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One Westerner's View of the “Global War on Terror”

As the United States-led international coalition forges ahead with its fight against ISIS, the Al Qaeda offshoot which has come to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using brutal and violent tactics, Bermudian blogger catch a fire shares his thoughts about this “new war”, which he believes will only compound the problem:

It [...] seems rather hypocritical that the West is suddenly taking action against ISIS, but failed to take any actions against Israel with their recent war crimes, but I digress…

Waging a new war only creates new martyrs, fertilising a while new generation of extremists who bastardise Islam. It does nothing to address the causes of this extremism in the first place – a lack of hope, economic and social collapse and the lack of democracy [...] If we really wanted to defeat ISIS [...] we need to address these root causes; we need to address poverty and stop supporting authoritarian regimes on the basis of Western interests.

The post goes on to list a number of alternative ways in which to handle the situation.

The First Edition of the Africa Web Festival Will Kick Off in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Logo Africa web festivalThe first Africa Web Festival will take place in Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire (November 24-26).  The festival will give the opportunity to any designers in Africa to participate in a contest (registrations are open until October 12)

Vous êtes journalistes, développeurs, producteurs de web tv, de web radio ; vous êtes créateurs et innovateurs et avez une idée ou un projet en tête? Inscrivez-vous au premier Africa Web Festival dans l’une des six catégories de compétition : documentaire, tourisme, fiction, animation, éducation, publicité et tourisme.
 
L’Africa Web Festival est également une plateforme d’échanges entre experts, passionnés et novices du monde entier, qui fera l’état des avancées actuelles dans le domaine du numérique et animera le débat sur la planète numérique : ses espoirs, ses enjeux et les défis auxquels l’Afrique est exposée, afin que le continent prenne sa place dans la nouvelle planète numérique.

Are you a journalist, a web developer, a web tv or podcast producer? Are you creative, innovative and have an idea or a project in mind? Join the first Web Africa Festival in one of the six competition categories: documentary, tourism, fiction, entertainment, education, advertising and tourism. The Africa Festival Web is a platform for exchanges between experts, web enthusiasts and novices from around the world, where the current state of the affairs in the field of web development will be discussed. It will also be the place to debate on the hopes and challenges of internet in Africa,  so that the continent can take its rightful place in the digital world.

 

Will Trinidad & Tobago's Government “Listen, Learn & Lead”?

Blogger and public relations professional Dennise Demming is disillusioned with Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who claims to “listen, learn and lead”, but then takes action to the contrary. Demming first cited the example of the country's recent Constitutional Amendment Bill, with which, “despite popular objection, the Government manoeuvred their way and got the Independent bench to support this unpopular change to the constitution.”

Now, she wonders why the government has not listened, learned and led when it comes to the Highway Re-Route Movement. Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh has undertaken a second hunger strike in protest over a portion of proposed highway that will displace a community and could also have a negative environmental impact. Amidst ongoing construction work on the highway, the Prime Minister has, thus far, refused to meet with Kublalsingh to discuss alternative routes. Demming says:

Re-routing the highway is a reasonable request by a credible group of activists which has come together under the leadership of the PM’s one time friend Dr. Wayne Khublalsingh. I salute this man who is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the environment. No matter how this hunger strike ends, his blood is staining the hands of each member of the PP [People's Partnership] Government.

Telling Puerto Rican Stories on the Web

Esta Vida Boricua [This Boricua Life] is a digital storytelling project which explores the past and present of Puerto Rico through the collection of experiences of people from all walks of life and all ages. At its most basic level, it is “a place to share stories,” as explained in their “About” section. Elaborating on that thought, they write:

Thus, the stories herein are a journey. They offer splashes of color and texture, shades of shadow and light as well as fragments of shape and depth to the existing Puerto Rican mosaic. They unravel the stereotypes and biased images of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture presented in the media and beyond. They speak of a generation of young people struggling under the uncertainty of colonialism —and a backlash from the slow cultural genocide that has taken place since US occupation after the Spanish-American War and the advent of modernism.

The content, which can take the form of writing (in either Spanish or English), video or audio recordings, is entirely produced by volunteers, most of whom are students from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, on the western coast of the main island. Poets, musicians and writers are also welcome to contribute original content.

Questioning Weekend's Media Silence About Ebola

“When will Ebola news go 24/7?,” asks a US/Canadian professor Crawford Kilian:

I have long been used to outbreak news dropping off on weekends. The media, government agencies, and NGOs all knock off on Friday afternoon and show up again Monday morning.

