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January 25 2014

Super Bowls: Olympic Toilet Humor

“Sochi: if we are going to sh*t ourselves, might as well make it pretty.” Anonymous image distributed online.

Early this week, as all eyes were on the growing Ukrainian protests and photographs of barricades, BBC's Steve Rosenberg tweeted a different sort of picture, writing:

The photograph of the two toilets, extremely close together and lacking any sort of barrier, was retweeted over 1,000 times, and caused much hilarity on the RuNet, becoming another symbol of the preparations for the Sochi games, which are seen by many as inept and corrupt. Did someone “economize” on building cabins? Or does the problem lie in deficient planning? Then there is the association between the games and Russia's worsening treatment of homosexuals, which led one blogger to tweet:

As a response to criticism of Russia for infringing on the rights of sexual minorities, Olympic Sochi gets the first ever gay toilet

Most of the jokes were visual, however. Arguably, the funniest was this tasteful mashup of the subject with the “red pill, blue pill” scene from The Matrix:

“Make your choice, Neo” Anonymous image distributed online.

Other approaches were also funny, if a bit heavy-handed. There was the transparently political jokes about the Putin and Medvedev political “tandem”:

Dual leaders for dual toilets. Anonymous image distributed online.

Dual leaders for dual toilets. Anonymous image distributed online.

And a sports reference:

Biathlon target practice? Anonymous image distributed online.

Biathlon target practice? Anonymous image distributed online.

The Sochi public relations team obviously could not leave this without comment, and so, Elena Greenberg, one of the team members, made a post [ru] on her Facebook account explaining that in reality Russian Olympic prep was not quite so bad. Greenberg wrote that the bathroom in question was in process of being turned into a storage closet, and the toilets were in fact about to be removed. Allegedly, the toilet cabins were already taken down when Rosenberg took his fateful picture. Greenberg posted a photograph of another bathroom, ostensibly in the same building, which looks completely normal:

According to Greenberg this is a bathroom one floor down from the “tandem” toilets.

Turning a bathroom into storage is a slightly odd explanation, but reasonable to anyone who has had experience with Soviet and post-Soviet public spaces. Of course, not everyone believed Greenberg. The were the standard accusations [ru] that the explanation was made up after the fact — as a way to “cover up” the toilet scandal. Others [ru] called attention to the fact that the bathroom has one one toilet paper dispenser (even though there are markings on the right wall where presumably there was another one at some point). Others still said [ru] that if situation did indeed play out like Greenberg says it did, its even worse — because it means that poor planning resulted in an extra bathroom.

Are the “toilet-gate” conspiracy theorists correct in their paranoia? Does it even matter if they aren't? The prevailing narrative of the Sochi games is already one of bureaucratic ineptitude — it will take a truly stellar performance during the Olympics to buck it.

January 23 2014

South Korea: I Would Rather Sell My Personal Info

Personal information of about 20 million people, which amounts to two fifth of the entire South Korean population, has been compromised in the country's worst identity theft. Customers of the affected three major credit card firms gasped at the sheer extensiveness of the breach; it is not just the user's real name, home/work address, cellphone/home/work phone number, social security number, but in many cases, even user's credit limit, credit history, credit card expiration date, and credit records have been stolen. Korean online venues flooded with angry users’ comments and one net user even set up a fake website entitled ‘Trade My Info; the No. 1 Online Personal Info Trading Venue’ [ko]. Its intro sarcastically proclaims that instead of letting the identity thief sell your personal info, users should rather trade their info by themselves and make a a modicum of money out of it. Most of the site's links lead to related news articles on the breach. An extensive post on Korean reactions to the country's worst ID breach will soon be posted on Global Voices.

From Barcelona to Madrid for the Love of a Candidate

Blogger Denise Duncan makes a confession [es] on her blog:

¿Por qué voy a viajar 1400 kilómetros para votar por Luis Guillermo Solís? ¿Por qué ir y volver de Barcelona a Madrid en 24 horas? ¡Pero es un voto, nada más!, podría pensarse. ¿Qué diferencia hay? Una: estoy enamorada.

