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Stories from Quick Reads

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

 

Venezuela Clears the Tower of David, the “World's Tallest Slum,” of Squatters

The Venezuelan government has finished evacuating thousands of squatters from the Tower of David, which overlooks Caracas’ slums, and is the tallest and most distinct building in the capital city's skyline. 

The one-time office tower is a symbol of how prosperous Venezuela once was and its current dilapidated state reflects growing inflation and poverty problems in the country. Some of the squatters were people seeking refuge from growing daily violence in the sprawling city.

“This is not an eviction, this is a coordinate operation, harmoniously carried out with the community of the Confinanzas towers, that implies moving from here to units in Misión Vivienda”, stated Ernesto Villegas, minister for the Transformation of Gran Caracas, to a local TV station. Those units are located in Valles del Tuy.

On Twitter, users are posting some images from the so called skyscraper-favela of Caracas:

Know why the famous Tower of David is being evicted (PHOTOS).

CARACAS: Since last night, the “Tower of David” is being evicted. Since 2007 the building was invaded by squatters.

One of the seasons of TV show Homeland was set in the Tower of David. On this report, we watch.

How to Become a Good Father

Panamanian Joel Silva Díaz elaborates what many people wonder, especially men: how to be a good father. On his personal blog he describes his challenges with his own father and his goals as a father:

…Recuerdo que veía como un juego el buscar un tema de conversación, debido a mi falta de interés en el deporte, nunca tuvimos una conversación de más de 5 líneas (legítimamente contadas por más de 10 años), pero conociendo otros casos e historias, por lo menos tuve un padre.
[...]
Y es eso lo que quiero mejorar, quiero ser un padre que no haga las cosas sin enterarse, quiero abrazar, quiero besar a mis hijos, presentarle siempre la opción de tomar las mejores decisiones y apoyarlos cuando no tomen las mejores, nunca dudar en mostrarles mi amor y cariño, mucho menos dudar cuando se ganen un coscorrón.
[...]
Pero mi parte no quiero que se quede en un apellido, o un cheque en la quincena, mi parte ha de ser presente, determinante y quiero que mi hijo o hija tenga por lo menos un solo recuerdo lindo impregnado en su corazón, como los domingos de Salsa y el olor a grama recién cortada de los domingos en mi casa.

I remember I considered a game to look for something to talk about, due to my lack of interest in sports we never had a conversation longer than five lines (rightfully registered for over ten years), but knowing other cases and stories, I at least had a father.
[...]
And that's what I want to improve,I want to be a father that does things without noticing it, I want to hug, kiss my children, present them the best option to make the best decisions and support them when they don't make the good ones, never hesitate in demonstrating my love and care, let alone when they earn a smack on the head.
[...]
As for me, I don't want a last name to last, nor a check every two weeks, my part has to be present, decisive and I want my child to have at least on only nice memory in their heart, as Salsa and the scent of recently trimmed off grass on Sundays at home.

Are you, or plan to be a good father?

You can read Silva Diaz following his accounts on G+ or Twitter

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV, (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Football Analysis of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

International football fan Alberto Palmás analyzes the best teams that took part on the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. He remarks the general performance of the national teams, the best players and other topics. He starts with Germany:

Ha ganado el Mundial. Es la mejor y ha sido la mejor en el mundial. Muy superior a sus rivales, gracias a su espectacular juego de toque y a su infalible artillería arriba. Es una máquina casi imposible de ganar. Solo se lo puso difícil Argelia, Francia y en la final Argentina. A los demás equipos los vapuleó.

Germany won the World Cup. they are the best team and has been the best during the tournament. They are superior than its rivals, thanks to their spectacular style and their infallible artillery. It's a machine that's almost impossible to defeat. Only Algeria put things hard on them, France and Argentina on the final match. All other teams just got thrashed.

If your are passionate about international football as Alberto, you can follow him on his blog and on Twitter.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV, (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014. 

Bangladesh's Elite Paramiltary Unit Is Under Fire for Human Rights Violations. This Blogger Asks: What About Israel's IDF?

An activist is picked up by an RAB agent in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a nationwide strike called by the main opposition party in June 2011. Photo by   Rahat Khan. Copyright Demotix.

An activist is picked up by an RAB agent in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a nationwide strike called by the main opposition party in June 2011. Photo by Rahat Khan. Copyright Demotix.