But after the last few weeks of Ebola, I'm losing patience with the folks who make a living covering the outbreak. Yes, good for them and the collective agreements that give them eight-hour days, weekends off, extended holidays, and excellent health benefits. 

But if Ebola is as unprecedented as Dr. Chan says it is, how about finding the money to pay those folks overtime so Ebola news carries on over the weekend (not to mention statutory holidays)? Can you imagine news about Pearl Harbor waiting until some reporter sauntered in on the morning of Monday, December 8, 1941? Or JFK's death going unreported until the following Monday, November 25, 1963?

But the West African media, with a few exceptions, go into hibernation on Friday afternoons and revive sometime the following Monday. So do WHO and the other major health agencies. I know very well that they've suffered budget cuts by governments that still think austerity is the road to recovery from the crash of 2008.

Non-Japanese Who Stayed in Sendai After 3.11 Earthquake Walk for Recovery

Despite being uncertain of what the future might bring, dozens of non-Japanese people decided to remain in their adopted home of Sendai, a coastal city located in the north of Japan hit by massive tsunami triggered by the earthquake of March 11, 2011.

Sharing the footsteps to recovery, those standing together with the locals will join the parade “Da-te-fes“, a walk  on September 28th with Sendai residents of ten different nationalities dressed in traditional kimono.

Participants will include geisha, a bride and bridegroom, and traditional dancers who succeed the moves from 17th century.

With support from Finnish Wellbeing Center Project in Sendai, the parade looks to boost the welcoming mood for upcoming UN  World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in next March, and let the residents know about the conference. 

Learn more about Sendai on Tourism Sendai's Facebook page.

Image of geisha walk. Photo provided by Yumi Nakano

Image of geisha walk. Photo provided by Yumi Nakano

Film Shows How a Malaysian Tribe is Stopping Loggers from Destroying their Land

selungoSunset Over Selungo is a 30-minute film documenting how the indigenous Penan tribe is defending the remaining rainforest of Borneo island in Malaysia. Borneo is the largest island in Asia. The film was made by independent British filmmaker Ross Harrison

Describing Pain in Hospitals Without Indigenous Language Services

Mexico

Image on flickr by user Buen Rumbo ((CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Without medical professionals fluent in indigenous languages or without proper interpretation services in Mexican hospitals, there is a risk that patients will not be able to adequately describe what ails them, writes Yásnaya Aguilar in her regular blog column for EstePaís. She provides examples how the Mixe language allows her to more accurately describe her pain to a nurse or doctor that can speak the same language, and how a translation into Spanish can still be somewhat limiting. She writes,

En mixe por ejemplo tengo un conjunto de palabras distinto para nombrar el dolor físico: pëjkp, jäjp, pä’mp, we’tsp… Apenas hallo equivalentes para alguna en español. Las diferencias todavía son más grandes y hay momentos en los que sólo puedo describir un dolor en español o sólo alcanzo a nombrarlo en mixe. Hablar ambas lenguas me permite tener a mi servicio un inventario más nutrido de palabras para describir mi dolor, aunque en general, cuando algo me duele mucho, el mixe toma el control de mis pensamientos.

For example, in mixe I have a group of distinct words available to me to describe physical pain: pëjkp, jäjp, pä’mp, we’tsp. I'm barely able to find the equivalent words for these words in Spanish. The differences are very large and there are times when I can only describe the pain in Spanish and there are other times when I can only describe the pain in Mixe. Being able to speak both languages allows me to have at my disposal a richer inventory of words to describe my pain, although generally, when something is causing me a lot of pain, the Mixe language takes control of my thoughts.

The universal right to health care cannot be guaranteed when the majority of hospitals have no medical practitioners that speak indigenous languages and because interpretation can only go so far since they do not have the same knowledge of the human body. And she adds that this could potentially cause misdiagnoses and without these language services, “there is no way to build bridges of empathy and to effectively understand that your ‘it hurts’ could also be the same as mine.”

Rooftop Farming in Hong Kong

"Go Green Hong Kong" discussed the benefit of rooftop farming in Hong Kong.

“Go Green Hong Kong” discussed the benefit of rooftop farming in Hong Kong – Green roofs can help reduce three of the four top problems facing the society in the next 50 years: energy, water, and environment.