Why am I going to travel 1400 kilometers to vote for Luis Guillermo Solís? Why am I going from Barcelona to Madrid and back in 24 hours? But it's just a vote, nothing else!, you could think. What's the difference? One: I'm in love.

Denise is a Barcelona-based Costa Rican citizen and she'll have to travel from there to Madrid to cast her vote for Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera [es], a candidate running for president in the upcoming elections on February 2, 2014.

She remembers an earlier experience, when she spent 24 hours in a train to meet the man who is now her husband. She ends her confession saying:

Entonces brindaré por lo que viene, por un cambio que hará que mi corazón diga: yo recorrí 1400 kilómetros por dos hombres decentes en mi vida. Uno es mi marido. El otro el Presidente de la República.

Then I'll make a toast for what's yet to come, for a change that will make my heart say: I traveled 1400 kilometers because of two men in my life. One is my husband. The other one is the President of the Republic.

January 21 2014

Most Annoying Emoticons and Expressions in Chinese Online Communication

An online survey has revealed a list of the most objectionable expressions and emoticons in online communication of 2013. More from Nanfang insider.

The four most annoying emoticons: smily face, nose-picking, feces, and lecherous face. Screen capture image from Nanfang.

The four most annoying emoticons: smily face, nose-picking, feces, and lecherous face. Screen capture image from Nanfang.

January 20 2014

Dr. House Hits Sore Spot with Russians

“Everybody lies”: everything Hugh Laurie is wearing and using is captioned with random Russian companies and factories as a riff on his joke that Russia produces nothing for export. Anonymous image distributed online.

British actor Hugh Laurie (Gregory House, Bertie Wooster) caused quite a stir on the RuNet this weekend, when he reacted vehemently to a Guardian article [ru] describing Vladimir Putin's views on homosexuality and the Olympics. Laurie tweeted (and was retweeted over 4,000 times):

He followed up the joke a few minutes later, after some users gave vodka as an example of Russian exports:

Twelve hours later Laurie softened his statement:

Laurie's tweets were quickly translated [ru] into Russian, and fell on fertile ground — incensing various patriots, nationalists, and other Russians who may not enjoy outside criticism. Popular photo-blogger Ilya Varlamov tweeted, for instance:

With this tweet I want to officially tell Hugh Laurie to go f*ck himself, together with his opinions of our goods and his plans to boycott them

The hilariously nutty municipal deputy Ernest Makarenko ranted, confusing Laurie and his onscreen persona Dr. House:

How dares this puny doctor Hugh Laurie insult the country which gave birth to Pushkin, Suvorov, Putin, Gagarin, Nevsky, Stolypin, Lobachevsky?!

Makarenko later tweeted [ru] calling to ban Laurie from entering Russia, in order to keep out the “sodomite lobby.” Generally, some homophobic Russians [ru] took Laurie's statements defending Russia's gays to mean that he is gay himself. Lena Miro, a popular fitness blogger, even wrote a long post [ru] arguing that because Laurie has an “ugly” wife, that means he is a closeted homosexual.

Others were happy to point out what they saw as hypocrisies — one blogger noted [ru] that Laurie became well known for playing Bertie Wooster in the BBC productions of P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster novels. The same Wodehouse, huffed the blogger, cooperated with Nazis when he was a captive during WWII! Others pointed out [ru] that the UK buys Russian gas and oil, so perhaps Laurie could boycott driving and heating his house.

Still others were more incensed by Laurie's attacks on Russian vodka, than Russia itself. Young journalist and blogger Lolita Gruzdeva wrote a long letter to Laurie [ru], wondering why he is attacking the Russian national drink, and inviting him to visit her in Moscow so she can show him “real” Russia. The spoof twitter account of Vladislav Surkov also tweeted, jokingly:

Hugh Laurie is killing me with his love of Polish vodka, not his russophobia… Russophobia is simply severe delirium, but love of Polish vodka – that's a fatal diagnosis.