Brad Adams, the executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, has recently written a letter to Bangladesh's prime minister suggesting that the Bangladesh government should disband the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Quoting news sources, he accused the RAB of being responsible for more than 800 extrajudicial killings in the past 10 years.

Human rights organizations have long accused the elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit, which was created in 2004, of human rights violations. A number of its members are under investigation in Bangladesh in connection to the abduction and killing of seven men (see Global Voices report).

Some netizens were Irked by the tone of Adam's letter to a sovereign country. Blogger Himu wrote for Bangla blog Sachalayatan a response to Adams, suggesting he be consistent and write to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামস লিখেছেন, “র‌্যাবকে এখন আর সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব বলে আমরা বিশ্বাস করি না। আইনের ঊর্ধ্বে থেকে কোনো ধরনের জবাবদিহিতার তোয়াক্কা না করে র‌্যাব পরিচালনার একটি সংস্কৃতি তৈরি হয়ে গেছে। এই অবস্থায় এ বাহিনীকে অবশ্যই বিলুপ্ত করতে হবে, যাতে হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করা হয়।”

মানবাধিকারবারি ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামসের উদ্বেগের প্রতি শ্রদ্ধা জানিয়ে এবার একটা ছোটো আবদার করি। প্যাড থেকে আরেকটা কাগজ ছিঁড়ুন। কলমদানি থেকে কলমটা বের করে খাপ খুলুন। তারপর লিখুন ইসরায়েলের প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে। তাকে বলুন, ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেস প্রতিষ্ঠানটিকেও বিলুপ্ত করে দিতে। ২০০০ সাল থেকে ২০১২ সাল পর্যন্ত ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসের হাতে নিহত ফিলিস্তিনিদের একটি পরিসংখ্যান পাবেন এখানে। এদের মাঝে একটি বড় অংশ নিরীহ বেসামরিক মানুষ, তাদের একটা বড় অংশ শিশু, এবং সংখ্যাটাও ৮০০ থেকে বেশি।

আমি নিশ্চিত, আপনি বিশ্বাস করেন না যে ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসকে সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব। কাজেই ফিলিস্তিনে নির্বিচার হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করার জন্য যে এই বাহিনীকে বিলুপ্ত করার অনুরোধ আপনি ইসরায়েলি প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে করবেন, সেরকম তো আমরা ধরে নিতেই পারি। নাকি?

কবে আপনি ঐ চিঠিটি লিখবেন, দেখার জন্যে সাগ্রহে অপেক্ষা করছি।

Brad Adams wrote, “We do not believe that RAB can be reformed. It has developed a culture of operating above the law without civilian accountability. It must be disbanded so that the killings come to an end.”

With respect to human rights activist Mr. Brad Adams, I would request him to tear another page from his pad, take a pen and to write a similar letter to the Israeli prime minister urging him to disband the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). You will have the accounts of killings by IDF available here. A lot of these victims are innocent civilians and a large portion of them are children, and the number is a lot more than 800.

I am sure you will agree with me that the IDF cannot be reformed. So can we hope that you will also suggest the Israeli prime minister that IDF should be disbanded?

We are eagerly waiting to see when you will write this letter.

One commenter wondered cynically:

মানবধিকারের সংজ্ঞা বোধহয় অঞ্চল ভেদে ভিন্ন হয়।

Perhaps human rights is defined differently in regions of the world.

A Documentary That Allows Transgender People's Voices to Be Heard

Though gays and lesbians are gradually gaining more acceptance in Puerto Rico, the same cannot be said yet of transgender people. That is why a film like Mala Mala, a documentary in which trans people speak freely about their stories, is so important. The film, directed by Dan Sickles (@dan_sickles) and Antonio Santini, is on the official selection of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

One of the people interviewed for the film is Paxx Moll, a chef who is also a transgender female-to-male. In an article published in La Respuesta, a digital magazine about the Puerto Rican diaspora, he talks to E. J. Dávila about who he is, his experience being part of the documentary, and about the lack of social and medical spaces for trans people in Puerto Rico, particularly for transgender men.

This is the teaser trailer for Mala Mala, which will premier in Puerto Rico in the coming months:

Four Kosovars Walk to Brussels for Visa-free Travel Privileges

On July 17, 2014, four men from Kosovo completed a 78-day walk from eastern Kosovo to Brussels, Belgium. The goal of their trek was to incite EU officials to grant Kosovo visa-free travel throughout the EU, a privilege that has been available to all other Western Balkan countries for some time.

