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February 24 2014

UNICEF Calls for “Child-Free” Protests in Thailand

After a grenade explosion killed three children in an anti-government protest site in Bangkok, the United Nations Children’s Fund urged government and protest leaders to protect children by keeping them away from protests. Bijaya Rajbhandari, the UNICEF Representative in Thailand, made this appeal:

(The UNICEF) condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children. These incidents underscore the urgent need to keep children out of harm’s way in order to ensure their safety. UNICEF urges the Government, pro- and anti-government protest leaders and all parents to ensure children do not enter protest sites and are kept well away from all protest areas.

Myanmar's Last Remaining Synagogue

Built 120 years ago, the Musmeah Yeshua synagogue in Yangon is the last remaining Jewish synagogue in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar. Aside from being a tourist attraction, it is also listed as an archaeological heritage building in the city.

February 23 2014

Traditional Media Conspires Against Facebook

Tech blogger Amitha Amarasinghe alleges that Facebook is being portrayed negatively in mainstream media in Sri Lanka accompanied with saucy headlines like “Student commits Suicide over a Facebook photo”, “Facebook love ends in Death” etc:

All of a sudden, there is a huge increase in number of mass media content highlighting the bad side of Facebook and Social Media. If you look at these stories, the local media is highlighting the “Facebook” part of the story as the ‘news’, but undermine the social, cultural, and political factors leading to those sad incidents.

Venezuelans in Mexico to Protesters: “You Are Not Alone”

The situation in Venezuela continues to be extremely tense, with enormous marches and gatherings around the whole country that have left ten people killed and hundreds wounded. Venezuelans around the world who oppose their government have organized peaceful gatherings to make their voices heard and ensure local governments understand what their compatriots are living through. Mexico has been no exception.

Mexico City, February 16th

Mexico City, February 16th. Photo by Patricia Acosta, author of original article.

Venezuelans resident in Mexico used social media to arrange a march on February 16th. After meeting at the Simon Bolivar (Venezuela's founding father) obelisk in the Polanco area, demonstrators walked down the main Reforma Avenue towards the Angel of Independence. There, with the support of several Mexicans, Venezuelans demanded freedom of information in the presence of media censorship and shouted in unison “freedom”, “peace”, and “no more deaths”, then sung the Venezuelan national anthem as seen in the following video [es]:

After this march, Venezuelans arranged a vigil in front of the OAS (Organization of American States) headquarters in the Mexican capital on February 18th. 

Vigil, Tuesday February 18th

Invitation to the February 18th Vigil

 
Wearing white and carrying candles, Venezuelans prayed for the students who died on February 12th. “Here is my message for Venezuela: You are not alone”, exclaimed a woman at the vigil. 

In Mexico City

Mexico City Vigil, Photo by Patricia Acosta, author of original article.

Not All Bad, Talking Korean Plastic Surgery from Biz Perspective

There have been mounting criticisms on both local and international media's coverage of rampant plastic surgeries in South Korea; many reports are highly sensational, describing how reckless and ignorant plastic surgery patients are (focused on females ones rather than male) and have successfully generated numerous crass jokes and harsh comments not only about patients, but also about the country as a whole. Wangkon936′s post in Marmot's Hole blog leads readers to drop the narrow ‘good’ and ‘bad’ value position and approach the issue from a purely business perspective. Some of the highlights are: 

When it comes to South Korea, much of the press is negative and borders on reporting mostly on the strange and/or weird such as the so-called “tower of jaw bones”[...] However, is it all bad? If we are to take perhaps subjective values out of the equation and just look at economic impact, then is this all “bad,” per se? From an economic and business perspective, Korea’s highly demanding aesthetics culture is creating an expertise, technology and infrastructure base [...]

First Open Heart Surgery in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

Child awaiting heart surgery via La chaine de l'espoir with their permission

Child awaiting heart surgery via La chaine de l'espoir with their permission

The health international network La Chaîne de l’Espoir (The Link of Hope) reports that 7 Congolese children in critical conditions benefited from open heart surgeries [fr] on February 14 in Brazzaville, Congo. With the help of the Congo Assistance Fundation as well, Prince Béni and Maya, both suffering from cardiomyopathy were operated for several hours as told in the following report [fr]:

Elle a dix ans et ne pèse que quinze kilos. Son cœur fonctionne mal. Il l'empêche de s'alimenter et donc de grandir. La petite fille doit être opérée le plus vite possible. L'intervention dure six heures.

(Mayala) is ten years old and weighs fifteen pounds. Her heart is malfunctioning. It prevents her from getting nutrients to all her cells and therefore growing. The girl needed an operation as soon as possible. The procedure took six hours.