This pill from Laurie was perhaps especially hard to swallow because just a few months ago, while on tour in Russia, he said that he “loved” Russian vodka in an interview [ru].

Meanwhile, other netizens engaged in a little soul searching, wondering if Russia does indeed produce anything for export that is worth boycotting. One blogger thought [ru] that Laurie is unlikely to boycott Russian military exports, but that Kaspersky Antivirus is one product that Russians can be proud of. His readers had trouble coming up with more examples.

In the end, after Laurie's “retraction,” the media storm went as quickly as it came, with this joke as a last hurrah:

So, as I understand, this Hugh Laurie doesn't want to boycott depression. What a great f*cking comedian.

January 15 2014

4 Arrested after White Powder Attack on Guatemalan Vice President

Roxana_Baldetti

Picture by Surizar under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Four university students were arrested in Guatemala City after one of them threw an unidentified white powder at Vice President Roxana Baldetti as she was leaving the National Theater, where President Otto Perez Molina delivered his state of the union address.

Prensa Libre shared a video of the incident on YouTube:

The media immediately searched for social media profiles of the students involved, releasing pictures and information [es] about their political affiliations and current academic institutions.

Meanwhile, rather than cause outrage or solidarity for the Vice President or the students, the incident sparked suggestive comments among the Guatemalan Twitter community, as “polvo” (the Spanish word for powder) has a sexual connotation, meaning a one night stand.

Twitter users also joked about the harmless nature of the attack and at the authorities’ overreaction, as the students might be charged with attempting to assassinate the President, a crime that could send them to prison for fifteen years if found guilty.

Roxana Baldetti without flour / with flour

Others suggested that the Vice President should be nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars or even open her own acting company:

Baldetti should found an acting school

In one of her first declarations, the woman accused of the attack said she didn't do it because she wanted to become famous, but rather to exercise her freedom of expression and dissent. She wasn't treated seriously by Guatemalan Twitter users either, who modified a photo saying “I did it because I wanted to appear on Twitter searches”

Other statements by Sayra Cristal Cottom Florián, who threw the white powder at the Vice President, Roxana Baldetti.

The government reported that the incident was condemned by a diverse range of people. However, the general feeling is that if anyone does anything against the people in power, he or she will face terrible consequences and a display of force, as journalist José Ruben Zamora suffered a few weeks ago when he was barred from leaving the country and had his assets frozen after the President sued him for “coercion, extortion, blackmail, violating the Constitution, and contempt,” as reported by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. If the target of a prosecution is someone in power, however, different rules seem to apply, as the world learned after the verdict against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was declared void and the trial rescheduled for 2015.

Regardless of who carried out the act and the reasons behind it, the reactions expressed by Guatemalans show a decline in support [es] for the government, a loss in government credibility, and a growing healthy skepticism regarding the government's achievements in their two years in power.

Video: Music Parody about Food in China

Rice, Rice baby” is a recent parody about the food culture in China from the expats’ point of view. The video is about how expats in China love the food but also are a little nervous of its effects.  
The lyrics says: “Love it or leave it, you better gain weight. You better just down it, lick that plate If they serving Chinese, yo, I’ll eat it! Take it dao bao(take away),tomorrow reheat it. “

Watch the video below:

January 14 2014

Virtual Secret Santas – the Global Voices Way

GV Secret Santa

A secret message from one GV virtual secret Santa in India to his “victim” in Germany

One of the sillier traditions of Christmas is to delight someone (anonymously) with surprises throughout the month of December.

Around 20 Global Voices authors and translators signed up to become a virtual “Secret Santas” this year for another GV'er. We had cheerful vibes traveling across the Internet from Egypt to Ethiopia, Pakistan to Brazil, India to Germany.

But how do you keep someone virtually in suspense for a whole month, sending messages without revealing your identity? Here are a few tips from those who tried and succeeded!