Massive Participation in Earthquake Drill in Mexico

On September 19, 1985, the center, South and West regions of Mexico, in particular the Federal District, were struck by a powerful earthquake, considered the most lethal in Mexican written history. Conmemorating the event 29 year later, the Secretary for Civil Protection of Federal District organized an earthquake drill, for the population to know how to act in these events. The people participated massively, in the capital and in other cities of the country.

We carried out successfully the evacuation due to earthquake, remembering what happened in 1985 in Mexico City.

An estimated of 17,000 buildings were evacuated during the drill.

Rolando Zapata's Yucatán government has carried out historic drill in the Palace.

Tlalnepantla joins the megaearthquake driill organized in the State of Mexico.

The drill is not only to honor the victims of the earthquake, it's also about society vs bureaucracy.

Peruvian Amazon Faces Cold Temperatures: Consequences of Climate Change

Imagen en flickr del usuario @Christianhold (CC BY 2.0).

Image on flickr by usuario @Christianhold (CC BY 2.0).

Peruvian journalist and writer Paco Bardales, comments with other colleagues the waves of cold weather, or friajes, that recently affected usually hot Iquitos. These weather phenomena have gone from sporadic, as the group remembers from their childhood, to more frequent and longer lasting, so much that the state agency Meteorology and Hydrology Service (Senahmi, according to its name in Spanish) has decided to issue cold weather alerts for the cities located in Peruvian Amazonic regions. On the conversation, the group reflects that these frsots are due to climate change. Is this so? No doubt about it. Man has influenced in this change, and even Andean and Amazon communities are not to blame, they suffer from floodings, diseases, and all other consequence affecting their health and environment.

El impacto de la contaminación y los daños al ambiente sin duda han ido afectando las temperaturas. El Perú es considerado como uno de los países más vulnerables ante los impactos del cambio climático. Según estimaciones del MEF, los posibles daños económicos causados por este aspecto podrían llegar hasta los diez mil millones de dólares de aquí al año 2025.

The impact on contamination and damages to environment have undoubtedly been affecting temperatures. Peru is considered one of the most vulnerables countries to the impact of climate change. According to tne Ministry of Economy estimates, potential economic damages caused due to these changes could reach ten thousand million US dollars from now to year 2025.

National and international entites aim to create awareness and inform. One of the main actions are workshops about Conference of the Parties about about Climate Change (COP-20). And as Paco says:

La preocupación resulta importante, pues, al fin y al cabo, la Amazonía será fundamental en la mitigación del cambio climático. Ojalá no sea tarde para nosotros mismos.

Concern becomes important, as, after all, the Amazon region will be fundamental on mitigating climate change. Hopefully, it's not too late for ourselves.

Pope Francis will Visit the “Ground Zero’ of Typhoon Haiyan Disaster in the Philippines

Official logo for the papal visit to the Philippines in 2015

Official logo for the papal visit to the Philippines in 2015

The official logo and website related to the Philippine visit of Pope Francis in January 2015 have been unveiled already. Pope Francis will visit Manila and Tacloban. Tacloban is the “ground zero” of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster which claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the Eastern Visayas region. Aside from Timor Leste, the Philippine is the only Catholic-dominated nation in Asia.

Colombia: No to Sex Tourism in Medellín

NoTurismoSexual

“No to sex tourist”. Screenshot from video posted on YouTube.

By mid July 2014, the Facebook page No to sex tourist was created, with the purpose of create awareness about sex tourism in Colombia. Wikipedia lo define como:

… una forma de turismo con el propósito de mantener relaciones sexuales, normalmente de varones con prostitutas hembras, pero también, aunque menos, hay mujeres turistas sexuales y turismo sexual homosexual masculino.

Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity, particularly with prostitutes. The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination”.

Recently, the fan page posted this video, as part of a campaign by Pazamanos Foundation with the intention to reject sex tourists who mainly visit the city of Medellín.

Art & Education in Suriname

Referring to English art critic Sir Herbert Read‘s book Education Through Art, Carmen Dragman, via Srananart's Blog, looks at the value of art in education, suggesting that the current Caribbean model is shortchanging students by not recognising the power of art as a creative outlet and learning tool:

Teachers and policy makers often actually know that art education is important for each individual, but don’t actually realize as yet how important the subject is. These lessons are mostly seen as ‘means of relaxation’ but not as means of support. Surely not before tests and examinations…

Dragman believes in learning through doing – movement, games, modeling, play – and gives several examples from her own teaching experience that are testaments to the success of this approach. She explains:

If expressive education is given correctly, the cognitive, socio-emotional, sensitive, motoric, affective and creative development of the child will be stimulated. It is therefore very important that this subject be not only presented as an isolated subject, but be also integrated in the other school subjects.