February 22 2014

Thoughts On India's Biggest Blogging Conference

#WIN14, India's biggest blogging conference and awards, hosted by BlogAdda, took place on February 9, 2014. Blogger Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan, who won the best creative writing blog in India, shares his thoughts and pictures.

Malagasy React to SI Swimming Suit Issue and Model's Take on Madagascar

The 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimming Suit Issue was shot on Nosy Iranja (Iranja Island), Madagascar:

Nosy Iranja is known as the Turtle island for the Hawksbill Turtles came to shore to lay their eggs. It is also known for the spectacular sandbank that bridges the two nearby islands.

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar - Public Domain

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar – Public Domain

Russian Top model Irina Shayk and wife of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo said that she has a special relationship with Madagascar:

When I was a student I did a report on Madagascar, and ever since then it was my biggest dream to go there [..] The (Malagasy) people live and get by every day walking in the roads, living this super simple life, and they're still happy. It is an experience that keeps you humble, puts things in perspective.

Rakotonirina Miaro wonders why the world outside Madagascar seem to appreciate the island's treasures but Malgasy citizens cannot seem to notice [mg]:

Ny olon-kafa maita ny hatsaran'ny Nosin-tsik fa ny tompony jay no tsy mahafatatra fa tsar i Gasikara! Tsara daholo ny mannequin naka sary é!

Foreigners know how beautiful our island is but we, who live here, do not seem to appreciate about our own treasures. Oh yeah, and the swimming suit models were not bad looking either

February 21 2014

Congratulating The New Prime Minister of Nepal

Nepal’s Parliament has elected Mr. Sushil Koirala (75), the president of the party Nepali Congress, as the new Nepali Prime Minister. Nepali diaspora blogger Indra congratulates the new Prime Minister and thinks that “the gift Mr. Koirala has for empowering others with his humility and sincerity will go a long way”.

Photos from The Fashion Pakistan Week

Fashion blogger Amara Javed posts photos from the ongoing Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi showcasing the Summer 2014 collections by many Lahore designers.

Tajikistan's Tastiest Blogs

Tajik plov. Image from vk.com/taomtj, used with permission.

Tajik plov. Image from vk.com/taomtj, used with permission.

There are three blogs in Tajikistan that are a must read for anyone interested in Tajik cuisine.

Tajik Restaurant [Tarabkhonai Tojiki] [tj] shares cook-it-yourself videos and recipes of popular Tajik dishes. Suhailo's Cooking Diary [Daftari pukhtu-pazhoi Suhailo] [tj] teaches its readers to bake pastries popular in the country. Finally, Osh Khona [ru] offers detailed reviews of the best places to eat plov in Tajikistan. 

There is also the Tajikistan Cuisine [Taomhoi millii Tojikiston] [ru] public page on VKontakte, where hundreds of users share yummy recipes, pictures, and videos.

Warning: when you access these sources, be prepared to see much, much meat as Tajik cuisine is not for vegetarians.

Kyrgyz MPs Explain Themselves Over a Prayer Room in Parliament

The recent opening of an Islamic prayer room in the Kyrgyz parliament has triggered a heated online debate about the boundaries between the state and religion in the Central Asian country. Responding to criticisms, MPs designed and circulated among journalists and bloggers a six-page document suggesting that prayer houses in parliament or government buildings were common across countries.

Kloop.kg provides [tj] the full text of the document, claiming that it is the “first time” that the country's parliamentarians make such an effort to explain themselves publicly.

Venezuela Protests: ‘Dear International Media: Step it Up!’

Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

In the blog Caracas Chronicles Francisco Toro reacts to the lack of media coverage about the escalating violence and the events on February 19.

Francisco shows screen captures of news sites like the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, and Fox News on the morning of February 20 –all missing articles on the violent events from the day before.

He concludes:

The level of disengagement on display is deeply shocking.

Venezuela’s domestic media blackout is joined by a parallel international blackout, one born not of censorship but of disinterest and inertia. It’s hard to express the sense of helplessness you get looking through these pages and finding nothing. Venezuela burns; nobody cares.

Let me put this clearly. Y’all need to step it up. The time to discard what you thought you knew about the way things work in Venezuela is now.

You can check out our special coverage page about the protests in Venezuela here.

February 20 2014

Citizen Journalists, Apply for Free Live Video Streaming

Spilno.TV

The live video streaming platform Ustream is offering citizen journalists the opportunity to apply for free pro accounts and publicity for any innovative use of video for breaking news, activism, and social good.

Ustream has recently supported three live channels broadcasting from Ukraine's #EuroMaidan protests, including the popular channel Spilno.tv.