Create a new email address and/or Twitter handle for Santa messages to your “victims”. Then think of both tangible and intangible things to send them. Surprise them with a playlist of songs, poems or an award certificate by email.

Give your victim witty hints of Santa's identity. Send them messages in different languages to throw them off your trail. Buy gifts from a local online retailer to mask your location. Send them a ringtone. A hand-drawn portrait. E-cards. Retweet their tweets.

And of course, there's always the option of sending a card or gift in the mail. But watch out for relying 100% on the international postal services, or you might see a message like this one:

Solaaaaa, my santaaaa forgot meeee

In the end, the whole thing has less to do with Christmas (which several Santas don't even celebrate) and all to do with inspiring friendship and community across borders and enjoying an opportunity to be creative.

From all who were not “forgotten” GV Santas got rave reviews:

My Santa was extremely witty and kept sending me cool hints about herself and where she comes from. Very very creative. Loved the entire experience :)

My Santa is the most amazing one I've ever had. Made me smile with thoughtful gifts and messages. Thing is… I still don't know who she/he is!!! Come out dear Santa! :)

January 13 2014

No Pants Subway Ride Day in Hong Kong

January 12 was set as the 2014 No Pants Subway Ride Day. The annual fun day originated from New York 13 years ago and entered Hong Kong in 2013. Yesterday was the second annual gathering in this city.

Hong Kong Basic Law as Toilet Paper

Lam Shui Bun

The constitutional document of Hong Kong, the Basic Law which took effect on July 1 1997 upon the handover of the colony from United Kingdom to the People Republic of China (PRC). The Basic Law is designed to ensure the city's economic and political autonomy. However, as the interpretative power is under the control of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the PRC, the document has failed to serve the interest of Hong Kong people. In the recent debate about the political reform package of the 2017 Chief Executive election, the idea of citizen nomination has been interpreted by some pro-Beijing politicians as against the Basic Law. Lam Shui Bun thus turns the Basic Law into toilet paper in his political cartoon at inmediahk.net.

January 12 2014

Chinese Professor Crawls Like A Dog For Losing Bet on Reform

Earlier in 2013 Chinese scholar Fan Zhongxin publicly wagered that the Chinese government would tackle the problem of official corruption by compelling them to disclose their income and holdings to the public by the end of the year. The punishment would be for him to crawl like a dog for half a mile. Now that he had lost his bet, he fulfilled his promise and uploaded a crawling photo to his micro-blog. More from Tea Leaf Nation.

January 11 2014

China and Hong Kong: Mocking The Motherland's Wind

A netizen uploaded a poem from primary school textbook which praises the wind blowing from China to Hong Kong as blessing. Very quickly the so-called brain washing poem has turned into a subject for mockery. Details from Dictionary of politically incorrect Hong Kong Cantonese.

January 10 2014

Australia: ‘What Happens When A Politician Pisses Off The Internet’

Controversial Australian senator Cory Bernardi's latest book ‘The Conservative Revolution’ has enraged many netizens, especially his views on abortion, single mothers, IVF and same sex marriage. BuzzFeed Australia staffer Jenna Guillaume complied reactions in Oz in This Is What Happens When A Politician Pisses Off The Internet.

Arrested for Calling Zambia's President Michael Sata a ‘Sweet Potato’

When Catholic Priest turned politician Father Frank Bwalya called President Michael Sata a sweet potato on a little known community radio station in rural Zambia, he probably did not have the slightest idea that the phrase would become a global meme within a few hours and the story picked up by major international news outlets.

Fr. Bwalya, who heads opposition political party Alliance for Better Zambia, appeared on Radio Mano in Kasama, over 1,000 kilometers north of capital Lusaka, during which he said the president as crooked as a sweet potato which cannot be straightened, a common saying in the local language, Bemba. Police stormed the studios even before he could finish the interview and whisked him away. He was later arrested and charged with defaming the head of state.