The four men began their trip entirely independently and with their own financing, but say that they received both financial and moral support from others throughout the countries of the region as they made their way to the headquarters of the European Union. Radio Free Europe reported after the men reached Brussels, where they met with EU officials:

Calling themselves The “Free Travellers” group (“Shtegtarët e lire”), the men walked under the slogan “5 million steps for one step” in the hope that Brussels will grant citizens of Kosovo the possibility to travel to the European Union without visas.

Artists Explore the ‘Melting Point’ of Art and Propaganda in Skopje

A not-for-profit, self-financed group of artists calling themselves Kooperacija (“Cooperation”, Macedonian slang for a general store in small villages) hosted an exhibition titled “Melting Point: Art as Anti-Hegemonic Propaganda” [en, mk, with photos] in Skopje recently.

'Fear makes the world go round' by Ines Efremova. Photo by Kooperacija, used with permission.

‘Fear makes the world go round’ by Ines Efremova. Photo by Kooperacija, used with permission.

As reported [mk] by several news outlets that cover culture [mk], including Belgrade-based SEE Cult [sr], the event presented works by several individuals and groups of world renowned artists. Among them were pieces by Vitaly Komar, IRWIN, Santiago Sierra, DETEXT, as well as by some of the most vibrant artists from the region, like Nemanja Cvijanović, Ibro Hasanović, Igor Toševski, Kristina Gorovska & Jure Lavrin, Ines Efremova, Filip Jovanovski, O-P-A, and others.

The group of artists who put together the exhibition described it on their pages as:

Kooperacija is an initiative whose purpose is artistic activity outside the inert institutional frameworks, thus suggesting an exceptional approach to the creation and experience of contemporary art [...]

[Its] basic strategy is the occupation of temporarily free space dispersed throughout the urban landscape and exhibiting through a chain of blitzkrieg events. The desired effect is a constructive dialogue regarding the re-questioning of the critical positions in art and producing a favorable environment for a free exchange of ideas, experience and freedom of expression.

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 is a sport association founded in the city of Leon in 1923, that plays in the Second Division B – Group 1 of Spain. On July 22, 2014, the club presented its new t-shirt 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 would be used only during a pre-season friendly match. After the unfavorable opinions on social networks, the club is considering using it as the alternate shirt or simply discard it definitely.

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?

Tips for Sharing Tweets Automatically

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Image by Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr and used with CC Atribución 2.0 license.

Infoactivismo is a blog about digital tools exchange and how to make the most out of that data to create changes in society. On this post, they explain two ways of sharing tweets with one click. 

Al lanzar una campaña en medios digitales es de gran utilidad tener mensajes que las personas puedan compartir con sólo dar un clic. [...] ¿qué hacer cuando quieres compartir una lista de mensajes que los usuarios puedan compartir en sus cuentas de Twitter con sólo un clic? [...]Te mostramos dos formas de hacerlo.

When launching a campaign on digital media it's useful to have messages people can share with just a click. [...] What to do when you want to share a list of messages users can share on their Twitter account with just one click? [...]  We show you two ways of doing it.

You can read the tips on this post. You can also follow Infoactivismo on their blog and on Twitter.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Simply, Thank You!

BsgEY_aIgAAe9ix

Image on futbolshampan.blogspot.com.ar, used with permission.

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is over and Argentina didn't win this time. A week after the final match, there are still lots of reflections and comments about the performance of the Argentinian national team. This time, we find a hearfelt comment by Manuel de León, where he expresses his grattitud to the crew on his blog:

 No son magos, pero 23 jugadores y un cuerpo técnico que eran sumamente criticados dieron vuelta la tortilla e hicieron que hasta el más incrédulo, se llenara de fe y esperanza. El mundo entero vio la bandera Argentina y escuchó el himno nacional de nuestro país en una final de la copa del mundo. No pasa todos los días. Es por tal motivo, que no encuentro otra manera de terminar este texto: tan solo, GRACIAS.

They are not magicians, but 23 players and a technical staff who were severely criticized and who turned things over and filled even the most skeptical ones with faith and hope. The whole world saw the Argentinian flag and heard our country national anthem on a World Cup finale. This doesn't happen every day. That's why I can't think of other way of ending this text: just THANK YOU.

You can follow Manuel on Twitter

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV, (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014. 

Reflections After 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014

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Image from Flickr, with CC license.