“We created Ustream for Change to recognize the efforts of these inspiring citizen broadcasters, and we hope to encourage others to think beyond four walls and harness the power of live video,” says Brad Hunstable, Ustream’s CEO and founder.

“Ustream is an enthusiastic supporter of Internet freedom, stable societies, and emerging democracies. Our technology offers a means of achieving transparency on both sides of the camera, and we fully intend to support those who are leading movements for positive change,” he says.

Ethnic North Korean Schools in Japan Face Ever-Hostile Situation

Koreans living in Japan‘ is a vague word glueing very different groups together under the same umbrella term. Based on their affiliation to North/South Korea and the timing of diaspora (whether it happened before/after the Japanese imperial rule during the World War 2 ear), each sub-group goes by a different name, sharing little similarities. Stark division between them is once again solidified by education system; North Koreans in Japan attend a special ethnic school that resembles ones that are in North Korea. Markus Bell, after visiting one North Korean school in Japan, wrote an extensive report on multiple threats those schools face, with some background information about the concerned ethnic group, as the financial help from their home country has been significantly reduced and also funding from the Japanese government was recently cut off. 

Jamaica: Breakespeare & Bob Marley

Inspired by Cindy Breakspeare's recent lecture on Bob Marley, Annie Paul republishes a 2007 interview she did with her, in which Breakspeare discusses her youth, her Jamaican-ness and of course, meeting Bob.

February 19 2014

Soviet-era Monuments and Slogans in Tajik Capital “Should Stay”

Over the last two decades, the authorities in Dushanbe have dismantled most of the Soviet-era monuments and huge political slogans on rooftops which had all been an important feature of the cityscape before 1991. However, as Radio Ozodi reports [tj], Tajikistan's capital has preserved a handful of Soviet statues, slogans, and signs [see all photos].

Blogger writing on Russian Chronicles of Tajikistan suggests [ru] that these “remnants” of the Soviet period should stay:

I believe that all these symbols, monuments, bas-reliefs, and signs should be preserved. More than that, we need to take a good care of them and ensure their proper maintenance. It is not about some kind of nostalgia or love for the Soviet past. No. It is more about the fact that all these “remnants” of the Soviet epoch could become important tourist attractions.

The blogger also proposes to keep signs with the Soviet-era street names in the capital and place the monuments that have been dismantled in museums.

And under Ozodi's story, Mansur comments [tj]:

The symbols and signs left from the USSR should not be taken down, for they are important historical evidence reminding us of our great past…

“Now is the Time for Men of Goodwill to Stand Up” in the Central African Republic

Andrew Harding on Africa Review reports on the courageous acts of a congregation in the shabby town of Boali, Central African Republic and notably one Father Xavier Fagba. The St Peter's Parish church has sheltered Muslims seeking sanctuary from ethnic cleansing perpetrated by anti balaka gangs:    

“Now is the time for men of goodwill to stand up and prove the strength and quality of their faith,” said Father Fagba, [..] ”When I did this, nobody in the community understood me. They attacked and threatened me.” The Muslims – about 650 in all – arrived at the church on January 16 and 17. ”The Muslims discovered in our church that the God we worship is the same as their God,” said Father Fagba.

On twitter, a hashtag #CARKindness reports the local acts of kindness amidst the unspeakable wave of violence that plagues the country. Here is another instance of such kindness:

Assessing Myanmar's Democratic Transition

Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, concluded his mission by assessing the country's democratic transition:

For the time being, the military retains a prevailing role in the life and institutions of Myanmar. State institutions in general remain unaccountable and the judiciary is not yet functioning as an independent branch of Government. Moreover, the rule of law cannot yet be said to exist in Myanmar.

He also talked aboout the challenges facing the media sector:

I met journalists who described a prevailing climate of uncertainty and fear of arrest, particularly if reporting dealt with issues too close to the interests of the military or other powerful elites.

Social Media Week Lagos 2014

The Social Media Week Lagos 2014 (February 17-21) is currently going on in Lagos, Nigeria:

SMW Lagos is only in it’s 2nd year and has already claimed its place as the largest, tech, new media and business conference on the continent of Africa. It attracts some of the continents most forward thinkers, brands, learners and creators. With a population of over 20M Lagos is the largest black city in the world and is arguably the epicenter of the continent and home to the powerhouses of Africa’s creative, business and tech communities. Recognizing the importance of a connected continent, while aiming to encourage collaboration, our 2014 conference them is: A CONNECTED AFRICA IS THE FUTURE.

The only event of it’s kind, Social Media Week Lagos is a world class conference with Africa’s brightest minds that is free and open to the public. SMW Lagos is also unique in that 70% of the weeks amazing panels, parties and workshops are organized by the public

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