A picture combo mocking the evolution of President Sata from

A picture combo mocking the evolution of President Sata from “King Cobra” to “sweet potatoes” posted on Facebook.

The Huffington Post, Yahoo and many news outlets picked up the story not because of the arrest of the priest but rather the reason behind the arrest—comparing the head of state to a humble sweet potato.

The joke was not lost on one Twitter user who came up with an imaginary conversation between President Sata and his press aide George Chellah:

Another user bemoaned the reason for which Zambia was in the international news spotlight:

Regional President for entrepreneurship organization Kairos Society Erasmus Mweene posted where he first saw the story:

Business consultant Trevor Simumba told of where he saw the story from:

News website Zambia Reports reported about the potato going viral around the world:

The story of the arrest of Father Frank Bwalya for calling President Michael Sata a potato has gone viral on a number of news websites including the Independent of UK, Yahoo, Metro UK, Yahoo, BBC and Al-Jazeera.

Several other websites in South Africa and the United States of America including the traditional Zambian websites have carried the article. The internet was also agog with various images of sweet [potatoes]

Fr. Bwalya is quoted as saying in an Al Jazeera story republished on Zambia Reports:

On that radio program, I strongly criticized the bad leadership of the president. I called him a crooked sweet potato that cannot be straightened. It is a commonly used phrase which is not insulting. It is to explain the attitude of a person who doesn’t want to be advised who doesn’t want to be counselled.

No stranger to police harassment, Bwalya spearheaded the “Red Card” campaign before the 2011 elections signifying the intention to kick out the then ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy out of government in favour of President Sata’s Patriotic Front.

Shortly after the PF formed government, Bwalya, who has since taken sabbatical leave from his priestly duties, was appointed board chairman of the power utility company Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation, but resigned the position within one year of being appointed and went on to form political party Alliance for Better Zambia.

January 09 2014

How Should Middle Eastern Women Dress in Public?

How should Middle Eastern women dress? The way they want

How should Middle Eastern women dress? The way they want

This question, posed by a University of Michigan study, is drawing laughs – and criticism online. Most reactions came after this report on the Huffington Post.

The survey, conducted in seven “Muslim majority countries”, details what people think is an acceptable dress code for women in public in their countries. According to the poll, the majority of people in those countries, “do not think a woman should fully cover her face.” In Saudi Arabia, for example, 63 per cent of those polled said a woman should wear the veil which covers the face, but reveals the eyes – a common dress code for women in the conservative kingdom. Respondents from Lebanon and Turkey preferred women not to cover their faces – or hair.

On the Washington Post blog, Max Fisher notes:

Veiling is such a sensitive issue in much of the Middle East because, in many ways, it's about much more than just clothing. It's about religious vs. secular identity, about the degree to which women are or are not afforded equality and about embracing or rejecting social norms that are seen as distinctly Islamic.

On Twitter, the reactions are more fierce.

Palestinian Lena Jarrar asks:

M Ibrahim adds:

Hend, from Libya, takes several jabs at the poll. She tweets:

And Egyptian Mohamed El Dahshan joins the fray, saying:

And Siddhartha Chatterje wonders:

January 07 2014

Users Jeer at North Korean Death-by-Dog Story

A major US media outlet, NBC made one of the most sensational international reports which claimed the North Korean young dictator might have had his uncle devoured by 120 ravenous dogs. Unsurprisingly, the report went viral online, but was later found out to be a confusion caused by social media satire. Numerous jeers and jokes have been made about Western media's speculative reports on the world’s most reclusive nations. Ask A Korean blog founder via Twitter (@AskAKoreanreminded people of the fake voiceover fiasco back in the spring of 2013 when the inter-Korean tension was dangerously heightened.

January 06 2014

‘China New York Times'? Welcome to Tycoon Chen Guangbiao's Dream

Chen Guangbiao, a Chinese billionaire with a penchant for performing dramatic acts of charity, claimed on December 31, 2013 that he was planning to buy the New York Times during his New Year's trip to the United States, despite the publisher's denials that the famed newspaper was up for sale. 