The Curious Case Of Marrying Out Of Caste in India

Protest March in UK demanding to eradicate the centuries-old caste system that exists on the Indian sub continent and amongst expatriate communities. Image by Paul Davey. Copyright Demotix (19/10/2013)

Protest March in UK demanding to eradicate the centuries-old caste system that exists on the Indian sub continent and amongst expatriate communities. Image by Paul Davey. Copyright Demotix (19/10/2013)

Karthik Shashidhar, a freelance management consultant and data scientist, shares interesting statistics from the National Family Health Survey. Shashidhar discusses the percentage of women in India who are married to someone of their own caste. The caste system in India is based on an order of (predominantly) endogamous groups rendering marriage out of caste deplored by the society. Most of the marriage out of caste is out of love and defying the socio-cultural norms.

The survey, which was carried out in all states in India, asked “ever-married” women whether they were married to someone from the same caste, or to someone from a higher caste, or to someone from a lower caste. The result shows that the national average for the percentage of women who are married to someone of their own caste is 89%.

Wanna Learn the Khmer Language? Check Out this Audio Dictionary

Kheng.Info is a useful portal to learn Khmer, the official language of Cambodia. Aside from word translation, the website also offers an audio recording of Khmer words which is helpful to understand the meaning of the Khmer script. Check out how the word ‘love’ translates to Khmer:
khmer

U.S. Authorities Seek Data on Indymedia Athens

Imagen en Flickr del usuario Tim Pierce (CC BY 2.0).

Image on Flickr by user Tim Pierce (CC BY 2.0).

On September 5, the U.S. Department of Justice issued to the organization and Web hosting provider May First an inquiry about one of its members, Greece-based Center for Independent Media Athens, also known as Indymedia Athens. Founded in 2005, May First is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide cooperative Internet services, such as Web hosting to individuals and organizations. The data required by federal agents is specific information from the Indymedia Athens account, stored on May First servers.

In a statement, May First noted that the request could be interpreted as an attempt by the American government to help the Greek government. They also noted they won't provide the required information unless the Center for Independent Media Athens requests it — they assert that complying with this request is a violation of the right to privacy.

For now, lawyers with Electronic Frontier Foundation, who are representing May First, are in touch with the U.S. Attorney General. Upon publication of this piece, US officials had offered no explanation of their motives in requesting said data.

Industrial Pollution Kills Hundreds of Wild Birds in Inner Mongolia

More than 500 dead wild water birds appeared in the lake areas of Inner Mongolia since this summer as a result of water pollution. The poisonous water, as reported by local herdsmen, came from factories from a nearby eco-industrial area. Annie Lee from China Hush wrote a photo feature on the situation.

Iranian Judiciary Sets 1-Month Deadline to Block Viber

Iranian judiciary has set a one-month deadline for Hassan Rohani's government to block or to control messaging applications Viber, WhatsApp and TangoMe.

Threats to Press Freedom in the Fight Against Ebola in Liberia

The body of a victim of Ebola virus is seen covered with a sheet at the back of a truck in Monrovia, Liberia -Public Domain

The body of a victim of Ebola virus is seen covered with a sheet at the back of a truck in Monrovia, Liberia -Public Domain

The Press Union of Liberia is concerned about the threat to freedom of information as a result of the actions taken by the government to limit the expansion of the Ebola virus. The union wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice to draw his attention to the challenges media workers are currently facing. Here is an excerpt of the letter:

The Press Union of Liberia’s attention is specifically drawn to several circumstances that do not only restrain journalists in their obligation to seek out and share useful news and information with the public, but significantly threaten even media participation in the global fight against Ebola. By all accounts, the media space in Liberia has been a significant partner in the fight to strengthen awareness in our society about the impact and challenges of the epidemic. Notwithstanding the loss of revenue due to the emergency nature of the epidemic and the effect on general life, the media has remained committed to this fight. Unfortunately, several actions against media by government actors, especially during these times, have simply given room to growing skepticism about the disease, and further exacerbating the denials within the community. We think this is unfair and improper.

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