Mexican student Álvaro blogs about his sentiments and opinions about 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. He reflects on the poor performance of Mexico and Brazil national teams, but highlights what he considers a strategy failure of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff.

Días antes del comienzo del mundial, Dilma se imaginaba este lunes 14 de Julio como el día en que ganaría anticipadamente las elecciones presidenciales de octubre, un Brasil campeón en su tierra hubiera sido suficiente para sofocar las protestas civiles que se han alzado en contra de su gobierno, o al menos hubiera logrado distraerlas por un rato.[...] Sin embargo, es evidente que el plan no salió según lo esperado, sino todo lo contrario; de manera similar a lo ocurrido en Sochi, Rusia para las Olimpiadas de Invierno, el enfoque mundial sobre Brasil solo sirvió para exponer los graves problemas que enfrenta el país en todo ámbito. No hubo escasez de reportes de la prensa internacional sobre el mal estado de las calles, las acomodaciones, la gente y hasta los estadios, mismos que se derrumbaron o que ni siquiera pudieron terminarse antes del evento.

Just days before the World Cup started, Dilma was imagining this Monday, July 14 as the day she would win in advance the Octobre presidential election, with Brazil champion on its own land would suffice to calm down the civliian protests against her administration, or at least, it would be useful as a distraction for a while. [...] However, it's evident that didn't work as expected, but on the contrary; just as it happened in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympic Games. The world approach to Brazil only exposed the serious problems the country faces. There were many reports by international press about the bad roads, accommodations, people and even stadiums, that collapsed or weren't even completed before the tournament.

You can follow Álvaro on his Twitter account.

 This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV,(Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014. 

Second Biggest Arts Festival in the World Taking Place in South Africa

Live reports from the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown, South Africa:

Every winter, for 11 days in early July, the sleepy South African college town of Grahamstown comes alive with art. Artists from all over the world swarm to the tiny town, and every nook and cranny is packed with theatre, dance, performance art, film, comedy puppets and face paint with the sweet sounds of jazz spilling onto the streets. The National Arts Festival, that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the second biggest arts festivals in the world. For the last couple of years, a group of journalism students at Rhodes University cover the festival through a pop-up newsroom called CueTube, where they interview a variety of artists, choreographers and directors. Here’s some samples of the work.

Colombia: “What Do You Love About Medellin Downtown?”

Medellín

Medellin seen from the MetroCable. Image on Flickr by user szeke (CC BY-SA 2.0).

On his Facebook page, Colombian journalist Juan Mosquera reflects on the problems of downtown Medellin:

#‎AmamosElCentro‬
El centro de Medellín tiene problemas, cada día más palpables y agudos, que no sólo obedecen a la siniestra presencia de los intereses de la delincuencia. Lo lees, lo escuchas, lo ves, casi lo respiras. Por eso quiero preguntarles a los que pasan por aquí ¿Qué amas, a qué le tienes afecto en el centro?”

#‎AmamosElCentro‬ (We love downtown)
Medellin downtown has problems, more tangible and serious each day, due not only to the sinister presence of delinquency interests. You read, hear, see them, you almost breathe them. That's why I want to ask those who pass by: what do you love, what are you fond of about downtown?”

By the time this post was written, the question had 71 answers, and some users also expressed themselves on Twitter:

We love downtown for San Alejo and its cakes. Right, @bgarcial?

We love downtown for the hills, the 7th, the Planetarium, museums and many other things.

The Art Nouveau Windows to Belgrade's Soul

Aleksandar Lambros, a Serbian-born photographer currently living and working in Monaco, has been snapping photos of tell-tale details of Belgrade's architectural history and collecting them on his blog.

A detail on a building in downtown Belgrade. Photo: Aleksandar Lambros ©.

A detail on a building in downtown Belgrade. Photo: Aleksandar Lambros© 2014.

While the city still retains snippets of Roman and Ottoman architecture, as parts of the city were under both Roman and Ottoman rule throughout history, most of what is today downtown Belgrade expanded during the 19th century, under the still very visible influence of the highly popular European Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Lambros has captured some of the most interesting decorative details on Belgrade's older buildings in a set of 18 photographs that depict the quaint, unique mixture of Serbian culture with a well-known European architectural style. The full set, along with Lambros’ other work, is available on his blog.

Trinidad & Tobago: Does Living in the Digital Age Forfeit Your Right to Privacy?

ICT Pulse reviews a recently published report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to privacy in the digital age.

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