The billionaire wrote in Chinese tabloid the Global Times that he is willing to spend his life savings on purchasing the New York Times and will reform the paper by improving its credibility and objectivity once the acquisition is completed.

Given his previous eccentric public performances, such as handing out 100 yuan (approximately 16 US dollars) paper bills on a Beijing street, or selling canned air online to buy the Diaoyu Islands, most Chinese people saw the news as another performance of the same kind.

Cartoonist D.S.X posted a caricature of Chen Guangbiao's attempt to acquire the giant media corporation.

Cartoonist D.S.X posted a caricature of Chen Guangbiao's attempt to acquire the giant media corporation.

In fact, it turns out Chen is not nearly rich enough to make a successful deal. Currently, Chen's wealth is worth one billion yuan (approximately 16 million US dollars), while the New York Times has a market value of 2.4 billion US dollars. When confronted with the finance question, Chen replied in his typical eccentric fashion that if he did not have enough money to buy the paper, he could buy a page [zh] which he would top with the banner “China New York Times”.

Back home, Chinese Web users joked about Chen's grandstanding and suggested that he buy local papers, such as the People's Daily or the Global Times, instead.

On Sina Weibo, China's popular microblogging website, Siling Ben, an artist, pointed out that Chen is a typical example of the bad behavior of China's riche nouveau:

陈光标轰轰烈烈的飞美国去了,标哥做事一向只为博眼球,感觉这次又是个新年笑料,而《纽约时报》回应不对谣言置评,不啻是一记耳光。 #司令点评#一个国家如果不能在基本价值观念方面与世界融合并提高国民的人文素养,钱再多也只能出产土豪土鳖和无厘头奇葩,在世界舞台不可能得到真正的尊重。

Chen Guangbiao made a big fuss and flew to the US. Such an eye-catching act is so typical of him. It is just a New Year's joke. The New York Times did not make any comment on the rumor. This is like a slap in the face to him. When a country cannot integrate with the world on some fundamental values and develop humanistic concern among its people, no matter how rich the country is, the wealthy act like thugs and royalty and cannot gain respect from others on the world's stage.

Weibo user “Big Bear” made a similar argument with more moderate tone:

陈光标做了许多慈善,这一点我无可厚非,令人敬佩,但这并不能掩盖他的无知和幼稚,试问纽约时报离开美国人自由的思想还是纽约时报吗?你是想谋杀它吗?

Chen Guangbiao has done much charity work, this is respectful. But his generosity could not cover up his ignorance, without the belief of American freedom, can the New York Times still be the New York Times?

Shanghai-based Weibo user Chen Jinguo re-posted an imagined conversation between Chen Guangbiao and the owner of the New York Times:

话说陈光标来到纽约,《纽约时报》老板与标哥谈判。问:“你是做什么的。”答:“我是收废品的,包括废铜、废铁还有废纸,废物利用。”问:“那你怎么想起收纽约时报了呢。”答:“废报纸我也收啊”。

The story started with Chen Guangbiao's arrival to New York City, and the negotiating between the owner of the New York Times and Chen began. Q: “What is your major business?” A: “Recycling, including copper, iron and paper, anything reusable.” Q: “Why do you want to buy the New York Times?” A: “I also recycle paper!”

Film critic Zhou Liming suggested Chen buy the White House instead:

我希望标哥直接收购白宫,然后让他的手下人轮流坐庄。收购成本可以靠卖门票回收。收购《纽约时报》,太小儿科了。

I wish Brother Biao would buy the White House instead. Then he could ask his men to sit at the entrance and sell tickets to cover the cost. Buying the New York Times is such a small deal.

January 05 2014

Egypt: The Muppets Intelligence Agency

The screen was split into two in one of the famous talk shows in Egypt. A Muppet-like character occupied one half of the screen, while a menacing teenager was threatening to throw the puppet in jail in the other half. The host kept on moderating the debate between the two, Abla Fahita, the puppet, and Ahmed Spider, the teenage-looking conspiracy theorist.

