personal experiences, leading him to the conclusion that “the act of writing certain black experiences has to be one of translation – as surely as we translate from one language into another”:

Blackness itself is still seen to exist in a place outside of language, or at least outside the refined language of poetry…And I do not know whether the old dictum about the economy of translation is true – whether or not something is always lost…But this much seems to be important, that we keep blackness in check. In this way, the anxieties of being a black poet in Britain are obviously part and parcel of the broader anxieties of being black in Britain.

Spanish Congress Comission Approves AEDE Tax or Google Tax

The Spanish Congress’ Commission of Culture approved the so called AEDE Tax (for the Spanish name of the Association of Editors of Spanish Newspapers), also known as Google Tax as part of the draft bill of the Law of Intellectual Property.

GurusBlog explains what is this tax about:

A tax by which an inalienable right is created so every journalistic update website automatically generates a collection right on any other website that links to it. An organ like a SGAE (for the Spanish name of General Society of Authors and Publishers) will be in charge of the collection and the distribution among its associates.

On Xataca they note:

Unlike Germany, the media group that is lobbying for this legislation -AEDE- gets the “inalienability” to be added so as to avoid to be self-evident: if Google has to pay a medium for linking from Google News, it would suffice to take it out, and after realizing the sudden loss of traffic, that medium might request to get back without any fee.

After some tweets, some netizens are upset:

Angrier than me with the AEDE tax. Überfav, unfortunately.

This AEDE tax is ridiculous and it goes against the nature of Internet itself! LINKING IS NOT A CRIME!

Other users are promoting not linking to the media:

WordPress plugn to block all URLs than link to AEDE y the Spanish Center of Republishing Rights.

Images of Air Algerie AH5017 Plane Wreckage in Mali Reveals Violent, Abrupt Crash

The first footage of the plane crash are now available thanks to a Burkinabe soldier present on the site of the wreck near Gossi, in Northern Mali. There are no survivors among the 118 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals. Algerian website Algérie Focus reports in French that:

Cette vidéo montre des débris éparpillés et broyés. La zone sablonneuse a été noircie par le crash. Sur cette vidéo, il est pratiquement impossible de repérer les pièces maîtresses de l’avion au milieu des débris.

The video shows scattered and crushed debris. The sand at the site was blackened by the crash. In the video, it is virtually impossible to identify the key components of the aircraft amid the debris.

Timeline of Israeli Air Attacks on Gaza in 2014

Screengrab from Crowdvoice.

Screengrab from Crowdvoice.

CrowdVoice, a user-powered service that tracks voices of protest from around the world, lists a timeline of Israeli air attacks on Gaza in 2014. Here's an excerpt from their “explore the backstory” section:

A series of abductions and murders has inflamed age-old tensions and sparked armed unrest in Gaza. It began on May 15, 2014, when two Palestinian youths were shot dead during clashes with Israeli security forces during a demonstration in the West Bank. Outrage grew when video footage of the killings emerged, showing that the unarmed teens were shot with live ammunition, despite Israeli assertions that only non-lethal munitions were used against protesters. Later, on June 12, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped as they hitchhiked home from the West Bank. An Israeli military operation was launched to find the missing teens, and on June 30, their bodies were recovered. The government of Israel has blamed Hamas for the murders, and vowed swift retaliation. Hamas praised the kidnapping, but did not claim responsibility. In an apparent act of retribution, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, aged 16, was abducted near his home on his way to morning prayers and burned alive. Israeli authorities have arrested six people in connection with the teen's death. Tensions from the murders have boiled over into indiscriminate Palestinian rocket attacks into Israeli territory, and relentless aerial bombardment of Gaza.

 

Cuba's Customs Clamps Down in “Illegal Imports”

On September 1, 2014 the Customs Service of the Republic of Cuba will begin enforcing new regulations intended to combat illegal trafficking of merchandise by relatives, friends and ‘mules’ (a slang term for couriers of goods from overseas through airports and port facilities).

Iván's File Cabinet considers this “one more turn of the screw”, explaining that since 2011, there have been new measures every year to try and stop the illegal importation of goods by families and private businesses on the island.

Spanish Football Club Presents Peculiar T-Shirt

Spanish football club Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa, presented its new T-shirt on July 22, 2014, with a peculiar design that simulates a tuxedo, with shoulder braids, and even a bow tie just below the neck.

Twitter users were quick to express their opinion, not always favorable:

I can't tell which one is worse. The hideous T-shirts of the Lugo Club and the Cultural Leonesa one.

This is why “Cultural Leonesa” is trending topic.

Initially, the T-shirt was going to be used only during a pre-season friendly match. After the unfavorable opinions on social networks, the club, which founded in the city of Leon in 1923 and plays in the Second Division B – Group 1 of Spain, is considering using it as the alternate shirt or simply discarding it completely. is a sport association 

Sri Lanka Plans to Deport 1,500 Pakistani and Afghan Refugees

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra town. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra, Pakistan. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.

According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.

Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.

W3Lanka English blog opines:

The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?

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