Look into the beady evil eyes of terrorism, via @SooperMexican

Look into the beady evil eyes of terrorism, via @SooperMexican

Such a scene is fine if this was a satire show, but it was not. Ahmed Spider made an official complaint against Vodafone Egypt and Abla Fahita, who appeared in one of their advertisements, accusing them of sending hidden messages to terrorists in the ad. The complaint was subsequently referred to state security prosecutors, who deal with cases involving terrorism and security threats. The prosecutors questioned officials from Vodafone Egypt later on. The list of suspected spies in Egypt already include a pigeon, a stork and a shark, along with Abla Fahita the puppet and her daugher, Carolina, aka Carcoura. As a result, Paul Sedra ‏tweeted:

@sedgate: With the Abla Fahita investigation, #Egypt once again challenges North Korea for the title of most paranoid state on earth.

The Egyptian netizens couldn't but deal with such news with sarcasm.

@Cairo67Unedited: If anyone from TV calls asking 2 use ur Kitten in their next phone ad #Egypt hang up on them:Next thing u know cat is on trial

Nevine Zaki mocked Abla Fahita calling her the Che Guevara of our generation.

Abla Fahita portrayed as a revolutionary Che Guevara -  via @khlud_hafeez

Abla Fahita portrayed as Che Guevara – via @khlud_hafeez

May Sadek and Pakinam Amer also tweeted about the puppet which now has more than 1 million fans on Facebook and is not less than a revolutionary figure.

@maysadek: ‘F’ for fahita. Not as strong as ‘V’ for vendetta .. But it'll do the job fine..#ablafahita

@pakinamamer: Abla Fahita should lead the next revolution. She'd be our V. The faceless resistance. #3abath #Surrealism

@MohAnis: Rumor has it that #ablafahita is seeking asylum with the muppet show or sesame street.

Satirical comments kept on drawing laughs on social media.

@_amroali: #Egypt has saved the world from a big terrorist threat not seen since the Muppets tried to take Manhattan #AblaFahita

The Muppets take Manhattan

The Muppets take Manhattan

@HoudaBelabd: #Egypt: Ministry of Interior is actually recording phone calls and Facebook conversations between #AblaFahita & Mickey Mouse!

@anasaltikriti: After the Vodafone puppet fiasco, are there any more sensible people out there who respect the coup government?

@AyaYousry: The #AblaFahita story made it to The Economist under “Silly Season in Egypt

SpongeBob SquarePants is expected to be the next suspect. A question was asked on Google Ejabat wondering whether the cartoon character is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood given the fact its yellow and has four fingers just like the banners of Rabia.

Rabia banner, via @Rassd_Now

Raba logo, via @Rassd_Now

Out of the fear of getting arrested for using the Raba logo as their avatar [after Egypt outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood], some social media users created alternative logos.

Alternative Rabia logos via @nsfadala

Alternative Raba logos via @nsfadala

On a more a serious note, Mohamed ElGohary wondered whether the Egyptian government is blackmailing Vodafone Egypt using this case for a reason:

Earlier in November Bloomberg published that “Telecom Egypt May Buy Vodafone Local Division When 4G Is Offered“. Personally I don't want for this acquiring to happen, since it will decrease/eliminate competition in mobile/4G emerging market .. The million dollar question here, as Vodafone actually wants to buy the government stakes, is this BS accusation a dirty step for blackmailing/forcing Vodafone Egypt to comply to what the government wants?

Also, the Facebook page of Kazeboon published the following image wondering which cases the prosecutors investigate and which ones they don't.

Kazeboon wondeing about which cases the prosecutors investigate and which ones they ignore

When human rights organizations call for opening investigations with Vodafone [Ar], after illegal recording for activists are being leaked from the state security, but the general prosecutor ignores them, and only wakes up when Spider calls for investigations with the same company because of Abla Fahita, then it is safe to call Egypt The Muppet Show. (via Kazeboon)

Sarah Carr compared Ahmed Spider to Glenn Beck in her blog post about Abla Fahita's case:

Every country has its Glenn Beck type public figures, the difference in Egypt is that they are taken seriously where it suits the political ambitions of those at the reins and serves a useful purpose. Thus we have the Public Prosecutor accepting a complaint about a finger puppet while nobody has been charged for the deaths of nearly 1,000 people at Rab3a, because the current mood is almost fascistic in its reverence for the state and for state hegemony and for state opponents to be eliminated. If there was a page equivalent to We Are All Khaled Said now it would be Turns Out We Are All Adolf Hitler. Comedy and tragedy often overlap.

Finally, Holly Dagres tweeted:

@PoliticallyAff: Although we're getting a good laugh from Abla Fahita, it shouldn't shift our focus from @Repent11 and rest of imprisoned AJE staff #Egypt

December 30 2013

Nude Twitter Calendar Promotes Sex Education and Gender Equality in Macedonia

Avid Twitter user and freelance photojournalist Ivana Batev has joined forces with other Macedonian Twitter users for the second year in a row to create and publish a calendar that promotes sexual education and gender equality through nude subjects and interior design concepts.

After the successful first run in 2013, the 2014 charity calendar with artistic nude photos of Macedonian Twitter users, who volunteered their time and bodies, was launched on Sunday, December 29, 2013 in Skopje. While last year's edition promoted breast cancer awareness, the topic for this year's Twitter calendar is sex education with a secondary focus on interior design. The current edition also introduced a much wider diversity of models, including males, while last year's calendar featured a brave all female cast.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014. Message for November: Gender equality is not a threat to the family.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014, message for November: “Gender equality is not a threat to family.”

The driving force behind the 2014 calendar, Ivana Batev, known as @REF on Twitter, tweeted:

…Whoever thinks that to undress in Macedonia is not revolutionary doesn't live in the same society as me, and I envy them.

The tweet was also quoted by Kristofer Blomdahl from Sweden in his English-language post about the calendar. He wrote:

I agree with this and I think that this is the strongest statement we can send with the photographs today. Kudos for all the people who were audacious enough to undress before her.

Also, big thanks to HERA who provided sex education tips in 140 characters twitter format and to everyone who bought photographs. The money will be used to help marginalized communities in Macedonia.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014, message for January: No always means No! Nakedness is not a substitute for consent.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014, message for January: “No always means No! Nakedness is not a substitute for consent.”

Aside from the social change and awareness that the authors and participants of the calendar intend to raise, there is also a charitable aspect to this unique project. Namely, funds gathered from the sale of the hard copy calendars will be donated to people from marginalized communities in Macedonia.

The Twitter discussion around the hashtag #твитеркалендар (#Twittercalendar) included many positive reactions, from applauding the courage of its participants to praises of the characteristics of some of the models, who went by their Twitter handles or anonymously in some of the more revealing photos. The few nagging trolls that spoke up on Twitter were soon directly contradicted with tweets like this one by Macedonian Twitter user @ordanoskiv:

Instead of (unjustified) criticism of the Twitter calendar, you should aim your weapons at the kitsch on the Vardar Quay.

[Referring to the construction Skopje 2014 project which resulted in world media such AP and Spiegel deeming Skopje "capital of kitsch."]

According to local news aggregator Time.mk, some 40 online media in Macedonia reported on the calendar. However, only a few of them included links to the entire calendar and, even though it isn't labeled as pornographic, some of them labeled the articles and its images as “18+” material.

China's Hunan Province: “96.6% Complete on Democracy and Rule of Law”

China's Hunan Party Secretary  Xu Shousheng published a report on Hunan Daily that says “Hunan province is 96.6% complete on democracy and rule of law.” The statement has been ridiculed by many netizens online. 

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